Posts Tagged ‘news’

All the News … If You Can Find It

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

By BOB GAYDOS

The big news of the day. RJ Photography

The big news of the day.
RJ Photography

   It’s definitely time to connect the dots. When (1.) your Sunday New York Times, which you still get delivered to home, comes with a touching note from the delivery person thanking his customers for 12 years of “kindness and generosity” and announcing that, as of March 17, home delivery of the local morning paper, The Times Herald-Record, will cease and that the delivery person learned of the contract termination in the much slimmed-down version of the paper itself {which you no longer get delivered}, well, you kind of pause and wonder what those 29 years of your life were all about, (2.) decide to write more about that in a future column and (3) go looking in still-functioning news sources for some positive news, such as (4) Mitch McConnell, the two-faced weasel from Kentucky announcing that he will step down as Republican leader in the Senate in November after 18 years in which his primary motivation was to use his power to thwart any Democratic president or program and pack the Supreme Court with rightwing stooges to do the bidding of wealthy Republican backers, McConnell’s relinquishing of power also being (5) likely to result in a Donald Trump boot-licker ascending to the Republican leadership in the Senate and, one hopes, further hastening the death of the party as a vehicle for responsible governing, something which (6) the aforementioned Great Gray Lady of New York refuses to use its reputation and power to accomplish, preferring instead (7.) to feature stories on polls declaring that American voters are worried that Joe Biden, who has more hands-on experience in how to properly govern than any previous president and has rescued the country from the ethical and economic morass that Donald Trump left behind, is too old for the job, at 81, because he confused a couple of names while running the country, handling delicate foreign policy and dealing with a Republican Party that refuses to do its job, (8.) because it’s being led by a 77-year-old man who repeatedly confuses who the actual president is, confuses Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi, warns about a possible World War II, encourages Vladimir Putin to attack our NATO allies, insists he is immune from prosecution for (not innocent of) any crime he committed as president, claims to be a billionaire but can’t post $500,000 bond in New York to appeal a court ruling that his business there was a massive fraud, faces 91 felony counts, incited an insurrection, raped a woman in a New York City department store, hasn’t the foggiest idea or interest in learning how government is supposed to serve the people, says he will get rid of his enemies on Day One of a new Trump term and whose former staffers say is not only unfit for the office of president, but is also deteriorating mentally, which (9.) many Americans seem to have no problem with and, The Times tells us, can’t seem to even remember what the Trump four years were really like, possibly because the newspaper is too busy trying to be all things to all readers (“The best way to clear ear wax” arrived in today’s issue) to (10.) remind us daily, like a newspaper fighting to protect its First Amendment protection from forces out to abolish it, of Trump’s lying and vindictiveness and ignorance or to explain that sitting presidents typically have low favorability ratings in polls early in a reelection year because they are actually doing the job and the poll, assuming first of all that it’s accurate, may reflect the current situation, but does not predict the future, (11.) which, the way things are going, may not include home delivery of The New York Times. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

To Repeat: Ignorance is not Bliss

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

(An updated version of an unfortunately recurring topic.)

By Bob Gaydos

23D7DF21-4B50-483A-9B07-30BAFB25EA37  “Because Americans are stupid,” I said.

    And with that harsh assessment of the intellectual capacity of my fellow countrymen and women, we generally shook our heads, finished our coffee and said, “See you next week.”

     For several years, I had a weekly coffee date with a friend whom I considered to be intelligent, well-informed, level-headed and close-lipped. We talked about life, family and, mostly because of my interest, a little politics. At some point in our rambling conversation, he would inevitably ask, “Why do they do that?”

       And I would inevitably reply, “Because Americans are stupid.” Sometimes, I said “dumb.”

       Harsh. I know. Judgmental. It risks being called elitist. But I submit the last seven-plus years of American politics as Exhibit A that many Americans are willfully ignorant, that they don’t know about things they know they should know about or don’t do things for their own benefit because they are too lazy, which also is dumb.

  Participatory democracies don’t do well on dumb and lazy. They wind up being ripe for exploitation by authoritarian thugs who want only to gain power and keep it for their own enrichment. They prey on the dumb and lazy, or the bigoted and misinformed, or the racist and ill-educated, or the fearful and easily manipulated.

     However you choose to say it, this is where America is today: Much of our public debate and government action is driven by fears and falsehoods directed at and repeated by an aggressive, sometimes militant, minority of mostly iIl-informed white Americans who have been sold a bill of goods by power-hungry, wealthy autocrats and their cowardly foot soldiers in the Republican Party. Dumb.

     This minority has achieved outsized influence in large part thanks to the capitulation of a considerably larger group of Americans who have lacked the awareness or the will, or both, to participate in the democratic process through the simple step of voting.

       Lazy and dumb.

       It’s not considered polite or politically savvy to say such things publicly, but look where that’s got us:

     — The FBI raiding the home of a former U.S. president to recover boxes of classified documents removed from the White House and elected Republican officials encouraging violence against the FBI agents who carried out their duty.

      — That same ex-president promoting violence against a New York district attorney who dared to accuse him of campaign finance crimes by paying hush money to cover up infidelities that could hurt his election chances.

      — A major TV “news” network knowingly feeding its viewers a daily diet of lies because if it told them the truth they would go to some other source that would tell them only the stuff that made them feel good and angry. Good, because it supported their narrow-minded, ill-informed, perhaps bigoted views on life, and angry because others not only didn’t share them, but, they believed, were trying to make them live by those views. 

      Ignorance is blissful. It feeds on fear and, for some, that means votes.

      This is not new. Just look at the data. Most of the states that spend the least on education, public health and childcare are governed by Republicans. It’s not a coincidence; it’s a plan. Rewrite the history taught in schools, tell people that big government is their enemy and that they need to vote for local Republican candidates to preserve the freedoms that elitist, socialist Democrats want to give away … to “those people.” Please donate.

      Here’s another dumb thing: a lot of so-called independent, think-for -themselves voters are fond of saying both parties are the same. Really? Have you been paying attention for the last ten years or so? 

      So as not to belabor what is not an original point, I would again encourage every nonaligned voter to ask every Republican official he or she encounters one question: Is Joe Biden the legitimately elected president of the United States?

     That’s an easy yes or no, but more than two years after the election of Biden, many Republicans still refuse to even answer. Voting for anyone who doesn’t say “yes” is dumb. Watching a “news” outlet that admittedly lies is dumb. The truth is the strongest weapon we have against the army of ignorance. We continue to ignore it at our peril.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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



Good News, from Back to Front Page

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

 The newest Yankee pitcher, Gerritt Cole, pitches batting practice at Yankee Stadium. Spring training has been delayed.

The newest Yankee pitcher, Gerritt Cole, pitches batting practice at Yankee Stadium. Spring training has been delayed.

  The boys of summer are going to finally start playing baseball … in July. Better late than never. Basketball and hockey players will be busy, too. For them, it’s unfinished business.

    This falls in the category of good news, for the players and fans, not to mention team owners and all the ancillary employees. Sports may be considered a diversion by some, a trifle to others. But to millions, sports are a welcome, even healthful, escape. As citizens of an agitated world, we can all use something to, if only temporarily, take our minds off, you know, things. Something to at least start the day without anxiety and angst.

     I began following the late Earl Warren’s formula for starting the day in my late teens: Begin reading in the back of the paper with the sports pages. Warren said: “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.“

     For me, it was the New York Daily News. Look at the other stuff later; it’ll still be there. I figured if it was good enough for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it was good enough me. Who won? Who pitched? How many, how fast, how about that?

     Later, when I was a sports editor for a couple of years, I tried to make my pages entertaining enough for other followers of Warren‘s philosophy. Here’s your morning jolt, sports fans! I don’t know if I succeeded, but it was certainly fun for me.

      So when they stopped sports along with everything else four months ago, it was bad news. There was nowhere to go for diversion. Netflix has served a purpose, but it’s tough to start the real day with fantasy heroes. Who hit the buzzer beater? Did the Knicks actually win? Who’s playing shortstop for the Yankees this year?

       I know it won’t be the same for a while. Maybe ever. So it’ll be different. But it’s likely that there will be pro sports later this month and, more likely, pro football in the fall. Go Giants! That’s good news.

      If you’re wondering why I’m focusing on good news here, it’s because of a comment Emma Gonzalez-Laders, a faithful reader, made on my most recent column: “You’re not normally the bringer of good news. I like this twist.”

      The “twist” she was referring to was taking a week’s worth of events that didn’t go the way Donald Trump would have liked — Supreme Court rulings, botched firings, campaign rallies in empty stadiums, stuff like that — and reporting it as good news. It’s what one has had to do to find “good news” in an age of all-Trump, all-chaos, all the time. It can get exhausting.

       But, nothing is forever. Witness the results of a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll, taken shortly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, reported that about half of American adults believe police violence against the public is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem. Last September, that same poll showed only about one-third of American adults felt that way.

       That is a significant change in a short period of time on a controversial social issue. The poll also revealed that 61 percent of Americans say police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person. That compares with 49 percent in 2015. And only about a third of Americans say the race of a person does not make a difference in the police use of deadly force. In 2015, half of Americans felt that way. Significantly, 65 percent said that police officers who cause injury or death in the course of their job are treated too leniently by the justice system, a 24-point increase over 2015.

        The poll results, along with the nationwide demonstrations protesting the way police took Floyd into custody — an officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes while three officers stood by and watched — suggest that Americans are finally ready to  rethink the role of police in their communities. Indeed, there has been a flurry of legislative action at city, state and federal levels to redefine the police mission, reduce police budgets, rethink training and recruiting, strip forces of military hardware, even eliminate police forces since Floyd’s much-viewed death.

         The fact that Floyd’s death was recorded and played millions of times on social media and that, subsequently, other examples of police violence against peaceful protesters were similarly recorded and played on social media for the world to see certainly had to play a role in this dramatic sea change in public opinion, as compared to the slow change in societal attitudes on other issues such as same sex marriage. It was finally hard to deny what people were seeing with their own eyes, over and over again. 

        The polltakers say the sudden, dramatic change suggests that this may be a permanent shifting in attitude, rather than the transitory flurry of outrage that has followed school shootings, for example.

        This is, to me, good news. Long-overdue, perhaps, but still good news. Like the long-overdue beginning of the baseball season.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

Press Gets Another Chance at Trump

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

By Bob Gaydostrump:constitution

Okay, number one: When Sean Spicer told reporters for The New York Times, the LA Times, CNN, and Politico they were not welcome at his press gaggle (whatever that is), representatives of every other legitimate news organization in that room should have stood up and walked out with their colleagues. Let the lying apologist shoot the breeze with the right-wing, nut job ‘’journalists’’ his boss invited to hear his latest pronouncement. Besides, those pronouncements are usually contradicted by key administration officials shortly after they hear what their boss just said.

The mainstream media doesn’t need to be reporting on every utterance of the Narcissist-in-Chief. He talks only to his base of delusional followers anyway because they actually believe him, or wish and pray hard for the willingness to keep believing him. That blind faith doesn’t appear to be likely to change a lot in the near future, so let them talk to each other. The real reporters in the room can get the news by doing their jobs the way they were trained to do them. And the way this White House is leaking like a sieve, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Which brings me to number two: If the legitimate mainstream media had been doing its job all along during the presidential campaign last year it probably wouldn’t be dealing with a super-sensitive, press-wary occupant in the White House. Well, maybe it would have, but at least it would have been an occupant who wasn’t predictably angry, petulant, and vindictive and one who actually understood how government works. Someone who would never kick the press out because she generally avoided meeting them in the first place.

But woulda-coulda-shoulda and if pigs could fly, the unpredictable dunce won and those reporters for the mainstream media played a big part in letting it happen, particularly TV news outlets.

While Trump was using insult and intimidation to lay waste to the joke of a field of presidential candidates the Republican Party fielded, most of the mainstream media busied itself filling air time and pages with one outrageous quote of his after another, often ignoring statements by other candidates and usually ignoring any mention of an actual issue.

It was all Trump this, Trump that. Seldom were questions about policy put to him and seldom was there any serious follow up on his many outrageous claims. It was all shock value as a way to attract viewers or readers. Only as the campaign wore on and the other candidates fell by the wayside one by one, did some of those news organizations begin to realize what was happening. Trump was lying, bullying and treating the campaign like a reality TV show. His name was everywhere and good or bad, he didn’t care. He was winning.

And, he didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. So what did the mainstream media do? It reported the heck out of Hillary Clinton’s non-existent email scandal. Day after day. E-mail this, e-mail that. (The FBI was no help.) No one bothered chasing the source of the leaks about those emails. No one bothered finding out the truth about Trump’s connections with Russia.

Meanwhile, the phony baloney news media — the ones who were allowed to stay in Spicer’s gaggle — were busy making up fake news every day — about Clinton, about Bernie Sanders, about Mexicans, about Muslims, about crime, about the economy, about President Obama. Trump even grudgingly admitted that all his bellowing about Obama not being a citizen was bull and he pretty much got a pass on it for admitting it.

And by time the mainstream media realized what a sexist pig Trump was, it was too late. His hardcore base of racists, bigots and other sexist pigs were strongly behind him now and a lot of other angry white Americans latched on to those fake news reports and said why don’t we shake up Washington by voting for a terrific businessman who’s going to provide jobs for us and who’s not going to hobnob with billionaires like Hillary does.

Right.

So here we are, my fellow Americans, with a man in the White House who doesn’t recognize the First Amendment, describes the press as the enemy, and who excludes news media from press conferences because they dared to report stories that did not portray him in the most positive light. Actually, they’re all digging into his connections with Russia.

It should be mentioned here that reporters from the Associated Press, TIME and USA Today joined their colleagues from the excluded media in walking out of the gaggle. Good for them. But what about the rest? Reporters from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox TV networks stayed with Spicer and the phony baloneys.

It’s not all bad. In a strange way, Trump has pulled the reverse on the old he giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other. During the campaign he made a mockery of the press. In office he has continued to insult and assault the media because they are finally recognizing him for what he is. Much of the mainstream media has started doing its job again. Reporting the truth. Digging behind the scenes and the press conferences for the real story. Holding politicians’ feet to the fire — and calling a lie a lie. In throwing down the gauntlet so brazenly, the man who knows so little about the Constitution has reminded much of the Fourth Estate that they hold a prominent place in that document.

Authoritarians, despots, would-be dictators go after the press first for one reason: It is the direct link to the people. In this country its job is to report the truth regardless of who is in power, whose career may be hurt. Trump’s words and actions regarding his Russian connection are reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s words and actions during the Watergate scandal. Attack, deny, blame  the press.

Trump has embarrassed the press, but then, in usual Trump fashion, he overplays his hand. He overestimates his intelligence, his power, and his eventual support. The ugly part of his base will stick with him. He is their Messiah. But if the press now does what it knows how to do a lot of those other Trump voters will come to realize they were conned, just like the media was, and they will insist that the press do its job.

Meanwhile, the mainstream press, print and electronic, should all boycott future White House press conferences until there is a sincere apology issued from the Oval Office. Not from Spicer, the errand boy. Skip the White House Correspondents Dinner, too, while you’re at it. Oh wait, Trump just said he’s skipping the dinner. No guts. Well then go and enjoy yourselves. Maybe see if Alec Baldwin is free to stand in.

Trump’s only enemy — and it’s a powerful one — is the truth.

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com