Posts Tagged ‘Perry’

Team Trump: Arrogance as a Virtue

Friday, April 27th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Dr. Ronny Jackson with his boss.

Dr. Ronny Jackson with his boss.

The first time I had any doubts about Dr./Admiral (Admiral/Dr.?) Ronny Jackson was also the first time I had any idea who he was — the presidential physician. That was in January when Jackson, after what he said was a thorough examination of Donald Trump proclaimed the clearly overweight, often confused Dotard-in-Chief to be in “excellent” health.

Indeed, everything about Trump’s health was seemingly “excellent,” or “very, very good.” “Excellent,” Jackson kept saying over and over.

Trump even did “exceedingly well” on his cognitive test, the doctor said. “I have absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability,” Jackson said at the time, making a point that Trump scored 30 out of 30 on a cognitive assessment test. Funny, I mused at the time, I don’t remember ever hearing a presidential physician feel the need to provide such detail on his patient’s cognitive abilities. Maybe it’s just me, I thought. Maybe I just never paid that much attention before. But Jackson did make sure to note that Trump is “very sharp, and he’s very articulate. .?.?. Very, very sharp, very intact,” Jackson insisted. The admiral/doctor said he “found no reason whatsoever to think that the President has any issues whatsoever with his thought process.”

Really? How could this stirring physical and mental report be true, I wondered, knowing as we do Trump‘s regular diet of fried chicken, Big Macs, red meat, Diet Coke and ice cream, his lack of any physical activity other than swinging a golf club and tweeting, the fact he is borderline obese and takes medication to lower his cholesterol, his habit of routinely contradicting himself and his resistance to reading or to facts or to anything that conflicts with what he prefers to believe?

“Good genes” was the doctor’s diagnosis. In fact, “incredible genes.”

Kissing the boss’s butt was my conclusion.

It gives me no pleasure to say it appears that I was right. As the admiral prepared to go before Congress this week to answer questions about his qualifications to head the Department of Veterans Affairs it became immediately obvious that he had none, except for saying a lot of nice things in public about Trump, having a cool military title and looking good in uniform. That’s a trifecta for promotion to Cabinet status in the Trump White House, a disaster in real life.

Unfortunately for Trump and the doctor, but fortunately for millions of veterans, others took the job of vetting a potential Cabinet member more seriously than did the White House. The main question: Can this guy manage the second largest department in the federal government even though he has no experience in that area? But before he even got to face a congressional committee to answer that question, Jackson withdrew his name from consideration amid stories of him drinking on duty, indiscriminately dispensing pills and overseeing a hostile work environment that curried favor with people in power and had staff members operating in fear of retribution.

Another one of “the best.”

I started running through the names of Trump’s Cabinet members trying to decide which one troubled/angered/disgusted me the most and was stunned when I realized Rick Perry wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list. I mean, the guy wanted to get rid of the Energy Department when he was running for president, then took the Cabinet post from Trump without realizing it regulated nuclear arms and energy.

But the former Texas governor has some stiff competition in what surely is the worst Cabinet and sub-Cabinet in modern U.S. history, perhaps all time. For sheer arrogance — strutting about acting as if they know what they are doing, living large on public tax dollars, ignoring the missions of the agencies they are supposed to lead and destroying the foundations on which this nation was built — the group cannot be beat. It is a perfect reflection of Trump, all con, all greed and incredibly cruel to boot.

I’ll spare you the whole, pitiful list. But briefly …

  • Rex Tillerson, as ill-suited as he was for the post of secretary of state was at least smart enough to note that Trump was “a moron.” That got Rex fired and gave us Trump super-fan and former congressman Mike Pompeo, moving from the CIA to State, neither of which he has the background or understanding of world tensions to direct. He prefers weapons to diplomacy. I-know-what-I’m-doing arrogant.
  • Steve Mnuchin, treasury secretary, was a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund manager — perfect qualifications for “draining the swamp,” as Trump promised, right? A Trump loyalist who lobbied for the job and loves to let everyone know he’s the money guy. Snobbishly arrogant.
  • Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, is a very rich woman who hates public schools, indeed doesn’t even know how schools run. Phony, arrogant and entitled, like Trump
  • Jeff Sessions, attorney general, is a racist who also wants to do battle with marijuana and immigrants. A Trump punching bag of late, but still arrogant in denying this country’s history.
  • Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, is a brain surgeon-savant. The real world is a mystery to Carson. He wants to raise the rents on public housing tenants and spent $30,000 in public funds on a dining room set. Loyal to Trump. Doesn’t even know he’s arrogant.
  • Ryan Zinke, interior secretary, rode into office on a horse and should go out the same way. Selling off public lands and spending a fortune on travel are his hallmarks. An ex-military guy. As stated, Trump loves that. Defiantly arrogant.
  • Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator is being grilled by Congress for his expensive travel and security arrangements. Trump likes that Pruitt denies climate change and favors undoing all environmental protection regulations for air, water, autos, etc. Proudly arrogant.
  • Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, was so good at being mean — meals on wheels and free lunches for poor kids are not justifiable expenses, he feels — Trump made him interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well. Mulvaney has systematically dismantled the bureau since getting the assignment. The Tea Party darling told bankers that if they wanted to be heard in this White House, they needed to give money and the more they gave the louder their voice would be. He loves his job. Trump loves him. A truly despicable human being. Beyond arrogant. Guess he’s my number one.

That’s enough. Just to return to the admiral for a minute. The depths of his self-serving smarminess should have been evident when he “examined” Trump and declared, “I think he will remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and even the remainder of another term if he is elected.”

Sycophancy, as Team Trump demonstrates, can be contagious. It can also be dangerous to careers. The doctor should have known.

Hillary and a Bunch of GOP Wanna-bes

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In recent months, thanks mainly to the Republican Party’s simple-minded policy of anything President Obama does or says we don’t like, I have been lulled into a state of who-gives-a-rat’s-patootie about politics. Really. What’s the point? He says shoot; they say war-monger. He says don’t shoot; they say coward. Hot? Cold. Higher minimum wage? Lower taxes on the rich.

Leave it to the Associated Press, apparently committed to the mission of tracking the stuff no one else cares about, to remind me that Americans have another presidential election coming up soon. Well, not really soon. It’s actually nearly two-and-a-half years from now, but, the AP tells me, there’s no time like the present to catch up on the “movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates.”

More than a dozen? I was flabbergasted. I could think of two Democrats:

  • Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, former senator from New York and former first lady is the odds-on favorite this far in advance of the vote to become the nation’s first woman president. She has the money, the machine, the name, etc. Although some people do hate her.
  • Vice President Joe Biden, who may make a token run against Clinton, but is more likely to step aside as, say, president of the University of Delaware or assume an advisory role in a new Clinton administration.

But the AP tells me there are two other Democratic possibilities:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. No way. First of all, there is a Cuomo family tradition of not running for president. Second of all, Cuomo served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Bill Clinton’s presidency and so is unlikely to challenge the Clintons. Plus, he’s got time on his side and is a shoo-in for re-election as governor.
  • Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. O’Malley? Who? Maryland? Get real.

Why not Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who at least have national name recognition and ardent supporters? Next!

It’s on the Republican side, though, that I had real trouble grappling with what the AP tells me is reality. My political sensibilities were shocked into a state of numbness as I read the list of possible GOP presidential candidates. Could this possibly be the best the party of Lincoln had to offer? Would any of these men be competent to carry Ike’s golf clubs? I went through the list:

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The supposed “moderate” Republican. His staff shut down the George Washington Bridge to get even with a Democratic politician who wouldn’t support Christie. Everywhere he goes, he has to defend himself against charges of being a bully. Tries to act like a reasonable politician, until you disagree with him. Two-faced. “I Am Not a Bully” does not resonate the same way as “I Like Ike.”
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s between him and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (see below) for dumbest on the list. Renounced his Canadian citizenship to make sure he could run for president, even though he didn’t have to. Canadian citizenship may have been the best thing about him. Led the campaign to shut down the federal government. He doesn’t believe in science or education or government, etc. Thus, a tea party darling. Some Republicans hate him.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Again? Didn’t he demonstrate his intellectual shortcomings in the last campaign? Not big on science, education, health care. He likes to create lots of low-paying (minimum wage or less) jobs to brag about his state’s employment rate and visits other states to poach businesses. What is wrong with Texas?
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Another flameout from last time around. A president named “Bobby?” I don’t think so. Louisianans are among poorest, least educated, unhealthy people in country. He loves the oil industry (hello, Gulf of Mexico residents).
  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Actually supported immigration reform until tea party robots attacked him. Now he doesn’t talk about it. Gutsy. Like Jindal, he messed up a big opportunity to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union. Coming up small in big moments is not a desirable trait in a president.
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Again? Another loser from the GOP’s 2012 primary circus. He’s making Christmas movies. He criticized his own party. He’s a religious super-conservative. Why is he even on this list?
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Okay, daddy was a Libertarian and son says he’s not. But he is. Which means there is no consistency. You will love him on some issues, hate him on others. Thinks employers have right to do pretty much anything with employees; opposes use of drones by government. He’s a favorite among tea partiers, for now. Wait until they ask him about penalizing people for smoking marijuana. Plagiarized other people’s words for his newspaper column. Unbending views are not a useful philosophy for governing, especially for the less-fortunate.
  • Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney’s losing running mate for the GOP in 2012. Authored draconian budget cuts in House of Representatives that hurt, yes, the poorest and least fortunate, but did negotiate compromise deal. A favorite of the Wall Street crowd that wrecked the economy. Sometimes irritates tea partiers, but that doesn’t take much. Presidential timber? Plywood.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Hates unions. Is in midst of a scandal about government staff doing campaign work for him. In the Mitt Romney mode of good-looking and seemingly articulate, but had to survive a recall vote.
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s a Bush. Two is enough. He believes in a sensible immigration policy, which means most Republicans will hate him. He’s on the list because he’s a Bush. We made that mistake already.

So that’s my take on the list of possible presidents, for now. You’ll notice no women on the Republican side. Some of the GOP names will, one hopes drop by the wayside between now and 2015. My even more fervent hope is that some more credible GOP candidates of substance will appear to challenge Clinton.

Maybe the AP can compile a list of those possibilities instead of following all these losers for two years.



What Won’t Perry Say to Raise Cash?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Rick Perry ... birther?

By Bob Gaydos

God bless Rick Perry.

Well, I don’t actually mean that literally, but what the heck, a lot of spiritual leaders say it’s good to pray for people with whom you have … issues. That qualifies Perry in my book.

But what I really mean to do is thank him for, in his usual bumbling way, providing a concrete example of what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about.

Money. The pursuit of money. The power of money. The endless pursuit of money in politics. The overwhelming power of money in politics.

Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas, a state that was content with Democratic chief executives for decades until the turn of the recent century. Perry was elected lieutenant governor to Gov. George W. Bush in 1999, then succeeded him as governor when the U.S. Supreme Court elected him president. Apparently, the Texas Legislature must have repealed the IQ requirement for governor shortly after Ann Richards left office.

In any event, Perry, reputedly a charming guy and a master fundraiser, has seen his presidential hopes dimmed because every time he speaks he sounds confused, evasive or just plain dumb. (Again, this has apparently not been a problem in Texas politics.) However, the fact that these things also hold true for many of his Republican primary opponents has kept his presidential dream alive.

It also took him to the feet of a man whose very name has become synonymous with what politics is about today — Donald Trump. Big money.

Perry had dinner with Trump in search of an endorsement and maybe some campaign donation. The thinking behind such courting is that, if Trump anoints Perry, perhaps a lot of others who want a piece of the Trump action will follow suit, just to ingratiate themselves with the Donald.

The fact that Trump, who abandoned his fake campaign weeks ago, still has any influence at all in GOP politics traces to his name and bank account. But Perry took the ingratiating far beyond the power and prestige route. He actually let one of Trump’s dumber ideas slip into his own conversation — the idea that President Obama was not born in the United States.

Yup, Perry fell into the “birther” briar patch, in, of all places, an interview with a reporter for Parade Magazine. Now, this is virtually impossible to do since the apple pie-America Sunday magazine doesn’t even approach Katie Couric on the tough interviewer scale. Here’s what was said in the middle of a lengthy interview that was edited for the print version, but appeared in full online:

“Parade: Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?

“Perry: I have no reason to think otherwise.

“Parade: That’s not a definitive, ‘Yes, I believe he’–

“Perry: Well, I don’t have a definitive answer, because he’s never seen my birth certificate.

“Parade: But you’ve seen his.

“Perry: I don’t know. Have I?

“Parade: You don’t believe what’s been released?

“Perry: I don’t know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night.

“Parade: And?

“Perry: That came up.

“Parade: And he said?

“Perry: He doesn’t think it’s real.

“Parade: And you said?

“Perry: I don’t have any idea. It doesn’t matter. He’s the President of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue.”

First off, kudos to reporter Lynn Sherr for a textbook interview, following each of Perry’s answers to the next logical question.

Second: He doesn’t have any idea if Obama’s birth certificate is real? Really? After Obama provided his long form birth certificate in April and Trump was laughed out of the campaign for sticking with that insulting argument? This is where Perry wants to go just because he had dinner with Mr. Moneybags? And voters are supposed to take Perry seriously when he talks about budgets and flat taxes and a lot of other more complicated issues?

The online version of the Parade interview also contained interesting comments by Perry on secession. He denied ever suggesting that Texas do it, as has been reported, but insisted that he could “understand” why some might suggest it: “Let’s say somebody stands up at an event and says, ‘Secede.’ My response would be that we have a great country. I see no reason that we would ever want to dissolve it, but I do understand why people get frustrated when government does not work the way our Founding Fathers meant for it to. I totally understand why people would shout that out. Do I think it’s a realistic thing? No.”

Not realistic? Why give the wackos any wiggle room? They claim to be patriots, so why not just say, “No. It would be an irresponsible act of war”?

Imagine if Texas, theoretically, decided to secede because residents got “frustrated” with the federal government and the president decided, as Abraham Lincoln did, that it was his duty to protect and defend all property of the United States?

Fort Bliss. Fort Hood. Corpus Christi Naval Air Station/Naval Hospital. Lackland Air Force Base. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Can Texas hope to just take them over without a fight? How about the oil fields crucial to U.S. security?

This is arrant nonsense, if not treason, and the fact that Perry can’t just say so is evidence of a mind too confused trying to figure out what he can say and still raise cash from the loony fringe of the Republican Party. Which includes Trump on the “birther” issue.

Sarah Palin, God bless her, figured it out. She decided to keep saying whatever popped into her head, raise bundles of money from the faithful, and leave the campaigning to the suckers.

What Life is Like in Perryland

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

By Bob Gaydos

Some national political pundits are already promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the head of the Republican class of presidential candidates because he is the chief executive of a state so large it can be regarded as a “mini-nation.” If you haven’t been paying attention, Perry is another folksy straight-shooter who once vetoed a bill that would have made it illegal to execute mentally retarded inmates. He has bragged a lot lately about his record insofar as creating jobs is concerned. Since he wants to be the chief executive of the whole dang nation, I thought it would be a good idea to check out exactly what kind of country we’re talking about. What is life like in Perryland, aka Texas?

For a detailed analysis, I went to the Texas Legislative Study Group’s fifth annual report on the state of their state, entitled “Texas on the Brink.” (You’re sensing something, aren’t you?) Full disclosure: The Texas Legislative Study Group does research on issues affecting Texans and prepares reports and policy papers for state legislators to help them decide what to do. It is a liberal-leaning group. However, all I’m presenting here are facts the group has compiled in assessing where Texas stands today in relation to other states. Texans do not quarrel with the study group’s facts; they merely disagree on their relative importance. That’s fine, I guess, if you’re happy living in Texas, but, as I said, Perry, who is as rigid as any other conservative candidate out there, wants to turn the whole USA into Perryland.

So, let’s start with jobs, shall we? Perry’s braggin’ on how Texas has created more jobs than any other state during the recession. True enough. Yet its unemployment rate in June was 8.2 percent, which was higher than New York’s. And last year, nearly 10 percent of the state’s work force, more than half a million people, were paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or less. That ties Texas with Mississippi for having the highest percentage of minimum-wage hourly workers. Not where you want to be number one.

Of course, Texas always has available jobs because of its huge energy industry. It also isn’t big on regulating business, has low taxes and housing prices and a warm climate. Those factors may attract people from other states to go to work in Texas, but as a national policy for creating jobs, it cannot work — unless we ease immigration policies on Canada. Mexico is clearly another story.

And what do people find when they settle in Texas? A snapshot of Perryland compared to the other 49 states:

  • It ranks 38th in average hourly earnings of production workers on manufacturing payrolls.
  • Government employee salaries rank 24th.
  • Percent of workers who belong to unions: 41st.

Of course, Perry has offered the usual argument about creating more jobs leading to greater wealth, better education and more opportunity. Here’s the state of education in Perryland (where teaching creationism is the governor’s answer to so many ills.):

  • The average salary of public school teachers (2009-2010): 31st
  • Current expenditures per student: 38th
  • State and local expenditures per pupil in public schools: 44th

Now, for a lot of our more conservative countrymen, these numbers might seem encouraging, since they feel New York and other states spend far too much on education in relation to the results. Well, the proof is in the pudding. Here’s how going cheap on schools has paid off in Perryland:

  • On SAT scores, Texas ranks 45th in the country.
  • Its high school graduation rate is 43rd.

And for real braggin’ rights:

  • In the percent of the population 25 and older with a high school diploma, Texas ranks 50th, dead last, in the country. (Some cynics might say that explains the election of the state’s last two governors.)

That takes care of opportunity, but that’s not all folks. All those low-income workers coming to Texas where the living is cheap have this to enjoy, courtesy of Gov. Perry:

  • Texas is 1st in percent of the population without health insurance.
  • Percent of non-elderly uninsured: also 1st
  • Percent of low income population covered by Medicaid: 49th
  • Percent with employer-based health insurance: 48th
  • Per capita state spending on mental health: 50th
  • Per capita state spending on Medicaid: 49th
  • Physicians per capita: 42nd
  • Dentists per capita: 39th
  • Registered nurses: 44th

Stay healthy, man.

And as far as being a low-tax state: A 2009 study found that families in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale pay more than three-and-a-half times as great a share of their earnings in taxes as the top one percent of Texans.

It all sounds like a very 21st century Republican approach to governing. Now, I’m all for reassessing budget allocations and belt-tightening all around, but I reckon I’m just not ready to turn the whole goldarn country into Perryland. Not just yet.