Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

The Death of The Fourth Estate?

Friday, May 10th, 2024

… Or, when I realized that my suspicion that The New York Times was not going to do anything to help save democracy in America was correct.

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                                ***

“To say that the threats of democracy are so great that the media is going to abandon its central role as a source of impartial information to help people vote — that’s essentially saying that the news media should become a propaganda arm for a single candidate, because we prefer that candidate’s agenda.”

Joe Kahn, editor NY Times,

May 5 in an interview with Semafor

                         ***

  “On this particular day, I looked to see what the great gray lady, The New York Times, had to say about the Trump trial. Its editorial went into great detail, carefully explaining all the nuances of the justice system and why everything was being done the way it was being done, etc. It was not until the end of what the paper itself described as “a seven-minute read,” that the editorial referred to Trump’s “disregard for the rule of law and his willingness to demean American justice when it suits his interests.”

   It continued, “Those actions render him manifestly unfit for office and would pose unique dangers to the United States during a second term. The greatest of those dangers, and the one that Americans should be most attuned to, is the damage that a second Trump presidency would inflict on the rule of law.”

      Well, no you-know-what Sherlock. Did no one at the Times ever explain to the editorial writer that “don’t bury the lead“ applies to editorials as well as news stories. Seven minutes to tell people don’t ever put this lunatic in office again? He’s too dangerous?! “Manifestly unfit!”

    Give me a break! Tell them at the top, tell them why and tell them again at the bottom. Tell them every damn day while you’ve still got a press! Geez, people, this is no time to be gentle.”

Me, April 18, in a column on Substack and zestoforange.com

                         ***

— The time, spring, 2034. The scene: A New York Times editor is watching the news on Government Channel 1 with his 10 year-old daughter.

Daughter: “Daddy, what were you doing when our great Orange Leader, who sadly just died, was saying he had to be made president for life, so that he could save the country from all the evil people trying to sneak into it and send them all back where they came from, and that he had to release all of those people who were wrongly put in jail for trying to kill the vice president, who was actually a traitor, and free the Capitol from a Congress that wasn’t following the Constitution and that he needed to punish all those people who were telling all those lies about him and stop Congress from sending money to Ukraine for weapons to fight Russia because Czar Putin was a good man and that we really needed instead to focus on saving the world from windmills? And he did! Do you remember what you were doing when he was saying all that?”

Daddy: “Well, yes, honey, I was a reporter at The Times and my job was writing about whether Marjorie Taylor Greene, an influential member of Congress at the time and now Secretary of State, thought the plans of our aging president, Joe Biden, for example to make life more affordable for everyone and to let people actually make their own decisions about their own lives, made any sense.

Daughter. Oh. Cool.

— Bob Gaydos




‘Old Joe’ Tells It Like It Is

Saturday, March 9th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

President Biden is applauded by his back bench, Vice President Kamala Harris.

President Biden is applauded by his back bench, Vice President Kamala Harris. RJ Photography Photo Illustration

   Speaking, if I may, for the legions of octogenarians who have had it up to our cataract-surgery-repaired eyes with all the nonsense that Joe Biden is too old to be president, thank you, Mr. President, for that wonderfully direct and forceful takedown of Mr. MAGA and all the little MAGATTS in Congress the other night. The State of the Union will be just fine in your hands.

     And that’s really the point, people. Not how old Biden is, but how capable and competent he is compared to the other guy, “my predecessor” as Biden cleverly put it.

     Heck, Donald Trump himself is a sloppy, flabby, slow-moving, memory-challenged 77-year-old, who looks like even making 80 would be an upset. And he doesn’t know or care one whit about what it means to be the leader of the free world, the spokesperson for democracy and champion of liberty. 

    Biden knows. He’s lived it. He understands it. He can articulate it. Maybe the words come out a little softer and slower, although the other night there was no problem hearing the message or noticing that Biden was in total control of the event, to the ultimate frustration of the juveniles in the Republican section who had nothing to offer but shouts and eventual surrender.

    Yup, Joe, Mr. President, you demonstrated that age and experience and wisdom and caring and compassion and a sense of duty and moral purpose can all coexist in the same somewhat worn but still functioning body. And mind. 

       And you demonstrated that passion and perhaps some anger can still be expressed by a uniquely experienced gentleman who’s tired of being told he’s too old for the job when the only other guy up for it is an old, twice-impeached, out-of-shape adjudged rapist and pathological liar currently facing 91 felony charges in four separate courts, who has been convicted of massive business fraud charges and who recently told Vladimir Putin to go ahead and attack some NATO countries, no big deal. 

     This is the story, folks. Thanks for reminding the world about that, Joe. 

      As someone also privileged to reach the 90th decade of my life, I have written that I would prefer that the presidential candidate for both Democratic and Republican parties be younger than either Biden or Trump. I still do. Maybe it was my own mental fatigue from the last eight years showing, but, in general, I would prefer a somewhat younger president. 

      However, the reality is that neither party has come up with a younger candidate to seriously challenge these two men. That’s something both parties need to address. Given the current choice, and still having most of my wits about me, I prefer the man who comforts the families of mass shooting victims and promotes sensible gun control laws over the guy who flippantly tells them to “get over it.” Disgusting.

     People age differently. Some (the current president) do it gracefully, demonstrating confidence, patience, wisdom and experience, even though their gait and words may be sometimes halting. It can be deceptive.

    Some (the predecessor) just get older, nastier and more selfish. And they don’t walk or talk so great either. What you see is what you get.

     Take your time getting to the podium, Joe. Then give ‘em hell.    

rjgaydos@gmail.com

      

      

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

rjgaydos@gmail.com

A Weekend Frozen in Time with Mitch

Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Sen. Mitch McConnell freezes while talking to the press.

Sen. Mitch McConnell freezes while talking to the press.

   Labor Day weekend offered an opportunity to sit back, relax and ponder the mysteries of the day, such as Mitch McConnell’s mysterious “freezing” episodes in which the senator from Kentucky basically locks up and stares straight ahead silently for about 30 seconds, apparently unaware when the freeze ends that it even happened in the midst of a press conference and his staff acts as if everything is OK, nothing going on here, just move along because the Senate Minority Leader has no plans to retire even though he’s 81 and, you know, had that fall and the concussion and keeps freezing up indiscriminately, which the staff say shouldn’t alarm Kentuckians because doctors in the Capitol and other Republican senators,  who are loathe to get on his bad side, say Mitch is “medically clear” and “perfectly capable” of carrying out his duties and, heck, his term doesn’t end until January of 2027, so why should we tell Americans what’s really going on with his health when we have more than three years to enjoy a position of influence in Washington and at the same time try to latch on to another senior senator who will assume leadership of the Republicans in the Senate because, despite Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley citing “aging” leadership in Washington being a reason to install term limits, once people get power most don’t like to give it up and, as has been shown repeatedly in recent years, some people who want power will do whatever they can to get it, even lie about pretty much anything and, no, I’m not talking about Number 45, but rather, the most recent obvious Trump wannabe, Vivek Ramaswamy, a previously unknown 38-year-old pharmaceutical company CEO, graduate of Yale and Harvard Law, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination on a litany of lies and bigotry (he says he’s never met a white supremacist and has both praised and mocked the Juneteenth federal holiday), most likely as a way to raise cash and maybe land a spot behind Trump on the 2024 ticket since the four indictments have yet to do much to weaken his hold on the top spot, as contrasted with the position of Luis Rubiales, head of the Spanish Football Federation, who exuberantly kissed a member of that nation’s women’s soccer team when they won the World Cup and found himself facing suspension from his post when she complained that the kiss was unsolicited and unwelcome and the team backed her up even though he now says otherwise after first apologizing and FIFA suspended him for 90 days and then the Spanish government looked to suspend him from his position, a hope that was at least temporarily dashed when a Spanish court, while agreeing to open a case on the incident, said it considered the offense to be merely “serious,” not “very serious,” meaning the government couldn’t immediately suspend Rubiales, which is the kind of court of last resort outcome Russian President Vladimir Putin may be looking for when he meets later this month with North Korea’s reigning strongman Kim Jong-un to discuss a possible food for weapons deal, in which the once admired but recently exposed overrated Russian military gets much-needed weapons for its disastrous war against Ukraine and North Korea, a worldwide pariah with whom almost all nations have pledged not to trade arms, gets much-needed food to feed its citizens so that, much like the seasonally migrating hummingbirds and recurring Covid-19 in New York, they can continue to produce weapons and maintain the Kim family in power forever.

     Or until Mitch McConnell freezes over.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Shohei, 45 and Prigozhin: Pick One

Sunday, August 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

P.T. Barnum, like Trup, knew how to make a shady buck.

P.T. Barnum, like Trump, knew how to make a shady buck.

    Occasionally, the Universe conspires to make life a bit more challenging for those who cover the news of the day, as in the previous week when three major stories competed for front page attention, (1.) the much-anticipated assassination in Russia of Yevgeny Prigozhin, (2.) the eagerly awaited arrest and first-ever mugshot taking of a former American president, in Atlanta, and (3.) the totally unexpected report from Los Angeles that the best player in baseball, Shohei Ohtani, the only successful pitcher/hitter since Babe Ruth, had suffered a serious injury to the elbow of his pitching arm and will (4.) require Tommy John surgery (named after the first pitcher to have it done*) or full arm rest to repair his elbow, meaning he will not pitch again this year, or ever again, and will likely (5.) see his asking price for a new contract when he is a free agent at the end of the year fall by a few hundred million dollars (that is correct for non-sports fans), and maybe even worse, put an end to his brief but marvelous career as simultaneously one of the game’s great pitchers and hitters, limiting him to merely hitting home runs every day, which, of course, is still a far better fate than that of Prigozhin, who (6.) incredibly was still hanging around Russia two months after abruptly stopping his coup attempt against Vladimir Putin about 150 miles from Moscow, (7.) foolishly trusting Putin’s promise to let him go live peaceably in Belarus and (8.) inexplicably packing his private plane with other leaders of his Wagner paramilitary force, making it easier for an “unexplained” explosion to wipe them all out in one fell swoop, (9.) demonstrating that Putin is not limited to using falls from high windows or poison to eliminate those he perceives as enemies, (10.) a scary reputation that the aforementioned arrested  former president, Donald Trump, would undoubtedly  enjoy having, rather than that of a (11.) lying traitor who led a conspiracy and fomented

The mug shot.

The mug shot.

violence to try to overturn a legitimate election he had lost, (12.) illegally concealed classified government documents, (13.) used campaign funds to pay hush money to cover up an affair he had with a porn star while his wife was tending to their young child, (14.) raped a woman in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman and slandered her even after he was found guilty, (15.) defrauded New York State of millions in taxes, and (16) continues to threaten and insult judges, prosecutors and (rare) political opponents who dare to speak the truth about him and to support the rule of law, all to (17.) rile up his supporters and to ostensibly raise money for his presidential campaign, but which will probably go to (18.) pay his monumental legal expenses so that he can find lawyers willing to represent him, which is not easy given his cheapskate reputation, none of which seems to bother his legion of loyal followers, who (19.) continue to ignore reality and send him money every time he plays the “victim” of the system routine, proving that (20.) P.T. Barnum was right when he (allegedly) said, “There’s a sucker (or a few million) born every minute,” which includes anyone who believes that the flabby Trump is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs a mere 215 pounds, as an aide entered in the record for him when he was booked in Atlanta, (21) in a circus scene lacking only Barnum’s famous sign, “This way to the egress,” * (22.), to which I say, soon, please, Universe.

      Shohei wins.

(* Tommy John was a good left-handed pitcher, who won 288 games in 26 seasons, including two 20-win seasons for the New York Yankees.)

(*When you went though the door to get to the  “egress,” you had to pay to get back in to the sideshow. Trump would’ve loved Barnum.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

An Interesting, Imperfect Week

Friday, June 30th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Yankees Pitcher Domingo German pitched a perfect game.

Yankees Pitcher Domingo German pitched a perfect game.

   When one’s primary focus is offering commentary on the most significant news of the day and it’s a day (or week) in which Donald Trump has not been indicted, arrested, convicted or imprisoned, well, one has to look around at the rest of the world and choose what’s important. Kind of stream of consciousness reporting.

      For example, (1) in a week in which the leader of a ruthless mercenary military group in Russia apparently decided to call off a coup attempt aimed at Vladimir Putin in midstream and (2) reports say some Russian generals may have known about the plan and Putin may be about to purge them, how significant was it that the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court (3) blew up affirmative action and (4) Joe Biden’s college loan forgiveness plan, (5) said (despite a Colorado state law barring discrimination) that a wedding website designer could refuse to design a website because the would-be clients are gay, all the while (6) holding fast to the argument that the top court in the U.S. should not be bound to conflict of interest rules like every other court in the land, apparently suggesting that Supreme Court justices should (7) be able to take lavish vacations paid for by clients who have cases before the court, (8) that the fact that a justice’s spouse actively encouraged a coup attempt aimed at the U.S. government didn’t matter and (9) that another’s spouse got millions in business from another frequent visitor to the court did not matter either because, well, apparently because the High Nine are morally perfect individuals, which is not necessarily the case with (9) Domingo German, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, who pitched a perfect game against the Oakland A’s and, despite the fact it was only the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball ever, was criticized by some because he had been (10) suspended by MLB a couple of years ago for spousal abuse, even though one must presume (or at least hope)  he had made significant enough changes in his life by now to merit reinstatement, while others suggested the accomplishment wasn’t much because (11) Oakland is one of the worst teams in baseball at the moment, an argument which ignores the fact that these are all major league players, the best ball players in the country, making a guaranteed minimum salary of $720,000 a year, and, all the while, much of the country (including New York State, where I live) witnessed all of this (12) through a choking haze of smoke courtesy of thousands of wildfires still burning in Canada, undoubtedly aggravated by (13) global warming, which almost no one is talking much about lately, certainly not (14) Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, who we learned sat down voluntarily for a chat with Special Counsel Jack Smith in connection with (15) investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection and efforts by Trump to steal the 2020 election, leading to speculation that Giuliani, disbarred and disgraced, might be (16) looking for a plea deal to avoid a long prison term in exchange for information leading to (17) the indictment, arrest, conviction and imprisonment of the aforesaid Donald Trump.

     I knew I’d get there.

                 ***

PS: The Yankees have had four perfect games thrown by their pitchers, more than any other team. I watched on TV as Don Larsen threw his against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and 43 years later listened on radio as David Cone achieved perfection. People tend to forget that, not only the pitcher, but the whole team has to be perfect to accomplish this. Have a nice week.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

A Strange U-turn on the Road to Moscow

Monday, June 26th, 2023


By Bob Gaydos

Yevgheni Prigozhin … man without a country?

Yevgheni Prigozhin
… man without a country?

I’m not sure if Yevgeny Prigozhin is the bravest or dumbest man in Russia. Well, I guess Belarus now. However, I have no doubt he has shown the world that Vladimir Putin’s 20-year, vise-like grip on the reins of power in Moscow has slipped.

   Even if that weakening is ever so slight, in Putin’s Kremlin that is cause for concern for him.

    Prigozhin’s dramatic  Saturday dash for Moscow with his Wagner fighting forces electrified and captured the attention of the world only to fizzle out just as TV commentators were getting used to the words Russia and revolution in the same sentence.

      Just as dramatically as it had begun, it was over. What happened? It remains the 64 million ruble question.

      First reports said that Putin’s patsy neighbor, Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, had brokered a deal giving Prigozhin amnesty in Belarus and Putin dropping treason charges in exchange for Prigozhin calling off his apparent assault on Moscow. The Wagner forces would also not face charges and would be allowed to join the Russian military.

      Prigozhin reportedly said he turned his troops around to “avoid spilling Russian blood.”

       Then what was the point? He had been clear and very vocal about his displeasure with the way Russia’s military leaders have been conducting the war in Ukraine. He had gone even further, accusing Russian troops of attacking his Wagner forces. He was demanding a change in leadership at the top.

      The dramatic (and easy) seizing of Rostov-on-Don, a key military headquarters in Russia and the movement of a force of mercenaries hundreds of miles unhampered towards Moscow certainly seemed like Prigozhin was finally turning his words into action. Reports said the Wagner forces were cheered as they left Rostov-on-Don to head to Moscow.

       Later reports, however, quote Prigozhin saying he never intended to actually try to seize power in Moscow but rather, apparently, just make a show of force to bring about a change in Russia’s military leadership.

     Well, I’m not an expert on Russia, but I have been around long enough to know that Vladimir Putin does not take kindly to other Russians publicly challenging his leadership, never mind sending a well-trained fighting force to do something or other in Moscow. Nor does he usually forget calling someone a traitor.

     Nor am I convinced that Lukashenko could come up with such a deal so quickly as to stop a rebellion literally in its tracks. I see the hand of Putin in that and I also see Prigozhin being a fool if he thinks he is safe in Belarus. If anything, Lukashenko’s regime is worse than Putin’s and Belarus is virtually an annex of Russia.

    If Prigozhin stays there, he’s going to have someone testing his water or vodka before drinking for the rest of his life. Poison is Putin‘s favorite means of getting rid of enemies. This looks like a quick stop for Prigozhin just to go elsewhere. But where would he be safe or welcome?

      Meanwhile:

— Putin went incognito for a few days while the Russian parliament went about passing a law prohibiting private mercenary groups such as Wagner.

— Russian state-controlled media continue to report that treason charges against Prigozhin are still on the books.

— Wagner forces returned to Ukraine, though apparently not sure what their next mission would be or who would be their commander. The uncertain future of the Wagner group, the most brutal Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, was good news for Ukraine.

— Ukrainian forces hoped to take advantage of the chaos in Russia in their counteroffensive against Putin’s troops.

— There was no indication of any changes in leadership of Russia’s military command.

— Russia’s military power was once again shown to the world to be much less than advertised.

— Putin reappeared to insist that his Kremlin team and, indeed, all Russians remained united against any forces who wanted them “to fight each other.” He was also left to wonder if, next time, the revolution won’t make a U-turn on the highway to Moscow.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

My Dinner with Donald, part two

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Dinner with Trump? No words.

Dinner with Trump? No words.

   It was a good question. An excellent question, actually: “What would you say to him if you did have dinner with him?”

     The “him” in this case would be Donald Trump. The notion of having dinner with him was the subject of a recent column I wrote regarding an email (actually several) from Trump inviting me to enter a lottery for a chance to have dinner with him. One lucky person will win! Just donate!

     Ultimately, I didn’t donate and then killed all the emails and wrote a column about what a unique experience it would be to have dinner with a former president, especially this recently indicted and convicted and still under investigation former president. But then, what would I, a mere retired journalist, possibly say to Trump, I asked jokingly, “Pass the ketchup?”

      The moderator of a Facebook site to which I belong and where I had posted the column (The Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group) approved the post and then called me on it in the comments section. “What would you say?”

       I hate when they do that. Make you get all serious about stuff. But, I thought, it’s a legit question. So I’ve given it some thought.

        Knowing what a narcissist Trump is, there’s always the basic question to ask a prominent person: Who was the biggest influence on your life?

        But I probably wouldn’t want to hear about his racist, slumlord father or his old friend and thug-of-a-lawyer Roy Cohn. Not dinner talk.

        Family? “How’s Baron? When’s the last time you saw him? Does he play any sports? How do you feel about Ivanka losing interest in politics? Wasn’t that something how the woman in the changing room at Bergdorf Goodman looked so much like your second wife, Marla, in that photograph?”

       Scratch family.

       Sports? “How come that hotshot football player, Herschel Walker, whom you signed to play for the New Jersey Generals in the doomed-to-fail USFL when they wouldn’t let you have a team in the NFL, lost, despite your support, when he ran for the Senate in Georgia?”

    No.

    I finally decided the only question I really wanted to ask Trump was, “What did Putin say when it was just the two of you in that room together with no one taking notes and you came out looking like someone who had just been blackmailed over incriminating photos and he was smiling like he had just swallowed the canary?”

     I also figured he’d never answer.

     Umm, “How do you live with yourself?”

     He wouldn’t understand.

     Ultimately, I decided there could be no dinner talk with Donald Trump because from what I’ve seen, he doesn’t have conversations. He talks at you. He makes pronouncements. He tosses out gratuitous insults. He comments on how much he knows about so many things. He makes stuff up. He doesn’t understand a lot of stuff. He has no sense of humor. For some reason, he likes to show off old maps he found lying around the White House. If you’re an attractive, young female, he’ll put his hand on your thigh and slide it as far as possible because he can because, as he’s said, he’s a celebrity.

     And then there’s this: He has, by extension, called me, an ink-stained wretch of a newspaperman, “the enemy of the people.”

      “Pass the ketchup,” it is.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Old? Make That Bold Joe Biden

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023
President Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

President Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

By Bob Gaydos

    About that Joe Biden is too old to run for re-election column I wrote a little while back … I may have been a bit hasty. 

      The “old” man just took the boldest, most dramatic act by an American president since, well, I can’t remember when.

       Biden’s surprise trip to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was at once diplomatically and politically brilliant, as well as brave.

        Shaking hands with the Ukrainian president in the middle of a war zone in an area not controlled by American forces immediately sent two messages:

  1. To Russian President Vladimir Putin: The United States of America is still the protector of freedom and democracy around the world. The leader of the Free World. Do not mess with us.
  2. To Democrats (and Republicans) considering running for president in 2024: Joe Biden is still an astute politician and the leader of the Democratic Party. Don’t mess with him.

         Too old? A special military flight to Poland and then a secret train ride to Kyiv for a “golf” rendezvous, with a courtesy call to the Russians that the American president will be visiting the heart of the country they have so miserably failed at conquering so don’t do anything stupid? That’s a movie script.

        The scenes of Biden shaking hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Biden’s later comments in Poland had to infuriate Putin as much as it heartened Ukrainians and citizens of Poland and other Eastern European countries fearful of Russia’s expansionist tendencies. One year since Russia invaded Ukraine and Biden is in Kyiv, not Putin. The U.S. and NATO stand resolved to help Ukraine defeat the Russian invaders. 

       It also undoubtedly gave pause to any Democrats thinking of challenging Biden in 2024, as he appears to be planning a campaign for reelection. 

    Of course, there is also the fact that there is no obvious, younger, replacement candidate among Democrats. No charismatic leader. Nor is there anyone with the political experience and savvy demonstrated in his first two years by this president who occasionally flubs some words, stutters and walks slowly.

     As for Republican  presidential hopefuls, Donald Trump has already lost to Biden, is under several criminal investigations, any one of which could result in his indictment and, as Nikki Haley not so subtly reminded us of, is in the same age category as Biden. Over 75. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, announced her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination by calling for competency tests for any candidate for federal office over the age of 75.

      Gee, wonder who she was talking about. Personally, I think one would have to be out of his or her mind  to run for Congress, although these days that doesn’t seem to matter in Republican primaries. But Haley’s statement represents a blatant ageism, assuming that candidates younger than 75 would automatically pass a  competency test. For what it’s worth and based on what we’ve all seen and heard, I think Biden easily passes and Trump flunks any legitimate one.

     Do I wish Biden were maybe at least 10 years younger? Sure. I’m a year older than Biden. I know the actuarial numbers on life expectancy and the daily risks of life in general for older people.

      But presidents get the best of care and it’s hard to dismiss experience and boldness, especially when combined with results.

      Biden has got inflation down to a manageable level, the unemployment rate is the lowest in decades, a wide-ranging infrastructure bill (promised, but never delivered by Trump) will bring jobs and improve bridges, highways, railways across the country, a new chips act will take much of that business away from China and Medicare recipients will get a break on drug prices. He even tricked Republicans into saying they don’t want to cut Social Security and Medicare in giving his State of the Union speech. Not a bad first couple of years, especially for an “old” man.

    An old man, by the way, dealing with a Republican party pledged to oppose anything and everything Democrats propose. In a party with a growing progressive wing, the moderate Biden has demonstrated he knows how to be president and get some things accomplished in spite of sharp differences of opinion. And, in his trip to Kyiv, he has displayed courage and leadership to go with his ability to connect with the average American.

     So, is he too old? Time and fate may ultimately hold the answer. But Biden showed me something I didn’t know was there. For now, I guess I’m hedging my bet.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

      

 

Judge Needs 61 in 154 Games, or Less

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

(With a nod of respect and appreciation for the late, great Jimmy Cannon.)

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

— If Aaron Judge hits his 61st home run within the Yankees’ first 154 games, he is the undisputed, no asterisk necessary, single-season home run king of the American League. That makes him, to me at least, the record holder for all of baseball, because all those who hit more (National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire) did so while using steroids to enhance their performance. That’s cheating. Baseball says it doesn’t approve of cheating.

As for that asterisk, baseball used to put one next to Roger Maris’ name as home run king because he hit 61 in an expanded 162-game season in 1961. In the Yankees’ last game, in fact. That meant Babe Ruth’s magic 60 number (hit in a 154-game season) still stood. That asterisk now only exists in the minds of some older baseball fans. That’s why I say Judge can erase any doubts by getting to 61 or 62 in 154 games. But if he tops Maris in 162 games, he’ll still be the all-time single-season home run champ in my book … unless they catch him using steroids or some other performance enhancer. This may sound naive to some, but I don’t see how someone who cheats, however talented he or she may be, should be credited with any kind of athletic performance record. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping records?

— Maybe it’s just me, but: The judge granting Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the thousands of federal documents the FBI removed from his Mar-a-Lago home is no big victory for the ex-president. It’s a sign the judge is being careful in this precedent-setting case. Any claims by Republicans beyond that is just more smoke. It may slow the investigation down a bit, which is what Trump always tries to do, but don’t you think the FBI is already well aware of what’s in those documents they’ve been scouring for days? Bottom line: No legitimate reason for Trump to have them.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, or rather, how it was received by many Russians, has a lesson for Americans who think Trump and the MAGAs are no big deal here. Many Russians criticized, even hated, the author of glasnost (an open government policy) because they felt the end of the Soviet Union represented a huge loss of Russian standing as a world power, rather than a victory for freedom and equal rights for all citizens of the union. They preferred the projection of world power to the right to live as they chose, rather than as how the Communist Party dictated. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a product of the Soviet regime, has worked tirelessly at recreating that dynamic. He snubbed Gorbachev’s funeral. The former Russian president did not even get a state funeral. Only one foreign dignitary attended (from Hungary), because of Putin’s invasion and continuing war in Ukraine. Authoritarians and their followers, once they have a taste of power, do not give it up easily. That’s why the Jan. 6 congressional hearings and the FBI probe into Trump’s stash of secret and classified government documents at his home are important. It’s also why voting for any political candidate who doesn’t agree with that statement is a vote against glasnost.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Serena Williams deserves all the accolades she received on her retirement from tennis. A true champion in every way.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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