Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

A 12-Step Program for Republicans

Monday, January 29th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

38E746B5-A254-42AA-9A6F-7683C3D4A74CThis column is updated from three years ago because it’s election time again and, well, denial is the first, big obstacle. Until and unless they can admit they were/are powerless over Donald Trump, Republicans have no hope of recovering. They will be forever known as Trumpaholics, people addicted to avoiding reality and destined for a life that is, by any reasonable measure, unmanageable. I cite the last eight years as evidence.

  But, as they say, there is a solution, one that has changed lives for the better for millions of people worldwide — a 12-Step program. It has worked miracles for alcoholics; it can work for Trumpaholics.

 

       I’ve written on addiction and recovery for more than 15 years. One of the recurring stories I’ve heard over that time is that the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are not just a proven way to stop drinking, but also an excellent formula for living a good life. Getting rid of the booze — or in this case, the Donald — is only the beginning. Republicans can reap these rewards, individually or as a party … but only if they really want to change.

 

        So, with a deep bow to Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob and A.A. and adapted in all humility, here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Republicans:

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over Trump, that our party had become unmanageable.  This state of affairs is usually evident to non-addicts of the individual’s acquaintance well before that aha! moment arrives, if it does. Members of A.A. say this is the only step they have to get perfect, for obvious reasons. If a Republican can’t admit — still — that Trump dominates his or her every political thought or action, there’s no sense going on to Step 2. Denial. However, if Republicans can look at the past eight years of saying yes to virtually everything Trump did or said and acknowledge the trouble that this blind obedience, this dependence, has caused in Republicans’ lives (broken relationships, lost jobs and opportunities, ruined reputations, trouble with the law) as well as the pain it inflicted on the lives of many others, there is hope.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than Trump or Mitch McConnell could restore us to sanity. (No one said this was easy.) No, this does not mean everyone becoming Evangelical Christians. Quite the opposite. That would simply be swapping blind faith in Trump for blind faith in other con men and women. Give me your money and you will be saved. For a party that professes a belief in strong family values and makes a public display of respecting religious (well, Christian) teachings, this should not be a problem. Theoretically. However, I think it could be challenging to many Republicans who have become used to giving lip service to their professed religious beliefs. Skeptical alcoholics are sometimes advised to pick a higher power of their own choosing or at least to believe that someone whose sobriety they admire has such a belief. Instead of putting their hands on some charlatan’s shoulders and bowing their heads, supposedly in prayer, Republicans should look within the ranks (or without) for a source of strength, hope and faith and emulate that person. It should be someone with a sincere, demonstrated, spiritual footing. Hint: it’s not Ted Cruz. Not a Koch brother or Rupert Murdoch either. Keep looking. Someone more like Lincoln, remember? It may take a little time. That’s OK.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will, our money and our platform over to the care of whatever power we came up with in Step 2.  A key step. Last time out, Republicans did this almost accidentally with Trump. That was blind, misplaced faith in the flashy guy. No willpower, true, but no sense of shared responsibility to the greater good. This time, they need to decide to follow the lead of someone with sound moral principles and then lead their political lives accordingly. That is, decide to do the rest of the steps.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This step could be a problem for a lot of Republicans because it requires honesty. But if they want to change, they need a list of the things they want to change. For example, lying that the presidential election was stolen while knowing there was never any proof of this would be something to put high on the list. Lying is bad, even in politics. Hypocrisy is just a fancy word for lying. Also, stealing and harming others so as to benefit yourself. Breaking the law, too. Insurrection. All Trump’s pardons did not remove the guilt, they merely freed the guilty.
  5. Shared with that higher power from step two, with ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. In other words, look in the mirror and say, “I have been a self-serving, lying, backstabbing, selfish, hypocritical, cowardly son-of-a-bitch for the past four years,“ and then release a statement to that affect — in detail — on social media. Get Liz Cheney to pose in the picture with you. Piece of cake.
  6. Were entirely ready to have my higher power (with the help of a new party leader of sound moral standing) remove these defects of character. Basically, Republicans must resign themselves to the fact that they have been a group of self-serving, lying, cowardly, etc. since they chose Trump as their leader. This is the truth, the real news. When and if they accept it, they can move on to Step 7.
  7. Humbly asked him or her to remove our shortcomings. Harder than it sounds. First of all, shortcomings seldom ever really go away. They find new hiding places. Republicans will have to become aware of them and try to avoid them. Stop lying about the deficit, That’s a lifetime of work and will require humility. Good luck finding someone to explain that concept to Republicans. Again, not Ted Cruz, who confuses humiliation with humility.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Really. You don’t get to totally screw up a country and just walk away like nothing happened. Not if you want to change.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. That last part lets Republicans stay out of jail and not hurt their own family by admitting how they routinely cheated minority voters with sketchy redistricting plans and harsh voter registration laws.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when wrong promptly admitted it. This is the new way of living part of it. “I’m sorry; I was wrong.” Try not to abuse this step. Match your words with action.
  11. Sought through regular meetings and work sessions, at which an honest exchange of ideas is encouraged and welcomed, to maintain contact with our new party leader, seeking only to learn what the new Republican Party stands for and the power and courage to carry that out. Prayer and meditation wouldn’t hurt either.
  12. Having had a major reprieve and possibly a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the new Republican Party message to Trumpaholics and others and to practice its new principles in all our affairs. One day at a time.

   That’s it. The formula for recovery for the Republican Party. But there is one thing more. With alcoholics, the drinking is just a symptom of the disease. When the drinking stops, the disease (much of the behavior) doesn’t go away. That’s why recovery is a daily practice. To avoid relapse.

 The real question for Republicans is what made them Trumpaholics in the first place.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

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


By Bob Gaydos
   

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

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

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

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

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

                                                              ***.                                     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

         

           

            

         

          

Want My Vote? Who Won in 2020?

Friday, October 20th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      And keep your Trump buttons.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Stink Bugs, the GOP and a Clean House

Friday, October 6th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Stink bug

Stink bug

    There were two significant events this past week:

  1. The stink bugs arrived in the neighborhood and settled on the screens to the kitchen windows, resulting in constant barking by the resident beagle.

Kevin McCRthy

Kevin McCarthy

 2. Kevin McCarthy became the first speaker of the House of Representatives to be removed by a vote of its members in the history of the United States of America, as a result of a motion introduced by members of his own Republican Party, no less.

    The odor emanating out of Washington was far worse than anything the bugs could offer and, while Republicans kept barking that Democrats were to blame for McCarthy’s squashing, for a change no one was listening. He and they are victims of their own cravenness.

      While a quick finger snap on the screen got rid of the bugs (at least temporarily), Republicans had to shut down the entire House of Representatives for the rest of the week after their  Tuesday dethronement of their “leader” because no one was sure what to do next.

      Apparently, a lot of Republicans expected the Democrats to provide the necessary votes to keep McCarthy in the speaker’s position, even though he had given them no reason to do so, having gone back on his word to President Biden on a deal to avoid a government shutdown and then having agreed to a sham hearing to decide whether there was any conceivable reason to begin impeachment proceedings against Biden. There wasn’t.

     So yeah, Democrats really felt like supporting McCarthy. Your mess, you fix it, they said. Rightly so.

     The mess, of course, is the inevitable result of the GOP’s own deal with the devil. In this case, the part of Faust was played by the Tea Party.

     When the GOP grew weary of traditionally lagging badly behind Democrats in registered voters, rather than seeking to offer ideas for a new century, rather than offering programs and projects that might appeal to more Americans, and, thus, result in more votes for Republicans, the party simply agreed to let in more radical rightwing thinkers whose ideas were even less popular with a majority of Americans, simply because they at least represented more numbers.

     But those new “Republicans” never had any concept of how to govern, and, indeed, never intended to do so. They wanted mainly to gain the power to strip the government of virtually all its control of how corporations and businesses make money and to impose their own strict, moral code on the nation. To heck with “of the people, by the people, for the people.” They wanted it their way and were willing to do anything to get it

    Over time, efforts to prevent certain people (non-whites) from voting weren’t successful enough to boost Republican election numbers, so the party simply let in pretty much anyone who could sign his or her name and say no to every Democrat.

     A few of them eventually wound up in Congress and, in the House of Representatives, which is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, their disproportionate ability to sway the vote for speaker despite their numbers saw them pressure McCarthy to promise to give them anything they wanted if they would let him be Speaker of the House. Pretty please with a tax cut on top.

      And so he did and so they did and so, predictably, they — now calling themselves the Freedom Caucus — turned on him the only time he tried to actually do his job and keep the government open so that tens of thousands of Americans could get their paychecks and government services could proceed as usual.

   McCarthy, driven purely by ego and apparently devoid of any backbone, didn’t understand that they were giving him the title, but not the power. A whole lot of other Republicans in the House simply sat quietly while they watched the travesty unfold, apparently waiting for Democrats to save McCarthy from the knives of his own party. Again: Fear, ego, cowardice.

      Of course, while this was going on, the leader of the onetime actual political party, Donald Trump, was in court, having been found guilty on business fraud charges which stripped the gold-plated phony of his claims of being a business genius and maybe of all his businesses.

    There are about a half dozen other court appearances still waiting for him. And he is still considered to be the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024, although some of that support has apparently been slipping lately. Apparently, some feel that’s in direct proportion to his own slipping mental capacities.

     At week’s end, as weary and wary Americans waited, unimpressed by the history of the moment, there was still no clue as to who the new speaker of the House might be. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, two of the least competent, least intelligent Republican members had declared themselves candidates for the job. Trump was reportedly pushing for Jordan.

      Meanwhile, the stink bugs on the screens had quietly disappeared, knowing they were unwelcome. Experts say the best way to avoid a stink bug infestation is to make sure that windows are properly caulked and weatherstripped, window screens are not torn and any other openings into the home are sealed. It’s also advisable to keep your lawn mowed regularly and keep your lawn vegetation maintained.

      In other words, keep a clean house and you shouldn’t have a problem. But if one of the stinky buggers should somehow sneak in, the recommended approach is to hit them with soapy water and flush them down the toilet.

      Wonder if that would work with the Republican Party.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Republicans Wage War Against the Truth

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

3B0E6801-9810-44D0-B32F-0019DC5ED924“The truth shall make us free.”

   That was the motto of Adelphi College, my alma mater. Still is. Been around since 1896. It’s a good one, I think, as mottos go.

    Of course, it’s also a bit selective in that, today, it would preclude any loyal Republican from attending or teaching or in any other way participating in activities at such a socialist opponent of  free-speech.

    I know. That makes no sense. But neither do today’s Republicans.

    The problem arises today mostly in the minds of Republicans who confuse “free speech” with the right to say anything they feel like, without regard to the truth and certainly without regard to the repercussions of the lack of truth in their statements.

    But that’s not the end of it. They also don’t want people pointing out the fact that they might be spreading misinformation, or, heaven forbid, even lying. People like social media fact checkers or independent fact checkers or even government employees such as FBI agents or health care officials.

      Republicans have even found a Trump-appointed judge in Louisiana to say that officially for them.

       Last week, Judge Terry A. Doughty granted a preliminary injunction saying the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government departments must stop communicating with social media companies for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”    

      “Protected free speech.” Like misinformation on Covid-19 or vaccines or election fraud. The judge, whose ruling will be appealed, said the government, which might well have factual information on the matter, should not inform social media platforms about the possibility of dangerous misinformation being spread on their platform.

     Now, much of this fear-mongering, conspiracy spreading and outright lying is caught by independent fact-checkers, be it simply other users or researchers or non-profit agencies. But they say the government agencies have never pressured social media companies to remove content, simply alerted them to possibly dangerous, non-factual content.

     Of course, non-factual content has become the entire Republican Party playbook since it swore allegiance to Donald Trump: Obama’s birth certificate, Hillary’s emails, Hunter Biden’s laptop, Mexico will pay for a wall, COVID’s not serious, stolen elections, January 6 didn’t happen, the mainstream media lies.

      I’m not aware of any Republican court challenge to the right of the free press to print the truth about Trump et al. It may be a bridge too far right now. Of course, newspapers printed long lists of Trump’s lies in office. Not that most Republicans, especially hard core MAGA Republicans, were concerned. They believed the lies. There’s the rub.

     A classmate of mine at my high school alma mater, Bayonne High School, has a theory on how even those who recognize the lies can unwittingly help them gain credence.

      If memory serves me correctly, Dr. George Lakoff was valedictorian of the BHS Class of ‘58, my class. He went on to become a highly regarded cognitive linguist and philosopher at University of California, Berkeley. A smart guy.

     Lakoff says, “Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.”

    He likens it to telling people not to think about an elephant. They can’t get rid of the image.

        “When arguing against the other side,” Lakoff says, “don’t use their language because it evokes their frame and not the frame you seek to establish. Never repeat their charges! Instead, use your own words and values to reframe the conversation. When you repeat Trump, you help Trump.”

       Trump’s barrage of outrageous claims has grown with each new report on his criminality and incompetence. It is being buttressed by a coordinated Republican assault on the truth, aimed at schools, think tanks, the news media, as well as the Biden White House.

     Republicans frame it as a fight for the First Amendment. Don’t buy it. This is a fight for the truth.

     And the truth shall make us free.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

(Adelphi College was founded in 1896. It became a university in 1963, the year I graduated with a degree in English, but not before I graduated, meaning I am part of the last class to receive a diploma that says Adelphi College.)

(Dr. George Lakoff’s views on politics, language and your brain can be found at https://substack.com › @framelab).

 

Treachery, Ageism and Devolution

Sunday, March 26th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Former hostages pass through Highland Mills on their way to West Point via motorcade. They had just landed at Stewart Airport in New Windsor, N.Y., their 1st foot on American soil after 444 days held hostage. Times Herald-Record photo

Former hostages pass through Highland Mills on their way to West Point via motorcade. They had just landed at Stewart Airport in New Windsor, N.Y., their first foot on American soil after 444 days held hostage in Iran.
Times Herald-Record photo

Catching up with other news while on Trump indictment watch. And with a deep bow to the late, great Jimmy Cannon.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: I have no trouble believing reports that supporters of Ronald Reagan met secretly with officials of the Iranian regime before the 1980 presidential election to convince them not to agree to a deal with President Jimmy Carter on releasing 52 American hostages because his opponent — Reagan — would give them a better deal. It’s tradition for the GOP. Richard Nixon had a team of “dirty tricks” specialists working when he was in the White House. The treachery worked. Reagan won. A sad footnote to a legacy of service as Carter, 96, spends his final days in hospice. He deserved better.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: I can’t let Nikki Haley skate by without noting that she has added ageism to the Republican political dialogue to go along with racism, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ and anti-education language. Haley, in announcing her candidacy for the GOP nomination for president, called for mental competency tests for federal officials more than 75 years old. Of course, President Biden (80), who would easily pass such a test, and Donald Trump (76), who would surely fail one, are both over 75. So are 16 senators and 36 members of the House of Representatives. Haley backed off on the top job, obviously not wanting to anger Trump, but said: “I think you look at Congress. Look at all the members of Congress. You have to start doing this for our elected officials. When people send someone to Washington, they need to know they’re at the top of their game.”    Here are some current Republican members of Congress, all under 75 years of age: Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Jim Jordan, Ronny Jackson (the ex-Navy doctor who said Trump was in great physical shape) and Paul Gosar. Former members include Louie Gohmert and Devin Nunes. The top of their game? They couldn’t find “competency “in a dictionary.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Every time I start to think maybe we’re not approaching the end of civilization as we’ve known it, someone comes up with a TV show to prove me wrong. This one is called “Power Slap.” Calling itself “the world’s premier slap fighting organization,” it is actually licensed and sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Not surprising. In Power Slap, competitors stand on opposite sides of a lectern and, yes, take turns slapping the snot out of each other, one slap at a time, until someone “wins.” That’s it. That’s entertainment. Or maybe it’s a 21st Century version of Darwin’s survival of the fittest.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Let’s call it The End of the World Part II.  A Tallahassee, Florida charter school principal was forced to resign after a parent complained that sixth graders were exposed to “pornography” during a Renaissance art lesson that included Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. Yes, the masterpiece that was originally commissioned to be placed in the Cathedral of Florence, is porn in a school in Florida, where any working brain cells apparently go to die, courtesy Ron DeSantis, governor.

   — Back to Trump indictment watch.

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.

      

 

America’s Week: Balloons and Buffoons

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Chinese spy balloon.

The Chinese spy balloon.

  “The dividing line in America is no longer between right and left — it’s between normal or crazy.”

    Oh, Sarah, truer words have never crossed your lips. If only you realized why.

    Most critics of today’s Republican Party have been respectful enough of the usual norms of political discourse to avoid publicly saying what they really think about Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her ilk, who have mugged the party’s cowardly leaders through threats and retribution, turning it into a cabal of, well, in Sarah’s scenario, the not normal ones.

     Yes, the newly elected governor of Arkansas, who was a daily source of misinformation as Donald Trump‘s White House press secretary, meant the other guys. That’s how detached the party is from reality today. 

      Sanders’ remarks came in the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union address. That typically reserved, dignified event became just another excuse for the GOP problem children to act out, because that’s pretty much all they do.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

 But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The State of the Union boorishness and Sanders’ response capped a week of Republican nonsense.

    It started with a Chinese spy balloon. For three days, as it floated over the United States, a chorus of Republican politicians  berated Biden for allowing this violation of U.S. air space and not shooting the balloon down over Montana, where apparently people on the ground are not as important as those in Arkansas. It made America look weak, they insisted. China is snubbing its nose at us. Who would have respect for us? Etcetera.

      Biden had actually wanted to shoot the balloon down over the open spaces, but his generals told him it would still not necessarily be safe for people on the ground. The balloon was the size of three buses. It could do considerable damage where it landed and there’s no guarantee of avoiding people or structures. Shoot it down over the water, they said. We could control whatever information the device might be able to collect and once we had it down we could see what it was collecting and, in the process, gain intelligence on China. Makes sense. That’s what was done.

     China of course denied any spying, claimed it was a weather balloon. But the Pentagon said similar balloons had entered U.S. airspace three times in the Trump administration. Republicans had no comment on that.

    The most sensible explanation I heard for the inexplicable event was that someone in the Chinese intelligence community had messed up. Sending a spy balloon over the U.S. on the eve of a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China at a time of tense relations between the two country makes no sense at all. That visit was abruptly canceled by Biden, to be reset at a later date.

    Biden then focused on his State of the Union address, which detailed the massive infrastructure package he had gotten through Congress, along with the addition of thousands of jobs, reduction of inflation and a revival of the semiconductor business in the U.S.

     He asked for Republican cooperation on passing a budget, with tax increases for the very wealthy and corporations, preserving Social Security and Medicare and raising the debt limit so that the U.S. could continue to meet its obligations.

      What he got from the Republican kids smoking in the bathroom was catcalls, boos, and shouts of “liar!” “bullshit!” The feckless speaker of the house, Kevin McCarthy tried to shush his nasty little kids, but they weren’t having it. They were on national TV and they were gonna make the most of it. Buffoons.

       Then, Republicans  followed with the Arkansas governor’s comments about what terrible shape this country is in and how Biden and the Democrats are responsible for it by making people salute their flags, teach their subjects and go to their churches. Which is, of course, the only Republican agenda.

      I think most of us normal people see this, Sarah. Just sayin’.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Mass Murders, Insanity … Our America

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

 F6BB8580-548F-45C1-9ADC-21E887D51A37   How messed up is America? This messed up:

    Having written far too many editorials and columns in my lifetime on violence and the need for sensible gun control and more resources for mental health programs, I stopped after writing a couple of paragraphs on the murder by a teenager of 10 black Americans who simply happened to be in a supermarket in Buffalo one afternoon.

     I was too depressed. It’s the same, old story. Do some yard work. Give it a couple days.

     He who hesitates. A couple of days later I was watching the escalating body count as yet another teenager slaughtered virtually an entire fourth grade class in Uvalde, Texas.

     Nineteen children. Two teachers. The slaughter in Texas knocked the massacre in Buffalo off the front pages before we had time to properly grieve that senseless loss of life.

     That’s how messed up America is.

     After reading the early reports of the escalating body count in that fourth grade classroom in Uvalde, I turned off my phone and shut my eyes.

     I cried. If you’re a parent, you’ll get it. Hell, if you’re just a normal, caring adult who appreciates the joy and promise of children, you’ll get it. I pictured myself as one of the parents standing outside the school, screaming and crying as police stood frozen, also outside, while a deranged teenager with a military-style killing machine blew their children apart inside. And I wept. And I cursed.

   And I said, what the hell, I’ve written this editorial dozens of times already. We know the solutions.

   Apparently, we don’t. Not all of them. We know that universal background checks for purchase of a firearm makes sense. Most Americans support this. We know that banning the sale of military-style assault rifles will reduce the civilian death toll. It’s already been proven. We know from sad experience that more mental health resources, especially for young people and schools, are vitally needed in our social media era.

     We also know that the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers have the Republican Party in their pockets. Bought and paid for. They will fight gun control measures to the last student’s dying breath.

      And that’s the last, obvious, part of the solution to mass shootings in America: Voting for state and national representatives who will support the necessary changes. The one we keep ignoring.

   It has been said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Well then, screaming about the need for changes in gun laws and repeatedly voting for people obviously opposed to them — paid to oppose them — is a form of insanity.

     Worse yet is screaming for the need for change and not bothering to register or even bothering to vote for people who would fight for those changes. Deadly apathy.

      It comes down to this: For whatever their individual reasons, Republicans don’t seem to care about the slaughter in our schools. They have sold their soul for some votes, power and their twisted image of what “liberty and justice for all” means.

       We know very well what needs to be done. We just need to get the final part right. If we want to clean up this mess, we have to behave like responsible Americans and stop voting for Republicans. It’s time to stop expecting different results. Otherwise, nothing will change but the body count.

(Full disclosure: The author is not now and has never been a member of any political party. He is a registered independent voter.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

      

To Live and Die in America

Monday, April 25th, 2022



 The world in 500 words or less 

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but…

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

— New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined producers of the film, “Rust,” $139,793 — the maximum amount — and issued a stinging criticism of safety failures in connection with the fatal shooting of a cinematographer and wounding of the director during the filming of the movie. Actor/producer Alec Baldwin, who fired the fatal shot, says he was told the gun was safe. He is probably not through with the courts and may rue the day he lost his gig playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

— South Carolina has given the phrase “pick your poison“ a whole new meaning. Unable to procure the drugs to administer lethal injections to Death Row inmates, the state now offers electrocution or firing squad as the available means of meeting your maker. A recent candidate appealed both the sentence and method as cruel and unusual and a court has postponed his date with destiny. There have been only three firing squad executions in the U.S. since 1950, all in the state of Utah. Why is that not surprising?

— The reason South Carolina had to stop using lethal injections for executions is that pharmaceutical companies apparently forbid the sale of their products for that purpose. Wish they showed the same concern for some of their drugs that are killing people who are not on Death Row.

— Prescribing fatal overdoses of fentanyl for 25 seriously ill patients would seem to be taking the doctor-playing-god thing a bit too far. Then again, a jury in Columbus, Ohio, had no problem with it, acquitting Dr. William Husel of murder charges in a trial involving 14 of those deaths. Putting people out of their misery did cost Husel his job when the hospital fired him and 26 other employees who went along with his unorthodox treatment protocol. Why it took several years and so many fentanyl-induced deaths has yet to be answered.

— The judges who selected this year’s winners of the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award got it perfect. Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, was an obvious choice and eminently deserving, but the perfect selection was Rep. Liz Cheney, the only Republican in Congress with the guts, conviction and public name recognition to meaningfully stand up to the Trumpers spreading the stolen election lie and trying to treat the Jan. 6 insurrection as something other than a failed coup attempt. Forcefully defying the powers who can impact your political future takes moral courage, especially for Republicans today. I think JFK would applaud the choice. And, while I don’t share a lot of political views with Cheney or her father, Dick, I believe the former vice president should be proud of his daughter and her stout defense of the truth. Ironic, huh?

rjgaydos@gmail.com