Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Taylor Swift, Shohei, Nikki and Colorado

Friday, December 29th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Taylor Swift Time’s Person of the Year

Taylor Swift … Time’s Person of the Year
RJ Photography

   What with holidays and football (who’s the surprise NFL quarterback of this week?) and war (pick one) occupying so much of our attention recently, it’s been hard to keep up with the rest of the news of the day like, well, (1.) Taylor Swift being chosen as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, an honor that meant so much more when people actually read magazines such as Time, but is still significant, given the fact that she is a performer, a young person (33) and apparently has a sense of moral obligation to do good and spread the wealth she earned on the way to becoming a billionaire and bringing millions of dollars as well as entertainment to communities that lobbied to host one of her concerts, prompting Time to call her “a source of light” in a year filled with “shades of darkness,” which might be used to describe (2.) Deion Sanders’ impact on the moribund football program at Colorado University, as the indefatigable Coach Neon, to the surprise of many, brought not only talent and wins and TV exposure and recruits, but money and happiness and respect to Colorado, earning him the Sports Illustrated award as Sportsperson of the Year (see above on magazines), even though reality and other, better, football teams eventually brought the Buffaloes back down to Earth, leaving room in the nethersphere for Los Angeles Dodgers fans as their team, perennial favorites to win the World Series only to disappoint, (3.) spent $700 million to sign one player, Shohei Ohtani, to a 10-year contract, even though the MVP and only fulltime pitcher/DH in Major League Baseball can’t pitch next year because he needs arm surgery, which probably prompted the Dodgers to then (4.) sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a highly sought after pitcher (like Ohtani, from Japan) for 12 years and another $325 million, which comes to more than a billion dollars for two players, which is a lot of money even if most of Ohtani’s payments are deferred until he retires and exceeds the payroll of several other major league teams and is likely to (5.) increase the price of tickets and $12 ballpark hot dogs in L.A., none of which will apparently matter to fans if the Dodgers win it all, win at any cost, which is (6.) pretty much the motto of today’s Republican Party, evidenced in big and small ways, such as (7.) Nikki Haley, challenging Donald Trump for the GOP nomination to run for president, conveniently forgetting to mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War, lest all her South Carolina and other potential Southern supporters get offended, or Trump’s ongoing efforts to (8.) avoid conviction on 91 felony charges, from New York to Washington, D.C., to Georgia to Florida, as he continues (9.) to lie about losing the 2020 election, insult and threaten prosecutors, judges and private citizens, inflame his racist base with increasingly ugly fascist rhetoric and, in the current fashion of Republican “leaders,” whine and whine and whine about being a victim and then talk about being a dictator and getting retribution if he is elected president again, which (10.) officials in the states of Colorado and Maine ruled could not happen because Trump violated his oath of office and the 14th  Amendment to the Constitution by supporting an insurrection (the one we saw on TV) and so he is ineligible to run in those states’ presidential primaries, however (11.) officials in California and Michigan ruled the opposite way, meaning the question will (12.) inevitably be decided by the Supreme Court, which is now a 6-3 conservative majority, thanks to Trump appointments when he was president, but which might not do him any good anyway if the justices, enjoying lifetime appointments, realize that (13.) a second Trump presidency, with a president ruled immune from responsibility for his actions and promising to get rid of non-loyalists, would no longer make the justices an equal branch of government and, thus, at risk of removal at whim, which is Trump’s style of governing, (14.) or they can hope like heck that he gets convicted and locked up first, thus preserving our democracy without them having to take a stand.

      Can’t wait ‘til 2024.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Connecting the Dots on Five Lives

Sunday, December 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

F80B818B-215B-4E63-966F-0F72A70D1F07  I have always looked at my function as an editorial writer/columnist to not simply subject readers to my opinions on a variety of topics, but rather, to try to help them connect the dots: A plus B equals C. Or maybe it doesn’t. Here’s why.

     This past week, five prominent figures in American society died, one after another, and it seemed, at least to me, that the dots were literally screaming to be connected: Charles T. Munger, 99; Rosalynn Carter, 99; Henry Kissinger, 100; Sandra Day O’Connor, 93, and Norman Lear, 101.

     At first glance, the only obvious dots were their ages. All had lived past 90, two had reached 100 and two just missed. Good living? Good genes? Coincidence?

     Not being a big believer in coincidence, I had to take a closer look.

     Charlie Munger was the lesser-known half of the founding partners of the Berkshire-Hathaway investment conglomerate, headed by Warren Buffett. Munger was vice chairman.

       On Wall Street, everyone is always interested when Berkshire-Hathaway takes a financial stake in some company, or sells one, because of the company’s phenomenal success. Buffett usually gets the public credit, but he attributes Berkshire- Hathaway’s success to a piece of basic investment advice he got a long time ago from Munger: “Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices.”

     Buffett has always preached that same philosophy, irrespective of all the bells and whistles and charts and algorithms others use to try to game the market. Munger would have been 100 years old on New Year’s Day.

     Plains, Ga., is as far from Wall Street philosophically as one can get, but Rosalynn Carter and former President Jimmy Carter made it their home base through all 77 years of their marriage, dedicating their lives to promoting peace, social justice, mental health advocacy, caregiving and also, long after their years in the White House, helping to build homes for those of limited means. Humanitarian is a word Rosalynn Carter did proud, as First Lady and even more so later. 

   “I was more of a political partner than a political wife,” she once wrote. Jimmy agreed. Indeed, she was a major factor in his 1976 election to the presidency. Yet it would be hard, even in these times of political anarchy, to find anyone to utter a negative word about Rosalynn, the world-traveling humanitarian from Plains.

    Of course, when it came to being known and influential around the world, few could outdo Henry Kissinger, secretary of state for both President Nixon and President Ford. Unlike Carter, however, there are plenty of negative opinions to hear about Kissinger to go with the positives.

     He was a constant presence on the world diplomatic scene during the unpopular Vietnam War. Some of his policies, including carpet-bombing of nearby Cambodia, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, to this day bringing anger and scorn from many. But his efforts regarding Vietnam also brought him a Nobel Peace prize.

    Kissinger is also known for his “shuttle diplomacy” in the Mideast and is credited with helping Nixon renew diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, a major diplomatic accomplishment. Indeed, he had still been quietly active in recent years in trying to revitalize tense U.S.-China relations.

    Diplomacy of another sort was a trademark of Sandra Day O’Connor, who, of course, will always be known as the first woman to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. President Ronald Reagan chose a fellow California politician in making the historic nomination and that political background was evident throughout her tenure on the court, not in a partisan political way, but in her recognition of the place of public opinion in the court’s decision-making process and her willingness to set aside her moderate/conservative views when she felt it proper to agree with the more liberal justices. It made her the quintessential swing vote in her 25 years on the court. Since her retirement from the court in 2006, for better or worse, every new justice has been a judge, not a political figure.

    When it came to acknowledging public opinions, though, Norman Lear was without peer. The creator of TV sitcom classics All in the Family and Maude, as well as Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Good Times, he introduced social and political commentary into popular TV shows, often going where other producers feared to go and letting people actually laugh at their own behavior.

   He received many awards for his shows, but he didn’t confine his outspoken tendencies to TV shows.  

    Lear was also an outspoken activist, supporting liberal and progressive causes and founding People for the American Way, an advocacy group that countered the growth of the Christian right in political debate. A strong supporter of the First Amendment, he also purchased, for $8 million,  one of 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence published on July 4, 1776, and took a road trip around the country with it so that Americans could see it firsthand. He was a proud American.

    And maybe it’s as simple as that. Maybe that’s where the dots connect. Each, in his or her own way, was not only a proud American, but someone who contributed significantly to the American experiment. Some may have disagreed with them from time to time, but these five, with nearly 500 years of life among them, used their years to the fullest. Each lived a life worth remembering.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Artificial Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

Sunday, November 26th, 2023

       By Bob Gaydos 

Justice Clarence Thomas … the reason for the Supreme Court’s new code of conduct.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the reason for the code.

     There used to be a regular newspaper feature called “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” which some younger people might not be aware of, given (1.) the rapid disappearance of community newspapers across the country, but (2.) there are still about 20 museums of the same name scattered across the United States in tourist areas, from New York to Los Angeles, although (3.) the ones in Atlantic City and Baltimore have permanently closed, presumably because of economic factors, not the absence of unusual stories people might have trouble believing, or, in this era of “fake news,” simply accepting as true, which would be the case with (4.) the U.S. Supreme Court making a big deal recently about finally adopting a code of ethics for the nine justices, who hitherto have been bound only by their own sense of morality in rendering opinions, unlike all other judges in the country, the code being a step the high court took only because of real news stories about (5.) Justice Clarence Thomas getting expensive gifts, vacations, education expenses for a young relative, all from individuals with issues coming before the court and (6.) his wife, Ginny, being financed by ultra-conservative groups as she actively fought the phony Trump fight to undo the legitimate 2020 election results, (7.) which did not stop her hubby from sitting in court and hearing cases about the legitimacy of the “stop the steal” campaign, apparently not seeing any conflict of interest, which was the most glaring, but not only, reason for a need for a code of ethics for the justices, which would be legitimately good news if it were, well, real, which (8.) it is not because there is no official process for an individual citizen to file a complaint nor any clear way given for justices to enforce the code among themselves, relying strictly on each justice’s own, ahem, sense of honor to recuse him or herself from a case in which there could be a conflict of interest or to avoid accepting expensive favors or doing anything else that could cast doubt on the court’s independence, all of which (9.) argues for Congress to set some legitimate ethics standards for the justices, given its power of approval of appointments to the court and control of its budget, two factors which apparently didn’t matter (10.) to the geniuses at OpenAI, the makers of the artificial intelligence product ChatGPT, when the non-profit board that governs the for-profit company (a system set up supposedly to protect against greed driving the new technology into dangerous territory) voted (11.) to fire Sam Altman, the genuine brain behind OpenAI and the company’s chief executive, a decision that was unexpected and laid to Altman not being fully forthcoming with the board, but not even AI could predict that (12.), in less than a week, Altman would be back as the boss of OpenAI and the nonprofit board of directors had been replaced by a whole new board, a development that was inevitable when Microsoft, sensing a way to dominate AI, quickly hired Altman after his firing and the next top Open AI executive and a bunch of employees all quit, also being hired by Microsoft, leaving the non-profit board with pretty much nothing to direct, so the members resigned and Altman and everyone else came back to OpenAI, signaling (13.) a victory for greed over prudent concern and (14.) giving more credence and urgency to the Biden administration’s creating a team to study how to deal with artificial intelligence before it’s too late and the whole human race winds up (15.) as an exhibit in an AI robot-built version of Believe It or Not.

    It’ll be big on AI Tik-Tok.

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

Goodbye, Tony; Hello Again, Baseball

Thursday, July 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack …”

“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack …”                 RJ Photography

   I think I’m making this a thing. In a world of TikTok, Twitter (no bird!?), streaming and binge-watching, the world we live in is more and more like a stream of consciousness experience.

    So, let me report on the past week in which two events affected me in a personal way, the first being (1.) the death, at 96, of the legendary Tony Bennett who seemed determined to go on forever, singing standards despite Alzheimer’s and being decades older than his collaborators and 70 years removed from his first big hit, “Because of You,” which I sang as an 11-year-old in front of Mrs. Godlis’(?) 6th grade class in P.S. #3 in Bayonne, N.J., for reasons I can’t remember but a memory which still fills me with warm feelings, as does the memory of an old friend, the late, great musician, Hal Gaylor, of Greenwood Lake, who backed Bennett up on bass on many recordings and, like Bennett, was also a wonderful artist, the kind of person you wish could just go on forever, unlike the (2.) Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect, charged with the murder of three young women and suspected in many more on Long Island between 1996 and 2011 and who, it turns out, police in Suffolk County had a solid description of (as well as his truck) within days of the discovery of the bodies 13 years ago but (3.) were too busy covering up an assault by their police chief to bother doing anything about it, which is kind of like (4.) what Chief Justice John Roberts did when asked to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the lack of any code of ethics among the ethically challenged justices, a decision which (5.) prompted the Senate committee to propose Legislation to set ethics rules for the court and a process to enforce them, including new standards for transparency around recusals, gifts and potential conflicts of interest, which (6.) all the Republicans on the committee voted against because the party is too busy (7.) in the House of Representatives trying to manufacture an impeachment of President Joe Biden somehow connected to his son Hunter, who (8.) agreed to plead guilty to tax evasion charges and unlawful possession of a weapon, with no jail time, which (9). a judge questioned and delayed and Republicans said was a sweetheart deal because of his dad being president, which (10.) is pretty much what the Education Department says it’s looking into regarding Harvard’s legacy admissions policy wherein top colleges give preferential acceptance treatment to children of alumni, who are often white (and sometimes rich), a practice which has been under fire since (11.) the Supreme Court last month struck down the use of affirmative action as a tool to boost the presence of students of color, which was in stark contrast to (12.) the same court’s recent ruling that Alabama had to redraw its district voting lines to more fairly represent black voters in the state, an example of reasonable thinking which stands in contrast (13.) to BiBi Netenyahu’s increasingly autocratic Israeli government, which voted to remove the “reasonableness” of an action as something for Israel’s Supreme Court to consider, a vote which (14.) has led to massive anti-government demonstrations and (15.) strained the relationship between Israel and the U.S., which has historically been strong, much like that of American men and baseball, a bond which (16.) drew four relatively new friends (me being one of them) to a minor league baseball game on a Thursday night in Dutchess County, N.Y., to see the Brooklyn Cyclones (a Mets farm team) meet the Hudson Valley Renegades (a Yankees affiliate) on a comfortable summer night billed as Halloween in July at the ballpark, where hot dogs and caps came with the price of admission, peanuts and Cracker Jack were also consumed and the home team lost because of one horrendous inning by the starting pitcher, several bad base-running decisions by other Renegades, a couple of questionable umpiring calls and a leaping catch at the wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning by the Cyclones’ right fielder to take a game-tying home run away from Spencer Jones, the Renegades player everyone says is the next Aaron Judge, who (17.) reported to Tampa, to practice swinging again with the toe he injured a while back breaking down a wall in right field in Los Angeles while taking a home run away from the Dodgers, who used to play in Brooklyn where the world-famous roller coaster called the Cyclone is located and (18.) who says there’s no symmetry in this world?

(PS: Cracker Jack boxes are now smaller, but come in a pack of three ($4) and the “prize” is a code to some online game. I preferred the whistle.)

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.

Take America Out to the Ball Game

Friday, July 1st, 2022
Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium. RJ Photography RJ Photography

Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

It was ‘90s Prom Night. All the music was from the ‘90s. There were teenaged girls in lovely prom dresses. Their dates wore matching tuxes. There was a race against a video opponent. Sing the next line of the song. Show us your best ‘90s dance moves. Yes, musical chairs! Crown a prom king and queen. A rousing chorus of “God Bless America.” A six-year-old boy wearing a DiMaggio #5 jersey. A 66-year-old wearing a Maris #9. Another rousing chorus of “Take Me Out to ….” … Yes. The ball game.

     But not just any ballgame. A Hudson Renegades/Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame. Class A minor league baseball at its best. The future Yankees (the Renegades) hosted the future Mets at a splendid ballpark in Dutchess County, not far from the Hudson River and a one-hour commuter train ride from the big ballpark in the Bronx.

    What better way to spend a perfect summer night than with America’s traditional pastime when much of the rest of the country was participating in America’s new pastime — bickering over how serious it was that a defeated president threw his lunch against the wall because his coup attempt was not going well. A couple of thousand locals thought the same.

     The only hint of possible friction at the ballpark came when the public address announcer reported that the Houston Astros had defeated the Mets that afternoon. The hometown Renegades/Yankees fans cheered loudly. All in fun.

      Americans, I think, are desperate to have fun again. Real fun, relaxed fun, not frenetic demonstrations of rebellion against a Covid mask mandate or some other hyped display of look-at-me bravado.

     A hot-dog-at-a-ballgame kind of fun.

     Without trying to sound corny, a night out with friends at Dutchess Stadium really was a perfect antidote for what ailed me — Trumper tantrums, MAGA mania and a Supreme Court run amok. I had had the unsettling talk with myself earlier that went something like, “I’ve been promoting a pro-choice, gun control, equal rights, save-the-planet agenda in my writing for decades and yet, here we are. I need a ballgame.”

       I was right.

      The whole country needs a ball game, especially one between young men in their early 20s chasing a dream – to someday become a Yankee or a Met. I’d venture to say that, to most in the crowd, the outcome of the game didn’t matter nearly as much as simply being there.

        Even when the Renegades pitcher walked the first Cyclone batter, hit the next one with a pitch and gave up a home run on his first pitch to the third batter, everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed, having a good time, except maybe the Renegades pitcher.

       But never fear, there was still a lot of baseball to be played. And hotdogs and burgers and peanuts and popcorn and french fries and even tacos to be eaten. Local sponsors got promoted on the big screen. Birthdays were announced. Bases were stolen and home runs were hit. Three in all. 

        In the end, the Renegades won, 8 to 5.  In honor of the evening’s theme, there was dancing on the field after the game to ‘90s music under flashing colored lights. Dancing on the field!

         To top it off, since the Renegades are now an uptown team, they play the Yankees’ traditional send-the-fans-home-happy song — Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” We all knew the words.

          Start spreading the news. The MAGAs will still be there. I’ll make a brand new start of it … Tomorrow.

         Boy, did I make the right call about needing a ball game.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

       

 

Unwrapped over America’s Unraveling

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

   A president of the United States actively sought to overthrow the results of a legitimate presidential election through a variety of lies, fraudulent claims, illegal maneuvers and political pressure, even though some of his closest advisers, including his attorney general, told him there was no basis for challenging the election. That same president, knowing he had no legitimate basis for his efforts to reverse his defeat, then encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol to prevent the formal certification of the election of the new president and pressured his vice president to invalidate the vote when presiding over the U.S. Senate and went so far as to publicly ridicule that vice president for refusing to do so, further inflaming the angry mob marching on the Capitol. That president then refused for hours to order any kind of police or military support to go the Capitol to help an overwhelmed Capitol police force when the mob stormed into the building, attacking police, sending members of Congress running into hiding, ransacking offices and erecting a gallows to hang the vice president.

    We know all this because (a) we witnessed it live on television when it happened and (b) members of that president’s political party and his own family have now testified so under oath before a congressional hearing.

    A president of the United States of America orchestrated a failed coup attempt. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

      Worse yet, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that millions of Americans, purportedly raised and educated in the land of liberty and justice for all, still defend that president and many at least pretend to still believe that he was denied a legitimate victory and had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 Insurrection.

     Finally, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that many Americans still don’t seem to understand or care about what Donald Trump and his power-hungry Republican sycophants, apologists and army of racist goons tried to do — install a president by force, against the will of the people. 

    Actually, one more thing I can’t wrap my head around: The wife of a Supreme Court Justice was part of the plot to overturn the election and her husband refused to recuse himself from any cases arising from the effort. A lot of Americans don’t seem to grasp the unacceptability of that situation either.

    I don’t know if the current attorney general has the guts and sense of duty to bring charges of treason where they apply. I don’t know if the owners and purveyors of phony information on the Fox TV network will be held accountable for fomenting racial and political tension in America. I don’t know if anyone will again be allowed to teach true American history in Republican-governed states.

   Personally, I hope all three happen, but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that too many Americans still don’t grasp that democracy itself is at stake.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Baseball’s less than perfect week

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

The world in 500 words or less

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Apr 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken

Alyssa Nakken

— Major League Baseball had a red letter day recently when Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach on the field, for the San Francisco Giants. Well-played.

— On the other hand, there was yet another sign that the people running the game have lost all sense of what once made baseball America’s pastime. With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw six outs away from pitching a perfect game and having thrown all of 80 pitches, LA manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw from the game. Kershaw later said he was OK with the move. I doubt it. Imagine yanking Gibson or Ryan or Spahn or Seaver or Koufax or even David Cone, for Pete’s sake, in that situation. Baseball used to be a game of historic efforts and legends. Kershaw had a shot at history and deserved the opportunity. Moneyball isn’t necessarily baseball.

— Part two of what used to be baseball. Say that Kershaw stayed in the game and pitched two more perfect innings, but the score was tied at zero after nine innings. Kershaw gets to keep trying to be perfect and goes out to pitch the 10th inning. There’s a runner on second base. Kershaw didn’t put him there; baseball did. Is it still a perfect game? What if someone actually sacrifice bunts the runner over to third and the next better hits a long sacrifice fly that allows the runner to score? Do you yank Kershaw now because he’s actually losing a perfect game? Or maybe he’s on the road and just lost a perfect game. I guess with pitch counts we’ll never know.

— Confirmation of the eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was a red-letter day for America. Less celebratory is the fact that 47 Republican senators had to tie themselves in knots trying to come up with reasons to vote against her that did not include “she’s a woman and she’s black.” Another shameful moment for the former party of Lincoln.

— The only nasty thing Attorney General Merrick Garland has caught recently is COVID-19.

— In another effort to bolster his base by lowering the average IQ score of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump endorsed Sarah Palin for Alaska’s lone congressional seat. Well, for what it’s worth, she can spy on Russia from where she lives.

— The Taliban forbidding females to get schooled beyond grade six didn’t surprise me. But banning the growing of poppies, Afghanistan’s traditional crop? What the heck do they do for cash?

— Didn’t see this coming: There’s apparently a fertilizer shortage created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. should be OK as long as Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz still get to give speeches in the Senate.

— I just don’t trust Elon Musk on buying Twitter. Buy Texas. It needs fixing a lot more.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

By Whatever Name, It’s Still Racism

Sunday, February 13th, 2022
Light And Word Of Racism For Background Stock Photo, Picture And ...

By Bob Gaydos

   Every once in a while that perpetual motion machine I call my mind comes to a screeching halt with what I like to think of as a moment of clarity.  Like when I realized that every political story in the United States for the past six-plus years has been some version of the Republican Party capitulating to Donald Trump’s platform of lies and manipulation to secure power. Different details, same story.

     Recently, I looked at a list of potential topics for columns and had one of those moments. Here’s the list as it appeared on my phone: “NFL, Joe Rogan, supreme court, gerrymandering, Teaching history, the police.”

     “It’s all racism,” I said to myself. “We’re still arguing about its presence when our lives are full of it.”

     I will leave it to others to go into detail on each of these stories because they all deserve it and it will happen anyway. But my point here is that racism is everywhere in America, to the point that even commenting negatively on its presence almost makes it seem acceptable because it seems to be inevitable. That’s troubling, yet I persist.

      Touching briefly on that list:

  • The NFL, its players overwhelmingly black, is being sued because team owners have a pathetic record in hiring black head coaches. And that’s with a league rule that requires diversity in interviewing for coaching positions. And then there’s still Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed by the league because he took a knee during the National Anthem.
  • President Biden was criticized by Republicans for saying that he would nominate a black woman to fill a coming Supreme Court vacancy. Outrageous! to make color a part of the process, they screamed. Sure, let’s just forget nearly 200 years of only white male justices on the court. Let’s forget it was even longer before a woman justice was approved. Who needs a court that represents all Americans?
  • Efforts are being made in Florida, Texas and other states to prevent teachers from, well, teaching history. That’s because some people don’t like their children hearing uncomfortable facts about America’s history of slavery and racial discrimination.
  • Republican efforts to redraw election districts to make it difficult for people of color (who tend to favor Democrats) to vote continue nationwide and, despite all the publicity, black lives still don’t seem to matter as much as others to some police.
  • But Joe Rogan is the one that really gets me. The comedian/podcaster has been the center of controversy recently regarding the spreading of misinformation on Covid 19 via his podcast on Spotify. Controversy, of course, is pure gold for Rogan. Singer Neil Young pulled all his songs from Spotify because of Rogan’s spreading Covid misinformation and other artists followed suit. Spotify eventually agreed to put a disclaimer on Rogan’s broadcasts on Covid. But the attention on his podcast uncovered an old video which compiled his use of the “N” word in numerous segments over the years. That struck me as odd, being that Rogan is a white comedian and, in my experience, even the most down-to-earth, open-to-all-ideas, average white guy who is not Richard Pryor doesn’t get to do that. There is only one message there and it is racist. Rogan subsequently asked Spotify to remove 70 — that’s 70! — episodes in which he used the word. Sounds almost routine. He subsequently apologized, saying “it is the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” He said he had not used the N-word in years and hoped it would be a “teaching moment.“ Well that’s nice. Me, too. But, as he said, the video compiling the “shameful“ episodes has been out there for years. He could’ve been teaching his fans how wrong it was all this time instead of hoping it would just stay forgotten. Rogan also called release of the video and other criticisms of him “a political hit job.“ That kind of sounds like many of his shows from what I hear. Personally, I can’t recall any conversation in which I used the “N” word, even just to say I shouldn’t use it. I somehow learned early on that it was offensive for any white person to use the word. Using it in any context just gives it more credence. But that’s just me. 
  • One more thing, Rogan, who reportedly has 11 million listeners, was also criticized for mocking on his show the way Asians speak English. He defended it by saying, “But that’s the way they talk.”

      Like I said, it’s all racism.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

GOP: A Party of Distraction, not Action

Friday, September 17th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

64B6273B-ABBF-4252-AB3C-3D7FC5AA28C7    And now it’s abortion. Again.

    The Republican Party, as predictable as ever, has reached deep into its bag of political strategems and come up with its old standby. When nothing else works, ban abortion.

     Also predictably, the media, especially TV,  swarmed all over this story as if it has never happened before. TV commentators (I cannot call them newscasters) breathlessly rushed to say everything they always say when Republicans do this, acting as if it is the only important story in America today. Social media, of course, greatly amplified the reaction.

      It’s a distraction. Precisely what Republicans want.

      It’s a proven way to take people’s minds off the failures of the GOP. It’s a proven way to rile up the voter base growing weary of Covid and wondering whether or not that presidential election really was stolen. It’s yet another way to pit Americans against each other, even though Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue as far as the majority of Americans are concerned

    A majority of Americans are pro-choice. Republicans are pro-choice when it affects them personally. End of story.

..    i’m not saying that the right of a woman to control her own body and to choose abortion if necessary is not important. The Supreme Court has already decided it is. So yes, it is disappointing that the current court chose not to consider a challenge to the outrageous Texas law effectively banning abortion. But the law will of course be challenged in court by all the groups that usually challenge such misbegotten legislation. And the Justice Department, free of the shackles of the Trump administration, not surprisingly said it will challenge the legality of the Texas law.

      But meanwhile, let us not forget a budget bill, an infrastructure bill, a voting rights bill, all proposed by Democrats and waiting for congressional approval. Again, the majority of Americans approve of the proposals of the Biden administration, all of which have been opposed by Republicans. Opposing Democratic initiatives is the entire GOP playbook.

      Let’s also not forget the ongoing Covid pandemic, exacerbated and extended in this country by the politically motivated statements and actions of Republican governors, especially those from Texas and Florida. Republicans would rather have Americans argue over abortion than notice people dying in overwhelmed hospitals in Texas and Florida … and Mississippi and Louisiana.

      Of course, there was also Afghanistan. Republicans tried to paint President Biden‘s removal of troops and evacuation of Americans and allies from that country as a total failure. It was not. Again, most Americans are glad to be out of Afghanistan and recognize the fact that the Trump administration created the situation in that country which guaranteed a messy withdrawal. Biden did not apologize for his decision, nor, by the way, did he send out a Twitter storm blaming his generals for the poor advice they gave him on the evacuation.

   With even some establishment Republicans declaring that the 2020 election was fair, not stolen, party leaders have tossed out such distractions as “woke,” cancel culture and critical race theory. Remember them? They all got traction for a brief while in the media until people realized there were more legitimate issues, more important things going on in this country, none of them being addressed by Republicans.

     The most important of those is the congressional hearing into the insurrection of January 6. Republicans in Congress have disgraced themselves trying to convince Americans that nothing serious really happened. Or if it did, Trump was not involved. Or if he was, they personally were not involved.

     This is the important story in America today. The very foundation of this nation is at stake. TV commentators talking about abortion need to ratchet down the emotion a bit, stick to the facts and history of the issue and remember all the challenges this president faced when he took office. He is tackling those challenges methodically and with a calm sense of purpose. I might suggest a couple of other things that ought to be done:

  1. Those three pieces of legislation need to be passed by Congress. Also kill the filibuster. Biden needs to call West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, supposedly a Democrat, into the Oval Office for a serious man-to-man, president-to-senator, Democrat-to-Democrat taking. Something reminiscent of LBJ.
  1. That special commission the president appointed to consider any changes that might be necessary to the Supreme Court needs to be told to wrap up its work quickly with a recommendation to expand the court from 9 to 13 justices. Now. Enough playing nice. And yes, it’s something Republicans would actually do.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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