Posts Tagged ‘trump’

This Document has been Declassified

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

With a tip of the hat to the late, great Jimmy Cannon. …

B8513118-4DD5-44E3-9793-0722263CD894— Maybe it’s just me, but: I’m happy to report that, after an exhaustive search of my file cabinets, mini-safe, closets, boxes that never got unpacked from the last move, junk drawer and basement, I have no classified government documents in my possession. I think.

I’d say I was 100% certain, but recent news stories suggest that such documents are turning up where people least expected them to be. Like in the homes and offices of former vice presidents, including one who is now president. I did my own search after the National Archives asked all living former presidents except Jimmy Carter to check their home files. Even though I never worked for the federal government, I just wanted to be sure because, you know, I’m a patriot. Plus I wanted to make sure no one planted any of those sneaky little documents only because I used to work for newspapers. Can’t be too safe these days.

Having said all that, I’m willing to chalk up the recent discovery of a few classified documents in the home offices of Joe Biden and Mike Pence to sloppy packing up by staff when both men left office. Nothing nefarious going on, especially since lawyers for both men apparently reported the presence of the documents as soon as they were found. No one even knew they were missing.

That’s completely different from the Trump document story. Not only did he deny having any documents at his Mar-a-Lago golf course/home, he ignored requests from the National Archives to return them, ignored a subpoena, accused the FBI of planting classified documents, had his lawyers sign papers saying there weren’t any more documents left on the premises after the FBI raid (there were), and even asked to have them returned. He also claimed to have “declassified” them. Plus, he had boxes upon boxes full of hundreds of sensitive documents at a golf resort frequented by foreign nationals, not a quiet, private office.

So, no, cry and try as Republicans might to make the Trump document story equivalent to Biden’s, it won’t fly.

Obviously, the National Archives, which must be at least slightly embarrassed by all these reappearing “missing documents” they didn’t know about, needs to review its record-keeping practices, and the whole matter of what gets “classified” should also be reviewed. By the way, Carter got a pass because the law about not taking these documents home took effect after he left office. But I’m guessing he probably had a couple gathering dust in Plains, Ga., too.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Despite all the jokes being made, I find the George Santos story sad on several levels. Sad that an individual (Santos) could be so mentally and emotionally messed up that lying is as natural to him as breathing. Sad that the state of politics in America today is such that someone like Santos could be elected to Congress. Sad that House Speaker Keven McCarthy is so devoid of moral principles and courage that he won’t demand that Santos resign. On the other hand, I am encouraged that Republicans in Nassau County on Long Island, where Santos was elected, are angry and embarrassed and are not only urging him to resign, but actually investigating some of his lies. A glimmer of hope for a party mired in cynicism.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Philadelphia versus Kansas City is a legitimate championship game for the National Football League, even though KC got a break on that last call on the push out of bounds and Philly got a big break when the Forty-Niners lost their starting quarterback right at the start. Two legit survivors for the crown.

Maybe it’s just me, but: When a six-year-old brings a gun to school and shoots a teacher, it’s not only school staff that has some explaining to do on how it happened, but really, where were the parents in all this? A six-year-old, apparently an angry one, goes off to school with a handgun in addition to his homework? Some serious explaining and accountability is due.

—  Maybe it’s just me, but: Ran across this brief item wandering through YouTube: “Cardi B says, ‘Don’t do butt shots.’” Umm, I’m a child of the ‘50s. Do I really need to know who Cardi B is? And what in the TikTok world is a “butt shot”?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

The Shame of Being Kevin McCarthy

Sunday, January 8th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Kevin McCarthy (right) asks Matt Gaetz what else he can give him to get his vote after the 14th ballot late Thursday night. He never got it.

Kevin McCarthy (right) asks Matt Gaetz what else he can give him to get his vote after the 14th ballot late Thursday night. He never got it.

If only Kevin McCarthy were smart enough to understand irony.

If only Kevin McCarthy had a backbone.

If only Mitch McConnell had one, too.

If only there were still a mainstream, conservative Republican establishment.

If only Republicans understood the real meaning of these words from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Then, Americans would have been spared the worldwide embarrassment of the “people’s house” of Congress being unable to execute the basic task of choosing a leader after four days and 14 votes, even though one party, the Republicans, held a slim, but clear, majority.

The brass ring was eventually awarded to McCarthy shortly after midnight Saturday, January 7, on the 15th vote, when one more member of the wack job fringe of the House GOP agreed to vote for him and others agreed to vote “present,” lowering the number of votes needed for a majority. That agreement followed some tense discussions and avoided a vote to adjourn and a weekend of embarrassing stories about the shameless McCarthy and the rudderless GOP.

Politics often requires a bit of arm-twisting to gain a desired goal when there are differences of opinion. Usually, the leader does the arm-twisting and others make concessions. McCarthy turned this tradition on its head, making countless concessions as the likes of Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert kept twisting McCarthy’s arms while still refusing to vote for him. This does not bode well for a successful two years of McCarthy leadership in the House.

But here’s the thing, while McCarthy’s utter humiliation has come at the hands of a small group of Republicans who have no agenda other than to gain power so as to disrupt normal government routine and prevent all men and women from enjoying those self-evident rights Thomas Jefferson wrote about, the Californian has no one to blame but himself.

Here’s where the irony comes in. The fringe, the so-called Freedom Caucus, refuses to recognize McCarthy as its leader because of the one moment of rational thinking he displayed during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He actually called then-President Donald Trump and urged him to  do something to quell the riot.

McCarthy later said on the House floor: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.”

McCarthy also said, “Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that, Conservatives should be the first to say so. …  Let’s be clear, Joe Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States in one week because he won the election.”

For one shining moment, McCarthy, as minority leader of the House of Representatives, spoke the truth. He couldn’t handle it. The rank-and-file Trumpers dominating the Republican Party weren’t buying it. They bought the Big Lie. A couple of weeks later, McCarthy was in Mar-a-Lago, kissing Trump’s ring and anything else to get back in his good graces and retain the support of his troops. Most, fearing Trump’s wrath and loss of his support, followed McCarthy. (Mitch McConnell followed the same playbook in the Senate.)

Not the Freedom Caucus. They remembered when McCarthy spoke the truth about Trump, the election, the insurrection and taking responsibility. When it came time to choose a leader, they chose to embarrass McCarthy and twist him for all they could get. He eventually celebrated his election as speaker, a leader held hostage to the whims of those who have no interest in governing. Truth has no purchase in today’s Republican Party. The rabble rule and “leaders” seek their approval out of sheer ego and cowardice.

Not all is lost, thankfully. While McCarthy was being humiliated in The Capitol on the second anniversary of the Insurrection, a more compelling drama was playing out in The White House. President Biden, in an often moving ceremony, awarded Presidential Citizens Medals to Capitol police officers and others who defended democracy on that day and to state election officials who withstood intense pressure and threats of violence from Trump supporters to ratify the results of the 2020 election. The best of America was on display. Courage, honor, respect, empathy, honesty and, yes, patriotism.

If only some of that were evident in today’s Republican Party.

rjgaydos@gmail.com
Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

A Moment of Courage in Trump World

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos  

Cassidy Hutchinson

Cassidy Hutchinson

      Thank you, Cassidy Hutchinson. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your sense of right and wrong. Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for demonstrating that not every Republican in government service is either a coward or a bagman for Donald Trump. Thank you for the truth.

      America needed it. And, honestly, I really needed it.

      Hutchinson is the former White House aide who testified publicly before the Jan. 6 Congressional Committee about Trump’s unsuccessful struggle with Secret Service agents to join the protesters on the Capitol steps during that fateful day.

       But Hutchinson also testified privately before the committee three times and the committee’s recently released final report details a story of blatant witness tampering with Hutchinson as the target.

      As executive assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, Hutchinson also carried the title of special assistant to the president. That means she heard a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff Trump didn’t want the committee or anyone else to hear about. For example, that he knew he had lost the 2020 presidential election, but wasn’t accepting that outcome.

       Knowing she would be called to testify before the committee, the White House insisted on providing her with a lawyer, Stefan Passantino, who refused to tell her who was paying him (Trump’s PAC). Passantino counseled Hutchinson to testify that she couldn’t recall anything that was discussed concerning January 6.

      Her problem was that she recalled very well everything that had been said, but she also knew that in “Trump World,” as she referred to the White House, loyalty is demanded and those who buck the boss are often made to pay dearly. They could destroy her career.

       So in her first private interview with the committee, she followed her lawyer’s suggestion. She couldn’t recall much. But she also had a conscience. She knew right from wrong. She knew what she had heard and she knew what she had told the committee was a lie. A lie for which she could be arrested.

   The 26-year-old former intern to Senator Ted Cruz decided to get herself another lawyer, made a back channel connection to let the committee know she wanted to come back and testify again, and subsequently told the truth: They had told her to lie, that it would be OK, that she would be taken care of. Don’t worry.

    What Passantino told her, in her own words: “Look, the goal with you is to get you in and out. Keep your answers short, sweet, and simple, seven words or less. The less the committee thinks you know, the better, the quicker it’s going to go. It’s going to be painless. And then you’re going to be taken care of.

     “We just want to focus on protecting the President. We’re gonna get you a really good job in Trump world. You don’t need to apply to other places. We’re gonna get you taken care of. We want to keep you in the family.”

      Hutchinson told the committee that family member Meadows also sent her a message telling her “the boss” knew she was testifying and knew that she was “loyal.” Straight out of the “Godfather“ playbook.

      Despite her fear and intimate knowledge of how “Trump World” dealt with what it saw as disloyalty, Hutchinson was true to her beliefs. She told the committee: “I did feel like it was my obligation and my duty to share (what she knew), because I think that if you’re given a position of public power, it’s also your job, your civic responsibility, to allow the people to make decisions for themselves. And if no one’s going to do that, like, somebody has to do it.”

      Indeed. Thank you, Cassidy Hutchinson, for being that somebody.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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


Trump is Unashamedly Non-fungible

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

     Now it’s NFTs?

Trump NFTs

Trump NFTs

 Having just publicly confessed my bewilderment at the willingness, even eagerness, of many people to invest in cryptocurrency — a form of digital “money“ that is complicated to own and even more complicated to spend — I now learn there are such things as NFTs.

    Non-Fungible Tokens. 

    Who knew?

    Well, Donald Trump, of course. If it involves money and it’s hard to figure out exactly what is going on, you can be sure Trump is around. And so we have Trump Digital Trading Cards, which has introduced me to the world of non-fungible tokens.

      “Art” for crypto lovers.

      Having made a rather subdued announcement that he’s running for president again, Trump followed up with a “major” announcement: He is issuing limited edition digital trading cards containing his image in various heroic poses. No one is quite sure how many different poses there are. Supposedly there won’t be more than 20 copies of any one pose and other poses will have far fewer copies. To make them more valuable. They are yours to collect, “just like baseball cards.” Only $99 each. But you can only buy one hundred at a time.

       If memory serves me right, I used to get bubblegum and five baseball trading cards for a quarter. But that’s another story.

     NFTs are theoretically unique. That is, you cannot replace one of them with another one of the same and equal value. If you could, that would make them fungible.

     Now, right away, we have the issue of confusion. I’m pretty sure that “fungible“ is not a word with which many people are familiar. Ask the next five people you meet and see if I’m right.

    Something that is fungible is replaceable by another tangible object of similar value. You can exchange a wrinkled dollar bill for another dollar bill and it’s a fair trade, for example.

     What supposedly makes NFTs unique is that, like cryptocurrency, each has its own digital identity. In this case, a stamp. So, even though anybody can buy one of these trading cards for $99 in actual cash or the equivalent in ether cryptocurrency, and the image is exactly the same on all of them, each is supposedly a unique item.

     People have apparently paid thousands of dollars for a digital image — a non-fungible token — of some “unique” tweet or meme or other Internet creation, which they can then apparently proudly say they own. Like a Picasso.

     It’s an investment, I’m told. Aha. Here’s where I would attempt to explain how NFT’s work and why someone would want one, but I have read more than half a dozen columns from technical websites “explaining” how NFTS work and I am more confused than ever, which goes to my original point.

     If it’s too complicated and confusing for the average person to understand and if even those who do understand how it works call it “risky” as an investment, why would anyone want to get involved?

     For some, like Trump, it’s simple — to try to make some quick cash off people by playing on their emotions. It’s his go-to strategy. The images of Trump on his trading cards are amateurish, even clownish, for a reason. MAGAs have been conditioned to distrust the talented, the educated and to revel in the coarse. Stick it to the elite, the socialist leftists. Hence, the “Let’s go Brandon” signs in my neighborhood. So clever.

    The more the Trump cards are ridiculed by people with even average artistic sensibilities, the more the MAGAs will scoop them up. At least that’s what Trump is betting on. He’s betting on a feeling. He’s also throwing in an opportunity to have dinner with him at Mar-a-Lago as an enticement if you buy 45 cards in one shot. That’s $4,455.

   What any of these “cards” will be worth years from now is anyone’s guess. You can’t frame them and put them on the wall, although anyone is free to print out a copy of one of these cards and display it. They may turn into ether like the currency used to buy them.

   Still, as of now, it appears that Trump may have played his cards right and is laughing all the way to the offshore bank. The website announced that all 44,000 minted cards sold out in the first day. 

     Whether that’s real news or not and whether more cards will be minted remains to be seen. There is also the question of whether this was all a money-laundering scam for a down-on-his-luck ex-president and phony billionaire about to be indicted for sedition.

      Bottom line: If there’s money involved, there is no place that is too low for Trump to go. A wink and a nod and give me your dollar. 

     The same goes for power, as he demonstrated in the White House. He is beyond embarrassment.

      The embarrassment, sadly, belongs to us as a nation. We invested in a non-fungible fraud. We got our money’s worth.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

       

       

       

2024: Neither Trump nor Biden, Please

Friday, November 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  91E29BA5-E946-48C8-A9D2-5FFC851BB1FF  Never again, Donald Trump.

    Thank you for your decades of service to the country, but please not again, President Biden.

    Yes, in large part because of Trump’s constant need for attention, we’re talking about the 2024 presidential election already. 

     The ex-president could barely wait for the final 2022 midterm election results (which were disastrous for the out-of-office Republican Party over much of which he still commands significant influence) before announcing his candidacy for the 2024 presidential campaign.

    I guess he figures it’s either that or answer a subpoena. Or two.

    Unfortunately for Trump, except for diehard MagaLomaniacs, the bloom is off the rose for him with many Republicans, including some currently holding elected office. And, he may have to answer those subpoenas even if he is an official candidate for president.

     Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to clear the air on the subpoena front by appointing a special counsel to investigate Trump’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection, his attempts at election tampering in the 2022 election and the possession of classified documents once out of office at his home in Florida.

   The counsel, a career prosecutor and lifetime registered independent voter, is a way to separate the Biden White House and Democrats from the ongoing investigation into Trump’s activities at a time when he is a declared candidate for president. It’s a welcome step.

     Whether the appointment of the counsel clears the air for the Republican Party is another matter. Having started decades ago down the road to gaining power at any cost, the party is now paying the price for looking the other way and holding its collective nose while registering any bigoted, racist, narrow-minded American who promised to vote for any Republican who fed their fears while doing little to deal with their actual problems.

     Sacrificing policy for scare tactics and voter suppression, the party gained power with Trump’s election in 2016. Never underestimate the American voter’s appetite for shock and awe over substance. But, having no actual platform save for giving wealthy people a tax break and being handcuffed to a self-serving leader who valued loyalty over competence, the party could not sustain its grip on Washington.

    Trump’s utter lack of understanding of the role of president and the failure of most Republicans to criticize him for his pathological lying and inflammatory rhetoric, among other things, finally registered on a significant majority of Americans. He lost to Biden in 2020, a result he refuses to accept, and most of his election-denying sycophants lost in state elections this month. And Democrats held on to the Senate. Some prominent Republicans are finally summoning up the courage to criticize him. Or, to be accurate, to say he may not be good for the future of the party and, thus, their political careers.

      Which leaves us with some potential Republican presidential candidates who want to prove they can out-Trump Trump (notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) and some who apparently hope voters won’t notice their complicity in quietly looking the other way while Trump was in the White House (notably former Vice President Mike Pence).

      It may be a knives-and-daggers battle among Republicans for the nomination, but there’s no way they can offer Trump as their candidate again without giving up their last chance of rescuing their party from the pit of shame into which he has dragged it.

      So what about the Democrats? They have a different problem. Biden will be 82 in 2024. (By the way, Trump will be a not so youthful 78.) Running a country is not an old man’s game except in kingdoms and dictatorships. While Biden has brought competence and dignity back to the office of president and demonstrated that the government can indeed address the needs of all the people, the daily stress of the job could well affect his performance of his duties. Indeed, campaigning for the presidency against a new, younger, bomb-throwing Republican candidate could prove to be challenging.

     More importantly, Democrats need a younger, newer, more forceful face for 2024. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, made that clear in announcing she would not be a candidate for House Minority Leader in the next Congress.

    The problem is, there aren’t many Democrats around who are well-known by a majority of Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris is an obvious candidate for the nomination, should Biden choose not to run. But she has been remarkably quiet in her two years as next-in-line for the presidency. That’s a contrast with her often outspoken, forceful demeanor in the Senate. A little more of that Harris would serve her and her party well.

     California Gov. Gavin Newsom is said to have his eyes on the White House and he has some national recognition. There’s also Labor Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would bring a great deal of energy to a campaign.

     Of course, the best-known and one of the most popular political figures who would make a formidable presidential candidate is Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select January 6 committee. But Cheney,  a Republican who has been blunt in her criticism of Trump with regards to his claims about the 2020 election being stolen and for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, lost her seat in still strongly pro-Trump South Dakota. Right now, she’s a potential candidate without a party.

   Of course, a lot can happen in two years. But the 2024 presidential campaign simply cannot be a rerun of 2020. America needs to move on.

 rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Save democracy, vote Democratic

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   62395128-094D-465D-A455-BC0B61B1AABD  I voted early. Easy. No lines at the Government Center in Monticello at 2:30 on Tuesday a week before Election Day. Helpful, pleasant volunteers. I voted for every Democrat across Row A. Also easy. There was really no other choice.

    The hamlet where I live is tucked in to the southeastern tip of Sullivan County in upstate New York, about an hour’s drive to New York City. It’s between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Pretty country. A lot of it is Republican country, but not as much as it used to be. Our area’s congressman and state legislators are all Democrats. A recent development.

       When I say there was no other choice on the ballot aside from Democrats, I don’t mean there were no Republicans running for federal, local or state offices. I mean, in my opinion, no Republican candidate for office even deserved consideration for my vote if he or she had failed to publicly voice any kind of criticism of the Trump disaster despite having six years and countless opportunities to do so. Two impeachments. The election conspiracy/lie. Thousands of other lies. The January 6 Insurrection incitement. Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Threats of violence. And, of course, total incompetence. Nothing.

       Republican silence on Trump goes well beyond party loyalty to the realm of blind allegiance to their leader and/or sheer cowardice, neither of which I want in an elected official at any level. As far as I can tell, it is a pandemic of its own within the Republican Party in every state at every level. Silence, obedience … or unhinged vocal support.

          I cannot think of one local Republican official in the three-county area (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) which I call home who has publicly said a negative word about Trump. Not one. Six years. To do so, many apparently fear, would cost them votes and maybe end their political careers. The thought that it might gain them respect and new votes apparently hasn’t occurred to them.

         Of course, there are those Republicans who support Trump vocally, if not vigorously, yet deny that this defines them as racist, bigoted, fascistic, phony, cruel, anti-science, anti-free press, ignorant of the law, misogynistic, double-dealing, anti-education, anti-veteran, hypocritical, self-absorbed, lazy liars. There’s more, but you know it all. If the Republican Party, individually and as a whole, supports Trump, it is Trump. The whole ugly package.

  Full disclosure: Most of what you’ve read so far is repeated from a column I wrote two years ago, prior to the presidential election.  Fortunately, Democrats prevailed. Yet, today, many of the leading voices in the Republican Party still parrot Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Indeed, Republican candidates for all sorts of state and local offices also repeat the lie. For many it’s their only campaign issue. Truthfully, the only issue Republicans seem to have is to gain power and maintain it in any way possible, legal or otherwise. Violence is apparently not ruled out.

     That’s a pretty harsh statement, but I repeat, I see no evidence that it is offbase. The only Republicans who have criticized Trump have been ostracized from the party. The silent ones are complicit in what I believe is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.

    I am 81 years old and after more than a quarter century of writing editorials for daily newspapers I never imagined I would write these words. But then I never imagined one of the two major political parties would abdicate all responsibility to govern in favor of creating an authoritarian system of government designed primarily to protect conservative white Christians. 

      This column is directed primarily at those who say their vote doesn’t matter. Or that both parties are the same. Wrong. Every vote for every office matters this year. Joe Biden’s two years as president with a Democratic Congress produced meaningful legislation for all Americans. If Republicans control Congress, there will be two years of stalemate and phony hearings, but no meaningful legislation. If they control state governments, no Democratic victory will be accepted. Constant turmoil.

     Vote like democracy depends on it, America,  because it does. And vote for every Democrat on the ballot. Please.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Republicans have Stockholm Syndrome

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Patty Hearst, holding up a bank with the Symbionese Liberation Army

Patty Hearst, holding up a bank with the Symbionese Liberation Army

A news report to ponder as the House January 6 Committee prepares to resume its hearings on Donald Trump‘s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results: 61% of Republicans contacted in a recent poll do not believe the aforesaid former president had classified government documents stored at his home at Mar-a-Lago.

     In that same poll, conducted by the Marquette Law School, 65% of independent voters said they believe there were indeed classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago and 93% of Democrats agreed.

    Why the disparity? Stockholm Syndrome. I’m convinced the Republican Party was taken hostage by Donald Trump more than six years ago and, for a variety of reasons, like Patty Hearst, they have fallen in love with their kidnapper. We’ve all been paying the ransom, but few Republicans seem to want to actually be freed.

     Rather, the majority still support, implicitly by their silence or explicitly by their words and actions, Trump’s claim that Joe Biden was not legally elected president in 2020. In the same manner, the majority support Trump’s claims of having nothing to do with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020. And, as this new poll indicates, they support Trump and all his outrageous claims about the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, including the fact that the FBI planted them.

       Stockholm Syndrome.

       While it is not an officially recognized mental health disorder, studies of the syndrome have found it to be present in victims of kidnapping or abuse. Or, in this case, both.

       In October of 2016, I noted in a column that Trump, as the Republican candidate for president, said he might not accept the results of the 2016 election if he lost. The crowd cheered. Republicans remained silent. He made good on that threat in 2020.

        In the interim, he has kept his followers in line by promising to give them what they want — in large part, assurance that people who don’t look like them (white) or think like them (ultra-conservative Christian) will take away whatever they feel is important to them (an illusion of power). He alternates this con job with threats to punish them if they challenge him. The latter strategy has been especially effective with elected Republicans lacking the courage to speak the truth about Trump lest he campaign against them. Safer to work with him. Stockholm syndrome.

     All the while, Trump has played the victim and raised enormous amounts of money from his sympathetic supporters for bogus campaigns. Over the years, many, probably a majority, of Republicans, have formed a bond with Donald Trump that belies their true relationship. He has made a mockery of everything this political party one said it stood for, repeatedly encouraging the use of violence to achieve his goals, turning the party of law and order into a mob that attacks police at the United States Capitol and threatens to attack the FBI.

      In October, 2016, I wrote: “Republicans, Trump is not one of you. He is Trump. Period. You created him. … He has sullied us all. And he has destroyed you.”

     But those documents he declassified by thinking about them, even though they weren’t actually there and the FBI planted them anyway and he still wants them back, although they really don’t exist. 

     Apparently, they still can’t get enough of it.

     Stockholm syndrome.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

Judge Needs 61 in 154 Games, or Less

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

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

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

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

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

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

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

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

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

The Trump Mar a Lago Documents? … The French Have a Word For It

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  2E64A078-5397-4E5A-9F5F-E845D579A554  An arabesque is an arabesque wherever you may be. A grand jeté is a grand jeté in Tokyo or “Paree”.

    Came across a YouTube channel the other day in which a Russian ballerina and a Japanese ballerina were discussing their chosen craft. They knew enough of each other’s language to be understood, but what really made the conversation possible and meaningful to both is that when either of them said, for example, “sur la pointe” or “battu,” the other knew exactly what she meant.

     Ballet terms are in French everywhere. Period. C’est entendu. 

     Thus has it been since King Louis XIV adopted the dance style that originated in 15th Century Italy for his own court.

     The king, an avid dancer, created many of the terms and steps that exist to this day. He took the ballet out of the court and introduced it to the public, plié by plié, creating a professional dance company. And, while styles may differ somewhat, the language of the ballet persists, from Moscow to London to New York to Rome to Tokyo to Paris and to every pirouette in every ballet class in the world. Everyone understands it.

      Brilliant. Simple. No confusion.

      If only the same could be said for some other forms of communication. Compare the universal language of ballet to, say, the confusing verbiage surrounding a sizable stash of apparently sensitive, even classified and top secret government documents that Donald Trump apparently took home with him, along with newspaper clippings, notes, magazines and other stuff when he moved from the White House to a golf resort in Florida. Threw it all in cardboard boxes for, well, he never said what for.

        Trump apparently regarded the documents as “mine.”

        The people at the National Archives, which stores and protects government documents for the American people, consider them “ours.”

         When Trump finally agreed, after many months, to return documents, his lawyer apparently said there were “none” left in Florida. The National Archives folks and the FBI disagreed. They said there were “some” documents left. In fact, “a lot.” They wanted them “all.”

          Another lawyer suggested that Trump had “declassified” the documents, as presidents can do. The National Archives replied that saying so doesn’t make it so. 

         Trump said the FBI conducted an “unwarranted” raid on his Mar a Lago home, treating him like some common thief, rather than a twice-impeached former president. A judge said the raid was, in fact, warranted. In fact, he signed the warrant, saying there was “probable cause” to believe that classified or other sensitive documents were still stored at Mar a Lago and, furthermore, that there was “probable cause” to believe that evidence of “obstruction” would be found there.

          At some point, Trump suggested the FBI planted documents, yet insisted he wanted them back. He even said the FBI should release the affidavit for the search, suggesting, one presumes, it would show no justification. What the FBI released said it had reason to believe Trump was keeping “national defense information,” a violation of the Espionage Act.

           Espionage, by the way, is French for spying, another word that everyone understands. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

          

          

       

      

 

Liz Cheney for President? Yes, but How?

Sunday, August 7th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney

  Liz Cheney for president.

      What?

      Too soon?

      You got a better candidate?

       Republicans don’t.

       Neither do Democrats.

       Really, it’s a no-brainer.

       All she needs is a party.

       … All she needs is a party.

        Americans claim to like leaders with the courage of their convictions and the guts to speak honestly, regardless of the personal political consequences. Occasionally, such a person actually appears. 

        Liz Cheney. In today’s Republican Party, populated by cowards, racists, liars and hypocrites, Cheney is an outcast. A pariah. As vice chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, she has been the most eloquent, plain-spoken, messenger of the truth about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to attempt a coup. On live television.

        Cheney’s outspokenness has led to her ouster from the House Republican leadership, a censure by the Republican National Committee and a decision by her home state Wyoming Republican Party to no longer recognize her as a member. It has also earned her millions of fans among Democrats, independent voters and even a few quiet Republicans.

      So, Liz Cheney for president. Why not? She has the political bloodline, for starters. In fact, one doesn’t have to work hard to note the straightforward, assured and occasionally wry manner of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in her political speech. She’s grown up in politics and has learned a lot along the way, most notably, about the need to preserve democracy and defend it against those, like Trump and his allies, who would pervert it to their own benefit, or simply destroy it.

       Cheney’s opening remarks for the committee’s hearings should be required reading for every American who claims to be a patriot:

       “We cannot leave the violence of January 6th – and its causes – uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6th every four years.”

          She gets it. In fact, so do thousands of other Republican officials. But she is one of the few who has had the guts to state it publicly, repeatedly, and, in the process, put her political career in jeopardy.

          At least in Wyoming.

          It’s doubtful that she will be re-elected as the state’s lone member of Congress, given the exorcism of her by the state’s Republican Party. Most political analysts doubt that even a hard-hitting campaign ad by her father will help her win the party’s primary next week. Wyoming is solid red Republican, which means do or die with Trump. Dick Cheney’s campaign ad said, in part, “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” He called Trump “a coward.”

     You have to admire the Cheneys’ loyalty to each other and to their country. But it’s their political party that has betrayed them and others who once espoused a conservative but genuine loyalty to America’s stated ideals, including that no man or woman is above the law.

      To that point, Cheney has been consistently clear during the hearings. “As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices …”

      As to those proclaiming he simply didn’t know any better, she said, “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”

     Even Cheney’s congressional  re-election committee, while no doubt frustrated by the actions of Wyoming Republican leaders, is aware of the profoundly positive reaction to her courageous stand among millions of Americans who have not swallowed the Trump Kool-Aid.

    As one of her state campaign team members said, “The fringe right and the fringe left all hate her. But you’ve got this overwhelming, massive majority of people in the center who believe that what she’s doing is the right thing. Frankly, it’s the type of person that we need in the White House.”

   Yes it is. 

    So, how does she get there? Cheney hasn’t talked publicly about a possible presidential run, but she has already raised a sizable war chest, much of which is not being spent on her primary campaign. She reportedly doesn’t spend much time with her Republican colleagues in Washington anymore, some of whom have expressed admiration for her courage, but apparently lack any of their own.

     It’s hard to imagine a Republican Party cleansed of any Trump influence by 2024. Even if Trump is not the candidate, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and other Trump wannabes are already looking to take his place. That makes it harder even to imagine a Cheney presidential campaign as a Republican. Third party candidates historically have been successful only as vote stealers from one of the two major party candidates.

     So that leaves the Democrats. 

     Joe Biden was needed in 2020 to save America from Trump, and deserves thanks for that, but a much more dynamic, younger leader is needed in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris has made no impact as a leader and there is no obvious top candidate waiting in the wings. Democrats desperately want to win in 2024. America needs them to win to help erase the Trump stain on the republic.

       It seems to me that a Cheney switch to the Democratic Party, despite significant policy differences, is more likely to happen than a sudden change in Republican philosophy. There are conservative Democrats and Cheney did recently support a Democratic gun control bill in the House.

      Does any of this seem politically possible or even realistic? Well, consider that we as a nation have never been in this situation before. History is being written. History also tells us that Americans admire and vote for those seen as decisive in difficult situations. Of the 46 presidents, 12 were generals. They were: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Col. Teddy Roosevelt famously led the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy was admired and decorated for his heroic actions as commander of PT109 in World War II. Men hardened and shaped as patriots by their leadership in battle.

      If Liz Cheney can succeed in her battle to make Trump accountable for attempting to overthrow a legitimate president, to preserve democracy, she will have written her name into history books. She will also have gained the thanks and votes of millions of Americans, political party registration notwithstanding. It will be one hell of a campaign message.

       Let’s hear from Cheney one more time:

       “I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God. The Framers of our Constitution recognized the danger of the vicious factionalism of partisan politics – and they knew that our daily arguments could become so fierce that we might lose track of our most important obligation – to defend the rule of law and the freedom of all Americans. That is why our Framers compelled each of us to swear a solemn oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics.”

      Liz Cheney for president.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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