Posts Tagged ‘trump’

Shooting My Way Out of the Funk

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Swish …

Swish …

      It’s time to borrow from the book of Curry. Stephen Curry, that is.

      Back in 2017, when I was in a bit of a writing funk, I came across an interview with Curry, who is regarded by most basketball fans as one of the best, if not the best, pure shooter in the National Basketball Association. Swish is his MO.


      As synchronicity would have it, Curry at the time was going through a rare shooting slump. He was hearing a lot more clang than swish. The interviewer asked him what he did about that. How do you get out of a shooting slump?

     “You shoot your way out of it,” Curry said. “You obviously get more reps in between games, try to get that muscle memory back and the vision of the ball going in. You never lose confidence — that’s first and foremost. But there’s nothing really different to my approach. You’ve got to grind your way through it.”

   So this is me shooting my way out of a writing slump. Working on that muscle memory and grinding my way back into the groove.

     Four years ago, the funk settled in because there was really only one thing to write about every day: how Donald Trump had messed the world up in some unique way and how Republicans were just fine with it. Only the details changed; the arrogance and ignorance were ever-present. There are only so many ways to say that. Actually, I just said it.

    Now, Trump is thankfully gone from the White House, but his legacy and his minions linger on. The story today, the only story told in different ways, is President Biden trying to remedy the damage Trump caused while Republican politicians fall all over each other trying to emulate Trump.

     The constant lies, the hypocrisy, the unabashed arrogance and proud  ignorance. It’s infuriating and, honestly, writing about it constantly is as much a drag as reading about it. 

     Take Kevin McCarthy (please, as Henny Youngman would say). Having him as their leader in the House of Representatives should embarrass every Republican. He criticizes Biden’s infrastructure plan, yet takes credit for the good stuff in his home state of  California. He blames Biden for Covid lingering and spreading, while Republican governors continue to ignore the science and defy calls for vaccines and masks.

       He does it with a straight face, knowing it’s baloney, because this is how the Trump Republican Party is supposed to operate. 

       I don’t know how many times that has to be said, but I think I just took a shot and scored and I feel better.. Guess some of that muscle memory came back. A few more reps at the keyboard and I think I’ll be back on my game.

        Thanks, Steph.

(For those  younger than 50, Henny Youngman was a popular comedian, I once ran into in an art gallery in Woodstock. More synchronicity.)

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

It’s No Time to be Silent, America

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

  By Bob Gaydos

   C56781E2-67D2-4EBC-941D-A0CA7A4C30E9“Stop.”

     That’s it. That’s all he or she said. It was the entire content of a message reacting to a column I wrote on Banned Books Week. In fact, it was the only reaction I got from all of Facebook when I spent a few bucks to spread my words of wisdom on the subject.

     I was surprised and disappointed at the lack of response to a column encouraging, in effect, the freedom to read as we please without interference from some “authority.” I mean, this is the land of liberty, isn’t’t it? But that’s probably a topic for another column. This one’s about that one-word effort to stifle the messenger. It’s about why, disappointing feedback or not, I won’t stop. Indeed, disappointing feedback is a primary motivator to keep spreading the message. There’s simply too much at stake and it worries me that many Americans don’t seem to be aware of the threat.

       As God, the greater consciousness, Buddha and the cashier at Hannaford‘s Supermarket are my witnesses, there are some things, even with eight decades of experience, I just don’t understand.

         Spoiler alert: If you are a MAGA believer, there are likely to be some things in this column that might cause you emotional distress. I’d hate to cause you any discomfort, so you might want to consider not reading beyond here. Otherwise, you were warned. And to those who argue that we must try to reconcile our differences, I’ve pretty much given up trying to reason with true MAGAs. Using research, facts, logic and compassion has proven to be a waste of time. I’m focusing on the other Americans, millions of them, who apparently think we’re just going thriough a tough spell. Hey, football stadiums are full again, aren’t they?

      Sure, and so are hospital emergency rooms. In fact, in some states they are overflowing and people with serious medical issues are having treatment delayed because of the flood of Covid patients. A second flood caused by a refusal by many to get vaccinated or to wear masks. 

       One of the things I don’t understand is people who call themselves healthcare workers refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Thousands resisted mandates to get vaccinated even though the vaccines have proven to be safe and effective.  Only the threat of losing their jobs convinced many to do the responsible thing. 

        Another thing I don’t understand is people who call themselves educators arguing against children and teachers wearing masks in school. Or parents attacking school board members who think teachers should not have to put their lives at risk to do their jobs and students should not become an army of miniature Covid spreaders. Teachers have proven to be adaptable and the kids will only complain about the masks if their parents do. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of educating to do.

    Which is to say, I don’t understand why people who call themselves evangelical Christians or Republicans, or both, regard education as an evil, as something to be derided, dismissed and avoided at all costs. In the land of opportunity, how does the pathway to greater opportunity become the enemy for so many people?

      I do understand why some who call themselves evangelical Christians or Republicans or both routinely attack education, spread lies and misinformation and feed on the fears of the uninformed. Power and greed. Thus has it always been.

          Maintaining the support of an uninformed mass of people seems to be the only platform of today’s Rrepublican Party. It operates solely out of fear of losing whatever power it has. It gives lip service to helping those in need, devoting most of its energy and resources to fighting the efforts of those who would truly like to reconcile our differences.

       The truth is, reconciliation is not a Republican priority. They would rather rule. I don’t understand why. I always come back to fear. Which is why I always come back to education. Autocrats depend on keeping the masses ignorant in order to maintain power. So, too, do some religious leaders. Have faith in me, they preach. Give me your money. You will be protected. Do not trust the infidel with the clever words. 

       That approach works for some in politics, too. But democracy cannot survive in that atmosphere. And, in my opinion, our brand of democracy is under attack today. I have never felt this way before. The January 6 insurrection and the continuing lies of Republican leaders that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump are the most glaring evidence of this threat. So long as Trump speaks for most Republicans and so long as most Republicans fear to contradict him, I see no chance of “reconciling our differences.“ 

       That’s why I won’t stop writing about the importance of a Free Press, about the freedom to read what we choose, about the need for truthful history to be taught in all our schools, about respecting science, and about honoring the invitation on our Statue of Liberty, to welcome, not demonize, refugees from other lands.

        I repeat, I speak not to the MAGAs, but to the large number of Americans who, I am certain, share my beliefs. We are the majority. Protect our democracy. Make sure you’re vaccinated. Teach your children the importance of education. Be a voice of tolerance. Vote. Reread “1984.”

         Don’t stop.   

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

20 Years On, Terrorists Made in the USA

Friday, September 10th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

     Twenty years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.

   There was.

   The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!

     What was I seeing? They replayed it.

     I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed  qThe radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

     September 11.

     After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoo, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper’s history.  My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words.“We need it in an hour.”

     I don’t have a copy of that editorial and I’m sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, “America was at war.”  (Any colleagues who were in the newsroom on that day may feel free to corroborate or add any details you may remember in the comments section.)

       The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.

          So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.

           Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.

            In those ensuing 20 years, Giuliani went from “America’s Mayor” to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.

             Also in the ensuing 20 years, the Republican Party steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns..Inro a cult that believes and repeats Trump’s lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.

           Whatever galvanized us into one people 20 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. “Us” became more vague.”

            The World Trade Center was rebuilt, Trump exposed the fear and bigotry at the center of the Republivan Party and gave free rein to the fissures hiding within American society.

             The FBI now says the greatest threat to America is from domestic terrorism. Not Iraq. Or Afghanistan. The threat comes from the white supremacists groups who organized the assault in Washington and still threaten any who reject their cause.

       In 1870, cartoonist Walt Kelly coined a phrase in his Pogo comic strip: “We have mer the enemy and he is us.”

       Indeed.

       Not so long ago, on January 6 of this year, in fact, I once again stared transfixed at a scene on television. Am I really seeing this? Thousands of virtually all white Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president. Some were ready to hang Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from fulfiling his duties. People died. Republicans refused to accept the election result and many even claimed there was no riot that sent them running for their lives.

          Today, the war to preserve American freedom and democracy is being fought right here at home. Fortunately, millions of Americans stand on the side of what”s right. Many still remember how we felt as a unified nation in the wake of the attacks 20 years ago.

           I’m not sure I”ll be here 20 years from now io mark the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but whether I am or not, I pray the U.S. Capitol is still proudly standing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zest-of-orange.com. He was editorial page editor of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.

 

     

Leaving Afghanistan, Finally

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

 By Bob Gaydos

 American troops are leaving Afghanistan.

American troops are leaving Afghanistan.

    I was born a little more than six months before Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. I hope to still be around at the end of August when the United States military engagement in Afghanistan officially ends. That’s 80 years of war, more or less. Mostly more, as it turns out, certainly more than I was aware of.

       President Biden’s decision to finish the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan — begun by Donald Trump supposedly as part of a truce with the Taliban that never materialized — is to me both proper and overdue. It will be 20 years since American troops landed in Afghanistan with the mission of rooting out Al-Qaeda, capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and avenging the attacks of 9/11.

        That mission was accomplished in the Obama administration and Biden then argued, as Vice President, for a U.S. troop withdrawal. However, he was unsuccessful and the mission morphed into establishing a stable government and defeating the Taliban, two objectives apparently not enough Afghans themselves have been eager to see happen. At some point, and with a history of other nations’ failed attempts at “saving Afghanistan” to guide us, it becomes time to say, “Not our country; not our problem.“

         Harsh, perhaps, but realistic, especially with the U.S. facing a threat to its own government from within. It’s time for America to deal with January 6 2021, now that it has settled Sept. 11, 2001.

          And, really, does anyone think Afghanistan is winnable? What would that look like? How many more American lives and how much more investment would it take? Let Pakistan take a shot at it. Keep the CIA and embassy troops in the country.

          Afghanistan has been called the “forever war.” It just seems like it. But the truth is, American troops have been involved in one military conflict or another pretty much forever.

           In my lifetime, starting with World War II, the list of military engagements also includes the Korean War, China (repatriation), Vietnam, Lebanon (twice), Grenada, Panama, Somalia (talk about forever), the Gulf War, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Indian Ocean (pirates!), Libya (twice) Uganda and, still, Syria.

           Much of the 21st Century military engagement involves spinoffs of one sort or another of the war on terror. This is obviously a necessary price of defending freedom and democracy and not only at home. But when it results in longterm involvement in a faroff country with no sign of diplomatic progress or 100 percent commitment from local forces, how long does the Umited States have to stay involved?

          “Let me ask those who want us to stay: How many more?” Biden said. “How many thousands more American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? And how long would you have them stay?” More than 2,300 American troops have died in Afghanistan.

         Biden is right. It would seem that cyberwarfare is a more serious threat to the American way of life than Afghanistan or whomever Iran is funding in Syria today. Let our intelligence agencies find the terrorist threats and plots to destabilize allies. Our troops will always be ready to help in a moment’s notice. But wars need clear missions and expiration dates. 

          Who’s the threat to freedom? Right now, it’s easier to identify them right here at home. They’re the ones screaming all over social media and Fox “News” to forget about the attack on the U.S. Capitol. That’s a war worth fighting.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

On Growing up with Real Presidents

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
CDC4D41A-9B9D-40C1-B201-50891BEA42DE

RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

There’s something about Donald Trump that has always puzzled me. It’s not the fact that millions of Americans could and still do bow at the feet of this inveterate grifter. For a long time I’ve been of the opinion that there are a lot of people shuffling through life in this country unknowing, uncaring and unapologetic for their behavior. Also racists.

     They are here, they listen to Fox “news” and I don’t expect most of them to change or go away. It’s a free country, even for bigots.

      No, what has had me stumped for five years is that so many Americans have carried on as if Trump is just a little anomaly in the history of this nation. No big deal. When can we go to the movies again?

       For me, Trump has been a major threat ever since he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. It wasn’t just that I knew how slimy he was; it felt just so wrong for him to even be involved in this democratic process. We’re talking about president of the United States of America, for Pete’s sake, I said to myself over and over. What is Trump doing in this? It’s almost a physical reaction for me. It lasted through his whole presidency. Why are all those people on Wall Street behaving as if this is just another 9 to 5 interlude? This man is an insult to the presidency.

         That’s how I felt. Still do, although the election of Joe Biden has eased my concerns considerably. More to the point, 

for the purposes of this column, I think I know why I’ve had such a strong reaction to Trump. Why I never used the word, “president” with his name attached to it. Why I took it so personally.

          I was lucky.

          That’s what history tells me. Or rather, a bunch of historians. Some 142 noted historians were surveyed by CNN for the cable news network’s latest rating of American presidents. It does this whenever there’s a change in administration. Trump somehow managed to not finish last. More on that in a bit. What struck me most, personally I guess, is that the historians rated an era that included my first 28 years alive as the best stretch of presidents in the history of America.

          Wow.

           It started with Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 (I was born in 1941) and continued through Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1969. FDR was Number 3 on the list, behind Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Ike was fifth, Harry was sixth, JFK was number 8 and LBJ ranked 11th.

           Richard M Nixon (number 31) ended my personal winning streak of presidents and it was mediocrity or worse, in my opinion, until Barack Obama in 2008. But boy, those first 28 years! No wonder I resented Donald Trump in the Oval Office. I was spoiled and didn’t know it. I grew up with mature, responsible men as presidents, men who put their country ahead of their party and certainly ahead of themselves. Men who surely had their faults, but who each in his own way inspired confidence that he was always trying to do the best for all Americans. That’s what president did, I thought. Made us feel we had the right person making difficult decisions. Made us feel confident about the future. Made us proud to be Americans.

           FDR created the social fabric we take for granted today. Truman steered us steadily through the end of one war and into another while maintaining his touch with average Americans. Everybody seemed to like Ike, the war hero who warned us of the military/industrial complex. JFK, the orator, had his photo hung in virtually every Catholic family’s kitchen, alongside The Last Supper. He dreamed of going to the moon and gave us the Peace Corps. When he was assassinated, LBJ took up the tough fight for the Equal Rights Act and wrestled it through the resistance of southern senators. He knew how Washington worked. 

            Nixon lowered the bar before resigning. Ford didn’t do much as a fill-in. Carter was sincere but disappointing. Reagan got rated 10th by the historians, but I think he should trickle down several spots despite his affable communications skills. Bush senior was unimpressive, Bill Clinton was sporadically effective (he balanced the budget!) and George W. Bush, installed by the Supreme Court, was a disaster. I actually wept with pride when Barack Obama, the first black American president, addressed the crowd in a park in Chicago on his election night. We’re back, I thought.

             And then came Trump.

             An insult to the American psyche. A symbol of the decay of one of our two main political parties. And the fourth(!) worst president in American history. Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson James Buchanan — they rated worse than Trump. All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t live through their presidencies if they were worse than Trump. But history evolves over time and it is not too much to hope that he will ultimately bottom out.

             In the meantime, though, I am glad to know that I am not in some way weird for regarding the Trump administration as more than an anomaly in politics. I grew up with presidents who could read and speak with intelligence, who respected science, who had the respect of other world leaders, who did not lie with every waking breath, who did not divide Americans with angry insults and threats, who understood the Constitution and the obligation of presidents to serve the people, not vice versa.

           I grew up with real presidents. Trump dishonored the office.

History is on my side.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

           

Wake Up! Time to Put ‘Woke’ to Bed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

5F35512E-EB86-4152-9E79-5C620F64C4DA      I recently woke up to the fact that, while I believe I am thoroughly “woke,” I don’t identify myself that way because I don’t think most Americans understand what the word means as a concept and because the word itself can too easily be used as a weapon of derision by those who are not “woke” to the fact of how stupid they sound just saying “woke.”

      It’s complicated.

      To be honest, I feel awkward just writing the word “woke” in the context in question and I could never actually say it out loud in a conversation to describe myself, I would say, as I have said and written countless times over the years, that I believe racism is a serious issue in this country, that gays, blacks, Latinos, Muslims and women of all ages — in other words, anyone who is not a straight, white (preferably Christian) male — faces unfair obstacles to enjoying the opportunities and freedom promised to all Americans. I believe that social injustice is a fact of life that many Americans would like to deny. I am woke.

        But I have also spent nearly two-thirds of my life trying, with varying degrees of success, to communicate information and opinions in a way that is at once clear, understandble and not subject to derision by those who might have different views simply because it smacks of exclusion or suggests elitism. Like “woke.”

        The word, which comes out of Black culture, was thrust into current conversation a few years ago in the wake of police killings of black males and the subsequent police use of excessive force in response to the Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. To be “woke” was to be aware and watchful for possible danger during the protests. In this era of the meme, in which clarity is sacrificed for speed and brevity, “woke” came to mean you were someone who supports the causes embraced by the demonstrators, to wit, eliminating racial and social injustice.

         And who could be against that, right? Well, Ted Cruz for one. Also Marco Rubio. And Josh Hawley. And Donald Trump.just to name a few. They have all spoken out recently against what Hawley, a senator from Missouri, described as “the woke mob.” He was upset because a publisher decided it didn’t want to be identified with a book written by a public official who actively encouraged an insurrection. Hawley.

         Rubio, from Florida, used the term to criticize corporations for pulling resources out of Georgia to protest efforts by Republicans in the state legislature to make voting more difficult. Trump simply used it to criticize all the policies of the Biden administration. And Cruz, well he just throws the word around because he knows a lot of his supporters don’t know what it really means and it suggests to them that elitist liberals are doing something to mess with the lives of Texans.

         All four men, of course, are Republicans and all these criticisms of “woke“ are part of a Republican Party campaign to confuse the electorate and keep the most rabid element of the Republican voting base (the truly unwoke) riled up against Democrats, who, by implication, are disrespecting Republican voters by saying that they are not “woke.”

         It’s what you do when your party doesn’t have any actual policies or programs to promote. And it works. It works because the message is clear: Liberal, elitist, socialist Democrats are ruining this country and don’t care about you because you’re not “woke.” They think they’re better than you. They think you’re unsophisticated, ignorant.

         Now, some of that may well be true, but it is not what “woke” is all about. Ted Cruz can’t say he’s against equality of opportunity for all and an end to racial injustice, because senators are supposed to at least say they support such principles. But Cruz and a lot of his Republican colleagues 1) may not support such goals as passionately as Democrats and 2) know full well many of their supporters don’t and 3) also know that a good percentage of Repunlican and independent voters likely do support the idea of equal justice and opportunity for all, so they need to be convinced that they are being insulted by “the woke mob.”

         It’s one of the oldest way to combat an idea or movement. Change the subject. Forget about voter suppression laws and racism within police forces. Make it “them” against “us.” The woke versus the whatever.

         If liberals, Democrats, people who really believe in racial and social justice hope to gain support from conservative ranks, they would do better to simply state clearly what they are fighting for, without using any clever phrases (cancel culture is another). Say what you mean, don’t meme what you say. It just gives hypocrites (Republicans) an opportunity to avoid the issue. They attack the language and subvert the message. This is the Republican playbook today. 

          I just know I can’t take hearing the word “woke” spewing as an insult from the lips of Ted Cruz, one of the most “unwoke” people in Congress, when we’re talking about deep-rooted racism and social injustice. Use those words. Make Republicans use those words. Where do they stand on the issues? They have become masters of avoidance. Don’t make it any easier for them. Call it an awakening, if you will, for them and their potential voters. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

Beware: No Labels is Mislabeled

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos (more…)

All the GOP’s “dumb” governors

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

  “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”

  With that absurd, ungrammatical and easily refuted statement to the press, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts last week boldly entered the competition for “dumbest” Republican governor in America. It’s turning into quite a contest in a steadily growing field. And, while I may be mocking this collection of nitwits, let me be clear in stating that this is no laughing matter.

    Let’s start with Ricketts. He is vigorously fighting an effort to legalize medical marijuana in his state. That’s right, they’re not even talking about recreational marijuana in Nebraska, just catching up with the 39 states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. 

     But killing kids? The Drug Enforcement Agency says “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.” Ever. As for its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug by the DEA — meaning it supposedly has no medicinal value — that was a product of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, passed by Congress as part of Richard Nixon’s racist campaign to demonize and nullify black voters. Fifty years later, and in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, Republicans are still trying.

        There’s no real race issue in white bread Nebraska, so this is likely just one more Republican politician playing to the lowest common denominator — the proudly uninformed who make up much of the party’s base. The Trump voters. The governor also threw in the false claim that marijuana serves as a gateway drug for teenagers to other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence of this. In truth, alcohol has long been the gateway drug for young people. Yes, there are risks, especially for young people, in using marijuana, but Ricketts could have stressed common sense approaches to its use rather than making up scare stories. Unfortunately, Nebraskans suffering pain from a variety of illnesses would be deprived of the relief medical cannabis can provide if he has his way.

         At least Nebraskans still have a chance to escape the consequences of having a “dumb” governor. Others, Texans, for example, have already paid a steep price. On March 2, with most of the nation, including Texas, in the early stage of receiving Covid-19 vaccinations, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. When the mayor of Austin, the state capital, said the masks would stay on in his city, Abbott went to court to challenge this affront to his authority to put Texans at risk.

          This mandate came on the heels of the deadly deep freeze in the Lone Star State. When the state’s independent power grid failed during a winter storm in February, with Texans literally freezing to death, Abbott went on Fox News to say, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for America.” Abbott said solar and wind power got “shut down,” while noting that those sources account for only 10 percent of the state’s energy.

          The truth: natural gas lines, which provide the largest percent of Texas’s power, froze up as well because anti-regulation Texas didn’t require companies to winterize. So, yes, almost all power sources froze up. A few windmills did keep producing. Also the truth: Texas refuses to join national power grids for protection against blackouts because Republican officials don’t want federal oversight. Neither do power companies who support them financially.

          Of course “dumb” governors are not new in Texas. In the midst of the blackout, with Texans looking for food and shelter and just trying to stay alive, former governor Rick Perry said Texans would rather deal with blackouts than have the federal government regulate their power grid. Perry, of course, was Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration.

           To top it all off, when the Texas lieutenant governor tried to roll back $16 billion in exorbitant power bills sent to residents, Abbott disagreed. Said he didn’t have the authority. But he can order people not to wear masks. As of March 17, Texas was still averaging 173 Covid deaths a day.

          Abbott has had serious competition on ignoring health experts in responding to the virus from other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who answered the question of whether anyone could be more obnoxious than Rick Perry with a resounding yes. In fact, anti-mask, open-up DeSantis, with an eye on the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has made his anti-science, anti-press approach the hallmark of his public utterances, again echoing the success of Trump with a core group of Republican voters.

          The same can be said of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has taken her campaign on the road and likes to come across as a wise-cracking cowgirl (where are you, Sarah Palin?) and has said from the beginning that South Dakotans don’t need any masks or social distancing and was disappointed when she couldn’t have a big fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. All this as Europe is seeing a resurgence of the virus.

         There are more candidates, but you get the idea. The real question, of course, is whether these politicians are truly dumb, or just playing a cynical role that makes them sound dumb to a majority of Americans, but enhances their reputation with the core group of Republicans who vote for them, often against their own self-interest. The willfully dumb.

          Given the prevalence of this in-your-face obnoxious ignorance, real or feigned, among Republican members of Congress (too many to name here), I have to think this is just further evidence of the disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious, principled participant in the governing of this nation. And that is a serious loss.

         Today, for GOP governors and other elected Republican officials, no platform is necessary. Atttack science. Deny history. Ridicule education. Blame “others.” Demonize the press. If people suffer, if they die, well those are the breaks. Make it all up as you go along. It will get you elected. Hey, it worked for Trump, didn’t it?

         Yes. Once. And if it happens again, we’ll have only our dumb selves to blame.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

       

For the GOP, Is the Party Over?

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

 

 By Bob Gaydos

The Golden Trump at CPAC.

The Golden Trump at CPAC.

 It’s not easy being a Republican these days. First, there’s the question, “What is a Republican?” Second, there’s the problem with numbers. They don’t add up. Third … for now,  go back to Number One: What is a Republican?

      The future of the party has been the subject of debate ever since its candidate, Donald Trump, was soundly defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Not only did Trump, an incumbent, lose, but Democrats also took control of the Senate, giving them control of Congress as well, since they retook the House in the midterm elections of Trump’s four years in office.

       This is not exactly “winning,” which is what Trump’s lap dog Lindsey Graham says is what he’s all about. Yet Graham still supports Trump as the leader of the GOP. And apparently, according to several surveys, so do a lot of other Republicans.

       Which is good news for Democrats.

        It’s the numbers. According to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of registered voters identified as Republicans in 2020, while 33 percent identified as Democrats and 34 percent as independent. Since Trump’s loss, his incitement of the riot at The Capitol and the continuing lie that the election was stolen from him, thousands of Republicans have left the party. Even without knowing the exact number of defections, clearly there are fewer Republucans today than just last year.

       But one survey showed 73 percent of Republicans still felt it was important to remain loyal to Trump, while about 70 percent would at least consider joining another party if he started one. Those numbers sound impressive, but they are 73 or 70 percent of a registered voter base that was only 29 percent of the total electorate. A big chunk of a relatively small chunk.

      However, if 30 percent of Republicans can’t abide Trump, his support among registered Republicans then drops to around 20 percent of the electorate. Since many independents also don’t like Trump and more tend to identify with Democrats than Republicans anyway, it’s hard to see where Republicans plan to find the votes.

        One answer is, they don’t. They plan to prevent as many Democrats (especially minorities) from voting as possible. Voter suppression proposals have been presented in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. But they will be challenged in court. 

        Another answer is, many Republicans are consumed by the delusion that Trump is their messiah and is destined to lead them to victory and beyond. Case closed. This weird factor grew exponentially with the recent Conservative Political Action Conference convention at which a gold statue of Trump was presented for adulation. Which goes back to the question — what is a Republican? Or a conservative for that matter.

       If Trump were to start a new party (unlikely if Republicans are willing to just give him theirs which is already organized and well-funded), what would it stand for? More of the same? Racism, bigotry, corruption, deceit and incompetence? Losing? Lying? White supremacy? Loyalty to the leader above all else?

      Is that what a Trump Republican is today? Again, the numbers say it’s a losing hand. Yet Trump loyalists within the party say it would be foolhardy for those party members who reject Trump to either try to assume control of the party or start a new one based on traditional conservative Republican views because the party’s base wouldn’t go for it. The grassroots Republicans would reject such an attempt, it is said, because that’s not who they are.

      Precisely. The “grassroots” Republicans Trump appeals to are all-in on the racism, bigotry, bullying, etc. Forget traditional conservative principles. The GOP Big Tent today is flooded with angry white men and women who go to church and ignore what is preached. They believe what they’re told and have no use for compromise or, indeed, for government. And beware if you oppose them. The old line Republicans who let them in to boost their numbers are scared to death of this base. Literally. Republicans who criticized Trump were actually advised not to attend CPAC for their own safety. But the Golden Trump was there.

        Forget principles and numbers. The only hope I see for Republicans who want to preserve traditional party values and restore its place as a legitimate partner in governing America is to hope that those Democratic prosecutors looking into Trump’s affairs in New York, Georgia and who knows where else are really good at their jobs. Since they weren’t appointed by Trump, odds are they are. Maybe they’ll take Trump out of the picture. Then all the old-school Republicans will have to do is get rid of all the Trump wannabes in their party. That’s problem number three. It may be a bridge too far.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

      

 

For GOP, Lying is Easier Than Governing

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

      “That’s the problem with the media today is they say all Republicans are liars, and everything we say is a lie. There are two sides to every story …”

     I began writing a column about this statement made by Rand Paul, the Republican-sort-of-Libertarian senator from Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, focusing on its fundamental absurdity. That it was, in fact, a lie in itself. The professionally run media never say that stuff.

       As days passed and events unfolded, I kept rewriting the column until it hit me like a bolt. There it was, every day, just waiting for me to hear it or read it. In his feigned outrage at ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos, Paul had inadvertently disclosed the underlying truth about today’s Republican Party: All Republicans are liars and everything they say is a lie.

     And, for Paul’s and other Republicans’ edification, a lie does not qualify as the other side to a story.

     Before I go any further, let me say that I am excluding from this declaration the roughly 10 percent of Republicans who were honest enough to say that Joe Biden was lawfully elected president and the handful who voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection. But Trump is right when he says they are Republicans in name only (RINOs), because today’s card-carrying Republican is duty-bound to lie, or perish.

      After four years of daily lying, Trump came up with the Big Lie — the election was stolen from him. Every court and state rejected his lawyers’ pathetic efforts to prove otherwise. Every single one. But, and here’s where Paul and the rest of the gang come in, Republicans throughout Congress and coast-to-coast repeated the lie (and many still do), even though I am certain a good percentage do not believe it, because they feared the wrath of Trump and his more avid followers.

      Also, they discovered it was easier than actually governing and, since Republicans do not like government to begin with, they had no alternative plan. In Trump’s GOP, lying is the party platform. They as much as said so in nominating Trump last year to seek another term. There was nothing else offered. Not even a Wall. We stand by the liar. Period.

      Now, this can get complicated when there are other sources of information than Republicans and a lot of sensible people around who can spot BS when they hear it.

        Following Paul’s TV appearance, 43 Republican senators voted to acquit Trump at his Senate impeachment trial despite having been witnesses, some even accomplices, in inciting the riot at The Capitol. Mitch McConnell tried to refine the art of two sides to every story by arguing, first, that Trump could not be convicted because he was still president (as majority leader, McConnell delayed the trial a week), and then arguing (when demoted to minority leader) that Trump could not be convicted because he was no longer president. McConnell topped this off by saying, after voting to acquit, that Trump was indeed responsible for inciting the insurrection and someone should hold him accountable. That’s three sides, I think.

      So, McConnell lied twice, then sort of told the truth while, in true Republican fashion, passing the buck, basically to try to preserve his leadership role in the GOP without doing any of the dirty work, like maybe voting to convict Trump.

      It’s easier to lie than actually govern — Republicans might want to make that their motto. Now McConnell’s at war with Trump over control of the party. The suspicion is McConnell doesn’t plan to run for re-election in six years so he’s not worried about occasionally flirting with the truth and as a result having to buck a Trump candidate. 

        Which brings me to Texas, where the GOP platform of simply lying has been on display for the world to see. It has not been pretty. Texas, which has been run by Republicans for decades, recently nearly froze to death as an entire state due to the party’s aversion to actually governing. When temperatures plummeted and the snow fell, the lights went out all over the state. No power. No water. No heat. No help from the governor in Austin. Nothing from legislative leaders. Just excuses. Frozen windmills, they said. See, solar doesn’t work, they said. They even blamed the proposed Green Energy Deal, which has never even been voted on. Lies.

       They lied about the cause — the state’s refusal to join a regional energy grid for protection in emergencies and the failure of big energy companies to winterize their equipment because it cost too much and Texas did not require them to do so. Too much government regulation, you know? And while blaming solar and wind energy sources, they ignored the fact that 70 percent of Texas’s power comes from carbon fuels and their providers had lobbied hard against regulation, had donated heavily to Republican governors and had jacked their prices drastically when the deep freeze hit. An investigation is in order.

        This is what happens when lying is easier than governing. People suffer. People die. Yet Texas Republicans and their shills on Fox News kept up the lies. And their senator, Ted Cruz, headed with his family to Mexico where it was warm and there was plenty of water and electricity. When he was caught, he blamed it on his daughters. Said he was just being a good father. That was a lie. Reluctantly, he finally said it was “a mistake” to go on a Cancun vacation while people he ostensibly represented were dying in their beds, were desperate for clean water, were living for days in homes with no heat in temperatures well below freezing.

    Yes, it was a mistake, like his vigorous insistence without proof that the election was stolen from Trump and his equally vigorous opposition to impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection. The Trump base — much of it anyway — bought those lies. But in Texas, that same base was getting electric bills for thousands of dollars from companies that neglected to prepare their facilities for cold weather and saw the freak storm as “a windfall.” Cruz couldn’t lie his way out it.

       Without demanding some apology from Trump supporters who didn’t vote for him, President Biden declared a state of emergency in the state and sent industrial generators, food, blankets and other supplies to suffering Texans, many of whom had bought the Republican lie that global warming was a hoax and oil and gas was still the future for proudly independent Texas.

       That’s the “other” side to this story. In truth, the only side.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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