Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

50 Years of Covering Bo Callaway

March 17, 2014

When I covered the late former Secretary of the Army Howard  Bo Callaway’s entrance into national politics in 1964, I didn’t reflect on how his actions were a part of a pivotal shift in American politics.  The Solid South was no longer “solid” for the Democratic Party and was moving toward being “solid” for the Republican Party.  Republican presidential nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Law and carried five Southern states, including Georgia.  Bo Callaway switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party and ran as a “Goldwater Republican.”  Goldwater lost ,  but Bo won easily in his bid to become the first Republican U.S. Representative from Georgia since Reconstruction.

I first met Bo when I covered the 1964 3rd Congressional District election for WRBL Radio and TV in Columbus.  As far as positions on issues were concerned, I couldn’t tell much difference between them. Both Democrat Garland Byrd, a former Georgia Lt. Governor, and Bo were conservatives, and when I asked them if they were segregationists, neither seemed pleased that I asked the question, but both told me they were.  I wasn’t, but, then, I wasn’t running for public office in 1964 Georgia.

Timing is everything, the adage tells us, and, in 1964,  Bo Callaway’s timing was perfect. He went to Washington, but he only stayed two years, deciding he would rather be Georgia’s  first Republican Governor since Reconstruction.  He came close, but in the 1966 Georgia governor’s race that got national attention, he lost to arch-racist Democrat Lester Maddox in a convoluted election that ended up being decided by a Democratically controlled Georgia Legislature, because he got  the most popular votes, but not enough for a majority, which was Georgia law at the time.  (A plurality wins now.)  I reported that General Assembly election  live for WRBL Radio and TV from the Georgia House of Representatives.  What a show that was!

The Republican National Convention in 1973 that nominated President Richard Nixon for reelection was also quite a show.  I decided at the last-minute that WRBL Radio and TV needed to have some Georgia oriented coverage.  Owner and GM Jim Woodruff, Jr. thought it too late because all of the hotel rooms were taken.  I told him we would fly down in the morning and back that evening, that jets were fast.  He said he would call Bo Callaway, who was a member of the Georgia delegation, to see if he could cut red tape and get us some credentials so we could get on the floor of the convention. He did and Bo did.  When we got on the floor, Bo met us, gave me an interview, and took me over to the California delegation to introduce me to then Governor Ronald Reagan, who graciously gave me an interview.

I only asked Bo one question when he was forced out of his job as campaign manager for Vice President Gerald Ford when he ran against  Jimmy Carter for President.  He held a live prime time news conference in a WSB-TV studio in Atlanta, which was broadcast on TV stations all over Georgia.  Since I drove up from Columbus for the news conference, the WSB-TV producer of the program allowed me to ask the first question about the alleged conflict of interest charge reported by an NBC  correspondent.  Bo responded that the charge was false, but he resigned as Ford’s campaign manager in order not to make the election about him instead of Ford.

When he was sworn in as President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Army in 1973,  a WRBL-TV news photographer and I flew to Washington to cover the ceremony.     After we filmed the ceremony,  he gave me an interview for the home folks.  A West Pointer, who had left the Army as a First Lieutenant after the Korean War, was then outranking all of the generals.

When I working at WTVM, I did a series of half-hour interviews for Georgians and Alabamians who have earned “A Place in History.”  When I interviewed Bo,  he candidly answered all of my questions about his personal and professional life without hesitation.  It was a fun interview with his telling me about such things as President Franklin D. Roosevelt coming to his parent’s Harris County home for cocktails and dinner when he came to nearby Warm Springs.  There was one question that caused him to pause before answering.  I asked him, “What was it like growing up as the son of the richest man in town.” Bo’s father Cason and his uncle Fuller, Jr.  owned Callaway Mills in LaGrange.  As best as I can remember it, he said, “Nobody has ever asked me that question before, Dick.  My father made it clear to me that being who I was carried a responsibility with it.  He said that I had to always conduct myself honorably and, if I didn’t, and he heard about it, I would have to answer to him.  I’ve always remembered that and tried to follow his admonition.”

You may wonder why I refer to him by his nick name. It’s not out of disrespect, but because  I consider that he and I were friends.  There are some people that you cover over the years that you can’t resist becoming friends with.  He is one and his political rival, President Jimmy Carter,  is another. I read where he and Bo eventually became friendly.   Recently, at the Rotary Club of Columbus where he was a member,  as he was sitting at the table next to mine in his wheel chair, necessitated by a stroke, he leaned over and patted me on the shoulder when I was among those thanked for participating in a Rotary Foundation fund-raising program.   That was the last contact I had with Howard “Bo” Callaway, who truly earned a place in history. .

Two Movies Worth Seeing

December 10, 2013

Philomena and The Book Thief are examples that show that intelligent, meaningful,  moving,  serious dramatic movies are still being made.

I recommend both of them.

Judy Dench turns in another Oscar worthy performance in Philomena.  Some consider the film anti-Catholic and anti-Republican Party.  I get the anti-Catholic charge, but not the anti-Republican one.  The film does depict the cruel practices of  some nuns many years ago in Catholic convents in Ireland where unwed mothers gave birth to babies that were sold to adoptive parents, but It doesn’t assert that all Catholics are bad, and it does assert that the convents were reformed.  And I just don’t get the anti-Republican charge stemming from a reference to the Reagan administration.  It’s a great film.

The other one, The Book Thief, is a World War II film about what a young German girl who loves books goes through as she risks her freedom by defying the censorship of book-burning Nazis.  It is also about her relationship with a young Jewish man who is being hidden in a cellar to prevent his capture by Nazi’s who would kill him. It is a very well performed and produced piece of cinema. 

So if you’re looking for movies that rely on interesting stories well told instead of special effects and a lot loud explosions,  I think  you will have found them in these two.  

    

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Latest: “The Bully Pulpit”

November 18, 2013

Christmas is a great time for book lovers, especially lovers of non-fiction. The book store shelves are bristling with a lot of interesting new histories and biographies.

I just bought Doris Kearns Goodwin’s newest history,  The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism . It’s about how Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft worked together as Republican progressives, and the split after Taft followed Roosevelt as president.

It’s also about the way that Roosevelt made a special effort to cultivate newspaper and magazine reporters of the time in order to get them to get across his messages to the American public.  It’s also about how Taft didn’t do that and paid for it.

The parallels between the turn of the 20th Century and now are amazingly close, things like a wide and widening income gap between the rich and poor and a split within the Republican party.

I’ve just started reading it, and it’ll be a while before I finish because I am a slow reader of histories and biographies.  I read novels like Sycamore Row by John Grishom  fairly fast.  It, by the way, is a good read, in my view, though, not  up to some of his preceding novels.

 

 

60 Minutes Does it Again

September 24, 2012

I have been watching 60 Minutes since the first program aired in 1968.  It is heartening to see that it remains so effective after all of these years.  Tonight’s interviews with President Obama and Governor Romney gave me the best insight into these two candidates for President so far, especially in the case of Governor Romney.  After observing the president for almost four years, I feel that I know him pretty well, but I didn’t feel that I knew his challenger.  I feel I do know him better now. 

Who will win? If the election were held today, I think the president would keep his job. Anything can happen between now and November 6th.  The debates could make the difference. We’ll get a better idea about that in ten days when the first one will be held. 

I’M BACK AND SO ARE THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS

September 11, 2012

WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN: OBAMA OR ROMNEY?

Since a couple of readers of my blog asked me why I haven’t posted anything for a while, I guess I’ll take the time to post something.

Moving and settling into my new digs have taken most of my attention for the past few weeks, and doing  things like going to Savannah for a weekend has also played a role in my lack of blogging. I have been doing some really short Facebook posts. It’s a lot easier to post things on FB. 

Both of the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions took place since the last time I posted. The event that stood out the most to me  was the speech by former President Bill Clinton.  He is probably the best political speaker to  come along in the last thirty years.  He knows how to phrase sentences in a direct, simple, human, and highly effective manner. He lied about Monica Lewinsky when he was president, but he didn’t lie about anything that I know of when he spoke last week. He appears to have gone to great lengths to get his facts right.  

What’s interesting, also about him, is that he apparently has been forgiven for his personal trespasses during his last years in the White House. He has an approval rating  higher than either President Obama or Governor Romney.   He is still  “the comeback kid.” 

The speech that stood out  the most to me at  the Republican convention was the improvised comedy routine performed by movie star Clint Eastwood. The image of his talking to an empty chair representing President Obama remains the most vivid one  of the GOP gathering. Economist Paul Krugman said Eastwood symbolized the Republican base:  old white men. 

When Pat Hart and I co-ficilitate a current affairs class called “What’s Happening?” for the Columbus Academy for Lifelong Learning for the Fall Quarter we are going to ask class participants to anonymously write down who they think will win, not who they hope will win.  We’ll compile the percentages to see how well they guessed when the election is over. You’re invited to do the same thing here. Just click on the “comments” button and write either Obama or Romney, and we’ll see how close our prognosticators come.

The Economic Elephant in the Room

February 13, 2012

What the Republican candidates are not talking about in their knock-down-drag- out fight for the presidential nomination is really the biggest problem facing this nation right now, the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Trying to just dismiss the subject by charging “class warfare” does not address the problem, and certainly is not going to solve it.

The class war is over. The wealthy won, just like they did in the Gilded Age of the 1890s and in 1929 right before the Great Depression. But all one has to do is look at history to know that odds are very high that the victory will be Pyrrhic. Prominent Columbus attorney Morton Harris, in his talk to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, quoted 1st Century Greek historian Plutarch, who said: “Too great a disparity between the rich and the poor is the most fatal malady of a Republic.”

Mort and I, and another attorney friend of mine, Milton Jones, were in the Columbus Jaycees together back the in the 1960s. Milt introduced Mort Sunday. In that introduction we learned that Mort was a pitcher for the Jaycees’ softball team, and Milt was his catcher. I won’t tell you what Milt said about Mort’s pitching since both are lawyers. But I digress. Back to the income and weath gap mess.

Believe me it’s not crying wolf or saying that the sky is falling, or even making a poltical statement. It’s fact. It is really a gigantic problem. As Mort said, “Poverty and the feelings of injustice can become the ‘fuel’ for ‘revolution,’ either at the ballot box or in the streets.

“The risk of too wide a gap is that our country could lose either its private economic system or its democratic political system, or both, if too many are living in poverty and believe ‘there is no way out, no matter how I try.'”

Mort says, “There is too little awareness and even less understanding of this growing ‘Elephant in the Room.'” That’s probably going to change once Republicans nominate thier presidential candidate and the actual campaigns for president start. In the meanwhile, let’s take a look at what created this problem and just how bad it is. Stay with me, and I’ll get into the specifics that Mort passed along today in future posts, and we’ll discuss possible solutions.  If you have any, let me know.

Pugnacity Trumps Family Values in SC Republican Primary

January 22, 2012

I thought I had basically understood the South Carolina Republican electorate.  That’s why I figured Rick Santorum would do very well in the state, not come in last in the primary as he did.  He is a high-profile conservative  evangelist, and South Carolina has a lot of  those. Newt Gingrich, who could be considered family values challenged,  won big time in the Republican Presidential Primary. What happened?

I heard some of the political pundits say that since Newt was so forthcoming about admitting his past personal flaws, South Carolinians were willing to overlook his personal character baggage because what they care about most is nominating a fighter to challenge President Obama. One voter was quoted as saying he was for Gingrich because he wanted someone who would bloody President Obama’s nose in a debate.  Who would end up with the bloody nose in that one remains to be seen.

The Putting-Country- Ahead-of-Party Issue

January 9, 2012

Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney’s debate attack on Jon Huntsman for having been President Obama’s ambassador to China opened up a can of worms for all of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, except for Huntsman.

After Romney’s attack,  Huntsman drew applause when he said such attacks are the reason the nation is split right now. “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that. The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough.” He went on to say that he has always put country ahead of party.

This prompted other candidates to claim they can work across the aisle, too. Newt Gingrich, for instance, pointed out how he and President Clinton worked together to reform welfare, balance the budget, and create jobs.

So now, the issue of putting country over partisan politics is out there.  That could end up to President Obama’s advantage because of Republicans in congress saying their number one goal was to make sure that Obama is a one-term president. Any member  of Congress should have as the top goal doing what is best for the country and putting defeating a sitting president above doing that could backfire.

If Huntsman does well In New Hampshire, and, as one TV pundit said today, his billionaire father decides to kick in a hundred-million dollars to his PAC, there is a chance he could win the nomination. The South Carolina polls now show Romney ahead, and that is surprising, because religion plays a big role in South Carolina politics and Romney, as you know, is a Mormon and not really their choice, but they appear to have decided that electability is paramount, and if they decide Huntsman, also a Mormon,  stands the best chance,  he could nail down the nomination.

Lasting Sound Bites

November 21, 2011

“Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”

-Newt Gingrich 

A friend’s quote dealing with the dangers of historically high income inequality inspired me to check other quotes that apply. He used the quote, “The palace is in danger when the cottage is unhappy.”

I don’t know to whom to attribute the “cottage” quote , but I came across another one that applies to our current social unrest situation that is attributed to Thomas Carlyle, Victorian-era Scottish author and philosopher. He said, “A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun.”   Thomas Carlyle

When I saw that one, I had to reflect on the Newt Gingrich quote that has been played over and over on the cable news channels. He said the Occupy Wall Street protesters should, “Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”
That quote, which drew loud applause from the audience attending a Republican presidential primary candidate’s debate, triggered a lot of angry comments on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with panelists calling it “arrogant” and “disgusting” from an hypocritical one-percenter who took over a million dollars from Freddie Mac.
How could he use such nasty rhetoric about the  protesters and not address at all the issues that are causing their protests, some of them wanted to know. But, another one was not surprised at all.  The former U.S. House Speaker has made it clear how he feels about the effectiveness of Republican nastiness.  Check out this Newt quote from Brainey Quotes.
“I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around a campfire but are lousy in politics.” 
So, if you want nasty, Newt’s your man.