Skip to content

Historical Photos As Donald And Melania Trump Leave Washington In A Most Tawdry Fashion

January 18, 2021

It was announced that Melania Trump will not invite incoming-First Lady Jill Biden to tea and a tour of the White House family quarters. That long-held custom that took place between outgoing and incoming presidential families is just the latest in a very long list of traditions that the Trump family has thrown out the window, tossed under the bus, and flushed away.

No one really thought that either of the Trumps would possess the character to have Joe and Jill Biden to the White House following the election. But for those who treasure our history, there was always the hope we could be wrong. But sadly, no one has ever gone broke betting on low-brow behavior from the Trumps.

Donald is throwing a tantrum and will leave Washington without acknowledging his defeat or greeting his successor. Meanwhile, Melania departs the White House proving the gossip over the past years is accurate when defining her base motives. You do not get in bed with Donald Trump for love.

In a series of historical pictures, we recall the way most normal people have acted over the decades during presidential transitions.

White Right-Wing American Extremists Primary Threat To Nation

January 18, 2021

What took place on January 6th when terrorists stormed the United States Capitol and postponed the process of counting the Electoral College votes, as mandated in the Constitution, was the latest and most chilling example of the greatest threat our nation faces. The threat did not come from outside the nation, or from a faith not predominant in the land. Rather the act of violence, death, and terror came from white Americans who can not seem to understand the nation in which they reside.

As I watched the hours of coverage as the hordes marched, shouted, and committed all sorts of crimes my mind flashed to the long-ago Phil Donahue shows that would feature a right-wing extremist or group as to demonstrate the shocking ignorance that still existed in the nation.  I recall as a teenager, and young adult, watching such guests and wondering how they could be so uneducated. So to see the crisis unfold at the Capitol at the age of 58 was a reminder of how much remains the same. If anything, the vileness seems to be on the increase.

Over time I have written about my concern that since 9/11, as anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric increased in volume, and in turn policies such as the Donald Trump administration’s horrible travel-ban became the focus, the areas that truly needed law-enforcement’s attention were being side-lined. The threat which required utmost attention was the far-right lunatics amassing weapons and hate-filled ideology. The foreign threats were of real concern–do not get me wrong–and needed to be assessed by our homeland security officials, but so did the white Americans who were fostering their hate in small groups and connecting via social media. Jihadism was the sparkling object too many wanted to pay attention to when it was the racism of the Tea Party that should have been a focal point.

For too long there was a continual stoking of resentments by conservative agitators to rile up the white men about alleged grievances in the nation and to get them to believe they were being treated unfairly. Ann Coulter, as a prime example, described her version of the Democratic Party on Fox News.

I mean you have the Muslims and the Jews and the various exotic sexual groups and the black church ladies with the college queers … you must hate white men. It’s the one thing they have in common.

This was the vile racism being openly promoted on a major network and aimed at the easily-led demographics. A large segment of that viewer base was soon lulled into Tea Party politics. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation fully understood that white males in America had lived on a rainbow in this nation.  Always have. The entire power and governing structure were designed, from the drafting of the Constitution, to accommodate white males.

So what gives with all the anger and nastiness that has permeated our politics for several election cycles and went into bizarro land since the general election in 2020? There is no doubt in uneasy economic times that all sorts of ugly fissures open in society and ooze stuff that in better times are kept in check. That, in and of itself, is not a new phenomenon. And yet, the volume of disgusting actions and words that have erupted in recent weeks make that simple attempt for an answer inadequate to what we all witness.

When we dig down into the extreme nastiness of those who shout and break into federal buildings we see and hear the fear that reaches beyond basic economics which is often seen as the fault line. Rather, at the heart of the anger of these white people, is the fact that when they looked at President Obama or now see soon-to-be Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris they are looking at the future.  And it gets them all unsettled. While there are other cultural issues or economic matters (such as large banks and bailouts) that stir the rage of these people, the heart of it is always about race.

After all, a white majority population in America is not the future.  The world is brown, and the trend lines have this country moving in the same direction.  And quickly.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Embracing what makes us diverse has always been the way for social progress, and it also allows for personal enrichment.  But it also allows for a certain segment to lash out and act in ways that society, or a democracy, can not abide.

There was no way not to laugh at the Tea Party types when they disparaged Obama because he was Black, or tried to paint him as a Muslim, or not recognize he was a constitutional scholar. If only they could tarnish him enough and bring this ‘uppity black man’ down a peg or two they then could feel so much better about their own lives.

I have no way to understand the fear and anger that consumes these types of people, but we all can agree that the way they were handled on January 6th, and in the days since underscores again how whites do get preferential treatment. Had it been Muslims who had conducted the terrorists attack on the Capitol they would have been shot on the spot. In the following days, mass arrests would have occurred and those who incited the riot and participated in it would not be out on bail or offered organic meals.

Toxic beliefs have been brewing in the minds of some white Americans for a long time, and have been stirred and fomented by Donald Trump and a large segment of the Republican Party. They must be combatted and it is imperative that just as we moved aggressively after 9/11 we now also act with new powers modeled on those crafted to fight Islamic terrorism. The reason is clear, The majority of deadly extremist incidents in our country are motivated and conducted by far-right ideologies, especially those with their primary allegiance to white supremacy. But, as I noted above, it is the threat of Islamic radicalism that commands a far greater share of government resources.

That must change.

January 6 taught that lesson in frighteningly tragic detail.

And so it goes.

Gregory Humphrey’s History Video: First Black American Dines At White House

January 17, 2021

Humphrey’s History Video as we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America…..short, snappy, and loaded with trivia—even Mark Twain!

As We Move Forward As A Nation….

January 17, 2021

As we begin fresh with the inauguration of a new president, I trust there will be many reporters in our land who will strive to emulate this great American journalist pictured on the book jacket below. Each citizen now has a chance to step up to the plate and align ourselves with the ideals of the nation. We have seen what happens when we pretend such work is not important, or that it can be left to others who care not what happens. The first and vital step on that journey is to be fact-based and well-informed about the news in this country and how world events shape our policy moves.

As is often stressed on Caffeinated Politics the best way to understand our current times is to be rooted in the knowledge of our rich past. As such, Edward R. Murrow can teach us much about what is best about journalism and how it absolutely impacts our democracy. He is, in my definition, an essential American. Younger folks who may not know of him should learn why he matters so much to this nation, and older readers should again anchor themselves to the idea of what this nation was founded upon. Too many people have no understanding of the role of a working press or the way those men and women are more important to our democracy than any member of the military.

Where America Stands In Final Days Of Trump’s Term

January 17, 2021

A friend told me on the phone this weekend our nation “has made it” in surviving the four years of Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office. I commented that is a sad metric in which to gauge the history of someone who had taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Yet, the assessment of my friend is how many feel as we move towards the inauguration of Joe Biden. But they are wrong if thinking our nation has arrived at a new place just because we jettisoned the cause of our alarm.

In thy most absurd, willfully chaotic, crude, and menacing presidency in our nation’s history Trump has not only created and furthered a deep and dangerous divide among the people but also undermined our democracy. It is a regrettable and terrible thing to lose, and a most difficult thing to regain.

A new CBS News poll finds 71% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is threatened, while 29% think it is secure.

After the attacks, the rhetoric and attempts to overturn electoral votes, here’s how Americans describe democracy and rule of law in the U.S. today: just 6% think it “very secure” and just 29% think it’s at least somewhat secure at all. The rest see it threatened.

It is shocking to ponder how much discord and disunity was produced in just one term of Trump. Hollywood screenwriters are the ablest to conjure up the nightmare had Trump somehow been allowed to remain in office for another term. Even with his leaving this week we are reminded in stark terms how events we took for granted have morphed into the surreal.

The roughly 25,000 National Guardsmen deployed to the U.S. capital to ensure President-elect Joe Biden is able to be sworn in peacefully went through an additional background check to weed out any whiff of domestic extremism.”

I have lamented many times–too many needed times–that illiberal democracy was taking hold in varying ways in our nation. We know it does not take long for certain ideas and careless actions to take hold among a certain demographic in the land, and that only further aids the undermining of our American ideals. Therefore, I am very pleased this morning to read a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 68% of Americans oppose President Trump pardoning himself for any federal crimes he may be accused of committing.

In another measure, despite Trump’s unsupported allegations of widespread voter fraud, Americans see Biden as the legitimate winner of November’s presidential election by an almost 2-to-1 margin, 62%-32%. 

There was been a most disturbing trend among the conservative Republican base to saddle up to misinformation and wrap their arms around conspiracy theories. For a functioning democracy to thrive there must be a fact-based citizenry. It will be vital that from every region of our nation, and from all levels, that a determined effort is made to assert truth and facts.

I have watched the election chaos and followed the reasons many offer for why passions have been unleashed in the way they have over the past months.  To know many feel their religion is under attack, or that laws are changing and social adjustments accordingly are adapting, while economic tensions rise should not be a reason to throw rational thinking aside for a pure demagogue. We have allowed the present state of affairs to develop through a continual dumbing down of our nation, the undermining of education (history and civics in particular) and the retreat from teaching people how to think vs. what to think.

A famous quote attributed to Ben Franklin has often been on my mind over the past months as we closed out an election campaign and then were subjected to the autocratic attempt to throw out the voters’ desire at the ballot box. As the story goes Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “What have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

To which Franklin supposedly responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

We have that chance again, starting anew this week, to step up to the plate and align ourselves with the ideals of the nation. We have seen what happens when we pretend such work is not important, or that it can be left to others who care not what happens.

GOP Senator Concedes Racism In Trump’s Election Fraud Hoax, Place From Which To Grow

January 15, 2021
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

When someone steps up and owns a share of a self-generated problem of the day they need to be favorably mentioned. That is what Republican Oklahoma Senator James Lankford is receiving today after he openly apologized to Black Tulsans for his involvement in falling for Donald Trump’s delusional questioning of the election results. Lankford stated that he knows his actions offended black voters in his state.

The senator acknowledged that his actions “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot.”

It would only be natural for a wide swath of my readers to say that his comments are among the phoniest and self-serving lines from a politician who had to be fully aware of the hoax he was perpetuating and the damage he was causing to not only his voters but the nation as a whole. After all, one could argue his voice and actions concerning election results in key battleground states–of which Wisconsin was one–and where large African American populations resided could not have been so hard for him to see and understand. Lankford, after all, was not born this past year.

But I have a different perspective based on his forthright move and attempt to own his deeds, while asking for Black voters to give him another chance. Part of my reasoning is that I have often called out the Republican Party to made a better stand on the issues of importance to Black Americans. So when there is clear evidence that a GOP senator is making that move I feel a need to see it as a positive development. At this point in our national affairs we need to reach out for any hopeful signs.

There is no doubt Black voters have every reason to be angry given that Trump kept spouting that their voices mattered but when he lost the election he turned around and threw those same voters under the bus for his autocratic desires. The Republicans aggressively targeted ballots cast in heavily Black cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and Milwaukee while arguing that these Democratic strongholds were rife with fraudulent ballots. Lankford played his cards in like fashion with others in his party.

So it was the moral thing for the Oklahoma Senator to come out and admit a racial “blind spot” in how he conducted himself. Black voters in his state should take the next step and accept his words and then start the long-overdue dialogue that is key to bridging the differences and misconceptions that result in a too heavily divided nation.

Black voters know, and history shows how narrow is the degree between “illegal votes” being the buzzwords now and how “illegal voters” were the sad fact in our land only 50 years ago. That is why the acknowledgment from Lankford matters, and for the sake of our nation should be accepted as a place from which to build upon within his state.

Who knows, it may even aid in a national conversation the GOP must have with Black Americans.

Kyle Rittenhouse Proves His Low Character, Again

January 14, 2021

Sometimes the news is just so unsettling it almost makes one wish to turn away in disgust. When it comes to the latest news concerning Kyle Rittenhouse turning away might be due to being embarrassed for him. Clearly, he has no self-shame.

The killing of two people last year in Kenosha in a bizarre and vigilante-style move by Rittenhouse should have been the moment his family understood the highly troubled person was in need of help. It would appear such help was not forthcoming.

News this week is that his mother, upon Kyle turning 18, took him to a bar. That is where he was seen drinking beer while wearing a T-shirt reading “Free as (expletive).”

Classy, all the way around.

As a consequence, prosecutors are now asking a judge to order Kyle to stay out of bars, and away from violent white power groups like the Proud Boys. Five men at the bar serenaded Kyle to a song long associated with the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group. (I didn’t know men sernaded each other at straight bars.) Kyle was also seen, as reported in the prosecutors’ motion posing outside with two men as they all put their thumbs and forefingers together in what looks like an OK sign, which has become a symbol used by some white supremacists.

I fully understand we are not talking about a scholar here, or even one who seems able to finish high school. But it would seem to me, and I suspect the bulk of my readers, that the adults and guardians of Kyle should have the foresight and supervisory skills to make sure that he comes to grips with what he did when running like a crazed person last year.

Facing homicide charges and being free on a $2 million bail might be the time for someone in his life to counsel him that drinking three beers in 90 minutes in a bar while wearing a most offensive T-shirt, and acting in racist fashion is not acceptable in polite society. Given that he has clearly demonstrated no ability to constrain his actions to meet with the laws of the state it seems more than necessary for the judge to rule that he be prohibited from drinking alcohol in the future.

I have often posted about the need for parents, as well as guardians, to do their utmost with their young charges. Society should not not be burdened with the results of their failures. This is but one more example of what happens when society is left to pick up the pieces. Sadly, that is not possible for the families of the two people Kyle Rittenhouse killed.

And so it goes.

Historic Second Trump Impeachment Makes Memorable Front Pages Of Newspapers

January 14, 2021

Never in my memory has the front pages of newspapers, following a major and momentous event, had such a rich diversity of images and formats when writing the first narrative of history as we witness today. I have an interest in newspapers dating back to my childhood when the Stevens Point Journal arrived daily in the mailbox. Over the decades I have sought out for viewing the front pages of papers, as it is a clear barometer on how the news was not only presented, but understood. Today I was truly amazed at how varied with photos, headlines, and in some cases formats the newspapers reported the news of Donald Trump’s second impeachment. In over 14 years this blog has existed I have often posted the front pages so to explain a story or showcase the national mood. Today’s effort is the longest such post as the front pages below demand to be seen and placed in our national conversations.

Congressman Mark Pocan: “It’s Our Constitutional Duty”

January 13, 2021
Picture from PBSWisconsin.org

I was looking for some special cookies or even just dark chocolate following the three hours of debate in the House concerning the current impeachment of Donald Trump. It was not that I was opposed to the news coverage. I feel quite the opposite. There is a duty of the nation to respond with a consequential reaction equal to the weight of the assault on our Capitol one week ago today.

Rather, I was looking for some sweets to compensate for the display by Republicans who were spinning a narrative that the nation needed to “heal” and that an impeachment would only further divide the citizenry. I know we live in a world where 30-minute sitcoms are about the attention-span of the nation. But I recall the past four years where these same members of Congress supported and usually encouraged the divisiveness of Trump. To now pretend they are taking a higher moral stand about healing is hypocrisy on steroids.

Second-District Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan, which represents all of Dane County, concisely summed up the need for the impeachment proceedings. Impeaching a President who incited a violent insurrection isn’t divisive, he said, in response to the on-going GOP claims.

Instead, he made it perfectly clear as to what is required when it comes to impeaching Trump. “It’s our Constitutional duty.” He added that it was “not another country that attacked us, it was our own president.”

I played back the statement by Pocan three times as it hit to the very core of how I feel. The need for the House to act as they did today is because the president incited an attack against his own government. Against his own people! THINK ABOUT THAT.

While I applaud the words from Pocan, along with the many others who grasp the gravity of the moment, and the need to address the call of history I had hoped that more Republicans would appreciate the enormity of the action Trump took against our country. It should concern us all, regardless of how we view our political allegiances when some cavalier attitudes, as presented on the House floor today, turns a blind eye on last week’s riot that was designed to undermine the constitutional procedures for certifying the election results.

Pocan only had a short time to speak, as did most House members. Had there been more time he might have talked about how our nation must now, and always, demand adherence to the rule of law. We never submit to the pitchfork-carrying mobs. And we absolutely denounce those who would foment such an insurrection.

No one can take any pleasure in the requirement that this congress undertook when impeaching Trump. No one takes partisan delight as this is a sad and dispiriting time for our nation. But it was a most-needed action for the history books.

Thanks to ten Republicans and the entire House majority a message has been sent about sedition from the highest level of our government.

Son Brings Mom To Coup At Nation’s Capitol, A Reader Brings The Comedy

January 12, 2021

Should we just assume Eric Munchel also took his mom as his Junior Prom date?

A US Capitol rioter caught on camera menacingly clutching disposable restraints while wearing paramilitary gear is a former bartender from Nashville who stormed the Senate with his mom, according to a report Sunday.

Eric Munchel, 30 — photographed holding the zip-tie-like handcuffs while he climbed over press gallery chairs — said he and his 57-year-old mother, Lisa Eisenhart, breached the building, according to the Times of London.

The photograph of him, which went viral, underscores the violent intentions of the mob.

In the midst of the true threat to democracy from these people comes the slivers of humor, such as that concerning Munchel and his would-be fellow terrorist mom. One of my readers on social media, Lisanne Lavoie, wrote truly comical dialogue for this duo. With her consent I post it here.

Zip-tie Bay, “Mahhhhhmmeeeee…I wanna go break into the Capitol with my friends.

“Mom, “Uh, uhn…I don’t think so.”

Zip-tie Boy, “But why, Mahhhh? All the cool kids are gonna be there and Our Holy Orange Leader, Trump, said to come – that it was ‘going to be wild’. I wanna be wild. When do I get to be wild?”

Mom, “Did you do your chores?

Zip-Tie Boy, “Yup, and, I made all these purty handcuffs, pretty neato, huh?”

Mom, “Well, okay, you can go, but only if I go with you.

Zip-Tie Boy, “But Mahhhh, how am I gonna look cool in front of all my friends? I’m gonna lose my street cred.”

Mom, “How’s about you wear your best cammo pants and all black tactical gear – you know – the stuff you wore to Christmas dinner.

Zip-tie Boy, “Well, okay, but you gotta climb over the railings by yourself.”

And so it goes.

How To Counter Nation Slipping Further Into The Basement

January 12, 2021

One of the more discouraging signs of political dysfunction last week, as if there are not enough flashing and blaring examples from the attempted coup on our government, was the inside the beltway chatter about one-upmanship. The essence of the story is that Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz decided to challenge the electoral results in Arizona because he would have his chance to object before his fellow, and equally repulsive Republican colleague, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley could do for Pennsylvania’s results.

It made me think of my grandpa who would often remark when feeding the pigs they surely did like to wallow around in the mud. Donald Trump’s sycophants are much the same.

Both of the senators see themselves as presidential timber but much of the nation looks upon them as rotting wood. For either of them to stoop so low as to desire, and work towards, undermining the election results so to align themselves with the Trump base is one more sign that the basement in American politics can indeed get deeper. That alarming fact must be dealt with in our nation.

As we know the fallout for both of these senators has been swift and severe.  Cruz has always been viewed as an oddity who is more fake than principled, and Hawley was seen as too ambitious and lacking experience with his timing. Hawley’s photo of the raised fist will be his swan song for higher office.

But where does all this leave the rest of the country who watches with ever-more widening eyes and astonishment on their faces? I was looking into some of the friends who were linked with another person on Facebook and came across this example of what the nation has to deal with when it comes to Trump supporters. I post the first line as it was written.

Terrible Capitol Police were in no danger Why Shoot an Unarmed Female Veteran in the Neck Killing her while she holds a Trump Flag?!

The very long rant was filled with right-wing lunacy and conspiracy theories. That so many in the land have such views does lend itself to the question as to exactly how many people were potty-trained at gunpoint? That there is so much of this bizarre behavior means we need to launch a very broad effort to spread a message of truth.

The effort to shape the truth into a message akin to promoting a football game must be undertaken by trusted opinion shapers from every sector of our nation, every profession, and demographic. We must have Republicans, those who serve in the military, folks who wear the cloth, and even sports personalities who can talk to the ones who live on the couch.

What needs to be spelled out in clear language with as many one-syllable words as possible is how damaging to the nation Donald Trump has proven to be. That is not a derogatory comment, as I would desire the same type of speech patterns as used by Abraham Lincoln with monosyllables and step-by-step logic building. Visual imagery with a focused and continual message will create an effect, just like ad campaigns do at election time, or car sales do when tax rebate season occurs.

The alternative to making such an all-out effort is the continued erosion of our democracy by those who truly are not aware of what they do not know.

And so it goes.

Parler Goes Dark, Will Users Now Read Books?

January 11, 2021

Parler, the conservative and violent-prone social media platform is not stoking their followers today since the major players in the tech world simply said that ‘enough is enough’. That is a good thing for our nation as it struggles to limit the dangers posed by Donald Trump’s lies about the election returns, and his easily swayed followers who have demonstrated their unstable natures.

Amazon Web Services landed a most serious punch to Parler when it stated this weekend that due to the “steady increase in…violent content on your website” it would no longer provide its Web hosting services.

AWS said it “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” according to the email, adding that Parler “poses a very real risk to public safety.” 

The far right-wing have attempted to portray this nationally as undermining free speech. That is absurd. Such thinking would be akin to having someone who is against my opinions on this blog demanding that I place their views alongside my posts. Operations such as Amazon or Google are not in any way obligated to allow hate groups access to, or assistance from, their sites.

Failing to moderate the most vile and violent content on Parler is not the job of web hosting sites or those that provide apps to the conservative playground. Parler, itself, has an obligation to police the types of people who crawl out from their rocks to spew their invectives.

It was an active weekend for news about Parler as first we heard the reports that Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores because they said it had not sufficiently policed its users’ posts, allowing too many that encouraged violence and crime. Then, late Saturday, Amazon told Parler it would boot the company from its web-hosting service on Sunday night because of repeated violations of Amazon’s rules.

There is nothing wrong with the actions taken by these private companies. While free speech is a cornerstone to our democracy having access to an audience is not a right. I have worked for well over a decade to create this blog and other social media outlets for my writings. That does not mean anyone else has a right to use my site for pushing violence and deranged thinking. Yet that is precisely what Parler was wishing for when it came to app stores and hosting sites.

I have long felt and desired our national government to be the ones who, through the regulatory processes, must set the guidelines for content on these types of sites. It is essential that we examine the nature of content in a time when instantaneous messaging of views can be whipped around the globe. To pretend all speech, such as violent statements, has the same level of protection as the ones who urge for a candidate’s election or espouse a policy view is absurd.

The ironic part of this weekend’s developments (at least for me) is a need to now to say thanks to, of all entities, corporations, for doing the right thing regarding Parler!

Meanwhile the most rancid of content will not be up on the internet for the right-wing circles and Trump’s under-educated universe to latch onto and then repeat and make even viler. In the meantime, the concept of what is protected free speech and how its careless use can undermine a democratic nation must be considered with more seriousness.

But now what will the Parler users do with their free time? Given what we have read of their online rants I have a suggestion that begs for immediate application.

%d bloggers like this: