How many showers did it take at your home to rid yourself of the dirty feeling following the most rancid presidential debate in American history? Since 1976 I have watched each of the debates and looked forward to them, as I did all day Tuesday. But I sat shell-shocked as the most serious issues in the land, and the most important office in the land, were treated as if they were no more important than who will be the team captain for a bowling league. It was galling, pathetic.
Donald Trump tore up respect for the Oval Office, the honor of the title that comes with an election, any shred of decency he retained, any ounce of respect he had left for the people of this nation, or the process that is now underway to chose his replacement. Two hours after the insanity had ended I headed to the third floor of our home in t-shirt and shorts to take my mood out on the stationary bicycle. I turned the music up and ‘biked’ half-way across Madison and back. I have never been more dispirited about the process of an election or the state of our nation than I am today.
For decades I have pondered in advance of the debates how the candidates would speak, form their ideas for a watching public, and even use body language. All that is part and parcel of connecting with voters at such a time. But Trump came to the stage and purposely took the lowest path ever used in a debate–going so dark that he would not disavow white supremacy.
James, at one point as my voice was rising, said I was trying to analyze the debate as it this were a normal time, or that a giant jackass were not on stage. I could not, he said, use the rules of the road as they had long existed to frame my thoughts about what I was seeing.
Is that not a sad state of affairs?
When we have to jettison reasoned and well-argued past debates as reference points to make room for the “obesely immoral” absurdity of Donald Trump? That phrase was used by Anderson Cooper on CNN in post-debate dialogue and it is a most apt phrase.
This morning the nonpartisan group, which sponsors the presidential debates, said the debate, during which Trump repeatedly interrupted Democratic nominee Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace, “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”
Last night Biden at times flashed his famous grin in disbelief at what he was hearing, but that does not remove another dark and corrosive stain Trump has left on the nation. One more institution has been smeared, fouled and made small by the “obesely immoral” one who tried to take America to another lower rung on the ladder.
An odd thought crossed my mind while watching the first of the presidential debates Tuesday night. Though both of my parents have been deceased for less than fifteen years if they were able to have witnessed the spectacle they would wonder what had happened to the nation they once knew. Though Joe Biden and Donald Trump will have their names on the ballot the central question and issue confronting the nation is who we are as citizens. What has happened since John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, John McCain, and Barack Obama asked for our votes?
In just over 30 days we are going to be answering a series of questions about not only who won the White House, seats in Congress or how local school referendums turned out, but something more fundamental about this nation. Who are we as a people?
I still can not fathom, after watching the Donald Trump years play out how there is still roughly 40% of the electorate who think what he does, and offers as leadership, is in any way appropriate, presidential, or acceptable. Plenty has been written and said about Trump but let us not miss the need to also address those who have supported him, and continue to do so, in face of years of facts which in any logical sense would allow a person to see the gravity of the situation.
Throughout history our presidents and national leaders from both parties have spoken and acted to, and for, our higher ideals, motives, and purposes. They played to our “better angels” and strived to move the nation upwards. But for the past four years we have a president who uses base emotions as a partisan tool as he pokes at the darker side of human nature. When that is unleashed on a nation for a prolonged period we arrive at the point where we now find ourselves.
Over and over, day in and day out, we all turn on the news or pick up the newspaper and are made aware of the most irrational and utterly bizarre words and actions that come from this White House—-our White House. The racism and violence did not begin during Trump’s term, but he has stoked and used them for a selfish and partisan end. The staggering death toll from this pandemic did not happen in other nations. But due to election-year concerns his refusal to seriously address the virus and put forth a plan to combat it has proved deadly.
Other presidents opted to walk a path of decency when dealing with the traumatic upheavals in our nation, striving to lift with words and deeds. With Trump we have had to witness the most base and contemptuous side of human nature be displayed continuously. That is not a partisan statement, that is based on the factual record.
As I sat and watched the debate I also saw a man I have admired and supported for decades, Joe Biden. The man comes with decency written on his life story, along with a proven track record of understanding what a president needs to know when sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. And just as importantly Joe comes with a solid character and firm principles.
I have heard so many times from family and friends that they yearn for a common-sense normalcy to again be at the heart of our federal government. A president who does not demean and bluster and create chaos so to stir the pot and make himself the center of the nation. Having a principled leader rather than a transactional day-trader. Someone who wants to lead with facts and science and not be driven by a psychological illness for attention.
There are many issues to weigh when it comes to public policy and how best to secure the future for our nation. But when it comes to how best to choose which person on the ballot should be the president we might consider a very basic test. One that my parents would have agreed was a good barometer to use for such a question. Who would we want to sit at our dinner table?
If we can not abide the character of a person up close, can not countenance the language, morals, and low-base qualities within our home and among our family why would we want that person sitting in the Oval Office? A most basic and honest assessment of that question might be the best way to sum up what voters need to know as we vote.
I grant to my readers this is a different perspective from watching tonight’s debate, but it is one i suspect our parents would understand. We should ponder it, too.
Patricia Humphrey, age 70, of Hancock, Wisconsin died this past weekend from cancer. She and her husband, Gary Humphrey, had observed their 50th wedding anniversary in August. Troy Curtis and Tricia Dawn are the surviving children, with Trevor Dean having died far too young.
Today is one of the fun events to participate in–though for most of us our ritual with the namesake of the day will be much like yesterday or what follows tomorrow. Because when it comes to life one of the daily pleasures is making a pot of coffee, smelling the rich aroma fill the kitchen, selecting a mug, and then filling it up. Repeatedly.
National Coffee Day is being celebrated today in the United States and International Coffee Day is October 1st. Wherever you may live, and this blog has daily readers worldwide, I fill a cup with you!!
My days of loving coffee started when I would go to my grandparents across the road from where I lived as a boy. Grandpa would snack before doing afternoon chores, and since I wanted to help throw the corn to the pigs I would sit at Grandma’s table and ask for some of the coffee that was being served. I wanted to be like the adults, and so in a cup that was far more milk than the coffee, I had my first java experience. Grandma always told me coffee would stunt my growth but in time the ratio of coffee to milk soon ran more in my favor and in time I was drinking it black.
Meanwhile, at home my parents had a glass percolator maker that had a metal insert for the grounds. Regardless of the type of maker or where the cup was served one thing was always constant in my life about coffee. The best conversations and memories have often surrounded drinking a mug of coffee.
And with our conversation about coffee, and given my desire to put some history into this day, I offer the following nugget.
The ever-charging President Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious coffee drinker. That might be a part of the reason he was always so animated, though his character and resolve played the central parts to his robust personality. It was in 1907 when TR was drinking coffee at the Hermitage, a famous Nashville resort that was originally Andrew Jackson’s home, that a quote became part of our national lore. While drinking Maxwell House TR stated it was Good to the Last Drop.
From there the advertising world took over and the imagery started for this brand of coffee.
I made coffee this morning with a choice based on the cool seasonal temps. If you have not made your cup…..get up now and head to the kitchen and celebrate National Coffee Day!
Late Sunday night I needed something different to read, and I wanted it short as the mission was to get tired so I could sleep. Well…..it was short but also created some laugher along the way.
I was tucked in my window seat with an i-Pad which had a downloaded copy of John Grisham’s Witness To A Trial. The book was only 43 pages long so I reasoned by the time the last page was concluded I would be ready for my pillow.
Long-time readers know I worked with State Representative Lary (one R) Swoboda at the Wisconsin Statehouse. I have written about him numerous times on this blog and gently implied he was unique. So it was a jolt when in Chapter Four I encounter Grishman’s inexperienced defense lawyer named….Larry Swoboda.
The lawyer had not wanted the double-murder case but the judge ordered Swoboda, age 31 and from Panama City, to take it. ‘However, not long after he got it, he realized he was in over his head.”
Wow–this was getting more real as the pages turned.
And then the hunt was on to find out if there was any online information as to how this award-winning legal writer landed on that name for a character. There was nothing to be found which matched my request…but one of the notables with that last surname was a Wisconsin Legislator.
The book was good—short and satisfying. Sleep took longer, however, as a result of reading………
The NBC show West Wing from decades ago remains one of those powerfully written, acted, and themed presentations that has not grown old. The image of a cerebral, articulate, and personable president and a White House team of professional and capable staff has been a tonic for those of us who yearn for such an administration in Washington to again take hold. The last four years of inept, mean, White-Nationalistic, and xenophobic chaos makes President Jed Bartlet missed all the more.
So says President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) in season 1 of The West Wing. Two decades after the show brought the White House home for millions, those words have a painful prescience. America in 2020 is fragile, fearful, fractious. Little wonder that for many, standing up to be counted no longer feels like civic duty — but an actual life-or-death issue. So there can be no better time for West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and his cast to reconvene. Not merely to swap old stories, but to urge Americans of all perspectives to participate in democracy.
“Our nation is about the citizens who actually roll up their sleeves and get involved, and one of the ways [to do that] that was important on the show and important to us in real life is voting,” Hill says. “I think that has resonated with people over the years. And I’m honored to be a part of this campaign to just inspire people to vote. Because if we take our eyes off the prize, the prize will be lost. We have to stay engaged if we want to see ourselves reflected in our country.”
Late this afternoon a most disturbing major news story erupted concerning Donald Trump not doing what other Americans do every year. That being not only paying taxes, but paying a sizable amount. This news story further underscores what we know about him…..that he is a grifter and not anyone we would ever wish to enter our home. (We have nice silverware.)
Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.
As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.
The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.
The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.
What this underscores is the degree to which Trump lies to the lower economic-runged voters in his base who struggle for jobs, fair wages, and who would be the first ones brought to justice for not paying their taxes. These voters struggle while Trump has bragged that his ability to get by without paying taxes “makes me smart”.
To top if off these taxpayers also get to pay the lawyers in the federal government who are now working so Trump can continue to cheat and lie about paying taxes.
He once boasted that his tax returns were “very big” and “beautiful.” But making them public? “It’s very complicated.” He often claims that he cannot do so while under audit — an argument refuted by his own I.R.S. commissioner. When prosecutors and congressional investigators issued subpoenas for his returns, he wielded not just his private lawyers but also the power of his Justice Department to stalemate them all the way to the Supreme Court.
For all his bluster and bloviating about ‘draining the swamp’ Trump has demonstrated that he is a con artist and manipulator of the first order. Trump supporters have allowed themselves to be duped. And now they have proof, which doubtless many in their cult will dismiss out of hand. But the Grifter-in-Chief now has nowhere to hide. The majority of the nation know it.
And we know from history there is an opposite way of behaving as a man and president.
The grifting nature of Trump and his entire clan runs counter to the way another businessman, President Jimmy Carter operated upon being elected. Carter had been managing the family-owned peanut farm, warehouse, and store in Plains, Georgia since his dad died in 1953, but when he became president, he put it into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. And Carter paid his taxes as we know from financial reports.
In so doing Carter demonstrated respect for the laws of the nation, self-respect, and respect to the people who elected him to serve in the highest office in the land. Carter did not aim to make money off of the presidency. Today Trump and his family show what happens when there is no respect for anything but money and all-out-greed.
Most of the nation lives at the center of sensibilities where Carter has resided his whole life. The home he and Roslyn live in is a two-bedroom valued at $167,000. Carter has been known to buy his clothes at the Dollar General and he often flies commercial.
The rank-and-file Republican Trump supporter lives like Carter but caters and fawns over the biggest scammer and con artist who has ever stepped into the White House. Trump supporters hoot and holler about their love of the nation along with the need to be respected around the world.
But look who they support. And what Donald Trump is, and what he does for self-enrichment every day in office.
Readers know I so very much admire Abraham Lincoln and also love history. So I often head into our past and post a quote that aligns with the topic at hand. Nothing more sage comes to mind as I write about Trump and his lies than what Abe would ask us to ponder.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”