Donald Trump Must Not Receive Presidential Pardon

Last week I received emails from two of my friends who both underscored the need for Donald Trump to face legal proceedings regarding a wide array of criminal behavior. Neither of them linked their notes to me in the context that I have been a decades-long believer that President Ford was correct when granting a pardon to Richard Nixon. It goes without saying that when it comes to crimes committed Nixon was a piker in comparison to Trump. That is the prime difference that needs to be understood as the nation weighs this issue.

I firmly believe Trump absolutely must face legal consequences for his actions as columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr listed them in his most recent column. The crimes range from “extortion, treason, tax fraud, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, campaign-finance violations, and sexual assault.”

My readers know my strongly held views about the correctness of Ford’s pardon in 1974. There have been many points of view registered about the action over the decades but I still view it to be one of the most sincere and brave decisions that any president has made in my lifetime.  I grew up in the final months of Watergate and was fascinated by the events taking place in Washington.

Watergate not only destroyed the Nixon presidency but also cut a wide swath through the American mindset of what our government was all about.  After Nixon resigned there was a battle cry from many that he should be tried for his criminal behavior. I have long thought that while on principle that idea made sense the reality of the situation demanded that the national bloodletting be stopped.  It was a political suicide, but yet Ford was determined to put the country before every other consideration. Ford understood there was a difference between what the nation wanted, and what it needed.  It was because Ford showed real leadership that our national nightmare did end. 

But is would be just the opposite should any presidential pardon be granted to Trump based on the enormity of his crimes. Nixon, after all, had enough honor to put the nation over his own selfish desires when push came to shove. While Nixon had dark demons that were allowed to roam with domestic partisan outcomes there was never a fear that he would put our nation at risk.

With Trump, there has been a continuous thread of criminal behavior that has undermined our Constitution and imperiled our standing in the world. Trump obstructed justice, attempted to bribe the leader of Ukraine, illegally separated children from their parents at the border…and that is just the warm-up to his full rap-sheet.

Upon leaving office Trump will find himself in legal fights and civil suits about his businesses, taxes, and sexual attacks. If his legal fights do not drain his resources the back taxes and financial shams he has erected will bring him to his knees. Trump’s crimes are of the gravity and enormity that there must be a legal reckoning. His were far more dangerous to democracy than Nixon pulling in campaign funds to pay for burglars at the Watergate or using the CIA to lull the FBI off of an investigation. That is not to say Nixon was not a criminal, too.

During the past weeks as Trump has tried every ploy he could concoct to undermine the election returns, it was noted by a pundit on television that the Oval Office was the only thing keeping Trump out of jail or the Charles Dickens version of the poorhouse. That image alone deserves the work of an editorial cartoonist. Meanwhile, historians will work over the fact of an impeached one-term president needing a pardon.

They, too, will argue the need for justice to win out over a pardon. It is our duty as citizens to make sure we act in accordance with what democracy demands.

And so it goes.

Recalling Grandfather Herman Schwarz

Just a memory today that needs to be noted.

Herman Schwarz, my grandfather on my mother’s side, was born this day in 1900. He was born in Ozone, Arkansas, (was a twin) and moved to Hancock, Wisconsin in the 1940’s. He married Anna Ross. I was fortunate to have them live across the road from my childhood home. It was a rather awesome arrangement.

They had a sweet cast-iron stove in the kitchen. On cold days I can still see my grandfather pull the main oven door down and sit on it for warmth. I also recall poking the embers with a wooden stick from the side grate while grownups sat at the table talking.

In addition, there were many Saturdays when I would stay with my grandparents while my parents went shopping. It was then that my grandpa would often take the small tractor off down the country lane, with me riding along, to get wood to be stored near the back door for the stove. On the smaller tractor, there was an iron portion to the left of the driver’s seat where I sat–as if the manufacturer knew there was a kid-sized portion they needed to add to the machine. Grandpa had paths among trees heading out towards farm fields that were wide enough to allow for a tractor to be driven.  

As a man, I wonder what stories concerning the first decades of the 20th century he could have told. As a kid, that type of talking, obviously, was not on my radar. Today I would relish such conversations. What does, however, stand out to me from those years is Grandpa snacking 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. Now that is a habit that has lived on and on. (Minus the milk!)

How Will Iran Retaliate?

Obviously, Iran will need to retaliate for the assassination of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of the nation’s efforts to construct a nuclear warhead. No viable nation can allow for such an act to take place within their borders, by another nation, and not be expected to deliver a response to show justified anger. No matter what one feels about Iran there are certain steps that will be ‘required’ as a consequence of any nation being so attacked.

The international reporting has left little doubt about who is behind this killing. Armchair readers of news from that region need not be told that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist. While some urge restraint on Iran concerning retaliation there is no doubt what the bold reaction would be should such a dastardly act occur in France, Britain, or the United States. Iran has every right to make their move. But the type of response they deliver is the question to be considered.

This blog has been a proponent of the nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. I was therefore not in agreement with the reckless move by Donald Trump to undermine the work that was done by so many for so long.

Trump was not aware of what the accord was meant to achieve. Very long ago we all stopped being shocked by his severe lack of knowledge on a vast array of topics. He was never aware we need to make deals with those we have international problems with, knowing those final deals are only as solid as the circumstances allow.

Trump did not understand in his one term in office (hallelujah!) that it would have been a dereliction of duty by the Obama White House not to have strived mightly for a nuclear deal with Iran. To have not pressed hard to get a document that reduced the chances of Iran getting a bomb in the next decade would have been totally unacceptable.

No one ever laid claim to any illusion that Iran was an ally or someone that could be trusted.  That is why safeguards were placed into the accord to make sure that actions that ran counter to the deal could be dealt with in a fashion that left no doubt our international partners would demand accountability.

It was therefore dangerous for Trump to so foolishly toss aside the accord of which he never understood how it was grounded within the international community. It was just one prime example of Trump not knowing the wisdom of working with other nations in a common cause.

Now many in the international community are hoping that the expected retaliation by Iran will be limited in scope so that it does not create a scenario where new efforts at refashioning relations is truly harmed in the years going forward. There is every reason for Iran to be outraged but much can be gained by not over-reacting.

International relations always play out in slow and methodical ways. As such this allows for windows to be opened at certain times which fosters results that secures stability. Iran has been attacked by a foreign power but we must hope their retaliation in the days to come can be measured. Many around the world hope that a new tone from a new president can again establish a working coalition of countries who understand the need for working in concert for the bigger goals.

Internationalism will again be a force in America’s playbook. Thankfully.

And so it goes.

Power Of UW-Madison Vote In Dane County For Biden Makes National News

Dane County can break a Republican campaign if voters are determined and motivated to make a difference. That is precisely what happened in November when a concerted effort was made to get as many Democratic voters to the polls as possible. With phone calls and over-the-fence conversations, from social media to the woman who drove up and down our neighborhood with a bubble machine pumping forth fun while urging voters to get out and cast a ballot–it all added up.

Wow, how it added up.

But it was the young voters at the UW-Madison, like other counties in Michigan and Pennsylvania with a powerful higher-education beacon, that allowed for swing states to line up for Joe Biden. Today The Wall Street Journal called attention to the power of these voters, noting that when compared to 2016 this demographic came out in higher numbers. It would have been hard not to show up this year given the bizarre and dangerous behavior that has been constantly exhibited by Donald Trump. As the newspaper reported young voters backed Biden nationally by 61% to 36%, according to AP Votecast.

College towns opened up the win for Biden in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Younger voters were energized by the year’s dialogue over racism and police practices. The slurs used by Trump about this transformative time in the nation did not fall on receptive ears in college cities. In fact, it propelled them further to the Democratic ticket. When Trump used scare tactics in the campaign to foster more resentments among older white voters, college students knew they had to cast a ballot for a more reasoned approach to our future dealings with racism.

It needs to be noted in Dane County the number of additional votes for this year’s Democratic ticket was higher, when compared with 2016, that it resulted in a higher number than the margin of victory Biden had over Trump in the whole state.

Dane County delivered! UW-Madison proved even in a tough school year they know our country comes before pretending that the work of the citizenry can be carried by others. When Dane County wishes to, we can send Republicans packing their bags!

In the case of Donald Trump, his diaper bag.

And so it goes.

Shredding Of A Nation’s Scruples

A blogger has the choice of what to write about on any given day. Whatever might be an uplifting event or one that annoys down to the bone is equal fodder as the fingers fly about the keyboard. While many stories caught my attention over the Thanksgiving holiday one stood out for its absurdity on the one hand, and a perfect illumination as to where this nation finds itself on the other.

Rather than meet and greet the troops overseas, as other presidents have done on this holiday, Donald Trump took his peevishness public in an odd White House press availability that made him look still smaller. He stated that should the electoral college vote an outcome that makes Joe Biden the winner he would willingly leave the White House.

Perhaps for his base that seemed like a plausible statement. For the rest of the nation, it was another example of what shocks our national conscience. For the length of our history, there has not been any other person, while an incumbent in the Oval Office, who had to be asked what they would do when confronted with the news of losing the Electoral College. Had the question been posed it would have meant was the outgoing president planning to write memoirs, give speeches, or start a foundation?

But Trump had to be asked if he planned to leave the White House. That is where we are as a nation in 2020! The question and his response were treated as an actual news story when at any other point in our past there would have been no rational reason to explore the topic.

Going forward the question we all should ask is one this blog has posed in varying ways over the past four years. Will the norms that we grew up with return? Will the healthy regard for institutional behavior and reasoned deportment in personal conduct by our top elected official find a place to be again firmly rooted? It is these aspects of our democracy that reporters must continue to press as they prepare to cover a new administration.

What we learned from just this brief back-and-forth with the White House press on Thanksgiving is the importance of the work they do for the nation. When a reporter calls out for a response to the facts and the autocratic menace attempts to continue lies, as with the election outcome, there must be public accountability. Reporters must always be mindful that stains on democracy must be called out and made known to the citizenry.

As we have watched the almost hourly shedding of institutional scruples by Trump it is most clear reporters have a much larger role to play in our nation than be mere presidential stenographers. The hand-holding and coddling that too many Republicans have allowed for Trump, in the wake of his loss of the election, is not in the interest of our democracy.

We have witnessed the weakness of the elected parts of the GOP as they are panicky about the base and in such fearful behavior have kneeled to Trump. But in so doing they have made a larger point for the rest of us. We still have the power to tell the truth. We have demonstrated what a critical mass of people in this nation can achieve. We will not allow for the continual shedding of our national scruples.

We have democracy as our foundation and it is also our light to see us proceed forward.

And so it goes.

Pardoning The Thanksgiving Turkey

Barring a further dramatic escalation in the soft coup attempt by Donald Trump–and thereby requiring a response from this blogger’s desk–Caffeinated Politics will take a Thanksgiving break. Barring any unforeseen events, I will return next week.

I do wish to extend my best to all for a very Happy Thanksgiving. It has been a dramatic year but one we will recover from, as a new White House administration will take power in January, and a vaccine to combat COVID is soon to start being administered. And writers and publishers keep doing their finest, too!

So with that let me drop a few snapshots of the holiday into this post and see you all down the road. Please note I could not find any photo of President Jimmy Carter for this event. All other presidents from Truman forward are featured.

U.S. Must Provide COVID Vaccine Internationally

There is a daily routine in our home. I pull the blue plastic wrappers off the newspapers–wash my hands due to the pandemic–and then take my first glance at the headlines and stories that dominate the front pages. To be sure there are days when the headlines make me shake my head or mutter something. But this morning I picked up the front section of the Wisconsin State Journal, was truly taken aback, and read the top-of-the-fold story which continued on the second page, before even pouring my first cup of coffee. That just never happens.

Had anyone been looking at my face they would have surely seen a grimace that followed the read. When one wonders 1) why other nations have a dim view of the US and 2) why voters correctly chose a new president they can use this front page of the newspaper as Exhibit A.

This weekend leaders from the Group of 20 nations made an urgent request that no one could possibly begrudge. The call for global cooperation so that the coronavirus vaccine(s) can reach beyond the wealthiest nations makes complete sense in both a moral and ethical manner. Also, of course, such a mass distribution will be required if this virus is to be stemmed so economic gains again are to be realized around the world.

But as we have come to expect Donald Trump again made for an international stink. He pouted and made clear he was not ready to abandon his failed go-it-alone approach, which over the past months has included a break with the World Health Organization. As an internationalist and one who believes in science, it is clear as to why I had a facial expression this morning while reading the newspaper.

What Trump failed to do with the G-20 was once again a sign of not who is he, but what he is. He made no pledges on expanding the availability of U.S. vaccines. Think about that. In relation to the powerhouse moves that our nation has taken in the past to attempt to make sure peoples around the globe are immunized and treated with compassion, Trump being little and mean, would not step up and say absolutely the United States will share the COVID vaccine with the world. That was a soulless and immoral act that history will scorn.

It is imperative that the US participate on the world stage in a mature and professional manner again. The next administration will do that very thing starting on January 20, 2021.

Other nations are working together, as with the international vaccine collaboration Covax, a WHO-linked effort to expand vaccine distribution in the developing world. That is smart, vital, and a move that our nation should have not refused. Trump’s refusal to join Covax along with his disdainful way of treating the United Nation’s public health programming will end with a Joe Biden presidency.

When the tyrants and autocrats from Russia, Turkey, and China can stand up and talk about “humanitarian considerations” while the bunker-living narcissist in the White House cannot rally with any words that reflect the history of our nation, or our international capabilities, leaves this blogger grimacing.

But fear not, the good folks–Joe Biden and Kamala Harris–will soon arrive and take power in Washington.

And so it goes.

My Article About WI Speaker Robin Vos Read On The Devil’s Advocates Radio Show

Here it here!

The issue of how Wisconsin responds–or has not responded–with needed legislation in dealing with the pandemic has been a many months-long concern. This week I wrote an article and posted it on Caffeinated Politics about the slow and unconscionable way Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has mishandled COVID-related legislation.

I have been pleased that this article was linked at various sites, such as WisPolitics.

Gregory Humphrey: What is the magic number for Speaker Robin Vos?

November 19, 2020….As of Wednesday, we are skirting the 8,000 mark of new cases. And with that sobering statistic citizens want to know what number it will take to propel Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos into action in the legislature?

It was also linked at the Capital Times, and published at Urban Milwaukee. This afternoon my entire article was read on The Devil’s Advocates radio show.

My mission was to push forth the need for Vos to take action for the needs of the people in our state during this public health emergency. I am thankful various platforms allowed this message to be registered. As a former radio broadcaster, however, and a lifetime lover of radio meant hearing my words read over the airwaves today was most special.

We must keep the pressure on Speaker Vos. I urge concerned people to call his office at 608-266-9171 and urge attention to testing and tracing monies and measures to help our citizens.