Tag Archives: U.S. presidency

Barrett Block

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”

“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”

Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens.  Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people.  Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.  Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers.  Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.

Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting.  I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights.  It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election.  Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008.  (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.)  States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it.  Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.

My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification.  College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification.  Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder.  Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting.  But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable.  Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud.  And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.

When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked.  On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county.  That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million).  U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused.  But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.

Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights.  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights.  She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.”  In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud.  Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous.  As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective.  Yet Barrett didn’t stop there.  In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences.  None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote.  I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised.  Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.

Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”.  In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one.  It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”

Klobuchar persisted.  In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”

Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights.  It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.  The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states.  When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old.  The high court didn’t strike down Section 5.  Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s.  Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.

Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly.  “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”

Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting.  The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud.  Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.

“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”

“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.

Well, that’s a nice, safe response.  And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting.  A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts.  As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.”  But that should apply only to specific cases.  There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.

Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act.  Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA.  While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist.  Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating.  Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month.  As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.

Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins.  Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you!  Loudly.  Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush.  That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most.  The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!

And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation.  I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.  As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people.  As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote.  They’re intertwined.  And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them.  People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.

Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.

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Dialogue

Last Wednesday’s debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris was a glaringly stark contrast to the crap-fest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden the previous week.  For the most part, Pence and Harris showed those two other old curmudgeons how to remain relatively calm and focused during discussions about critical national issues.

I say ‘for the most part’ because of Pence’s tendency to interrupt Harris – the same way Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden – and to ramble beyond his slated time limit – again, like Trump.  I feel that both Trump and Pence fit the unpleasantly stereotypical image of the angry White male: men who believe only those exactly like them are qualified to speak out on any concern facing the country and should be allowed to speak adnauseam about it.

Harris, meanwhile, showed restraint and decorum by politely stating, “I’m speaking,” with a bright grin.  Many observers, especially women and non-Whites, viewed this as a typical response for someone like Harris.  Women and non-Whites, it seems, are always expected to maintain a sense of calm in the face of indignity and disrespect.  Otherwise, they’d be viewed as uppity or bitchy.  Harris, in effect, had to stay polite and professional; for if she had done a Joe Biden and yelled, “Shut up!” to Pence, political pundits – particularly those on the conservative end who already hate her for the mere fact she’s a dark-skinned woman daring to campaign for a national office, much like they did with Barack Obama – would have mercilessly slayed her.

Pence never really answered any question from moderator Susan Page who proved as equally powerless as Chris Wallace during the Trump-Biden fiasco.  But, for we independent observers – that is, those of us not satisfied with either Trump or Biden – Pence’s blatant disorientation during the debate signaled how dysfunctional the current White House administration is in the face of dual crises: the failing economy and the expanding COVID-19 pandemic.

To me Trump, Biden and Pence represent America’s past: still fighting the U.S. Civil War; the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s; law-and-order mantras; the Cold War; a caste society.  Harris, on the other hand, represents America’s future: attacks on economic inequality and social injustices; ending war; giving ALL citizens the chance to prove their merit and their value in a 21st century world.

Time doesn’t stagnate, except in the minds of conservatives.  Regardless of what one thinks of the vice-presidential debate, the 2020 presidential campaign continues.  It can’t end soon enough.

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Melting

President Trump walks to Marine One Friday, October 2, on his way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“Kennedy deserved to be shot because he was a Catholic!”

My father looked at the old man with the hottest level of anger he could muster in a split second.  All of 30 with a newborn son, my father blurted back at his coworker, “He was our president, you son-of-a-bitch!  No one deserves to get shot!”

It was November 22, 1963, and the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination had just spread around the print shop in downtown Dallas where my father worked.  Emotions were already raw, and my father didn’t care that he – a young Hispanic man – was yelling and cursing at a much older White male; in Texas; in 1963.

The antagonism towards Kennedy and the Democratic Party in Dallas and Texas – and throughout much of the Southeastern U.S., for that matter – couldn’t be more palpable on that tragic day.  Even decades later I’ve heard some conservatives say November 22, 1963 was one of the best days in modern American history.  One was a former friend – an openly-gay Jewish man – in 2003.  The rest of us seated with him at a restaurant table after a Toastmasters meeting were stunned.

“Yeah,” I casually responded.  “Just like the day Hitler escorted the first rabbi into a gas oven.”

No one in their right mind celebrates the death or illness of a national leader.  Even as much as I dislike Donald Trump, I’m not happy to know that he’s come down with the dreaded COVID-19 virus.  Late on Thursday night, October 1, news broke here in the U.S. that Trump and his wife have tested positive with the virus.  Earlier this evening, Friday, the 2nd, Trump was escorted to the hospital.  While I’m sure some leftist extremists are thrilled with this development, I see it for the national implication it has.  This poses a serious threat to our national security.

In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson was concerned with the “Great War” (now known as World War I), which was consuming Europe and now involved the U.S., when a mysterious influenza began rampaging across the globe.  Now known simply as the “Spanish flu”, the scourge afflicted some 500 million people and killed an estimated 50 million.  Understand this occurred long before the jet age.  According to historians, Wilson ignored the severity of the health crisis, even as it began taking lives here in the U.S., and vigorously pursued the end of the war.  In April of 1919, he arrived in Paris for peace talks – and left sick with the very flu he never publicly acknowledged.

Once back home, Wilson was quickly sequestered, and White House press reports simply indicated that overworking had caused the president to come down with a cold and a fever.  The Associated Press emphasized Wilson was “not stricken with influenza.”  In the aftermath of the greatest conflict the world had known, the mere thought of the president contracting the dreaded flu surely would have sent the nation into a panic.  So the true nature of his illness was stifled.

Six months later matters worsened for Wilson when he suffered a debilitating stroke.  It’s plausible the flu exacerbated the onset of the stroke.  Wilson never really recovered and would die in 1924.  During the 18 months he had left in his presidential tenure, Vice-President Thomas Marshall should have taken his place.  But, at the time, the vice-president was little more than a figurehead.  In fact, throughout Wilson’s presidency, Marshall later claimed he performed “nameless, unremembered jobs” that had been created solely to prevent him from doing any harm to the nation as a whole.  But, as history eventually revealed, First Lady Edith Wilson served as de facto Commander-in-Chief.  She literally presided over cabinet meetings and other presidential duties; all while hiding her husband’s grave condition.

After Woodrow Wilson’s debilitating stroke in October 1919, First Lady Edith Wilson practically took over his White House duties.

Just less than four years after Wilson endured his stroke, President Warren Harding suffered a similar event – but with fatal consequences.  Harding and his wife, Florence, had just arrived in San Francisco after touring the Alaskan territory when he experienced a heart attack.  Vice-President Calvin Coolidge was at his father’s home in Vermont; a dwelling without electricity or a telephone – not uncommon in rural abodes even by the 1920s.  When word reached Washington of Harding’s death, two Secret Service agents got in a car and drove all night to Vermont to rouse Coolidge.

It’s difficult to imagine that now: a house with no phone and Secret Service agents having to drive to scoop up a sleeping vice-president.  It’s equally unimaginable what allegedly happened in the days following Harding’s demise.  First Lady Florence Harding charged into the Oval Office upon returning to the White House and cleaned out her husband’s desk; apparently removing a number of documents along with personal effects.

Secrecy has always been a part of any presidential administration.  It has to be.  And sometimes it’s mixed with basic respect for an individual’s privacy.  Not until after Franklin D. Roosevelt died, for example, did many Americans learn he had been stricken with polio in the 1920s and was all but bound to a wheelchair.  At the 1940 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Roosevelt fell as walked to the podium.  Film footage of the event wasn’t released until a few years ago, and most convention-goers remained quiet about the incident.  Footage of Roosevelt being wheeled onto the deck of a military vessel almost remained hidden for decades.

Most Americans weren’t aware of the severity of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s heart attack in the fall of 1955; the White House press initially disguised it as a cardiac event.  As with Roosevelt, the American public bestowed respect for medical privacy upon the president.  But when Eisenhower experienced a mild stroke two years later, some questioned his fitness for office.  By the time he left the White House, he truly looked like the 70-year-old man he was.

Therefore, most Americans were thrilled when John F. Kennedy – the first president born in the 20th century – arrived.  He wasn’t just handsome and charming; he was vibrant and energetic.  Yet not until long after his death did the public learn that Kennedy had become addicted to a variety of pain pills to help him cope with both a back injury he’d suffered in World War II and the effects of Addison’s disease.

Kennedy’s assassination was the first since William McKinley in 1901 and his death the first in nearly 20 years.  It had been a given that the vice-president would succeed the president, if something detrimental happened to the latter.  But, what if something happens to the vice-president?  McKinley’s first vice-president, Garret Hobart, died of heart disease in November 1899.  McKinley didn’t replace him, even though he selected Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate during his 1900 reelection campaign.

The question of succession became urgently relevant on November 22, 1963.  Many people forget that Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was in the same motorcade as Kennedy; a few cars away.  When shots rang out, a Secret Service agent shoved Johnson to the floorboard where the vice-president began complaining of chest pains.  That was kept secret from the public, as a horrified nation needed no further bad news.

Thus, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was created.  It established a definite line of succession to the office of the president, beyond just the vice-president.  And it received its first real test on March 30, 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was shot just outside a hotel in Washington, D.C.  Vice-President George H.W. Bush was aboard Air Force Two, returning to the nation’s capital, when a Secret Service agent informed him of the shooting.  Back in Washington chaos rocked the White House, as the country felt the nightmarish echoes of Kennedy’s death.

On March 30, 1981, Vice-President George H.W. Bush sat aboard Air Force Two watching news reports about the shooting of Ronald Reagan.

A junior in high school at the time, I vividly remember the confusion.  While most of my classmates seemed oblivious to the fact the president of the United States had just been shot, I was worried.  The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan more than a year earlier and were poised to invade Poland to squelch a labor uprising.  As with rumors about the Kennedy assassination, was this a Soviet plot?  I knew Bush was vice-president, but I didn’t know he’d been in Texas.

I remember Secretary of State Alexander Haig stepping into the White House Press room and announcing, “I’m in control here.”  Haig was criticized later for inserting himself as the interim authoritarian.  But, in a morass of hysteria, someone had to take command!

I also recall my mother sitting before the TV upon returning home from work that evening – and tearing up as news of the shooting spilled out.  It took her back to that tragic autumn day in 1963, as she sat down to watch “As the World Turns” while nursing me, and Walter Cronkite suddenly interrupted to tell of Kennedy’s shooting.

The magnitude of the Reagan shooting didn’t come into full view immediately as news figures couldn’t determine if Reagan had, indeed, been shot.  (It turned out a fragment of a bullet that had hit a car had struck Reagan.)  The White House later concealed the seriousness of Reagan’s health in the aftermath.  Days after the incident, Reagan posed for a photograph; clad in his robe and smiling.  No one knew at the time he was running a high fever and almost collapsed once the picture was taken.

Reports of Donald Trump’s condition continue to flood our news feeds.  We’re now learning that several people within the President’s inner circle have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and that the outdoor ceremony on Saturday, September 26, announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, may have been the “super spreader” event.

Trump is now in isolation and being treated for the ailment.  I don’t bemoan that he’s being treated with the most potent medicines available and has a complete medical staff around him.  Whether anyone likes it or not, he IS president of the United States, and his health is extremely important.  I don’t care much for Donald Trump, but I don’t want to see him get sick and die.  I only wish the best for him in this crisis.

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Retro Quote – President George H.W. Bush

“The people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system.”

President George H.W. Bush, upon losing the 1992 U.S. presidential election

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Tweet of the Week – September 26, 2020

Mitt Romney

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Worst Quotes of the Week – September 26, 2020

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.  You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

President Donald Trump, expressing concerns over voter fraud during a White House press briefing

“We’ve hit — they say — an ominous number, ladies and gentlemen. Two hundred thousand people have died from the coronavirus. That is the biggest lie this century.”

Mark Levin, on his radio program The Mark Levin Show

Levin went on to declare, “Two hundred thousand people died who may have had the coronavirus, but less than 10,000 died from and only from the coronavirus.”

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Best Quotes of the Week – September 26, 2020

“You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said.  If you believe that 22% is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, to Sen. Rand Paul during a Senate hearing on COVID-19

“There’s absolutely no evidence that having a cold from a coronavirus in the past does anything to protect us.  If it did, we wouldn’t have the epidemic we’re having right now.”

Dr. Michael Saag, associate dean for global health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to NBC News.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4909487/user-clip-sherrod-brown-questions-steve-mnuchin

“I hope that you and the President don’t dislocate your shoulders patting yourselves on the back saying good job.  We are 4% of the world’s population.  We’re 22% of the world’s deaths.  You bragged about the economy growing so fast – your words.  Our unemployment is significantly higher than Germany’s; significantly higher than France’s; twice what Taiwan’s is; almost 3x what South Korea and Japan’s is; much higher than Australia; twice what Britain’s rate is; twice what New Zealand’s rate is.  I mean I know you think the economy is doing well.  But, if you’re talking to your wealthy friends on Wall Street…but things are pretty bad for most working Americans.  They’re going to get worse unless you come up with a real package.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, reacting to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s statement regarding U.S. economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Mnuchin had said, “I think we’ve made tremendous progress on testing.”

“When you have a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, and by social networks that are marinated in conspiracy theories, behind whom are a lot of armed people — if you are not frightened by this, you are not paying attention.”

Thomas Friedman, commenting on Trump’s open refusal to concede if he loses the election, on CNN

Friedman also stated the U.S. is on the verge of a “potential second civil war” if Trump’s insinuations aren’t taken seriously.

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Sacred Burn

“You want to do what?”

I knew my father wouldn’t like the idea of me joining the military, but the look in his eyes shivered my soul.  That was easy for many people to do to me in the late 1980s, when I had little self-esteem and little self-respect.  I had hoped joining the U.S. Marine Corps could cure me of that.  Along with my alcoholic and same-sex tendencies.  Besides, life was not going well for me at the age of 24.  I had changed majors in college three years earlier and was nowhere near graduating.  Both my parents were upset that I’d decided to study filmmaking instead of computer science.  But, after 3 ½ years of pretending both to know what I was doing and enjoying it, I had cracked in the spring of 1985 and made the bold switch.  As high school-only graduates, my parents had imbued me – their only child – with grand ambitions.  Their ambitions.  Their dreams.  They thought my writing was just a hobby to pass the time.  They never realized I’d considered it seriously in my private cogitations.  But filmmaking?  I might as well have said I wanted to be a professional gambler.

Then came the military idea.  By 1988, I was truly at a loss of where I was going.   Still, my father insisted I finish college and earn a degree – any degree.  Especially one he and my mother found acceptable.  They had reluctantly come to accept my detour into film studies.

But the military?

After the debacle of Vietnam, the concept of military service fell out of favor with many young Americans.  It was fine if dad and granddad had done it.  But not the new generation.  Things had changed considerably by the 1980s.  It was not socially fashionable.  The thing to do was to get a good job – establish a career, rather – and make lots of money and live in a nice house with plenty of beautiful clothes and a new vehicle every year or two.  That’s what my parents had wanted when they began pushing me to study computer science as I neared high school graduation.  I felt I had no choice then.  And, even by 1988, I still felt I had no real choice.  I gave into my father’s wishes (demands) and decided to continue college.

Sadly, though, I dropped out and entered the corporate world in 1990 – always with the thought that I’d return to compete that higher education.  Which I did.  In 2008.

I loved my father, but I wished I’d actually rebelled against his insistence and joined the military anyway.  I feel now that my life would have gone much more smoothly overall.

All of that began coming back to me nearly 20 years ago, as the U.S. plunged itself into two new conflicts: Afghanistan and Iraq.  The scorn I once felt for the military had metamorphosed into respect and awe.

And it’s become even more apparent since the election (via Russia) of Donald Trump.  This week Trump has found himself embroiled in more controversy regarding the U.S. military.  Most of us remember that moment in 2015, when then-candidate Trump disparaged U.S. Senator John McCain by stating, “I like people who weren’t captured.”  It was a direct smack-down of McCain’s brutal tenure as a war prisoner during Vietnam.  Under normal political circumstances, that would have ended most political campaigns.  But Trump persevered and, despite that comment and the fact he garnered a medical deferment during the same period because of some mysterious bone spurs, he went on to win the Republican Party’s nomination and eventually the presidency.  Could the nation have picked a more disrespectful dumbass to be our leader?

Now come reports that Trump disparaged the U.S. war dead during a visit to France in November of 2018 to mark the end of World War I.  Allegedly, he denounced the long-dead servicemen as “losers” and “suckers”.  Of course, these are just accusations.  But, while some high-ranking officials have come forward to state they don’t recall Trump ever making those statements, others have declared our Commander-in-Chief did say those things.

And that’s the irony of this entire debate, isn’t it?  The President of the United States is the literal head of all branches of the U.S. military.  Any national leader holds that role.  Thus, for the President of the United States to denigrate war dead as “losers” and “suckers” just sort of undermines his credibility – presuming, of course, that he had any in the first place.

But Trump doesn’t.  He’s already been proven a draft dodger (something conservatives so easily lobbed at Bill Clinton nearly 30 years ago), a tax cheat, a womanizer (another conservative slam against Clinton) and a failed businessman.

It was obvious to me more than five years ago Trump wasn’t fit to be the leader of the proverbial free world.  His actions and his verbiage have proven that to many others since.  While it amazes me that so many go into orgasmic-like frenzies at the mere mention of his name, I find him beyond appalling.  He’s just downright disgusting.

Our people in uniform can’t legally criticize their Commander-in-Chief in a public setting, but I certainly have no problems with it.  Trump’s words fail to surprise me anymore.  It’s just more proof of his mental instability and blatant incompetence.  All of that is bad enough.  But blatant disrespect for the millions of Americans who have served in uniform – including my father, other relatives and friends – is one of the most despicable things anyone can do.  Whether or not they are President of the United States.

Image: Spreadsheet

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Worst Quote(s) of the Week – August 29, 2020

While there were some patriotic highlights of President Donald Trump’s speech this week at the Republican National Convention, I found more hypocrisy, factual errors and blatantly hostile rhetoric.  Below is his entire speech, followed by what I feel were some of the most egregious comments amidst the verbiage.

“In recent months, our nation and the entire planet has been struck by a new and powerful invisible enemy.  Like those brave Americans before us, we are meeting this challenge.  We are delivering life-saving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.”

“Joe Biden is not a savior of America’s soul; he is the destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance he will be the destroyer of American greatness.  For 47 years, Joe Biden took the donations of blue-collar workers, gave them hugs and even kisses and told them he felt their pain.  And then he flew back to Washington and voted to ship our jobs to China and many other distant lands.  Joe Biden spent his entire career outsourcing their dreams and the dreams of American workers, offshoring their jobs, opening their borders and sending their sons and daughters to fight in endless foreign wars, wars that never ended.”

“We have already built 300 miles of border wall, and we are adding 10 new miles every single week.  The wall will soon be complete.  And it is working beyond our wildest expectations.”

(It must be noted, while Congress has authorized some spending for the project, most of the money for wall construction has been redirected from the military at the president’s insistence.  Also Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon participated in a private effort to raise money for a border wall.  Last week, Bannon and three others were indicted on charges that they siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars each from the wall fund for their own personal use. Bannon has pleaded not guilty.)

“And I say very modestly that I have done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president.”

President Donald Trump, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention

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Best Quote of the Week – August 29, 2020

Scott Horsley 2010

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate was just 3.5% – as low as it had been in half a century.  But economic growth fell short of what President Trump and his advisers promised.  The economy grew 2.2% last year, roughly on par with the pace over the past decade.  Growth briefly hit Trump’s 3% target in 2018, following passage of the Republican tax cut.  But that now appears to have been a short-lived “sugar high.”  While supporters of the tax cut said it would encourage more business investment and spark a decade of sustained 3% annual growth, business investment actually slumped for most of last year.  That was partly a result of sagging global demand as well as uncertainty stemming from the president’s trade war.”

Scott Horsley, NPR Chief Economics Correspondent, in response to Donald Trump’s claims about an improving economy during the President’s speech at the Republican National Convention

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