And here we are, one year later.
If you are groping for markers by which to measure how profoundly we have been changed since Inauguration Day, here’s one you might want to consider:
In January of 1998, reports surfaced of a sexual affair between President Bill Clinton and a 24-year-old White House intern. It would mushroom into the biggest story of the year.
In January of 2018, reports surfaced of an alleged payoff by lawyers for the present president to silence a porn star from talking about their alleged sexual affair. It wasn’t even the biggest story of the day.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more visceral illustration of how our sensibilities have been bludgeoned into submission in the last year. Surprises no longer surprise. Shocks no longer shock. We have bumped up against the limits of human bandwidth, and find ourselves unable to take it all in.
One simply cannot keep up with, much less respond with proper outrage to, all of this guy’s scandals, bungles, blame-shifting, name-calling and missteps, his sundry acts of mendacity, misanthropy, perversity and idiocy. It’s like trying to fill a teacup from Niagara Falls. It’s like trying to read the internet.
One year later, we’ve seen a procession of feuds that would impress a Hatfield, a McCoy or a ’90s rapper, running beefs with Mitch Connell, Elizabeth Warren, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Jeff Sessions, Dick Durbin, Colin Kaepernick, James Comey, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, CNN, The New York Times and reality, to name just a few.
One year later, the man who promised to “work so hard” for the American people is setting new standards for presidential laziness, a short workday, hours of television and endless golf.
One year later, the man who vowed to bring in “the best people” has hired and fired the sorry likes of Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Reince Priebus and Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci.
One year later, the man who bragged of having “the best words” has pundits parsing the difference between “s-house” and “s-hole” as descriptors of Africa, El Salvador and Haiti, home, collectively, to about 17 percent of humanity.
One year later, the man who asked African Americans “what the hell” they had to lose by voting for him, is praised by tiki-torch-wielding white supremacists— “very fine people,” he says—and his name is chanted as a racist taunt by white mobs.
One year later, we live in a state of perpetual nuclear standoff, a Cuban Missile Crisis that never ends.
But hey, at least the stock market is doing well. Of course, it did well under President Obama, too, but nobody seems to remember that.
Not that a bull market mitigates—or even addresses—the sense of ongoing upheaval, of constant chaos, that have become our new American norm. This guy is flat-out exhausting.
Give him this much, though. He has banished apathy, made fools of those people who once declared with pontifical certitude that we should “blow up” the system and said voting didn’t matter because there was no difference between the parties. More, he’s galvanized a powerful resistance that has claimed upset victories from Alabama to Wisconsin and left Gumby-spined Republicans looking over their shoulders. That resistance might even save this country, assuming the guy leaves us anything to save.
If that sounds bleak, well, that’s where we stand.
Indeed, one year later, both our despair and our hope are encompassed in the same five syllables.
One down. Three to go.
Never Fake. Always Real. You may not print fake news, Gazette, but get real. On Thursday, on Page 7B, just above the classifieds, you printed a small article, "Rally lifts Dow above 26,000." If this were the Obama or Clinton presidency, you'd have that on the front page in 6-inch letters. That's a huge milestone.
For eight years, the Obama administration told us 0.5 percent or 1 percent GDP was the new normal. Unemployment would go up. Food stamps would increase. In less than one year, President Trump has the economy booming and unemployment decreasing. The sad part is the media is trying to hide it like The Gazette is doing. Yet people are living it and can see their 401K portfolios growing. More than 200 companies who've had their tax burden decreased from 35 percent to 21 percent are taking the money they would have given to the government, and they're handing out bonuses and pay raises. Employees will start taking home bigger pay checks in February because of less federal taxes.
Even Democratic Apple admits its expansion and bonuses are driven in part by tax reform. That article didn't see much of the light off day, either, hidden on Page 6B. That's front page news also.
Gazette, you owe your readership the real story. Quit glossing over these major events. Point out that no Democrats voted for tax reform. Hatred of the president is not going to win Democrats any votes. Neither will their "no" votes on tax reform.
We are as disappointed as the rest of the community by the felony charge against Deanna Hatch.
She is accused of failing to repay a loan to a Delavan couple who tried to help her provide better care to her disabled husband, a veteran. Police are also looking into whether Deanna neglected and abused her husband, Francis Hatch. A court has removed her as his legal guardian.
Some of our angst stems from the coverage The Gazette gave Deanna’s plight, starting with a 2014 story about her troubles in dealing with the Veterans Administration. She claimed the federal agency provided minimal help as she sought to care for Francis at their Janesville home. The story portrays Deanna as a sympathetic, determined figure trying to do what’s best for Francis, who’s bedridden and suffers from complications linked to his time as a U.S. Army paratrooper.
The community rallied around Deanna, and we reported in 2016 on the community’s generosity toward the family. A local plumber even visited the home to fix a leaky faucet that Deanna said she couldn’t afford to repair.
The Delavan couple loaned her $10,000 to help pay for remodeling to improve Francis’ care. Deanna said a VA grant would pay for most of the project, but she needed additional funds. The loan would be repaid through fundraising.
But in March 2017, The Gazette reported Deanna hadn’t applied for the grant, and she wasn’t returning the Delavan couple’s calls. The couple, in a statement, acknowledged making a “judgement error in trusting a stranger.”
The proverb, “No good deed goes unpunished,” pops to mind.
Police are now investigating Francis’ deteriorating condition: bed sores, blisters and a wound on his leg that doesn’t appear accidental. Police also say Francis’ blood indicates he hasn’t been receiving his medications.
What makes Francis’ condition so shocking is that Deanna presented herself as his greatest advocate, accusing the VA itself in 2014 of being derelict.
There are, of course, two sides to every story, but sometimes you don’t learn about the other side until years later. A petition filed last month to remove Deanna as legal guardian indicates the VA had sent staff to the home to assist Deanna, but Deanna “reportedly has a history of firing staff and being difficult to work with...”
Was Deanna ever the caring advocate worthy of the community’s outpouring support? Did she harbor good intentions or were her pleas, from the start, a ruse to generate sympathy and money?
Indeed, it would be easy for people to feel jaded and turn suspicious of other pleas for help because of this situation. But as a community, we must resist that urge.
We can learn lessons from this experience and be mindful and cautious about donating funds in the future, but we cannot close our hearts. We must listen for and respond to other cries for help.
While we also should resist the urge to rush to judgement, Deanna will have a hard time redeeming herself in the eyes of the community. That deep well of sympathy and generosity, which Deanna used for so long, has gone dry. All that remains for her is a felony charge and a criminal investigation into her husband’s treatment.
On proposal to censure Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden: Spoden is a great guy, but you have to commend the Janesville Police Department for treating the powerful the way everybody else is. I think Spoden has to accept and endure the censure. He’s still going to get re-elected, but this carving out special privileges for the rich and powerful should not be tolerated locally.
On Wisconsin drinking habits: I just received my bimonthly AARP magazine. It has a photo of the United States and shows each state’s percentage of 65-plus adults who report chronic drinking. Wisconsin has the highest of all the states at 10.4 percent. This is a shameful statistic for Wisconsin. I implore our lawmakers to change our drinking problems.
On Jan. 14 story about Dorothy Harrell (Page 1A): The article written by Anna Marie Lux was fantastic, and I would put Harrell in the same category as Frances Willard and what she did through her young years and all through her life.
On Democrat winning state Senate seat: Cheers to the Democrats for winning the special election Tuesday in the five-county Republican stronghold in western Wisconsin. To Gov. Walker, Speaker Robin Voss, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the general population in Wisconsin does not like the $4.5 billion gift of our tax dollars to Foxconn for the benefit of this foreign company and Walker’s cronies. This Democrat win in the strong Trump district also points to the take-down of that 239-pound chronic liar.
On Trump’s vulgar comment: It’s funny that Democrats are terrified about President Trump making a derogatory comment in a meeting recently. These are the same folks who weren’t at all troubled that John Kennedy and Bill Clinton were having affairs in the White House, but Donald Trump says a naughty word, and he’s got to go.
On Rep. Paul Ryan: In response to the Jan. 7 Sound Off comment that people are jealous of Paul Ryan. No. It’s disgusted, disappointed and fed up. He has totally ignored the middle and poor class. Check his record of almost 20 years.
On local ski trails: My name is Christie, and I’m calling to comment on sharing the trails. To people walking on the trails, please do not walk in the cross-country ski trails that you may see. There is enough room for all of us to share the trails.
On planned Janesville fitness court: I think the downtown fitness court is a good thing, but I guess I’m thinking back to the good old days when the city had parks all over that had ice rinks. It was great times back then, so I like the downtown fitness court idea.
On wheel taxes: I don’t understand the thinking that only drivers should pay for wheel tax. We all use wheels. Everything we buy comes on wheels, one way or the other. Merchandise doesn’t miraculously appear at the store, hospital, gas station, etc. Hope you get my drift. We all benefit from wheels, and we all should pay.
On the Monterey Dam: If the voters of Janesville were given a chance to decide the fate of Monterey Dam, this issue would have been settled months ago. But instead, the city council took a play out of the D.C. swamp playbook, listened to the lobbyists and not the voters.
On Wednesday Sound Off complaint about Christmas lights: For heaven’s sake, I can’t find anything offensive about people having their Christmas lights up. I think they’re joyful. If people want to leave them up, they can leave them up all year long as far as I’m concerned. If they enjoy them, it’s their property. If they want to leave them up, nobody is paying their electric bill but them. I want to thank the people who have put them up because I really enjoy them.