A shining city on a hill is in the gutter

Ronald Reagan spoke of America as a shining city on a hill.

Bill Clinton said he still believed in a place called Hope.

Donald Trump urged a white supremacist group to “stand by.”

Remember the date: Sept. 29, 2020. It is the date America was never so pitiful on the world stage.

For it was on this night that an American politician took the last vestige of the democratic process he hadn’t violated — the debate — and destroyed it.

The presidential debate, an imperfect but reasonable opportunity for American voters to evaluate the credibility of the person who wants to be the president of the United States, on this night became the playground of a spoiled child — who happens to be in his 70s. If he were a child, an adult would have sent him to his room without a bedtime snack, and then grounded him for a few days.

Instead, on this night, his third wife smiled at him lovingly after he showed zero respect for his opponent and for the debate moderator. For what it’s worth, the third wife refused to kiss him, and he never attempted to kiss her, when she joined him briefly on the debate stage.

There is no reason the next two presidential debates should be held. If Donald Trump is going to treat Joe Biden, the debate moderator, democracy and reasonable American people with such contempt, then he ought not have the stage. Leave him to hold his rallies wherever he’d like to hold them. Give him his phone so he can tweet to his heart’s content. Let him call the occasional press event in order to tout whatever it is he wishes.

But don’t dare force the American people to suffer through another 90 minutes of contempt.

On this night, Trump made his base feel quite good. He threw gas on every possible political fire he could find. He refused to admit mistakes. He said that a noted white supremacist group should “stand by” should the November election not go well.

He showed no grace. He showed no class. He showed no decorum. He showed no leadership.

On this night, I was never so embarrassed to be an American.

Live blog: Sept. 29 presidential debate

Photo: Anthony Moretti 18July2016

9:00 p.m. EDT: Just about ready

9:05 p.m.: I doubt it will take long for either man to break the agreed to rules

9:06: Interesting that Biden was introduced as “Vice President Biden”

9:07: Trump comes out sounding presidential; “we won the election” and “elections have consequences”

9:09: Biden: “We should wait” before the Supreme Court nomination is considered.

9:10: Not impressed by Biden’s answer regarding Judge Barrett; he seems all over the place

9:11: Trump: Biden will take us down the socialist road

9:12: Biden: “I am the Democratic Party right now.”

9:13: Trump baiting Biden, and so far Biden is not biting

9:15: Biden appears willing to not spar with Trump; not sure this is going to go well

9:16: Maybe just me, but Biden seems slow in getting his answers going; “I’m not here to call out his lies.”

9:18: Did Biden just call Trump a “clown?”

9:20: Trump took his gloves off after roughly 45 seconds; this is what I expected

9:21: Biden: “Would you shut up, man!”

9:23: Biden goes after Trump for knowing as early as February that coronavirus was going to be a crisis and for supporting China’s president Xi Jinping

9:25: Trump suggests if Biden was the president, the borders would have stayed open and would have led to even more coronavirus deaths; he also says the death tolls reported by China, Russia and India can’t be trusted

9:26: Biden uses 14,000 deaths from H1N1 and the absence of an economic recession following it to say Trump’s handling of coronavirus was awful

9:28: Trump making claims that come off as facts; if casual viewers accept what he’s saying as being a forceful leader, Biden will have polling problems in the coming days

9:31: Biden looks into camera and asks the American people if they think they can trust Trump’s claims about a vaccine for coronavirus

9:32: Trump handled the “smart” verbal shot well

9:33: Trump says Biden wants to shut down the country to fight coronavirus

9:35: Lots of squabbling about masks

9:36: Trump says large outdoor rallies can be held; no one has challenged him about the Tulsa rally, which was indoors

9:37: Moderator Chris Wallace makes a valid point: Economy is recovering faster from the coronavirus shut down than expected

9:38: Trump suggests “Democrat states” are trying to keep their states closed in order to hurt Trump; he hints that divorce, alcoholism and drugs are problematic

9:40: Biden finally drops the $750 tax number

9:41: This answer from Biden is his strongest of the night; he attacks Trump for putting the rich while leaving the small business owners and other classes alone

9:42: Trump says he brought back Big 10 football

9:43: The tax question is asked to Trump: “Is it true you paid $750” in federal taxes? Trump makes it a conversation about all the taxes he paid

9:44: Trump: “I don’t want to pay tax.”

9:45: Biden: “He does take advantage of the tax codes” so we can invest in people who need help; ‘you’re the worst president America has ever had, come on.”

9:46: I’m watching the C-Span video feed from its website; at some point in the last 2 or so minutes, the video and the audio have become mismatched. Was a 7- or 10-second delay instituted?

9:49: Trump argues Biden would doom economy, saying Obama-Biden implemented far too slow a recovery; Biden: “I’m the guy who brought back the automotive industry”

9:50: Trump finally brings up Hunter Biden and China; he also says wife of Moscow’s mayor gave his son millions of dollars

9:51: Wallace continues to criticize Trump for not allowing Biden to answer questions; “Mr. President, would you please stop.”

9:52: Biden: “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”

9:53: Wallace says Trump has been doing far more interrupting than Biden; he’s right

9:54: One of the problems with Biden taking the often sober and serious approach — however presidential it might look like — is that he looks tired and boring in comparison to Trump

9:55: Biden uses the “dog whistle” term

9:56: Is Biden’s statement about 1 in 500 blacks dying before the end of the year accurate?

9:58: Trump hits another home run in playing the law and order card; this 2-minute statement has been his strongest of the night. He avoided the personal attack and suggested Biden is under siege from the “radical Left” and won’t challenge them

10:00: Biden says “violence is never the answer” to protesting injustice

10:01: Trump says he ended culturally sensitivity training “very bad” and “very sick” ideas were being promoted; “we need to go back to traditional values”

10:03: Trump quickly deflects Wallace’s question about violent crime going up in all cities, not just those being led by Democrats

10:05 Biden’s comment about the suburbs very strong

10:06: How critical will people supporting Biden be of the occasional stumbles about data

10:07: Did Wallace just save Biden from the law enforcement support attack by Trump?

10:08: Biden won’t answer whether he’s called any leader in Oregon; it would appear that he’s not. His argument about not holding public office is a weak argument especially after saying earlier that “I am the Democratic Party.”

10:10: Trump was trapped in the white supremacist question; he couldn’t get out by simply criticizing the left

10:11: Trump says he deserves re-election for his accomplishments in 3-1/2 years, especially low unemployment numbers and the potential for “unity,” which he glosses over but doesn’t explain

10:13: Trump blames Obama-Biden for the number of judge positions left open but refuses to discuss the Republicans’ blocking of these appointments

10:15: Biden gets really angry talking about Beau Biden, but Trump tries to twist the conversation to Hunter Biden; it doesn’t work

10:17: This final section about climate change has to be a winner for Biden

10:18: Trump will not say anything about climate change that doesn’t link to forest management

10:19: Forest cities?

10:20: Trump was making a good point about getting older cars off the road but went off the rails at the end of his comment

10:21: We’re building highways in the future?

10:23: Biden scores major points with the climate comments

10:24: Biden says his climate and energy plan will create “thousands, millions of jobs.”

10:26: Trump’s repeated attack on Biden and “47 years” inside public service deliberately ignores that Republican presidents were in office for many of them

10:28: This debate will not end in 90 minutes

10:29: Biden again looks into the camera and asks people to vote

10:30: Biden says a Trump win in 2010 would earn “four more years of lies”

10:31: Who are the “they” sending fraudulent ballots? Trump doesn’t say.

10:33: The conversation about “fraudulent” ballots serves Trump well; the longer he can carry on this conversation, the better it will be for him

10:36: What exactly does Trump mean by “urging my people” to make sure it’s a real election?

10:37: Biden’s simple “yes” might be the most presidential statement of the night

10:38: The debate ends

10:40: Closing thoughts:

That was a mockery of American politics. Trump did as was expected by turning a presidential debate into a street fight. I was not counting the number of times he cut off Biden, and the fact that moderator Chris Wallace had to remind Trump multiple times of the rules of the debate was nauseating.

Biden will never be the perfect orator, but too often tonight he fumbled over simple data he should have had locked into his memory. He needs to expect Trump to act the same way in the next debate, so he’s going to have to fire back more often as he did tonight when discussing Beau Biden.

We Americans are so very eager to declare winners in debates. Tonight, it’s more important to recognize the loser: the American political system. The 44 men who have held the

I shouldn’t be worried

This post came to me in a message and as a response to my “And I’m worried” blog post from Monday evening. I know the author, and we’ve agreed that no other identifying information will be shared.

Except for cutting the opening hello and setting up paragraph breaks, I’ve made no edits to what was written.

You absolutely shouldn’t be worried.

I am a scientist and up to my neck in this working with the pharmacy companies producing the vaccines. We model progression of Covid for countries all over the world where data is available.

Just be thankful we live in Pittsburgh. It’s very safe here unless you are a seeker of trouble/completely irresponsible, which I know you are not.

Also as a degreed mathematician too, I can tell you the positivity rate is statistically meaningless. To take it to the extreme to demonstrate, as Covid continues to go away, there will be very few people with symptoms, so many less getting tested. So then if a few in the small sampling are positive, the positivity rate is very large. It’s a silly statistic really.

There are much better ways to measure our state of well being. I didn’t want to post this publicly because as a scientist I don’t want this being twisted into political view, one way or the other. For the record, I’m an independent. I watch news reports with an objective eye, seeing a lot of misinformation. Makes me sad. Gosh, please emphasize to your students the importance of objectivity and reporting facts and not opinions.