What Me Worry?

Some of the headlines just for today:

Trump retweets video saying “only good Democrat is dead Democrat”…

“Haven’t seen black people this upset in 20 years” Van Jones

Total jobless claims top 40 million

Fed: Sharp decline in May leaves business is pessimistic about recovery

Stressed out front line nurses admit they are at breaking point with 68% planning to quit their jobs

United States deaths: 101,573

Q1 contraction worse than thought

The former Minneapolis police officer seen in the video with his knee on Floyd’s neck had 18 prior complaints filed against him

Governor declares state of emergency in Minneapolis

As US deaths top 100,000, Trump’s virus task force is curtailed

A GOP lawmaker had the virus,  Nobody told Democrats exposed to him.

California is re-opening too quickly, posing “very serious risk,” health officer warns

Jim Cramer says market still in for a “rough ride,” suggest sticking with remote tech stocks.

“Sorry, no mask allowed”: Some businesses pledge to keep our customers who cover their faces

 

Clearing My Mental Cache

Items that may amuse, entertain, inform and inflame you…

Pickleball challenge

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The experience of finding an open court to play pickleball in the next few weeks may be similar to trying to find a dinner reservation on Mother’s Day. One might expect long lines, unexpected delays and the need to acquire a lot of patience.

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Just a thought: For pickleball to become more mainstream and garner national attention,  it needs a “bad boy” like Nick Kyrgios or John McEnroe to compete against Tyson McGuffin, Ben Johns etc. of the pickleball elite.

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While I agree that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, I don’t think he would beat Lebron James in a one on one game if both were in their primes.

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Book recommendation: Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. An excellent compliment to the recent ESPN documentary The Last Dance.

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As an aside, I am old enough to remember seeing him play and I choose Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns as the greatest football player of my lifetime.

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I would not miss baseball if they did not play in 2020. I would miss college and pro football as well as pro basketball if they did not play in 2020. I am also under the opinion that the NBA should not bother resuming the 2019-2020 season’s games. Wait till November and start the new season.

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Old Paradigm (before coronavirus) “Hi neighbor, can I borrow a cup of sugar?

New Paradigm: “Hi neighbor, (through mask) can I borrow a roll of toilet paper?”

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Five Biggest Lies of the Pandemic

  1. “We all in this together.” (slogan used by just about every company in their ads since March.)
  2. “I don’t take responsibility at all.” (Donald Trump-3/13/20)
  3. The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…(Donald Trump 2-24-20)
  4. It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Donald Trump 2-28-20)
  5. The virus is not going to sink the American economy,”. “What is or could sink the American economy is the socialism coming from our friends on the other side of the aisle. That’s the biggest fear that I have today.” (Larry Kudlow Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28)

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Just an observation but I wish Congress and the President exhibited the same energy, resources and urgency for small businesses and employees that the Federal Reserve did in supporting Wall Street, large corporations, CEOs and wealthy stockholders.

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Fox News just published their poll of suburban women. 33% of those women polled had a favorable view of President Trump; 66% had an unfavorable view. What is more surprising? (A) Fox News posted the results of their anti Trump poll? Or. (B) There are still 33% of suburban women with a favorable view of Trump?

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Though children are not able to attend schools in person, they are receiving a far greater and more impactful education in human nature, mortality, sacrifice and compassion.

 

The Art of Reading

Reading is my addiction. It has been since I picked up a Hardy Boys book from the Pennsauken Library over 57 years ago. I estimate that I have read about 5500 books and that number continues to grow but at a slower pace from my youth. I try to limit my number of reading heavy books (over 350 pages) as I get older.

Reading is an intellectual diet. There are books that nourish one’s soul and brain. But there are also books that serve as junk food for the mind. They may not nourish one’s mind or soul but they do provide temporary substance or enjoyment.

Shown below is a brief profile of my reading tastes

  1. I prefer reading non fiction books over fiction.
  2. I generally do not read fiction books from women authors.
  3. I have no interest in poetry, science fiction and religious books.
  4. My favorite book topics are history, politics, philosophy, biographies, psychology, sports, business, economics, spy and detective novels.
  5. I used to read self help books and books on how to improve business results in your career but I have outlived their usefulness.
  6. I tend to avoid books authored by politicians and celebrities.
  7. I read one book at at time.
  8. I rarely re-read an entire book.
  9. My favorite place to read is the sun porch on my house.
  10. I don’t multi-task as I read. No TV or music.
  11. Generally if a book does not hold my attention or interest in the first 20-30 pages, I will put it down.
  12. My best sources of finding new reading material that I may have an interest include: The New York Times Sunday Book Review section, Kirkus reviews, Book TV and interviews with authors on news shows and television.
  13. Generally when I target a book that I have interest, I look to borrow the book from my town library. If I can’t find it in my town library, I will probably buy it from Amazon Kindle. If I have a discount coupon from Barnes and Noble, I may purchase  a hardcover or paperback, if it is cost efficient.
  14. If I own a book, I may underline sentences and paragraphs that I may wish to reference or remember later.
  15. I look up the defintion of words in a book that I do not know the meaning.
  16. I use Goodreads to catalog and archive the books I read, when I read them and offer a brief review and rating.

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 12.31.59 PM

Last 30 books that I have read

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Deaths

OC 5-15-20

Governor Murphy opened up the Jersey beaches but with the proviso that there would be social distancing and that people would wear masks. The Ocean City boardwalk was packed. I viewed the crowds from the cams I had along the Boardwalk. There was very little social distancing and I saw very few people, including those who were my age, wearing masks.

I’m not surprised that people took advantage of a beautiful day to go the Shore. I’m astounded that so few made even the slightest effort at social distancing and wearing masks.

I think Governors and most elected officials are losing their stomachs in urging precautions and restraints. The populace has tired of making sacrifices and there are so many false reports about the coronavirus that people are not as afraid as they should be in getting infected.

Ruminations from a “Hot Zone”

As I write, 1,228,214 have been infected and 73,418 are dead in the United States from the coronavirus.

I ran some numbers last night based on available statistics. 

5-6-20

  • Less than .4% of the U.S. population has been reported as being infected. This number is probably low as there has not been sufficient testing. Less than .02% of the U.S. population has died from the disease. This number may be higher as there may have been deaths that were not attributed to Covid 19 that could go back into 2019.
  • New York and New Jersey have been the two states hit hardest with the Covid 19 infection. Governor Murphy extended restrictions in NJ until June 7. While the infection rate has decreased slightly, there is a fear of resurgence if NJ opens up businesses and the beaches.
  • Pennsauken has about a 1% infection rate (360 infections from a 36,000 population.) Moorestown has suffered a rise both in infections and deaths. Just about all the deaths were people over 65.

Some ruminations:

Crises bring out the best and the worst in people. Listed are my grades and a one sentence summary of their performance, actions and results:

Trump: F Acted too slow. Preened and whined too much. Responsible for a lot of deaths and destruction of the economy.

Andrew Cuomo: A Demonstrated and communicated leadership, good judgment and compassion.

Governor Murphy: A Not as telegenic as Cuomo but has done a very good job.

Congress: C- Not acting with the necessary urgency that this pandemic requires.

Media: C Uneven reporting. Fox News deserves an F. Coverage of the President’s Task Force was largely a mistake. Too much panic spun at times from various reports and cable shows.

Dr Fauci: B+ I would have given him an A or A+ but for his glowing recommendation of remdesivir whose performance is slightly more effective than a placebo.

Nurses A++ So many heroic stories about their care and bravery.

Really irritated about insurance companies bragging about refunds to auto insurance policies. Liberty Mutual is giving me 15% off of a 2 month premium which probably comes to $30 or less. I like many others are probably driving 60-70% less during these times. 60 to 70% is the range they should have used for the refund.

I have noticed a number of both public and social media comments about letting elderly people die as a sacrifice to the economy. If we ever get to the other side of this crisis, there will be political and economic pain for those who were willing to toss 65+ year old people overboard off the life boats.

Hydroxychloroquine is the Cure and Other Delusions

Beautiful day so I went for a walk. So did many other walkers, bikers and joggers…I was like Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton (sorry for the 1970’s sports references) scrambling around to keep six feet away.

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I am willing to follow just about every reasonable government guideline but prohibiting bikers and walkers from using a walking path makes little sense. Doesn’t the walking path carry the same social gathering risks as walking in the streets but you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car?

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Whatever business plans, budgets, dreams, goals, promises, career paths, and financial projections that were made prior to March 2020  are largely extinct. If one is not starting over, one is certainly moving forward from a much different space or perspective. 

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What Shake Shack, Harvard University, AutoNation and other public companies did in applying for and receiving government loans intended for small businesses was the economic equivalent to the rich passengers dumping the less fortunate off lifeboats and into icy waters on the sinking Titanic.

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Q. Who is more dangerous than an individual with a high fever, persistent cough, and extreme fatigue?

A. A Trump voter with a ballot. 

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For clarity, I am not a diehard Joe Biden supporter either. What worked in 2009 or in his days in the Senate aren’t relevant here. The next President has to be conversant on technology, science and medical issues. There is only one issue for 2020: SURVIVABILITY. If I am a 30 year old parent, do I trust my future or my children’s future to a 70+ year old man or woman as President who does not understand science?

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Turns out Bernie Sanders is right. Andrew Yang may be more right (UIC).

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Coronavirus is the Berlin Wall coming down moment for capitalism.

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Sarah Palin is a seer. In 2008, she warned about “death panels.” 12 years later, her prediction comes true. (But not during a Democratic administration). Unfortunately the primary targets for death panels were nursing homes. So many nursing homes served as the concentration camps for those elderly afflicted with coronavirus. Poorly attended, poorly serviced, and many left to die alone without the solace of friends or family, we will carry this shame throughout our history. The elderly and infirm were viewed as collateral damage on the war on coronavirus.

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As a political aside, no support or outrage by the Right to Life group for those seniors?

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I no longer carry the fantasy that if a meteor was to hit the Earth that nations of the world would coalesce, cooperate and come up with an allied plan to save it based on this experience. There seems to be very little scientific cooperation and coordination among countries. Let’s face it, whoever comes up with the cure will be very wealthy and powerful. I have to admit I thought there would have been more progress in developing an effective treatment against coronavirus by now.

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Sad to say, I have very little confidence in the data, statistics, math, analysis and projections that are being offered by various news, government, scientific and business sources during this crisis. Just about all these sources have reasons to lie and mislead the public (political, business, economic). If the numbers don’t support the “narrative” that a government official or CEO is promoting, the numbers can be changed, presented differently or interpreted with a specific spin or slant.

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Directives about social distancing is similar to the warning to Adam and Eve about not eating the forbidden apple. So far, most Americans are abiding by the directive. My sense is that by Memorial Day, Americans are going to want a “bite of the apple” and social guidelines restrictions will be loosely complied with or ignored.

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Wit of the staircase moment. I wish I had used these lines when I was working with certain bosses and corporate prima donnas. This may also come in handy for political arguments as a finisher. Taken from a Dilbert cartoon…

Critic: “I have to disagree with you, Dilbert

Dilbert: Actually you don’t disagree with me.

Critic: I don’t?

Dilbert: No. You think you disagree with me, but you’re mistaken. You’re simply experiencing an illusion caused by the limits of your comprehension. If you were able to fully comprehend both the problem and my recommended solution, you would agree with me. So what appears to be a difference of opinion is just you wrestling with your own defective brain.”

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Kudos to these nurses staring down a crowd of rabid protestors…Those protestors should have left very embarrassed especially the one carrying the “Hydroxychloroquine is the Cure” placard.

heroes

Michael Chow, The Arizona Republic

 

 

 

 

Doomed??

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. —H. L. Mencke

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Calls to Reopen Country: ‘There Are More Important Things Than Living’ (Mediaite)

Fox & Friends Host Ainsley Earhardt Worries What Trump’s Immigration Ban Means For Her Daughter’s Au Pair (mediaite)

KILLER BUG Dad killed by coronavirus after dismissing ‘bulls***’ lockdown as a ‘political ploy’ (The Sun)

More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug in VA virus study (AP)

Las Vegas Mayor: We survived west nile, SARS, bird flu, ecoli..

Tur: Those were not as contagious

Mayor: Well we’ll find out the facts afterwards…

Tur: But those are the facts…

Mayor: Assuming you’re correct..

Tur: There’s no assuming that I’m correct. Those are the numbers.

Barr Threatens Legal Action Against Governors Over Lockdowns (Bloomberg)

Some blood tests being marketed to tell people if they have had the new coronavirus are a “disaster”, Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan said on Wednesday as he prepares to launch the drugmaker’s own antibody test next month. (Reuters)

(Bloomberg) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he favors allowing states struggling with high public employee pension costs amid the burdens of the pandemic response to declare bankruptcy rather than giving them a federal bailout.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned in an interview with the Guardian Wednesday that the United States could be heading towards another Great Depression due to the coronavirus pandemic.“The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working,” Stiglitz declared, calling the safety net “inadequate.” (Mediaite)

 

My Dream Team to Save the Country

As I write, approximately 736,000 people are infected with coronavirus, 80,000 hospitalized and 40,000 dead in the United States. These numbers probably do not reflect an accurate representation; the numbers are probably much higher. A number of epidemiologists have also opined that the models on which the government has been basing their projections on infections and death are probably inaccurate and should not be used as guidance for when to re-open the country.

There is no vaccine and probably won’t be one for another 12 to 18 months. There is no current universal protocol or drug remedy for coronavirus. While the stock market has recovered gradually, small business and Main Street have not. Over 22 million people have applied for unemployment in the last four weeks.

Many citizens, spurred by the president’s tweets, have started to protest and demand that the economy be reopened. The president’s tweets are a contradiction of his self announced policy on the reopening of the economy where he emphasized following the guidance of his health experts.

So what to do?

The president has created an economic task force that includes his daughter and son-in-law. There are no doctors or scientists on this task force. Honestly, a bunch of lightweights both intellectually and talent wise are not going to inspire confidence or leadership that we badly need. Extraordinary times require extraordinary people to accomplish extraordinary results. It’s time to get extraordinary people on board and save this country.

I have my own ideas on the right people to form a coalition to address coronavirus issues and create a plan and timeline for people to return to work. Now all the starts with one huge move. When a CEO of a company is under performing, incompetent or has lost the confidence of the market, they need to be replaced. Sometimes when a company is experiencing these types of issues, they will bring back a past CEO to right the ship. We have four former presidents that are available. But only one has been battle tested and experienced with issues and resolutions related to pandemic, financial and economic crisis. Ideally, Barack Obama would serve as a temporary CEO of the United States.

I have created an imaginary org chart (below) of smart, talented, battle ready men and women to call upon and serve their country in this unusual crisis. There are both Democrats and Republicans on this team – – but they must put aside party affiliations and act solely as Americans.

The thinking and policies that took place before March 1, 2020 are dead. It’s a new world. We need new perspectives. Ideas that worked in the past probably will not work today or in the future.

I kept some members of the Trump administration including Mike Pence and Steve Mnuchin. There would need to be some continuity between the current task force and the one that I would propose. I have added Condoleezza Rice and Chris Christie. You may wonder why. Essentially Miss Rice’s job would be to act as Secretary of State and repair our relations with our allies in Europe and coordinate a united response to the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Christie would serve as attorney general and does have experience dealing with disruptions and damages spawned by Hurricane Sandy.

The mandates for this coalition would include the following:

  1. Mitigate, monitor and manage the spread of coronavirus among American citizens. Ensure that required equipment, staffing, funds and assistance are provided to keep our citizens safe.
  2. Conduct required research, studies and due diligence to create effective protocols and drugs to treat those afflicted with coronavirus.
  3. Conduct required research, studies and due diligence to create and effective vaccine for coronavirus by January 2021.
  4. Establish timelines and priorities for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine by June 2021.
  5. Ensure protection and integrity of critical supply chain items, particularly food, clothing and medicine during this pandemic.
  6. Develop strategies, safeguards, funding and planning for the reopening of American businesses, particularly small businesses. Ensure availability of adequate credit, resources and assistance to keep businesses open.
  7. Develop strategies, safeguards, planning and financial assistance for those who are unemployed. Minimize economic dislocations (foreclosures, loss of health insurance etc.)
  8. Ensure fair elections in November 2020. Develop protocols for mail-in ballots.

Leadership Team