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

 

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

 

 

 

Ruminations II

As I write, 667, 878 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus with 33, 534 dead.

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The Trump Administration needs to show patience on how and when businesses can reopen and social isolation guidelines can be lessened. Today Trump offered a Powerpoint instead of a well thought out plan. I think Trump wants to avoid leading on this effort. He wants to distance himself from any blame if things go south and a second wave to this pandemic develops.

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I’m reading End of a Berlin Diary by William Shirer which provides his notes at the end of the war with Germany and its immediate aftermath. Shirer noted that Hitler was still popular and supported by many Germans even at the end of WWII with their cities and homes bombed, food shortages, Russians at the door and defeat inevitable. I make the parallel comparison to Trump whose indecision on testing has led to tens of thousands of deaths and a national shutdown that has cratered the economy. Yet I still see support for Trump in the polls and I read it on social media.

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Nursing homes are the concentration camps in this pandemic war. So many elderly have died.  No care, little concern for patients. Many died alone. Families were unable to provide any consolation or solace when the end came.

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Dr Oz suggested on Sean Hannity’s show that it may only cost 2-3% of student lives if universities are open. So we may have moved beyond having just older people over 65 as willing victims to re-open the economy. I see more and more right wingers make the same argument. These are the type of people who would be sitting on the shores of England during D-Day and letting front line people get killed who actually storm the beaches.

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Just like any war or crisis, some heroes, some cowards. Wonder why the First Lady has not gotten involved, for example, doing visits to hospitals to show support and boost morale like Eleanor Roosevelt did in WWII.

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The Battle of Midway was the turning point in our war against Japan. We desperately need a turning point which would consist of a drug or treatment that is effective against the disease and saves lives.

Could Not Say It Any Better

I have posted excerpts from a Frank Bruni NYT article. He expresses my rage better than I am able to.

Has Anyone Found Trump’s Soul? Anyone?

In Trump’s predecessors, for all their imperfections, I could sense the beat of a heart and see the glimmer of a soul. In him I can’t, and that fills me with a sorrow and a rage that I quite frankly don’t know what to do with.

Americans are dying by the thousands, and he gloats about what a huge, rapt television audience he has. They’re confronting financial ruin and not sure how they’ll continue to pay for food and shelter, and he reprimands governors for not treating him with adequate adulation.

He’s not rising to the challenge before him, not even a millimeter. He’s shriveling into nothingness.

But what has taken me by surprise and torn me up inside are the aloofness, arrogance, pettiness, meanness, narcissism and solipsism that persist in Trump — that flourish in him — even during a once-in-a-lifetime emergency that demands something nobler. Under normal circumstances, these traits are galling. Under the current ones, they’re gutting.

I don’t take responsibility at all.” “Did you know I was number one on Facebook?” To bother with just one of those sentences while a nation trembles is disgusting. To bother with both, as Trump did, is perverse.

Frank Bruni

How to Reason with a Die Hard Trumpster

You can’t.

I am somewhat sympathetic to those Never Trumpsters who try on social media, news show, tweets, Facebook posts or in private conversations to convert their family, friends, fellow employees or others to convert from the Darkside. I sense your frustration but you are largely doomed to failure. Unless you can magically transform yourself into a Fox talk show host wearing a flag pin and/or the obligatory crucifixion on a cross, your message will not get through.

Now you could try various arguments to convince a Trumpster that DJT is incompetent, ineffective or worse. For example, you could point out that our self professed “war president” has inflicted over 433,000 casualties on his troops and over 14,000 deaths (as of 4-8-20) by his refusal to act over warnings provided by members of his own administration. Regrettably the numbers will become much larger. You might also point out that our “war president” has sent many of his troops out to war without the necessary armament and protection that they need to stay alive. Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel have treated coronavirus patients without the adequate protections of masks, gloves and protective gear. Not surprisingly many of these front line soldiers are being infected and some have died. Imagine FDR before committing troops to Guadalcanal in World War II sending soldiers out without rifles, helmets and and other needed armaments to fight a battle. Or imagine FDR saying that the nation’s governors, not he, have the responsibility to ensure that our frontline soldiers are provided adequate gear. You could point out that our self professed “war president” measures his success in this war by his television ratings from his daily banal news conferences, how the stock market goes up in a given day or if he can keep deaths below a certain projected number. For him that’s “winning.”

Convincing argument? Not to the Trumpster!

You could change your strategy and suggest that the overall economy will probably not recover under DJT. There are no magic bullets left to combat a deep recession much less a potential depression. At Trump’s insistence, interest rates are already near zero. Many companies took advantage of the low interest rates to borrow but now they are over-leveraged and unable to pay. Regrettably this is also the fate of many American consumers. Businesses can’t pay their rents, consumers can’t pay their rents so the mortgages supporting these properties can’t be paid either. Delinquencies rise and banks begin to suffer. Credit markets close suffocating the abilities of mostly small businesses to recover. Trump does not have a record of success in bringing back failing companies or industries. (USFL, Trump University, Trump casino’s etc.) The government does not have the luxuries of defaulting or declaring bankruptcy. The Chinese have outmaneuvered him on trade talks and are becoming closer financial partners with our once friendly allies.

Convincing argument? Again, not to the Trumpster!

You might offer as an argument the horrendous chaos, lies, inabilities to deliver on promises, senseless fights with the press, rampant corruption and mediocre appointees that pervade the Trump administration. When you take time in a news conference in a middle of  national health crisis to bring up a pillow huckster pumping the Bible and prayer instead of Dr. Fauci offering science and possible solutions, you have demonstrated that you have no feel for the moment. When a reporter provided the President an opportunity to address Americans who were fearful and needed reassurance, Trump lambasted the reporter. FDR provided soothing Fireside Chats for Americans suffering through depression and war. Trump promotes his sagging re-election campaign to those who have not tuned out his meandering news conferences replete with misinformation on coronavirus treatments, testing capabilities and actual results.

Convincing arguments? Again, not to the Trumpster, but to everyone else who wants to see this nation and its citizens become healthy, economically secure and whole again, they are.