Denial

With the possible exceptions of various historical inquisitions, I’m not sure there has been another time when so many well reasoned and well evidenced arguments have been so thoroughly discarded and trashed by so many.

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Out of favor: Epidemiologists , journalists, college professors, MLB, Police unions, Fox News (for Trumpsters), wearing masks while in public, responsibility

In favor: Drs, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, political bloggers, online college courses, Korean baseball, BLM, OAN (for Trumpsters) tantrums when asked to wear masks in public, irresponsibility

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Speaking of out of favor, I’m noticing a bit of a pushback against Trump supporters. Not just the Republican politicians running with him this November but also against anyone with a MAGA hat or Trump campaign signs on the lawn. Even in The Villages Florida (a Trump stronghold), there was a counter protest by angry residents to a Trump rally. Now this is not 1944 France where collaborators were jailed or women had their heads shaved for cozying up with the Nazis but there are a lot of angry anti Trumpsters who probably make up the majority in the present cultural war.

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It would be a better use of time to remove the current relics of our country including Trump, Republican Congress etc. who still can wreak damage today than to remove past relics of the confederacy which cannot do damage.

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Trump 2020 presidential campaign strategy equals Roberto Duran’s strategy against Sugar Ray Leonard in their second fight. Will Trump like Duran go to his corner mid bout (election) and cry “No Mas?”

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The essential difference between investing and gambling today is where you place your order (bet).

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Does anyone miss major league baseball? Anyone?

The Trump Slump

2020 poll

A few observations about the CNN and other political polls:

1.  It’s way too early for the Democrats to celebrate. We still have close to five months before election day (hopefully). I don’t think that these polls represent a pro – Biden sentiment as much as it does an anti-Trump revulsion. There are ways that Biden could lose this lead and it’s not impossible that Trump could regain additional standings in the polls. As an incumbent, Trump can cause all sorts of mayhem and  boost up his base.

2. There are arguments that Biden should be more vocal and that his campaign should be more aggressive given Trump’s latest difficulties. However Trump is his own worst enemy and the more he tweets and the more he preens, the less support he gets. He’s worn out the American public.

3. It’s hard to believe that Trump still has the support of 40% of Americans. He has horribly mismanaged the coronavirus and his (to put it charitably) clumsy statements and behavior after the George Floyd killing has embarrassed most of the country, even some of his Republican supporters.

4. What does surprise me is that there is not more talk about removing Trump from the top of the Republican ticket. What are they waiting for? The convention is still a few months away and there should be more consideration to dumping Trump and going in a different direction.

America in Ruins

As I write, there are demonstrations and riots in Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Washington DC and many other major American cities.

While I was watching one of the Sunday news shows this morning, one of the commentators said that we are witnessing the “best and worst of America.” Well the worst is winning. Less than a 20 minute drive from my home is Center City Philadelphia. Last night, looters set fires to buildings, destroyed stores, stole merchandise and rampaged almost without any confrontation. I recognized the streets and many of the stores where all this occurred. While there have been some issues between the Philadelphia police and the community, it has never been bad enough that one would expect to see the business district destroyed and in flames.

Robert O’Brien, the clueless and current National Security Advisor said that there is “no systemic racism in law enforcement.” Doesn’t take too much to figure out why there is so much hatred and violence towards police and authority this weekend. It was reported that President Trump had to be taken to an underground bunker during the demonstrations held outside the White House. It’s pretty apparent that the police and the National Guard are not effective deterrents against the rioting and looting that are occurring now.

It has been suggested that the other three policeman involved in the murder of George Floyd be arrested and charged with murder. The expectation is that this will satisfy many of the protesters and that there will be civil peace as a result of that decision. I’m not so sure. I sense that there is more to the anger and frustration of the crowd other than the death of George Floyd.

Many people have been sequestered in their homes for the past two months. Many have lost their jobs or they are on temporary furlough. The unemployed may be experiencing issues on how to pay their rents or mortgages. They may also be experiencing problems on feeding their families. Maybe they also realized that the “American Dream” is not going to happen for them. Bad enough that they are not going to be able to afford the luxuries and items that are being constantly marketed on television, social media and other outlets but that some are going to be hassled by the authorities due to the color of their skin.

The country has no national voice – – it has no one currently in office to turn to. We have a president who people don’t listen to because he doesn’t speak for them or to them. With all due respect to Democrats, they are not exactly offering a national voice of reason either. I was impressed with the black female mayors of Washington DC and Atlanta, Georgia I heard this morning. They spoke with reason, compassion and authority.

I hope it’s not too late that reason re-enters our national conversation and that peace is restored. We have had riots and civil disturbances before. I remember so many in the late 1960s and early 1970s. However these disturbances seem more ominous. Figuratively the heads of the three police officers in Minneapolis may not need to be the only sacrifices to the crowd – –someone has to pay for the poor economy, the huge disparity in income, the failure to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and the obscene unemployment rate throughout the country. Maybe that is the first step or salve to heal the wounds of the country.

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Zero Interest Rates, Zero Confidence

Disclaimer: I am not an economist nor possess any special knowledge of economics or finance.

As I write: the number of coronavirus infections worldwide is 169,552. 6,516 people worldwide have died. In the United States, approximately 3485 people have been infected with coronavirus. 65 people in the United States have died. Widespread testing has not taken place in the United States so the infection rate numbers are expected to rise dramatically.

The Dow Jones average is 23,185 or about a 21.5% drop from its high in February. The S&P is 2711 and has declined 20.1% from its high in February.

The federal reserve has reduced interest rates to 0%.

The following analysis represents my thinking and should not be used as a guide for investing etc.

What does this interest rate cut mean?

  1. It is the last remaining bullet in the Fed arsenal and intended to bolster the faltering stock market and economy, as I indicated in the summary above, Both indices have dropped over 20% since their highs last month. Many financial experts are expecting another 20-25% drop given the projected rise of the coronavirus infections and further disruptions to businesses and the U.S. economy in general. There are some financial analysts insisting that the stock market will come roaring back by the end of the year and recover much of its 2020 losses. I doubt it. One also needs to see the rate of recovery accomplished in China and Europe. If you have pulled out of the stock market and are now in cash, you are very limited as to how you can earn a return.
  2. Reflects the politicization of the Fed. President Trump has insisted on lower interest rates and just yesterday threatened to remove Chairman Powell from his job. The president is ever mindful that the November election is less than eight months and how a recession will adversely affect his chances of being reelected. Trump has done a very poor job of communicating what measures need to be taken and has miscommunicated the severity and urgency of this emergency. I would not be shocked that Trump would not be re-nominated as the GOP candidate if the country experiences higher than projected infections and death within the next four months. Seniors and retired people (part of the Trump base) will be panicked when their investment funds settle to significant losses.
  3. Trump’s priorities are investors and stock prices. He is leaving the dirty work of dealing with managing the pandemic and health issues to state governors and local communities. He has no choice. Trump has no bench of competent leaders or administrators to guide his actions. His “by the seat of his pants” decisions on travel bans have angered our allies and American citizens caught in Europe.
  4. Reflects the realization that the coronavirus emergency is not a two week or one month issue. There are no quick fixes and this virus will not disappear overnight. It is going to have a bad long term effect on the economy, corporations, small businesses and workers.
  5. Confirmation that the economy is not well and that strong measures were needed to prop it up. Seems obvious to me that many businesses are going to require bail outs in order to survive if the length of the coronavirus bands continue past May. Due to lower sales and cash flow issues, businesses will be forced to access available lines of credit creating capital and risk management concerns for banks and financial institutions. Airlines and the cruise industries are looking at 3-6 months minimum of travel dislocations and cancellations. Regrettably individuals who will become unemployed will also be accessing their available credit card lines of credit but they will not be receiving any bailout money from the government other than temporary unemployment insurance.

Stock Market Graph.jpg

6. The country is seeking a hero, someone who displays competence, communication skills and leadership. Don’t be surprised if the next serious Presidential candidate comes from a governor who protects his state and ensures that the necessary medical care and resources are available. (Cuomo from NY??)

 

If Stupid was a Stock

Analysis: Stupid continues to grow faster than coronavirus. It’s contagion has spread rapidly into our politics, culture, entertainment, business and religions. Anticipate no correction anytime soon for Stupid. Expect that it will be around for at least another four years.

If Stupid was a Stock.jpg

Six Quick Observations from the 2-19-20 Democratic Presidential Debate

For full disclosure, I have watched all the Democratic Presidential debates. This debate was the most meaningful and all the knives came out tonight that were held in all the candidates’ scabbards prior to tonight.

  1. With each Democratic debate, the better the chance that Donald Trump will be re-elected. The longer the nomination process goes undecided, again, the better the chance that Trump will be re-elected. The debates and some of the inane questions presented by the debate moderators only hurt the Democratic candidates. Some of the questions were just meant to rile up the candidates. Case in point, questions to Amy Klobuchar for not knowing the name of the President of Mexico. Really?
  2. Elizabeth Warren should be the Democratic nominee. She’s smart, articulate, energetic and her verbal takedown of Mike Bloomberg was the template on how a candidate should confront and challenge Donald Trump in a debate and during the election cycle. She had the best debate performance tonight by far.
  3. Mike Bloomberg was very unimpressive. He badly fumbled responding to issues about “stop and frisk,” his support of Obamacare, non-disclosure agreement releases from his employees and failure to release his tax returns. The Democrats badly need his money—-just not Mike.
  4. Prior to this debate, I viewed Amy Klobuchar as the best candidate for VP. The ticket will need a strong woman with legislative experience and from a Midwest state. She exhibited some thin skin and loss of poise when pressed by Pete Buttigieg on her voting record. She does have a reputation for having a bad temper and it flared onstage. I noticed she stalked off the stage when the debate was over, not stopping to shake anyone’s hands. Maybe Pete is angling for the VP nomination over Amy.
  5. I sense 1972 again. The Democrats nominate a candidate who has a huge appeal to young people but who will frighten off more moderate and older voters. Say what you want about Bernie Sanders, he does exhibit a lot more energy and acuity than septuagenarians Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump. However, he’ll get crucified with the socialist label by the GOP and Fox. I think Trump will, in boxing terms, be able to “rope a dope” his way past Bernie in a debate. Warren won’t let Trump out of the corner.
  6. Joe Biden looks old. He had a decent debate. He attacked Mike Bloomberg effectively. But I can’t see him having the energy to run hard for the election. Good man. But time has passed him by.