Day 2 After National Emergency Declaration

The incidence of cases keeps climbing. China, Singapore and Japan and perhaps the UK seem to be keeping a lid on the numbers but Italy’s figures are jumping.

In California, people 65 and older are asked to stay home. Theatres and restaurants are closing and the CDC recommends that social gatherings be limited to 50 people.

The economy is widely expected to contract for this quarter and the next which would put us in recession territory. In a calming move the Federal Reserve announced that the interest rate would be slashed to near zero.

There were more people out today in Pasadena. Some restaurants were open, others closed. It was a pretty day overall.

Until testing is widely available I’ll monitor my condition and only go in to urgent care or my doctor’s office if I develop a cough and a fever.

I read that the nation’s food supply is ample so I’m okay for now.

Tomorrow I won’t be walking into a Starbucks. They’ve gone to online only.

If testing were widely available, I’d get tested but that is not yet possible.

I expect to go to work Tuesday, unless I hear from my work site.

My priority, of course, is to not catch this virus.

I’m getting better at not touching my face, but it’s a struggle. I’m more aware of it when I step out. When I do, I’ve assigned my left hand to open doors, keeping my right hand for anything that would touch food.

I watched the debate between Biden and Sanders. Biden brought up the importance of getting the military involved. I think it’s necessary. This being a national emergency, the government should also be repurposing private industry to make the kinds of machinery that we will need to help us save lives, such as respirators. The virus is especially hard on the lungs and the supportive assistance the respirators provide will make the difference between life and death.

With the military involved, we will be able to improvise enough additional hospital space to tend to the greater number we expect to be infected.

The coronavirus has declared war on us and we have to fight back.

No need to panic. We’ll get through this.

I was glad to see Biden commit to selecting a woman as VP. I thought it was the high point of the debate. Sanders wavered when asked if he’d go along with that but then said yes, most likely.

If you can go out for a walk during the day, do so. It will boost your immunity and clear your mind.

Good night.

Day One after National Emergency Declaration. A Public National Registry of Cases?

Yesterday, Mr Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. On the news, the stock market was up. Today, however, Mr Trump spoke of wanting to replace Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve Chairman. The likelihood then, is that the market will drop again.

I find it reassuring that the world map tracking the spread of the virus, shows the figures in China stable at 80 thousand plus and the figures in Japan barely over 1400. It tells me that the virus spread can be controlled, that we can do this.

A friend of mine and I were scheduled to meet today and, of course, we thought of whether it would be advisable. We met anyway. Something about friendship boosting our immune systems.

Still, the city of Pasadena, where I live, was largely empty. On a Saturday night, otherwise busy restaurants had only a few patrons. The streets had few cars. An ice cream parlor was closed.

When will the rising tide of infections crest? It’s anybody’s guess.

The recommendation is out for everyone to stockpile food supplies. I always have a few days’ worth as a matter of common sense since I live in earthquake country, but to expand on it is not appealing. Not yet, anyway.

I will eat out more, I say to myself. I suppose it’s in keeping with the part of me that likes to buck the trend, but I can also say that I’m supporting local businesses in the process. Anyway, the lines are short.

Should I fall sick, however, I would quarantine myself and ask to be tested. But I’m not there yet and maybe will not be. I tend to be an optimist.

I am washing my hands, more carefully than ever, avoiding hand shaking and reminding myself to not touch my face (not easy to do).

I am avoiding theatres, but still get my hot choco at the local starbucks.

One step at a time.

I would like to be able to read about how people have recovered, and if not, then why. It would be informative and confidence building. Why not create, then, a national registry of cases where a synopsis of cases was entered on a daily basis and posted online by major newspapers, viewable for free. The synopses would include a doctor’s comments on the course of the illness.  

Food for thought.

I read about measures to protect our elderly and infirm. It is heartening. To know that for those who are at the end of life, with their productive capacities spent or markedly diminished, a genuine effort is being made to keep them with us.

For all the devastation it has created, coronavirus is reminding us of our humanity.

May the pandemic be soon controlled.

And may the warm sentiments it evokes, stay with us forever.

Good night.

Market Drop on 3/9. Reversible?

Yes. There are two potentially reversible causes. The coronavirus and Saudi Arabia’s decision to increase oil supply and flood the market.

Take the first.

Imagine for a moment, that we began to see a drop in the incidence of cases. A few days of such a trend would lighten our heavy hearts. Possible? Of course.

Today I read an article in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (3/5/2020). It carried a brief report of the first case of coronavirus in the country. A 35 year old man in good health otherwise, had returned from Wuhan, China and, after a 4 day history of cough and subjective fever, presented himself on 1/19/20 to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County in Washington state. He was tested and the next day the CDC confirmed he had Covid-19. He did develop signs of an atypical pneumonia but by 1/30 all his symptoms had resolved except for the cough which was decreasing.

In the same issue, a hospital in Munich, Germany reported that 4 people had developed symptoms after exposure to a person who had visited from China but was asymptomatic while in Germany. She developed symptoms on her flight back to China, sought help and her contacts were traced. Of those German contacts, 4 became ill. Persons 1 and 2 had been in direct contact with the visitor, while persons 3 and 4 had only been in contact with persons 1 and 2. None had shown signs of a severe illness.

So, yes, this illness can be controlled.

Of course, if you’re already ill, your chances of recovery are lower but the illness can be controlled.

What about if we had an online summary of cases, or a sample of them, with both good and bad outcomes, so we could all check in?

Maybe we wouldn’t panic so much about this. Maybe we would be more rational.

Openness is good.

We need it.

Now I turn to the second reversible cause, the drop in the price of oil.

The Saudis and Putin have feuded before and will again. This time, though, with oil demand already low, the timing is disastrous for some of our industries.

Price of gas cheaper? Sure. But what about our shale oil producers? What about all those industries deeply connected with them? How many companies will go under?

Word is that Putin has wanted to put a good bruise on those industries of ours, since we have become a major exporter of oil and thus compete directly with Russia.

Well, now the Saudi Prince, with his intemperate action, will do what Putin has wanted.

Dear Mr Trump, was this prince not the same man who our intelligence agencies have said is responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Ankara, Turkey?

You did not hold him accountable then.

Will you hold him accountable now for the damage he is doing to our economy?

Just a phone call away, Mr Trump, just a phone call away.

Where Is Our Leader?

Where is the leader that we need in this time of fear?

Where is he, or she?

Why can’t we have someone step up and say,

‘Fellow Americans, we will beat the coronavirus,

We will beat it.

We will pull together, all of us,

And helping each other beat back the virus!

Yes, we will push it back!

Our nation will not be defeated by the virus,

Our country will not be disabled,

America will not be destroyed by it.

We are stronger than coronavirus.

We have the resources to beat it.

So hear me well,

Republican or Democrat,

The government has your back,

You will get the service you need,

You will get the assistance you require,

We will not be destroyed by the virus.

We will defeat the virus.’

We need to be hearing this every day during this crisis.

Someone, must step into the void we how have

And say those things to all of us,

Every single day,

And say it with conviction,

Say it so we can believe you.

We must hear this

To bolster our stamina and commitment,

To raise our hopes.

We need this now.

Warren Will Endorse Biden. Obama, When Will You?

In the next day or two, Warren will make her announcement. The choice is clear. She’s a talented intellectual with a political future. There is no future in endorsing Sanders.

Warren miscalculated when she took a center left position that made her seem too close to Sanders, and she’s paid the price in the polls.

But she has a political future. I think she should campaign for Biden all the way through November and thus add weight to the Biden movement.

And she would make a fine secretary of state in a Biden administration.

With the show of strength in Super Tuesday, Biden’s campaign should steadily add to the lead in delegates and so go into Milwaukee with the sufficient number.

Which brings me to the matter of vice presidential choice.

It should be a woman.

As things stand now, Amy Klobuchar is in the lead among potential candidates.

Biden will be tempted to consider Harris for the position but I think it will be a mistake.

He already has the black vote. He doesn’t need to offer the position as a gift for their support.

What he needs to do, once he’s elected, is deliver on the promises he’s made.

And now to Obama’s endorsement.

I see the merits of his having abstained from endorsing Biden to let things play out.

But they have already played out. And it is clear that Biden’s solid performance on Super Tuesday will continue to be replicated in other states.

Endorsing Biden now may seem like the kiss of death to the Sanders’ campaign but the party needs to solidify behind Biden and the quicker it is done, the more productive the outcome.

Sanders’ supporters need to feel represented in Biden’s campaign.

And so should every American, including those who now support Donald Trump.

The message will need to be refined. The less strife leading up to the convention, the more time to clarify the positions and broaden the appeal.

Biden Deals a Blow to the Coronavirus.

This morning, the house of representatives agreed on a bill that will provide 8.3 billion to fight the coronavirus.

It is no coincidence that this move comes right after Biden’s big win in last night’s primaries which vault him to the top in the delegate count.

‘We have to do something, quick, hurry up,’ said the Republican legislators eager to cooperate on the new bill, ‘Joe Biden is coming!’

A campaign that just before South Carolina’s primary last Saturday, seemed badly bruised and cornered, has charged back valiantly and landed a heck of a punch.

Biden’s gain has acted to restore hope that there is sanity in the nation, that diverse communities will have a say in the conduct of our affairs, that kindness is part of who we are, that no one is to be excluded, that we can improve on what we have already built and don’t need a revolution as Mr Sanders has touted.

Joe Biden’s victory last night means that a huge segment of this country, has entrusted him with the task of taking on Donald Trump in the debates to come, confident that Joe will go full out in the fight to dethrone the president.

Joe Biden now symbolizes America’s repudiation of this administration’s ill conceived measures  such as our pulling out of the Paris accord on climate change, a reckless trade war with China which has damaged our economy, the passing of a tax cut that disproportionately benefits the well off, excessive deregulation which damages the environment, an overly partisan approach in selecting people to positions of leadership which has resulted in the exclusion of the best and brightest the nation has to offer.

And it will be up to Joe Biden also, to select a woman as the vice presidential nominee.

Distinguished women fought hard to become the democratic selection for president. Voters are choosing him instead, but he can take it upon himself to ease the path for a woman becoming president by selecting one now as his running mate.

Joe is not only beating the coronavirus, he will defeat Trump too, and by selecting a woman vice president, will open a new chapter in the history of our nation.

Let Us Not Have Beggars in Our Land. On Inequality.

What must we do to restore fairness in our nation?

All of us should try to do our best, always.

Some people try and fail. Some try and give up. Some don’t even try.

The obstacles can be great and sometimes they are too many.

Do those who fail or give up or simply don’t even try, deserve anything?

My opinion is that our nation can afford basic support for all our citizens, regardless.

If you were born in this land or have met the requirements to stay here legally, then you’re entitled.

Our nation can afford to give everyone a certain basic income to cover food and clothing and a place to live and essential health care and a basic cell phone and a certain amount for public transportation.

Our nation can afford that now. Today. Regardless of whether a person wants to work or not.

Does it not seem wiser to believe that most people want to do their best, considering their abilities?

If we think that some people want to get away with not making their best effort, then that’s on them. But, as a nation, we can afford to carry those folks.

We can, because there are enough productive people in our nation to make it possible, so no one has to be a beggar in our land.

We’re not rich as a nation because we have tight restrictions on those at the bottom.

We’re rich because there are many amongst us with great productive capacity.

We have not become the cradle for the many industries that have arisen in our nation because we were restricting the poor.

So why be punitive toward those who are non productive? Why deprive them of the most basic needs?

Some of them may one day want more and then they will try and make the effort. We hope so. We should help motivate them to do better, but if they don’t, so be it.

To make sure we have the funds to provide that basic sustenance for the less advantaged, we will need to tax the wealthy, the better off, the most productive, the most talented, the most enlightened, the most gifted.

And why not?

Think of it this way. Who gave you those gifts? Nature did. You worked hard to develop them, yes, and thus many riches and opportunities should go to you. But nature is not fair. It does not give everyone the talents needed to compete effectively.

Do the less advantaged in life want to be poor and miserable and beggars?

No.

Do the less advantaged in life want to live in dangerous neighborhoods?

No.

Do the less advantaged in life deserve their fate?

No.

Do some people avoid work, on purpose, to live off the fat of the land? Sure. But, so what?

Will they climb to the heights of accomplishment? No.

Will they live fruitful lives?

No.

Will they have developed their capacities and experienced the joy that comes with it?

No.

So, I say to you, let them be.

It is a mistake, and a most ungenerous one, for a developed society to add to people’s disadvantages by instituting punishing governmental restrictions.

The gifted should not be punishing the less gifted.

Thank You, South Carolina. And When Should Obama and Bloomberg Endorse?

The spirited give and take of last night’s debate helped clarify my positions.

My support for Biden has strengthened, my hopes for Bloomberg died.

While there is no outstanding candidate among the contenders, Joe Biden brings a vast trove of experience along with a warm and accessible personality. It matters.

Bloomberg managed successfully the affairs of New York city, but Biden has been in the thick of many critical national situations and earned the praise of president Obama for his performance as vice president.

I am thankful for all the philanthropy that Bloomberg has supported and for his willingness to back many people running for office. But I do not think that he, himself, has the personality traits that can motivate voters. I thought he might, but his debate performances have shown me otherwise. Debates are important.

My hope is that Bloomberg will continue to play a most important role in this election, providing needed funds to counter Trump’s large reserves, which grow steadily while democrats spend in the primaries.

Bloomberg would do well to step down now and save his money. The democratic cause, to which he has pledged his allegiance, will need it. He ought to do so quickly, preferably before the big contest on March 3rd, but vanity is a powerful force. The expectation that he’ll have delegate votes to shuffle around at a democratic convention with no clear winner may help fuel the vanity, but not the cause.

I heard Biden say that, after March 3rd, there will be only two candidates standing, Sanders and him. I think he’s right.

Buttigieg has had his moment in the sun and so has Warren, but they will fight on, regardless, just in case an unexpected event changes the possibilities. Both front runners are older men.

Tom Steyer would do well to give it up now, save his money or give to a charity, and endorse one of the other candidates.

Amy Klobuchar has not risen sufficiently in the standings, but I have been impressed by her character, her pluck, her consistency and equanimity. I think she would make a fine vice president. So I think she should continue to campaign as long as her funds allow.

Should Obama step in at this stage and endorse a candidate?

I think he should.

He should because it ought to be clear, that Sanders has no chance to beat Trump. No matter how many polls the Vermont senator cites as evidence that he can beat Trump. He will not.

Obama’s endorsement of Biden, before Big Tuesday (March 3rd), will likely push Biden ahead of Sanders and put him in the lead of delegates, which will increase the likelihood of a clear winner going into the convention.

If Sanders has such a strong base as he boasts he has, then it won’t matter that Obama endorses Biden.

As to vice presidential choices, Biden should pick a woman. Should she be white or black?

Biden may be tempted to go with Kamala Harris but I don’t think that is a good idea.

He already has the black vote in a contest against Trump. Why ignore someone with the substance and tenacity that Amy Klobuchar has shown?

Kamala Harris dropped out. Klobuchar has fought on and will continue to do so until she’s flat out of cash. She’s got scrappy written all over her. That feistiness and commitment needs to be rewarded. Not doing so sends the wrong signal to voters.

Can Biden beat Trump?

I don’t know.

Trump is strong, younger, charismatic, pugnacious, will do or say whatever he must to get his votes, has been campaigning non stop, holding rally after rally during his entire presidency, eager as he is to redeem himself for not having won the popular vote and to erase the haunting suspicion that Russian interference elected him. He is hungry for the attention and power and has loyal supporters. His is a train running full speed ahead.

So I don’t know if Biden can beat Trump. But he will put up a hell of a fight. Biden will do that.

Those forthcoming presidential debates between Trump and Biden will be memorable because both men will be swinging at each other from the get go. Both men aiming for a knock out, both fighting desperately for their political lives.  

So, Obama and Bloomberg, are you hearing? Be bold and endorse Biden now.

The Las Vegas Debate Last Night

Much anticipated and much revealing, it was a fiery, gloves off contest, where everyone got to have a moment in the sun.

Barring a major embarrassment, however, we have seen enough to begin to firm up our opinions. The traded punches have begun to seem familiar.

Was there a surprise?

Yes, and it was Bloomberg.

The expectation, going in, was that he would be trounced, ripped apart, by the rest of the field.  He was not. Instead, he took it on the chin and came right back. He was the newcomer with a chance to shoot right up to the top and he was given that importance. He wore it well.

He was steady throughout, acknowledging his mistakes but pressing on. He was unapologetic about his wealth. And he now is giving it away, he said. Mind you, he has a long record of philanthropic efforts so this is not something that started last month.

Is the man politically correct? No. Is the man charismatic? Not either. Is the man flawed? Yes. But can the man learn? Yes. Can he lead? Yes.

Bloomberg doesn’t make you move to the edge of your seat when he speaks, he doesn’t dance with flowery statements, but he clearly conveys a sense that he can steer a ship to safe harbor. ‘We need a manager in the White House,’ I recall him saying, and we don’t have one.

Sanders was reveling in his front runner status. It won’t last. And even if it does, it will be for naught. He cannot beat Trump.

Is Bloomberg buying the election? Of course not.

He’s not buying my vote, he is earning it.

But many will continue to accuse him of doing so.

A candidacy like Bloomberg’s is unprecedented.

Can we have enough sense to see it for what it is?

No one on that stage, other than him, has a chance to beat Trump. No one on that stage has a chance of persuading ambivalent Trump supporters, dissatisfied with the president’s performance, to come over to the democratic side. No one on that stage has the ability to outspend Trump.

That Bloomberg was once a republican becomes a plus. He has been on the other side.

That Bloomberg brings a combination of strong commitment to social causes along with excellence in business is a huge asset.

We can choose to ignore this and keep believing the rant that he’s buying the election, but we would be passing up on a unique opportunity.

There’s that old saying that nations deserve the leaders they get.

There’ much truth to it.

If the many mistakes leading up to Trump’s elections hadn’t been made, he would not have become president. So, yes, we deserve Trump. But can we learn from it?

In Bloomberg we have a candidate who, while not perfect, represents an opportunity for the nation to right its present course.

We can, however, in the face of the evidence, stop our ears, close our eyes, stomp our feet in desperation while believing Sanders when he says that billionaires should not exist, implying that, instead of making his money, Bloomberg should have been doing missionary work to save the poor in our land.

If we don’t wake up we’re going to miss this unique chance. Let us not do that.

One last thought. Amy Klobuchar performed very well. She has been consistent throughout and is good at defending herself with restraint and substance.

She would make a terrific vice presidential choice, and a good president soon.

So here’s my choice for the democratic ticket. Bloomberg – Klobuchar.

I may have a bumper sticker printed out.

One final thought. Dearest America, think, please, think.

Trump vs Sanders. Let Us Not Demonize. The Importance of Explaining Trump.

So far, on the road to election day in November, Sanders is heading the democratic pack. He is, of course, a devout believer in government intervention. Trump, on the other hand, is a strong advocate of deregulation. Deregulating everything. Even morals.

Sanders tells us that he will pass Medicare for All, the undocumented included and, please, no billionaires. They should be outlawed. So let us be pious and self sacrificing, says the good man, give me the sick from all over the world and we will cover you.

Trump shouts proudly to his followers, ‘I am a billionaire! Be like me!’ Of course, the fantasy will be out of reach for the vast majority of his fans but something about the possibility of achieving it makes it hard to give up.

Who do you think will win in November? Not Sanders.

No matter how rough the road to riches, no matter how filled with obstacles, we want to make sure it is still there. And if we choose not to go down that path, or if it is not for us, then do allow someone else to go for it, someone with the imagination, tenacity and daring.

Sanders’ overemphasis on government intervention will block that road.

Is Trump a problem? Yes.

How are we going to defeat him?

We must explain him. Not demonize him.

What did Trump do to gain the loyalty of his followers in 2016?

He said to his audience, ‘never mind piety, you have for too long been shackled by it. Had you not been so pious you would have complained loudly about globalization taking away your jobs, had you not been so pious you would’ve marched on your state capitals and demanded action. And so I say to you, cast aside your piety and follow me. I will show you the way. I will sin for you and spare you such burden so you may be all you can be. In return, I only ask that you pledge your complete devotion to me, and with the power of your wind beneath my wings we will soar as high as you wish (just keep blowing hard). Make America Great Again. Be not afraid for together we shall not fail’. And, entranced by his grand incantation, they gave their devotion to him. Him, who, in spite of his riches (we haven’t seen the tax returns), had no track record whatsoever of ever helping anybody but himself.

What else did Trump do to gain his loyal following in 2016?

He appropriated immigration. Made it his own. Mounted on his big white horse, clad in his gilded armor, his hair nicely in place, the great man said to his audience, ‘How dare these different colored people come to our land and prosper when you have been left behind? We must not allow it. If we do, one day soon they will become our masters. Would you like that?’ And the enchanted crowd sprang to its feet, pumping their fists high in the air, ‘No, we will not!’ They cried in fury, surprised that they had so much of it in them. And Trump, himself, struck by the fervor he had ignited, thought to himself, ‘dammit, I have them in the palm of my hand, don’t I?  I had no idea I was this good. I’m no longer the sorcerer’s apprentice, I have become the sorcerer himself.’ 

And returning to his crowd, which stood agape, hungering for his wisdom and guidance, he said, ‘No, we will not allow it. So let us ban these different colored people who have invaded us with the blessing of the traitorous democrats, let us ban them and build a wall to keep them out forever. And yes, I will sin if I must, and in return, I only ask that you pledge to me your complete devotion’. And they roared their approval.

With their devotion, Trump now could do as he wished. And he did.

After all that hoopla, however, has Trump really empowered his supporters? No. He has started to build a wall and wages have gone up a little with improvements in the economy for which Obama had laid the groundwork. (the massive benefit from the tax cuts Trump passed in 2018 went to the wealthy and have yet to trickle down to the lower classes. Don’t hold your breath)

True empowerment comes from lasting changes but Trump is a man for the moment, not a man for the future. He is not a man who sows the land but a man who harvests what is already there. In fact, he wouldn’t know what to plant, for planting in people’s souls is no easy task.

If he knew how to do it, he would’ve said to his followers, ‘you have made some mistakes, my fellow Americans, and I will help you overcome them. I will work to make you stronger, better educated, better advocates for yourselves, so you can get what you need in an increasingly complex world, where the power of knowledge and creativity is what allows us to compete effectively and succeed. I have faith in you and will work with you. There is no need to pick a quarrel with the rest of America or with foreigners, no need to claim a monopoly on virtue. Only hard work will set us free’.

Trump wished he could have said that. But it was beyond his grasp. He saw the world in a narrower way. ‘I’m 70ish and running out of time’ he said to himself, ‘I want to get on top while I can and will do what I must’.

But let us not demonize.

Regardless of his coarseness, his bullying and narrow mindedness, Trump has stirred up energies in his supporters that democrats should be careful not to brand as merely racist and white supremacist.

There are layers of that present, indeed, but there is something more that Trump is awakening. When he says to his supporters, ‘let’s have it all, right now, let us make America great again, let us be all we can be and the hell with everybody else!’ he is firing up the driving force of self interest.

There’s something very strong about that position. It is devoid of suffocating restraints and hindrances. It is not pious.

We do need rules, mind you, fair rules and decency, so we can live together in peace, just not as many as Sanders want us to have.

We do need to be respectful to others so they will be respectful to us in turn, but we do not need to be as pious as Sanders wants us to be.

Trump has strengths and they have to be acknowledged.

Demonizing him will not do.

Explaining Trump, on the other hand, will help us see how he went about exploiting human frailty and how he keeps doing it.

The good news is that there is still time.

One final note on immigration.

Immigration is too powerful a cultural and economic force to be appropriated by one man. No one leader or group should claim the power to decide its future. Instead, the issue needs to be addressed by the entire nation. Holding a National Referendum on Immigration Reform will be one way to empower all Americans on the matter. Each citizen, one vote. Let us not be afraid of it.