Archive for April 2020

Cooped Up And Ready To Bust Out

April 29, 2020

What is running through Americans’ minds as they endure social distancing and self isolation?  

America, the “exceptional country”, as we have been told to believe. in fact is the greatest ever.  No doubt America is great (but maybe not the greatest on all measurement scales).  For example, President Tump tells us that the US conducts more coronavirus tests each day than any other country in the world.  On the first impression, that sounds good.  On inspection, however, one finds that other countries have tested far more on a per capita basis.

“Anyone who wants a test can get one”, the President said months ago.  Today coronavirus testing is limited due to lack of something (swabs, reagents, testing facilities) and made available on some metered basis.  So, in reality Americans can get a test only if they met some standard.

In most countries getting tested for corvid-19 is routine. How about masks?  Today in the USA, everyone is encouraged to wear a surgical type mask.  Availability?  Try finding any in the national pharmacy chains or grocery stores, or any place else.  Why?

But in Germany, residents can pick up a mask froma vending machine.  Sounds exceptional to me.

Lysol Clean

April 25, 2020

A master “bluffer” has an uncanny knack for framing any subject in a way that if the proposition is true, the bluffer takes credit for being correct in his/her prediction, and even more importantly, if the proposition turns out incorrect, the bluffer takes credit for having picked that outcome too.  Most of President Trump’s actions since taking office have fit that description.  Take your pick but the President’s performance yesterday is truly one for the record books.

The President reminded all those assembled as well as those watching on TV, first, how smart he is and how much of a knack for science and medicine he possesses.  The President then proceeded to suggest experiments one of his specialized laboratories could run based upon the President’s “hunches”.  Noting that Lysol skill germs including Covid-19 almost on contact, the President suggested the technical resources investigate putting Lysol into sick patient’s lungs.  Hmmm.

This hypothesis is truly mind blowing and both, naive and dangerous.  But this President is not naive although he seems certifiably dangerous. President Trump is fixated on whatever he thinks is good for him, period.  Highest on the list is getting reelected.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has directed some subject become the “event of the day”.  These happenings have little in common other than to put the public’s spot light on the President.  Talking tough to Iran, raising tariffs on allies, trash talking other elected officials, firing another subordinate, or hiring another “acting director”, all serve to make President Trump the center of attention.

For most students of government, the President’s actions have lacked strategic value, and many have been simply fool-hearty.  For the average American, President Trump has been a whirlwind of energy with little connection between what he says and what impacts them.  For Trump supporters, however, the President represents the chosen savior.

The Covid-19 pandemic has broken the spell President Trump has tried to place on Americans.  The virus has changed life profoundly and the Presidents “bluffery” is entirely inappropriate for this serious situation. 

This is the time that the commander in chief needs to act like one and not someone who is meeting truth for the first time.  If the President wishes to remain solely concerned about himself, then maybe he should drink the Lysol in front of Americans during his next news conference.

The World Stopped For America’s Virus

April 21, 2020

Covid-19 is a surprising name for a pandemic virus that started in China.  Most scientist believe the virus originated in bats and was transferred to other animal(s) and sold to public sources in a traditional Chinese wet market.  Competing, but yet unproven speculation, ties the Covid-19 origin to a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan, China, either the virus accidentally escaping the lab confines or, as some anti-Chinese observers claim, was deliberately released.  Hmmm.

Covid-19 is a coronavirus which did begin in China.  But as a coronavirus, Covid-19 is a full fledge world member.  Covid-19 knows no borders, knows no difference in who it infects, and knows no difference in allegiance to any political party.  So, can the US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, or even China rid themselves of “covid-19” and ignore the rest of the world?

“Make America Great Again” and its cousin “America First” are now fully exposed as hollow, empty boasts that stand in stark contrast to the reality of 2020.  Xenophobia and self worship (peculiar abnormality to a narcissist) are not the makings of a successful leader, especial a leader in a serious national problem.  President Trump is such an example.

America does not have its own virus.  America has the same virus, operating by the same viral rules as every other country has whether they like it or not.  Keeping foreigners out will not work with covid-19 and it will be not to long before foreign countries recognize that keeping Americans out of their countries is a good idea (if only as a politically good idea).

Under President Trump’s leadership, the rest of the world has learned that the US as a global leader, has no clothes on.  The world can see that it is not only the President’s hands that are small but also other parts of his body too.   

Give Me Back My Freedom

April 18, 2020

With the coronavirus pandemic infection curve appearing to be “flattening”, there is a socially peculiar phenomena arising across America.  Americans who have somehow dodged the infection bullet now want to return to open living they knew before the pandemic struck and the subsequent social distancing rules were put in place.  To be “stir crazy” is completely understandable but to seek “liberation” is batshit crazy.

Michigan protesters gathered this past week in Lansing (State capital) to protest the governor while lobbying for total relaxation of rules restricting work, bars, and restaurants.  There are two points which qualify these protesters’ behavior as “batshit crazy”. 

  • First, the restrictions were implemented in the name of “public health” and these protesters are part of the public. 
  • Second, Michigan ranks as the third most infected State in the country. 

Relaxation without adequate means to test for the presence of covid-19 is a prescription for more deaths.

How could anyone be so reckless with their personal health?  And while we are asking questions, how can people be so cavalier with their neighbors’ health?  

Could it be that someone who tweets, “Liberate Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia” is also “batshit crazy”?  Or maybe the “tweeter in chief” is just willing to plumb the bowels of the Country searching for fellow travelers. 

Hmmm.

Marco’s Speech

April 15, 2020

Senator Marco Rubio gave a speech, probably to an empty Senate floor, on March 27, 2020.  His speech centered on the US relationship to China and the lesson events appear to indicate America has not learned. Rubio’s pitch, “too much dependency on imported items. Trade with China is not balanced.  Huawei represents a security threat… “.  Hmmm. 

Why Rubio made the speech or what he expects to result from it is unclear.  Never the less, Rubio’s words do open an important conversation, maybe not the one he intended.

I would guess that the timing of the speech was related to the recognition that China has become almost the exclusive suppler for America’s “personal protective equipment” as well as much of the key raw materials for our medicines.  The dependency upon China results not from a US government plan or policy, but rather from the lack of one.

The shortages (and high prices) result from more than just a dysfunctional White House.  Why there are shortages of key items necessary to contain and fight the novel coronavirus begins with the wake up call, “the supply chain resides mostly in China”.  US medical supply distributors have greedily piled on auctioning short supplies to the highest bidder.

The Senator says that it was ok for America to important less expensive and less critical items, like clothing, from China.  Rubio raises a red flag when China began moving up the value chain and controlling the development of new  technologies and devices.  (I wonder whether Rubio has ever read about colonialism?)

Indirectly, Senator Rubio pointed a finger at this dilemma’s roots.  China, as a nation, has a plan.  The industries which the central Chinese government think important are the ones given government support.  China’s plan was to penetrate export markets with simple low cost items and then move up the value chain.  Does the “capitalist” US have a similar plan?

The question might also be, in a land where political talk is about “unfettered capitalism” and “small government”, how does such a country recognize a growing dependence on imports and encourage local companies to compete?

Capitalism, especially the unfettered type is somewhat like a race car without brakes.  The bigger the engine, the faster the car might go and less certain maneuverability and stopping ability there might be.  Hmmm.

Time will tell whether Senator Rubio’s speech was a one-off, or represents a dawning realization that there are parts of the economy which cannot be served by just “supply and demand” thinking. But a long way exist from calling out the US willingness to outsource to China and creating an American competitive and strategic alternative. 

Hmmm.

 

Seriously, America Exceptional?

April 9, 2020

The United States Covid-19 experience has been center stage in our 7//24 news media for the past few months.  Much (maybe most) of the reports have a political bent, pro-Trump or anti-Trump.  There could, however, be a significant message intertwined amongst all the noise.

To begin, President Trump is not responsible for the coronavirus reaching our shores.  And President Trump is not responsible for people interacting and spreading unknowingly the virus.  And President Trump is not responsible for every day Americans trying to game the system, hoarding, or profiteering.

However, all of these happenings were predictable and existing precautions could have been enhanced.  And, once intelligence sources confirmed a novel coronavirus outbreak in China,  mitigation efforts and public health responses should have been put in place.  As commander-in-chief, Trump was responsible for the United States’ response.

At times the President has asserted that his Administration has acted brilliantly, “no one could have done better”, and any problems that have arisen stem from previous Administrations.  Hmmm.

President Trump has opted for a States and Cities coordinated programs to mitigate and contain Covid-19.  The Federal Government is backup, the President has said.  The President has consistently said the free market can best develop and coordinate the necessary medical and public health response.  “Big Government” has no role.

To be sure, President Trump has not helped the national effort by turning the daily “coronavirus briefings” into a political rally.  Further the twisted motivation which drives the President to perform each day as if he was on the campaign trail, may shed a ray of light on a larger problem.  Is the US capable today of any national effort which involve citizen sacrifices?

Do you remember in George W Bush’s years that the Iraq War was run totally on debt financing (in order that Americans did not have to pay higher taxes)?  Governments which avoid owning up to the cost of real decisions being made are not only passing the responsibility down the line to future generations but are teaching all citizens that “free lunches” are real.

Republicans (and many Democrats) sing the anthem “America is the greatest country on earth, the United States is exceptional”.  While this is pleasant to hear, there simply are too many situations where one must give the “exceptional” nod to another country.  Healthcare, rate of incarceration, educational test scores, and infrastructure status are aspects of America where best in class lies in some other country.

So with the coronavirus, it is understandable to blame President Trump for all the adverse effects of the spreading pandemic.  And, to be sure, the President has contributed to needless infections and subsequent deaths. But,  what if everyday behaviors Americans have come to expect as normal, have combined to produce a Congress and a voting population preferring the “easy” way rather than facing up the challenges of keeping America great?  (The irony of President Trump’s campaign motto – Make America Great Again – is that he has done as much or more than any previous Administration to drain the strength and energy from national capability.)

The ugly truth our nation’s response to the Covid pandemic is to display how unprepared the country was and that this lack of preparedness traces directly to our politicians preference to tell Americans what they want to hear, not what voters should hear. 

While healthcare workers and first responders have been heroic, the heights of their heroism should never have been this necessary.  

The Trump Administration is calling for massive injections of money (over $2 trillion already). 

  • Who is reminding Americans that this spending must be paid for? 
  • Who is prepared to call for higher taxes and new spending designed to restore our emergency preparedness? 
  • Who is telling Americans that we live in a global world and novel viruses will be a way of life… and foolish are we if we don’t make necessary preparations for these realities.

America has some work to do if it wants to call itself “exceptional”.

The President Is A Liar?

April 7, 2020

When President Trump first took office in 2017, reporters were shocked to hear statements from him that were demonstrably incorrect.  The idea that a President would lie was an anathema to most Americans and for the working Press, Trump’s apparent looseness with facts was unsettling.  Should the reporter write that the President lied or instead should the reporter write that the President erred?  Hmmm.

As the months have passed, Presidential missteps with accuracy have become commonplace and to a degree, expected.  President Trump “lies” on simple subjects as easily as with difficult ones.  Trump tells it as he sees it on social issues, political relationships, or even sensitive security matters.  

There is an argument to be made that the President has taken “blufferie” to new heights.  For example when the President announced that his inauguration had drawn the most attendees in history, much larger than President Obama.  This repeated statement stood in stark contrast to photographic evidence.  But what if the President was really trying to say “my inauguration drew very large crowds, even larger than most people would have thought”?  In others words, was the President simply saying what he would have “liked” to have been true?

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, President Trump is once again filling the airways with misinformation. At such an important time, and with the proof of the President’s words visible to all Americans one is prompted to ask is the President a pathological liar?

Healthline.com defines Pathological lying as follows. Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason.

To be clear, IMO, the President is unfamiliar with a routine of speaking factually correct statements.  To say the President means to “lie”, that is knowingly provide the listener untruths when he, the President, actually knew differently is not necessarily correct.  The President simply does not, “in the moment”, value any need to convey accurate facts.  The President has a point he wishes to make and the words just come tumbling out from the hidden regions of his mind.  Bluffing or “bullshitting” more closely describe the President routine behavior.

President Trump’s pathological lying coupled with his lack sound executive skills have doomed his Presidency from the beginning.  Each of the President’s claimed victories have been the unraveling of previous Administration policies.  “Acting directors” which President Trump raves about actually represents a critical weakness in managing government bureaucracies.  And appointing staff which is loyal to a fault or thinks like the boss leads to the fast track of failure.  Ask any real business, military or educational leader.

The silver lining in today’s coronavirus crisis is that the “king has no close on” and everyone can see that.

Clever Or Cynical?

April 3, 2020

The daily Covid-19 briefing has morphed from a collection of Government Agencies reporting public interest topics aiming to a soap box claiming to bring important new information but in reality shifting the focus to a self congratulatory 30 minutes for the President. 

From a purely political perspective, the US is blessed with a gifted ring master.  From a national leadership perspective during uncertain times, President Trump represents an inept commander-in-chief at the best, and a dangerously conflicted leader at the worst.

Think about this.  What is so different about the national response to Covid-19 from other potential national crisis such as

  • a massive (8.0 or greater) earthquake in California,
  • a series of F-4 or F-5 Tornados devastating the gulf coast refining and chemical industries,
  • a cyber attack which crashes the US electric grid, or
  • an all out military conflict (similar to WWII)?

These are situations call for the national government to take control and organize the response to these disasters.  With Covid-19, the President has been at one time or another, in denial, dismissive, reluctant, and above all, claiming immunity from blame.

Winston Churchill, Donald Trump is not.

But looking beyond the potentially needless deaths and enormous disruptions to the economy, the President has disgustingly seen Covid-19 pandemic as an avenue to get on television every night and attempt to improve voters’ impression with an eye towards November’s election.  President Trump did not cause the pandemic, but his leadership (or lack there of) is tied to how seriously the US is impacted and how quickly the economy recovers once the pandemic has subsided.  

You decide whether the President is “clever” or just “cynical”.