The Right Choice

With our nation literally and figuratively aflame, we are obviously at a terribly precarious point in our history.  Since even before our recent upheavals, I’ve been preoccupied with – TLOML might suggest that I’ve been obsessing on – the larger issues facing us, the subject of this note seems painfully myopic:  whom former Vice President Joe Biden should choose as his running mate.  Even so, Mr. Biden’s choice is vital, given its potential impact on the course of our nation.

In an earlier unpublished draft of this post, I declared that the terrible tragedy of George Floyd’s death, taken together with the consequent outrage and demonstrations (completely justified) and rioting (never justifiable, and wildly counterproductive for those seeking to rectify this country’s racial injustice), have now presented Mr. Biden with a dilemma regarding his choice of a running mate requiring “not only the sagacity of a Franklin Roosevelt but the wisdom of King Solomon.”  I noted that Mr. Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota police – and the systemic racism in the Minneapolis police department it has brought to national attention – has seemingly dimmed if not destroyed the chances of U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar.  Reviewing alternatives, I first repeated my posted reservations about U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  Then, turning to the most widely-touted African American female prospects, after reciting my oft-stated misgivings about former GA Rep. Stacy Abrams and U.S. CA Sen. Kamala Harris, I alluded to the latest media favorite, U.S. FL Rep. Val Demings.  I observed that although Rep.  Demings (whom I haven’t researched in any depth, and have never heard speak) appears an impressive person, she would need to be introduced to the American people and, in only her second term in Congress and third year in Washington, like Mses. Abrams and Harris arguably lacks the requisite experience for the presidency.  I concluded with the comment that although Mr. Biden has faced inordinate personal hardship in his life, and has sat next to a President of the United States as that President had to make excruciatingly difficult decisions, Mr. Biden’s selection of a running mate is perhaps the first time, at least within the public realm, that he faces a decision of presidential weight.

The draft was misguided in two vital particulars.  While the former Vice President’s selection of a running mate is indeed a decision of presidential weight, what Mr. Biden needs in addition to King Solomon’s wisdom is not Franklin Roosevelt’s sagacity but Abraham Lincoln’s strength and perseverance.  The note was also too tactically focused.  Given Mr. Biden’s age, the good of the country demands that he choose the successor that he considers most qualified to assume the presidency on “Day 1.”  If he believes as I do that is Ms. Klobuchar, he should pick Ms. Klobuchar.  If he believes that another female alternative is the most qualified to assume the presidency, that’s the woman he should pick.  There is no candidate whose record will not contain some vulnerabilities that will have to be explained.  He might as well do his explaining on behalf of the running mate that he considers best equipped to serve all American people and their interests.

Over the last 20 years, through incompetence, greed, hubris, naiveté, and malevolence, we’ve frittered away much of the reservoir of international good will and overwhelming objective global advantage we enjoyed at the dawn of – remember it? – Y2K.  While picking the running mate most qualified to assume the presidency is good politics for Mr. Biden because it would be consistent with his “brand” – a thoughtful, good guy trying to do the right thing — the most important reason to do so is this:  our future and perhaps that of the world depends upon us having the most able leaders with the strength and integrity to make the hard decisions without regard to self-interest that they believe are in the best interest of our nation, its people, and the peoples of the world.  Given our dithering during the last score of years culminating with the destruction wrought by President Trump, if we can’t do what is best now, what was it all worth?

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part XIV

Via Twitter on May 25, President Trump threatened to relocate the August Republican National Convention from its currently-designated Charlotte, NC, site unless North Carolina – governed by Roy Cooper, a Democrat – agrees to relax its social distancing restrictions sufficiently to allow a late August close gathering of what has been estimated to be about 50,000 people. In his tweet, the President lamented the “jobs and economic development” that would be lost to North Carolina due to such a move. At the time this is typed, the state is pondering its response.

A sly ploy. If North Carolina – a true 2020 swing state — holds fast to its current reopening approach — which the state administration presumably considers safest for its people — and the Republicans transfer their convention to either Georgia or Florida – both, with salivating Republican Governors eager to boost their respective political standings severely damaged by their mishandling of the Coronavirus – many North Carolinians will blame Gov. Cooper for their lost revenue, and their sentiment may well swing the electoral votes of North Carolina from former Vice President and putative Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden to Mr. Trump. If Mr. Cooper capitulates to Mr. Trump, and COVID-related infections and deaths meaningfully increase in North Carolina following the convention, Mr. Trump will certainly somehow blame Mr. Cooper.

No one can deny the President’s genius at mass media manipulation. Although I have agreed with those analysts opining over the years that Mr. Trump’s ongoing rallies have been as much about psyching himself up as influencing his supporters, and acknowledge that his insistence upon a full Convention almost certainly – in addition to politically sticking it in the eye of Gov. Cooper — contains an element of defiant affirmation of his Coronavirus approach, his demand for a jam-packed hall may involve something more fundamental. While any gathering of a political, religious, or business group – certainly including the Democrats — is in part intended to stir the attendees’ enthusiasm, Mr. Trump intuitively understands that inciting fervor among the Republican convention crowd (remember “Lock Her Up”) – which, through the projection of mass media, will virtually incorporate his nationwide adherents – is crucial to reinforcing the allegiance of those of his followers whose support polls show is wavering due to his bungling of the federal Coronavirus response. If Mr. Trump can’t maintain the spell: he loses.

The mass meeting is … necessary for the reason that in it the individual, who at first, while becoming a supporter of a young movement, feels lonely and easily succumbs to the fear of being alone, for the first time gets the picture of a larger community, which in most people has a strengthening, encouraging effect.

But the community of the great demonstration not only strengthens the individual, it also unites and helps create an esprit de corps. The man who is exposed to grave tribulations, as the first advocate of a new doctrine … absolutely needs that strengthening which lies in the conviction of being a member and fighter in a great comprehensive body. And he obtains an impression of this body for the first time in the mass demonstration. When … he feels very small, he steps for the first time into a mass meeting and has thousands and thousands of people of the same opinions around him, when … he is swept away by three or four thousand others into the mighty effect of suggestive intoxication and enthusiasm, when the visible success and agreement of thousands confirm to him the rightness of the new doctrine and for the first time arouse doubt in the truth of his previous conviction – then he himself has succumbed to the magic influence of what we designate as ‘mass suggestion.’ The will, the longing, and also the power of thousands are accumulated in every individual. The man who enters such a meeting doubting and wavering leaves it inwardly reinforced: he has become a link to the community.” [Emphasis in Original]

  • Adolph Hitler:  Mein Kampf

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part XIII

We’ve seen any number of reports of “scientists around the world” working to develop effective Coronavirus treatments and a vaccine. Most of these reports assume a cooperative humanitarian distribution of these resources when they are developed. Aside from the inevitable competition between biomedical companies for what will be trillions in revenue, it seems not inconceivable that the outcome of these efforts could also have global political ramifications. While the nation whose scientists are the first to develop effective remedies will almost certainly not seek to exploit the virus as a biologic weapon against its adversaries while protecting its own populace, it will have the capability to resuscitate its own economy while other nations still struggle, and there might also be at least the temptation to secure significant concessions from competing nations in return for granting access to effective treatments or a vaccine. Although one can presume that humanitarian instincts will hold sway among all nations, it nonetheless seems advisable on geopolitical as well as humanitarian grounds for the U.S. to be the first to develop effective means to combat the virus.

As has now been widely reported, in a call with supporters on May 8, former President Barack Obama, who has generally been fairly circumspect in his references to the Trump Administration, observed that the decision by the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice to drop its prosecution of former Trump Administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – who has twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI – indicated that our nation’s “basic understanding of the rule of law is at risk,” and at another point during the call, declared the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus response an “absolute chaotic disaster.” Several reports of the call stated that Mr. Obama’s comments were “leaked.” President Trump and his retinue have been predictably yelling about Obamagate – that’s “OBAMAGATE!” – ever since. Although the following reactions are not unique to me, I feel that it remains appropriate to record them here since I had them before I saw others voice them: Mr. Obama has proven himself too savvy a political operative to express such incendiary remarks where they might “leak” unless he intended it. He baited Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trump fell for it. The more Mr. Trump attacks Mr. Obama – who will not be on the ballot in November — the less fire the President and his cohort are directing at former Vice President Joe Biden [although Mr. Trump has peripherally included Mr. Biden in his claims, the fact remains that neither he nor his collaborators are calling this trumped up {so to speak 😉 } scandal, “BIDENGATE.”] The attacks seem likely to backfire on Republicans with swing voters in swing states who turned out decisively for Mr. Obama in two elections, will arouse the defensive instinct in those constituencies in which Mr. Obama is particularly strong (Republicans aren’t the only ones seeking to increase turnout within their base), and further tie Mr. Biden to Mr. Obama in the eyes of Mr. Obama’s supporters – which Mr. Biden himself seeks to do at every turn. I note that despite Mr. Trump’s calls upon U.S. SC Sen. Lindsey Graham to call Mr. Obama before the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Graham, Mr. Graham has demurred – I’m confident not out of any sense of decorum, but because Mr. Graham must realize that Mr. Obama would relish the opportunity to come before the Judiciary Committee; he would crush the Republicans with swing voters in what would be the media circus of the decade. Only Mr. Trump has seemingly failed to grasp that.

I have genuinely increasing concern that the pressure of the COVID crisis and his falling polls are causing Mr. Trump to become dangerously unbalanced (he does, after all, control our nuclear codes). His widely noted suggestion that the novel Coronavirus might be combatted by injecting disinfectant into a patient’s body was an unnerving glimpse of his grasp of reality. His more recent claim that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine – which at this point even Republicans are generally aware is a medication with potentially serious side effects that the medical community has discounted as an effective way to prevent COVID-19 – seems a particularly blatant rejection of scientific expertise (even prompting an uncharacteristically direct – and commendable — refutation by a Fox News commentator, Neil Cavuto). If Mr. Trump is indeed taking the drug, it doesn’t appear a means to garner him additional electoral political support; it is hard not to conclude that he is actually electing to entrust his health to the Wizard of Oz.  If he isn’t actually taking the medication, and such is ultimately determined (which it will be), he has – and will be shown to have — capriciously risked the lives of those who decide to take it because they have faith in him. Either way, his declaration that he is taking hydroxychloroquine frankly makes him appear less than — to use his own words — “very stable.”

At the time this is typed, the United States, Russia, and Brazil lead the world with the most confirmed Coronavirus cases. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Jair Bolsonaro … a Kingston Trio for one to imagine. Understandably, Mr. Putin would claim the center and sing lead; Messrs. Trump and Bolsonaro would flank him and — appropriately given their records — provide the backup chorus.

Stay safe.

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part XII

While President Trump’s mishandling of the COVID crisis appears at this point to have hurt his reelection prospects, it would seem that in Republican U.S. NC Sen. Richard Burr’s decision to temporarily step down as Chairman of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, due to allegations that he traded stock inappropriately shortly after he received information in classified Senate briefings about the pandemic’s prospective effects on the economy, the virus may by carom have tossed Mr. Trump a high card. Throughout the President’s term and to the Administration’s evident displeasure, the Senate Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Sen. Burr and the Committee’s Ranking Democrat Member, VA Sen. Mark Warner, has consistently reported on a bipartisan basis that Russia, and not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 15 that the last installment of the Committee’s findings, expected in coming months, is focused on whether the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential contest. Mr. Burr’s vacation of the Chair, even on a temporary basis, may have given the Administration the opportunity to stifle and politicize the Senate Intelligence Committee in the same manner that for a couple of years it neutered the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee through its Republican Chairman stooge, CA Rep. Devin Nunes. Any Senate Intelligence Committee Republican that would even temporarily replace Mr. Burr as Chair is either a straightforward Trump supporter – ID Sen. James Risch, AK Sen. Tom Cotton, TX Sen. John Cornyn, and MO Sen. Roy Blunt – or has maintained a namby-pamby profile with regard to the President’s claims and antics — ME Sen. Susan Collins, FL Sen. Marco Rubio and NE Sen. Ben Sasse. None can be expected to resist the intense political pressure to downplay Russia’s involvement in the 2016 or 2020 elections certain to be applied by Mr. Trump and his cohort. To be sure, whether or not untoward behavior by Sen Burr is ultimately established, and regardless of whether the Trump Administration is exerting greater rigor in investigating Mr. Burr’s actions than it is similar behavior by Trump supporter U.S. GA Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Mr. Burr’s trades created an obvious appearance of conflict of interest and constituted a colossal failure in judgment. Since Mr. Burr, 64, has already indicated that he will not seek reelection in 2022, one can sympathize with any uneasiness he might have felt at the damage the virus would inflict on his retirement portfolio, but his lapse may have materially weakened our country’s security just as Mr. Trump calls for an investigation into an “Obamagate” that he cannot describe and craven U.S. SC Sen. Lindsey Graham has announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs plans to hold hearings on – with the obvious intent to discredit — the Russia probe.

This past week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a lead member of the Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, indicated in testimony to the Senate, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control” if the economy is opened too quickly or inappropriately. Later in the week, Mr. Trump – who had earlier toured a Pennsylvania mask-manufacturing plant without wearing a mask — declared at a news conference with Dr. Fauci standing behind him, “Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.” This dichotomy is obviously just the latest in a long line of conflicting messages sent by the two men (although I – presumably unlike the President — consider Dr. Fauci to have been extremely tactful in marking out their differences). What are the odds that either during the campaign, if the spotlight no longer shines so brightly on the government’s virus response, or after Election Day if the President wins a second term, that Dr. Fauci will be peremptorily removed from his post? The only saving grace: since he turns 80 this year, Dr. Fauci will be able to look back on a full career of service – rather than a career destroyed, like so many others, by Mr. Trump’s malevolence.

There’s a restaurant not far from our home. We first went there a number of years ago on a bitterly cold January Wisconsin night right after it opened, simply because it was too cold to go too far. Rick was our waiter. He and I hit it off immediately. There weren’t many people in the place. The food was excellent. We went back often. Over the years, the business has flourished – a product of wonderful food, excellent service and reasonable prices. Because we were early patrons, we are always treated like VIPs. Rick’s daughter is one of the hostesses. We are seated at one of Rick’s tables. We inquire about his family; he, ours. Since the pandemic hit, we have ordered out from the restaurant every weekend (before COVID, we went periodically, but far from every week). Since March, I, masked, have appeared in the parking lot at the designated time, and Rick, masked, has come out with our dinners. Last weekend, I asked him how it was going. His response: “It depends upon the numbers [of Wisconsin COVID cases]. If they stay stable, we’ll probably be all right [presumably, because traffic will pick up]. But if they go up [which will presumably keep traffic at its pandemic levels], we’re screwed.” For years, we’ve watched this team work hard, seen their efforts slowly bring success. This is just one of millions of groups that either has or soon could see years of effort wiped out … in a matter of 90 days.

This is a difficult time. It seems best to conclude with something I saw recently that although not COVID-related, may, given the time of year, bring a smile to baseball fans with long memories [and who don’t mind extremely blue language ;)]: the late Orioles Manager Earl Weaver in an exchange with longtime Umpire Bill Haller. (Umpires hated Mr. Weaver :)]. Part of the fun of the clip: Mr. Haller expressing doubt that Mr. Weaver would enter the Hall of Fame (he did). Others: the “Sigh; Here we go again” demeanor of Hall of Famer Oriole Firstbaseman Eddie Murray (No. 33); and the occasional views of Tiger Coach Dick Tracewski, a three-time World Series Champion.

https://twitter.com/Super70sSports/status/1261451987733839873

Stay safe.

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part XI

All of us know the widely-broadcast facts about COVID-19. Even so, I would venture that there remain enough new virus-related perspectives that continuing this vein of posts seems appropriate.

Since I began this blog in 2017 rather than 2007, I suspect that my low rating of George W. Bush’s presidency hasn’t been apparent; before President Trump, I would have easily ranked him as the worst President of my lifetime (which dates back to the Truman Administration). That said, I was heartened and bolstered like the vast majority of Americans by Mr. Bush’s initial response to the 9/11 attacks. Rarely articulate, he then united and rallied us. As many may be aware, Mr. Bush’s Center released a video on May 1 addressing how our nation can best respond to the pandemic.  It provides a graceful, warm, inspirational message that in part calls upon us to put partisanship aside. A link is provided below.

https://www.bushcenter.org/about-the-center/newsroom/press-releases/2020/05/president-bush-call-to-unite

As one may also be aware, Mr. Trump issued a tweet within a couple of days after the Bush video was released, criticizing Mr. Bush for not speaking in Mr. Trump’s defense during the Impeachment proceedings: “ … [W]here was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside. He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Mr. Trump’s tweet is, to be sure, yet another in his countless stream of classless outbursts; even so, it has caused me to ponder whether the President’s generally well-honed political instincts are failing him. Criticizing Mr. Bush, even obliquely, seems ill advised. If Mr. Bush was to issue a statement in, say, mid-October, to the effect: “I didn’t feel that I could speak out four years ago, since my brother was one of President Trump’s adversaries for the Republican presidential nomination. Now I state clearly: during my administration, I asked our people to give their lives in America’s cause. The least I owe them is to tell them directly what I think is best for our nation without regard to party affiliation. I consider the way that President Trump has conducted himself in office to be a greater danger to America than terrorism. I have an honest disagreement with former Vice President Joe Biden on many issues, but he is an honorable man who wants what’s best for America. I intend to vote for Mr. Biden, and encourage you to join me,” such a statement could, notwithstanding Mr. Bush’s diminished national and party standing, cause a decisive sliver of Republican voters in swing states to either vote for Mr. Biden … or stay home. In an election that could be that close, I’m surprised that Mr. Trump would choose to poke a buried landmine.

What follows are links to several articles recently called to my attention. In the first, Erin Bromage, a specialist in immunology and infectious disease at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, concretely describes where our risks may and may not lie as states open their economies. His tone is clearly one of caution. It’s reasonably lengthy – even by the standards of these pages – but I found it informative.

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

The next is to an Atlantic article by Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. What I find interesting is that Ms. Marcus’ (much shorter) message doesn’t seem to me to be objectively that different from Mr. Bromage’s, but it focuses upon the wellbeing risks that can arise from too stringent a quarantine.  Her article contains a link to an earlier Atlantic piece that provides a helpful FAQ for “Staying Safe as States Reopen.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/quarantine-fatigue-real-and-shaming-people-wont-help/611482/

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/restaurants-stores-reopen-dos-and-donts/611314/

The last article is from AARP, describing immunosenescence (a word after my own heart) – the process by which one’s immune system declines with age, correspondingly increasing COVID’s risk. Although “inflammaging” – which means what one would expect — is inevitable, the rate of decline is apparently idiosyncratic to the individual. By a staff writer, it sets forth manners in which one can reinforce one’s immune system. Like Mr. Bromage’s piece, it isn’t short, but offers some information that at least I had not seen reported before.

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/coronavirus-immunity-age-risk.html

I have previously ventured that as millions of our people lose their employment-related health insurance, it will significantly increase the support for a government-run Medicare for All. Below is a link to the Brief of an Urban Institute Report recently published by the Robert Wood Johnson Institute, estimating that 25 to 43 million people could lose their employer-based health coverage due to the pandemic. I don’t see how Republicans will be able to effectively scare Americans with a cry of “socialized medicine” as so many lose their health care.

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2020/05/how-the-covid-19-recession-could-affect-health-insurance-coverage.html

In a previous post, I remarked upon the fogging challenges that wearing a mask creates for wearers of glasses, and noted a friend’s suggestion that smearing spectacles with shaving cream might serve as a remedy. That observation generated a fair amount of feedback – including suggestions that one could avoid the fog by spitting on one’s glasses or go without glasses if one’s eyesight is still acute enough. This weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a front page article on the mask fogging problem. In addition to the suggestions already offered by the followers of these pages, the Journal described Americans that had used a plastic straw protruding from the side of the mask, put tissue paper between the glasses and the mask, or had put the mask on really tight. I’m always gratified to call attention to an issue on this site before it’s addressed by a hallowed news organ  ;).

I’m ready to think about something else, but it seems that no matter what reputable authority one consults, responsible vigilance and diligence remain the key to getting through this. Stay safe.

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part X

I ventured some time ago that President Trump’s most critical foreign policy flaw is that he knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing: that his focus on trade, his harping on perceived underpayments by NATO allies, etc., etc., betrays his own preoccupation with money and finance that has frequently hampered his understanding of and ability to effectively deal with global leaders, who generally think in terms of power. I would pose that the President’s chief substantive and political defect during the COVID crisis has proven to be the same: his visceral fixation with the virus’ effects on the state of the U.S. economy, which – arguably because his perception of Americans’ priorities is colored by his own – he sees as the proxy for his electoral prospects. He doesn’t understand that the vast majority of Americans of all political stripes place the highest value on the health and wellbeing of their families, friends, neighbors and themselves; that they view money not as an end but as a means to secure their higher priorities. Since the Coronavirus provides a particularly acute instance in which wellbeing and money can by some measures be considered at odds, it has caused Mr. Trump to be uncharacteristically tone deaf even with his base. Most tragically, his initial and continuing denials of the realities of the virus – reportedly due to his fear of the effect on the economy – has arguably resulted in greater illness and loss of life (and, ironically, damage to the economy) than would have occurred had he acted promptly, decisively, and consistently. At the time this is typed, the New York Times is reporting upon an internal CDC document projecting that virus-related deaths will increase from their current level of 1,750 a day to 3,000 a day by June 1. Even from a purely the political perspective, Mr. Trump’s uncertainty, inconsistency, pettiness and unreasoned behavior (the comment about disinfectant injection being the most disconcerting) has made plain to a wider swath of Americans – perhaps an electorally determinative swath — that he is at least a bit unstable, that his values are different from theirs, and – most crucially — that he cares more about himself than he does about them. I’ve seen various scholars grasping for American historical parallels to the bootless manner in which Mr. Trump has approached the COVID crisis. To me the most apt is obvious: Herbert Hoover, who proved unable to effectively deal with an economic depression engulfing his people — the closest an American President has heretofore come to the apocryphal account of Emperor Nero, said to have fiddled while Rome burned.

The Foxconn saga in southeast Wisconsin provides its own Coronavirus-related kaleidoscope. It is undisputed that the project is now a drastically-scaled back version of that proposed with such fanfare by Mr. Trump, then-WI Gov. (Republican) Scott Walker and then-Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Republican) Paul Ryan in June, 2018. It seems not unreasonable to assume, given a March Wall Street Journal report that Foxconn’s net profit had fallen 24% in Q4 2019 even before Coronavirus effects and an April Reuters report that its 2020 Q1 revenue was 12% below its comparable 2019 totals, that the company wishes to tap funding sources and perhaps reassess its investments. In light of the Wisconsin’s project’s underperformance, I had wondered whether Foxconn might attempt to take the political sting out of its shortcomings by blaming the virus. The company is apparently taking a different tack: below is a link to an April 9, 2020, CNBC piece indicating that Foxconn has filed paperwork with the state asserting that it has met its contractual hiring targets, perhaps entitling it to incentives approximating $50 million. The piece further indicates that the Administration of WI Gov. Tony Evers is studying Foxconn’s filing, but even if Foxconn is accurate and is entitled to the contractual benefits, the 550 jobs Foxconn claims to have created are reported to be a quarter of those it originally promised by this juncture. This seemingly creates a political optics problem for Republicans: a financially-strapped company seeking millions in incentives for a dramatically-reduced project from a state currently receiving ten times its 2019 unemployment claims while reasonably anticipating declining tax revenues. Foxconn is presumably aware of this; the final (at least as of now) pattern to its kaleidoscope: Medtronic and Foxconn are allegedly partnering to make ventilators at the Wisconsin facility. If brought to fruition, this welcome news and will put a positive face on the project; whether this is any more than talk remains, like other representations related to this Wisconsin facility, to be seen.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/09/foxconn-says-it-met-hiring-targets-in-wisconsin-now-it-wants-its-money.html

Costco has recently announced that it will not let customers into its stores unless they are wearing masks. This has provoked an emotional negative response from what is obviously a tiny segment of Costco customers, who have been reported as tweeting comments such as, “Im [sic] a free citizen of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA I will not comply with your mask rule! My body, my choice!” While the overall level of American mental acuity may be enhanced if, as we confront a highly contagious and dangerous disease, Charles Darwin’s principle of Natural Selection manifests itself within this segment of our populace as well as within the segment carrying assault weapons while demonstrating in and about state legislatures, one cannot help but fear for all lives endangered by such capricious behavior.

We consider the CDC projection a warning: Don’t get bored, or complacent. Keep your guard up.

Stay safe.

A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part IX

Below is a link to a Washington Post article reporting upon the escalating challenges pressuring Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro. Having recently linked a different article by our son, I would not have cited this one, but for the seeming incongruity – at least to our smug American psyches — it sets forth: that Brazil’s highly-respected Justice Minister and one-time Bolsonaro associate has resigned, claiming that Mr. Bolsonaro demanded the installation of a police chief who would accept the President’s investigation requests and provide information to Mr. Bolsonaro – at a time when Mr. Bolsonaro’s sons are under investigation by authorities; that this week, a Supreme Federal Court Justice ruled that an investigation into Mr. Bolsonaro’s alleged actions was necessary, because “No one, not even the president, is above the constitution and the law”; that Mr. Bolsonaro has fired his highly-respected Health Minister for urging Brazilians to stay at home to combat the country’s Coronavirus spread; that at least at one point Mr. Bolsonaro believed that the drug, chloroquine, would solve the country’s COVID outbreak; that Mr. Bolsonaro listens to only a small circle of advisors, particularly his children; that a former center-right Brazilian president (Mr. Bolsonaro is decidedly on the right) has withdrawn his support of the President, saying Mr. Bolsonaro “looked like a Nazi”; and that one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s powerful supporters in the National Congress has now broken with him due to Mr. Bolsonaro’s “isolation.” The irony that struck me has by now become apparent to you: that despite political stress, a constitutional separation of powers and system of checks and balances is working just as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay envisioned … in Brazil.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/for-brazils-bolsonaro-isolated-by-corruption-probe-and-virus-denial-the-troubles-mount/2020/04/28/de7de790-8951-11ea-8ac1-bfb250876b7a_story.html

I haven’t been in many closed spaces over the last six weeks, but now – unlike Vice President Mike Pence — wear a mask when I am. I wear glasses, and have been more than a little exasperated that even ordinary breathing into the mask fogs up my glasses. A former therapist colleague of one very close to me advises that if one washes one’s glasses in shaving cream, rinses them and lets them dry before donning the mask, this will prevent them from fogging up. I haven’t tried it yet, but since the source is highly credible and many of those that follow these pages wear glasses, felt it was worth passing along ;).

Even as we continue our battle with the virus, speculation is increasing as to whom former Vice President Joe Biden will pick as his running mate (Mr. Biden has indicated that he will ask a woman). I find that my irritation with former GA Rep. Stacey Abrams – the failed 2018 Democratic candidate for the Georgia Governorship – is mounting. Ms. Abrams, African American, is openly campaigning for the nomination, putting pressure on Mr. Biden and perhaps creating disappointment in the black community if Mr. Biden doesn’t choose a woman of color. I indicated in an earlier post that I did not consider Ms. Abrams a wise choice for certain tactical reasons. I would submit that the most important reason not to choose her – particularly for Mr. Biden, who would enter the White House at age 78, thus needing a running mate that voters are comfortable could assume the presidency on Day 1 — is her lack of appropriate background and experience. In a recent program, “Into 2020 with Stacey Abrams,” Ms. Abrams stated, “I think experience is a combination of issues. It’s competence, it’s skills, and it’s proven deliverables. And I would match my experience against anyone’s.” Maybe she would; I wouldn’t. The weightiest office Ms. Abrams has held in her public career is Minority Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives. Even if effective in that milieu, she hasn’t governed a state, has no experience with the U.S. Congress, and lacks any foreign policy expertise – substantive gaps that swing voters in swing states will probably quickly recognize. At the same time, Ms. Abrams’ refusal to run for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat in 2020 could ultimately cost Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. She narrowly lost to GA Gov. Brian Kemp in a contest marred by alleged voter suppression. Her standing in the state has perhaps since been enhanced by Mr. Kemp’s arguably mixed management of Georgia’s COVID response (he’s been criticized by both Georgia Democrats and President Trump – no small feat).  Because of the health-related retirement of former U.S. GA Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia has two Senate seats on the ballot this year; Mr. Kemp’s appointed Republican replacement for Mr. Isakson, U.S. GA Sen. Kelly Loeffler, has during her brief time in office managed to at least create the appearance that she exploited information from a classified Senate Coronavirus briefing to avoid significant personal stock market losses. Ms. Abrams has huge name recognition in her state. Particularly given the current liberal fervor against Mr. Trump, she seemingly would have been a formidable candidate for a Georgia Senate seat.  In our current political circumstances, I’m dismayed at an apparent opportunity squandered.

I concede that the YouTube video linked below, forwarded to me by a close friend, is perhaps not entirely in keeping with the tone that I generally try to maintain in these pages … but a benefit of writing a blog – apparently, like being President — is the freedom to disregard one’s own guidelines ;).

Enjoy the weekend. Stay safe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkU1ob_lHCw