Admittedly Random Coronavirus Information

Since a number of those who read these pages are 60 or older, and those 60 and older have been consistently reported to be at greater risk of dangerous Coronavirus-related complications and death than the younger population, I sought to discover currently-indicated mortality rates for those over 60. The first citation below links to a piece indicating that the risk of dying for the more senior infected by the virus roughly doubles by decade: for those aged 60 – 69 it is 3.6%, for patients aged 70 to 79 years it is 8%, and for patients above 80 years of age it is 14.8%.

[NOTE:  The data related to the septuagenarians and octogenarians underlying the first link is apparently derived from a Chinese study based on 72,000 case records that I found cited on other sites (no links to those attached)]. [SECOND NOTE:  Since the information underlying the first link is dated in late February, I’ve searched for more recent data; the second link below is to a MarketWatch story updated as of this morning (March 9), which still appears to rely on the same Chinese study for mortality rates among those 70 and older.]  [THIRD NOTE:  It is seemingly arguable that the virus is accelerating much more quickly than the data.]

We have seen indications that the disease can be particularly dangerous for adults with “underlying health conditions.” I have seen two sites that indicated that about 60% of U.S. adults have at least one affliction that would be considered “an underlying health condition.”

Below are links to four sites addressing different aspects of the challenge. Although I obviously lack the knowledge or resources to verify their accuracy, I found them informative.

Age, Sex, Existing Conditions of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/coronavirus-fatality-rates-vary-wildly-depending-on-age-gender-and-medical-history-some-patients-fare-much-worse-than-others-2020-02-26

How Does Coronavirus Kill?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okg7uq_HrhQ

A Reason Viruses Can Originate in China

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPpoJGYlW54

Kelly Gun Range Fundraiser the Day after Brewery Shooting

I mentioned last Friday that I wouldn’t be posting for a bit, but this piece was called to my attention and is worth abandoning my indication. Attached is a link to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reporting upon a campaign fundraiser run by Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly the day after five of our people were killed in a shooting at the Molson Coors Headquarters in Milwaukee. This is in a sense a useless post, since I’m fairly confident that no Wisconsin voter that supported former WI Gov. Scott Walker or his agenda reads these pages … but I don’t know how to reconcile in my head the level of wanton insensitivity Mr. Kelly is reported to have exhibited here.

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/investigations/daniel-bice/2020/03/02/justice-dan-kelly-held-fundraiser-gun-range-day-after-molson-coors-shooting/4929200002/

A Modest Note of Optimism for Trump’s Coronavirus Response

Although in his Wednesday press conference President Trump sought to quell Americans’ fears by expressing a more optimistic view about our ability to address the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) than is shared by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), Mr. Trump did signal (notwithstanding his self-serving asides) that his government knows that the threat is serious, and that by appointing Vice President Mike Pence to be the Administration’s point man — despite reports that Mr. Pence failed to competently address an HIV outbreak in Indiana during his days as Governor — that the Administration is taking it seriously.  Although the Administration’s record for dealing with scientific reality is atrocious, this challenge doesn’t involve any conservative shibboleths.  I think we now need to wait to see whether the Administration’s efforts are effective.

On Thursday morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel, while grudgingly giving Mr. Trump some credit for his response, noted that our national ability to address the virus is now somewhat hampered by the manner in which the Administration has, through budget cuts, reduced the strength of the CDC and other U.S. health agencies and our assistance to world health organizations. During his press conference, Mr. Trump brushed away such concerns, saying that the Government will be able to get needed people back and that we will spend the money we need to spend. For once, I tend to agree with the President: no matter the level of antipathy a wronged health official might feel about the Administration, the potential danger here is of sufficient magnitude that it’s hard to imagine that any relevant expert, if asked to serve, won’t immediately respond to the call. I also believe that money won’t be the problem: Mr. Trump indicated during his press conference that he was ready to take the funding appropriated by Congress, which is some four times larger than that the Administration had asked for. If Mr. Pence asks for more money in the future, I am confident that Congress will appropriate it. Right now, we are behind the curve, but as was the case after our Pacific fleet was destroyed at Pearl Harbor, we have the best talent, and despite our deep deficit, still have the financial means to stage a comeback. If we come up with a vaccine, our economic machine will reproduce it and distribute it worldwide. No American politician of any stripe will stand for drug company profiteering.

There is one other reason to feel optimistic: for once, our nation’s and the world’s health fortunes run in the same direction as Mr. Trump’s political fortunes. Members of the Morning Joe panel suggested that Mr. Trump’s focus during his press conference was to steady the financial markets.  Perhaps; if so, it would reflect a lack of understanding that the S&P 500 consists of corporations with global operations whose profits seem destined to be significantly adversely by the disease’s worldwide impact no matter what happens in America.  That said, I have trouble believing that the President doesn’t comprehend that if there is a significant panic and/or spread of Coronavirus in this country, and the Administration is perceived to have responded inadequately, he will lose the presidency resoundingly, even to U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders. This is the kind of threat that trumps (if you will) even our deep cultural divide – a threat, like an invasion, that will affect Red and Blue states equally. Any health crisis will overwhelm his messaging.  He won’t — although he would undoubtedly try — be able to effectively shift the blame to Mr. Pence.  I recall – subject to correction by those with perhaps better memories — that President George W. Bush’s core support actually began to dwindle during his second term not because of his egregiously terrible decisions in Iraq and the Middle East, but because of what was perceived to be his Administration’s inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina. So in this I have complete confidence: assuming that Mr. Trump understands that doing the right thing — in this case, to pull out all stops to control to the extent possible the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States — is in his best interest, he will do the right thing.

I know very little about the virus and the attendant illness (COVID-19), and others may feel the same.  What follows are two links to recently-published descriptions of myths about the virus.

The World Health Organization

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

Johns Hopkins

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/2019-novel-coronavirus-myth-versus-fact

[Comment: since I believe that this is the first time I have ever posted on three consecutive days, this is to reassure exhausted readers of these pages that such is an aberration; given the need to tend to other chores — such as our income taxes – it may be a while before another note surfaces.]

Advice for a Former President: Part II

If one intends to review this post, but has not yet read Part I (which is immediately below), I would start there 😉

If I had been in the company of former President Barack Obama over the past week, I would have suggested that he call the three former advisors who have been generally regarded as pivotal in assisting his successful run for the presidency against the “Clinton Machine” in 2008: David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Robert Gibbs. I would have suggested that he ask each to provide him an assessment of the seven remaining Democratic presidential candidates’ respective chances, first, for winning the Democratic nomination, and then, for the candidates considered to have a realistic chance to secure the nomination, their respective chances for winning the presidency.

If Messrs. Alexrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs provided dim assessments to Mr. Obama similar to those expressed in Part I of this note regarding the nomination prospects for Messrs. Steyer and Buttiegieg and Mses. Klobuchar and Warren, and of Mr. Bloomberg’s questionable ability to amass a winning November Democratic coalition, I would then have suggested that Mr. Obama ask his advisors: How many of the Swing States can Sen. Sanders reasonably win? How likely is Mr. Sanders’ strategy to “expand the electorate” to win the Rust Belt states won by Mr. Trump in 2016 (as well as retain Minnesota and Colorado), when his calls for revolution may be as likely to repel older voters as they are to enlist younger voters? How likely is Mr. Sanders to win the presidency when he is prone to comments that alienate key constituencies, such as recently happened with Florida, a state that Mr. Trump only won by 1.2%, when he complimented the deceased Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro? How well is Mr. Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, going to fare in southerly North Carolina or individualistic Arizona?

If Messrs. Axelrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs could offer no greater assurance of Mr. Sanders’ chances than, “He has a committed base. Anything can happen. Look at Trump.”, I would indicate to Mr. Obama that he has a duty to act – as soon as possible — for the good of the nation. I would assert that Mr. Biden remains the Democrats’ strongest candidate in the general election. Mr. Obama should:

Call Mr. Steyer, and tell him that if Mr. Steyer truly cares about defeating Mr. Trump, he should immediately fold his candidacy. Mr. Obama would indicate his intention to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden that, even if short of a formal endorsement, any voter would understand.

Call Mr. Buttigieg, congratulate him on an extraordinary campaign, and tell him that Mr. Obama would use his influence with any Democrat President to secure a major post for Mr. Buttigieg in the Democratic administration to further his future political prospects … provided that Mr. Buttigieg immediately folds his candidacy. He would also advise Mr. Buttigieg of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden.

Call Ms. Klobuchar, congratulate her on a successful campaign, and indicate that Mr. Obama would speak highly of her as a Vice Presidential nominee to any Democrat that secures the nomination … provided that Ms. Klobuchar immediately folds her candidacy. He would also advise Ms. Klobuchar of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden.

Finally, call Mr. Bloomberg, and thank him profusely for his financial contributions to the Democratic effort, and ask that Mr. Bloomberg continue with those efforts; but that he, Mr. Obama, based upon his and his advisors’ knowledge of politics, doesn’t believe that Mr. Bloomberg can amass the enthusiastic coalition that Democrats need to defeat Mr. Trump. He would also advise Mr. Bloomberg of his intent to speak in glowing terms about Mr. Biden. He would ask (you don’t speak peremptorily to a billionaire whose funds you need, even if you’re a former President of the United States) that Mr. Bloomberg fold his candidacy and devote his efforts and resources to Mr. Biden.

Such an overt effort on Mr. Obama’s part would smack of an establishment partisan power play against Mr. Sanders reminiscent of 2016. It would undoubtedly wildly antagonize the Progressive wing of the party. It’s an extraordinary step, to be taken only if there is consensus among the seasoned political operatives who managed Mr. Obama’s ascendency to the presidency that Mr. Sanders has little chance to defeat Mr. Trump in Swing States. Offensive? Almost certainly. Wildly counterproductive? Perhaps. But a sharp cut to the Democratic viscera with months to cauterize and dress the wound – and to give Mr. Sanders and disappointed progressives the time to recall that Mr. Trump is the adversary, and what happened in 2016 when some of them stayed home in a huff — seems preferable to slow political exsanguination with Mr. Sanders. Democrats shouldn’t rely on being saved by a second major electoral upset in the space of four years unless they have to.

Clearly, many of us are concerned about the Democrats’ November prospects if Mr. Sanders is the presidential nominee. Attached is a link to a New York Times article by Thomas Friedman, recently sent me by a close friend, suggesting that the Democrats form a “Team of Rivals” headed by either Mr. Sanders or Mr. Bloomberg and including many of the Democrats’ presidential candidates. Although I am not as confident as Mr. Friedman that his approach would result in a Democratic landslide, his idea is superior to mine since, if implemented, it would engender amity and a cohesive electoral strategy between the two wings of the Democratic Party rather than fractious discord. That said, I question its efficacy. Assuming that the moderate Democrats privately agree that Mr. Sanders will have difficulty defeating Mr. Trump, their dueling ambitions are strangling America.  Mr. Sanders, an authentic True Believer with the nomination seemingly within his reach, presumably considers this his last chance to bring about a vision of America that almost certainly doesn’t encompass alliances with billionaires like Mr. Bloomberg. That said, either Mr. Friedman’s approach or mine would seem to require a willingness by Mr. Obama to actively intervene in the Democrats’ nominating contest – which,  if it was to occur, should already be well underway; and of which we’ve seen no indication.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/opinion/democratic-primary-candidates.html

Advice for a Former President: Part I

[Note: this was written prior to the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate scheduled for February 25, 2020; while it is conceivable that something uttered in that debate changes the dynamic of the Democratic Presidential contest, such seems unlikely.]

Although many commentators – including me – have focused on the narrowness of President Trump’s 2016 victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the “Blue Wall” states that had been expected to provide Sec. Clinton her victory, the Electoral College (“EC”) victor’s margin in all of the 10 most closely-contested states was relatively narrow. Mr. Trump won: Michigan (16 EC; .3%); Wisconsin (10 EC; 1%); Pennsylvania (20 EC; 1.2%); Florida (29 EC; 1.2%); North Carolina (15 EC; 3.8%); and Arizona (11 EC; 3.9%) – 101 EC votes, roughly a third of his 304 total. Ms. Clinton won: New Hampshire (4 EC; .4%); Minnesota (10 EC; 1.5%); Nevada (6 EC; 2.4%); and Maine (4 EC; 2.7%) – 24 of her runner-up 227 EC total. For assessing any 2020 presidential hopeful’s prospects, I would submit that one could add to this group Colorado (9 EC), Iowa (6 EC), and Virginia (13 EC). Ms. Clinton won both Colorado and Virginia by about 5 points, but each 2016 result could have been skewed in her favor by factors that won’t be relevant in 2020 – Libertarian Gary Johnson took 5% of the 2016 Colorado vote, the majority of which arguably would have gone to Mr. Trump, and Ms. Clinton’s running mate, U.S. VA Sen. Tim Kaine, presumably boosted the ticket’s margin in the Old Dominion. On the other hand, although Mr. Trump won Iowa by 9 points, polls indicate that he currently has a markedly high disapproval rating in the Hawkeye State, presumably making it a 2020 Democratic target. It appears reasonable to suggest that 2020 Presidential election will be decided by the outcomes in these 13 states – all, arguably “Swing States.”

The Democratic Candidate Debate in Nevada on February 19 was disheartening. It appeared an ego-driven, doctrinaire spite fight which seemingly greatly enhanced the prospects for U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders, perhaps devastated the chances of former New York, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and didn’t meaningfully help any other candidate. In the days prior to the South Carolina primary, of the seven remaining candidates, I would suggest:

Businessman Tom Steyer has spent millions making himself known, and hasn’t made a meaningful dent in the polls. His has become an ego-driven crusade with no chance of securing the nomination. Ironically, for a candidate who has been proclaiming the loudest for the longest of the dangers presented by Mr. Trump, he appears intent on taking a significant percentage of the black vote in South Carolina from former Vice President Joe Biden, thus ensuring any Biden victory will be narrow and in effect providing another boost to Mr. Sanders. Mr. Steyer is confusing the race.

Former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg has run a masterful race, but has failed to garner any meaningful minority support. No Democrat can win the White House without enthusiastic minority support. The African American community’s depressed turnout for Ms. Clinton in 2016 was a factor in her defeat, and it’s hard to envision that community rallying any more enthusiastically for Mr. Buttigieg.  It’s difficult to see him eking out the nomination against the respective strengths of Messrs. Sanders, Bloomberg, and former Vice President Joe Biden. At this point, Mr. Buttigieg is confusing the race.

U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar has run a strong race. In retrospect, a win in Iowa (instead of a fifth-place finish) plus her strong results in New Hampshire might have propelled her candidacy; but she, also, has failed to garner any meaningful black support. Although I consider her the most qualified Democratic candidate for the presidency aside from Mr. Biden, there appears no path to the nomination for her. At this point, Ms. Klobuchar is confusing the race.

U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also run a strong technical campaign. That said, and although national pundits that venture what I am about to state are pilloried by the Woke Brigade, Ms. Warren, for all her intelligence and background, seems divisive, hectoring, and self-righteous to many of our people. Her reported recent criticism of Mr. Bloomberg’s height is Trumpian. Her candidacy arguably died when she finished fourth in New Hampshire, neighboring her Massachusetts. Presumably, she’s acting as an ideological “Team Player,” recognizing that as long as she stays in the race, she gets media coverage to attack Mr. Bloomberg, which greatly benefits Mr. Sanders (and may unintentionally also assist the candidacy of Mr. Biden).

While one can never count out the value of hundreds of millions of dollars of media advertising, I would offer that Mr. Bloomberg’s obvious failure to prepare appropriately for the Nevada debate, taken together with Ms. Warren’s withering attacks on him, cast severe doubt upon his chances of winning the presidency if not the nomination. While blacks, practical and savvy voters, could look past Mr. Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” difficulties in order to rid the nation of Mr. Trump, I seriously question whether either the ideological purists supporting Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren – who will consider Mr. Bloomberg, if he wins, to have bought the nomination — or “Me Too” Movement members – hearing what can reasonably be expected to be a steady stream of reports of Mr. Bloomberg’s inappropriately suggestive behavior while running his business — will vote for the former Mayor in sufficient numbers in November to unseat Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Sanders does well in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, he appears well on his way to securing the Democrats’ presidential nomination. The advice I would render if I could to a former President of the United States in Part II.

On Fair Play

Major League teams are in the process of beginning their Spring Training schedules, after an off-season marred by continuing and I believe undisputed revelations that in 2017, the Houston Astros engaged in a scheme, involving participants from its front office to its manager, coaches and players, to employ videography accompanied by trash can banging to systematically steal opposing teams’ pitch signs and alert Astro hitters to the specifics of the next pitch. Such activity was in flagrant disregard of Major League Baseball rules. For those that don’t follow Major League Baseball (“MLB”), the Astros won the 2017 Major League World Championship after defeating the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. A number of Houston executives and 2017 Astro players hired into non-player roles on other teams in the years following the team’s championship have now been dismissed from their positions as a result of the scandal. No still-active players have been disciplined by MLB, reportedly due to a deal that MLB made with the players and their union that no player would face retribution for speaking truthfully to MLB investigators about the Astros’ program.

A deal is a deal, and given the deal, no players should be disciplined specifically for their participation in the scheme (although one questions whether any 2017 Astros player should be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame or for any front office, manager, or coaching position when his playing days are done). That said, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred should, without any change in individual players’ statistics, forfeit all 2017 Houston victories in which the team employed the scheme, strip Houston of its American League and World Championships, and declare the Yankees the 2017 American League Champions and the Dodgers the 2017 World Champions. He should accompany such a ruling with an announcement that any player determined to have participated in such a flagrant rules violation (admittedly a subjective standard) after the date of the announcement will be suspended from baseball for one full season, with more severe penalties including an outright ban from the game for any subsequent flagrant rules violations.

Such an approach is admittedly imperfect. The team most elevated in the standings by the recasting of the 2017 American League teams’ wins and losses will argue that it never had a fair chance to compete in the season’s playoffs, and the Yankees will argue that they never had a chance to contest the Dodgers for the World Championship. I would submit that such is irrelevant. The Astros, in 2017 an extremely talented team, would have earned a number of their forfeited victories without cheating. While there will be old-school sign stealing in baseball as long as there are bases in baseball – it’s as engrained in the game as the brushback pitch — it is a short step from the Astros’ technology-enhanced trash can banging to employment of sophisticated and undetectable technological means to gain illegal advantage in baseball and other professional sports. The point of the penalty is to make the consequences to the Houston organization and the threat to players’ careers for future violations sufficiently severe so that for the foreseeable future, every team and player will have significant pause before engaging in such a systemic flagrant violation of MLB rules.

I am tired of a culture that explicitly or tacitly condones and in some ways glorifies ignoring, bending, flouting, and breaking rules. We need honor again. Given the challenges we face as a nation, cheating in Major League Baseball is arguably “of as little account as sparrows’ tears,” as Ian Fleming concluded the James Bond thriller, You Only Live Twice; obviously, players have been seeking an illegal edge through spitballs, corked bats, and steroids for decades or more. That said, we have to start somewhere. Major League Baseball, given its proud claim to being the National Pastime, and its tens of millions of diehard fans across the political spectrum, seems as good a place to start as any.

It’s Donald Trump

For generations it was held that to win the U.S. presidency, a candidate had to reach beyond his party’s ardent adherents and secure the majority of the vote of the American political center. In 1992, the Clinton Campaign famously declared its overriding focus: “The Economy, Stupid.” In recent days, I have heard former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg intone: “To win the presidency, it’s not enough to tell people what you’re against. You have to tell them what you’re for.”

Sometimes … maxims are wrong. In 1980, Americans turned to the unnerving “Mad Bomber,” Ronald Reagan, because they had no confidence in President Jimmy Carter. George W. Bush and his strategist, Karl Rove, won in 2004 through a strategy of focusing almost exclusively on energizing and turning out Mr. Bush’s core supporters.

I have heard more than one pundit voice something that all Americans can agree upon: anyone that mounts a campaign for the presidency has a huge ego. What’s more, the Democratic candidates on the stage Wednesday night, aside from former New York, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have all been on the trail for at least a year, and their respective beliefs in themselves have undoubtedly been reinforced by the fact they have thus far survived in a brutal contest that has felled 15 or more other candidates. In his book, Marathon, Jules Witcover described a campaign for president: “It is a grueling, debilitating, and often dehumanizing ordeal ….” I suspect that their inner faiths now include a visceral feeling that because each has absorbed so much adversity, s/he deserves the presidency.  These gut inclinations are now arguably augmented by envy and resentment toward Mr. Bloomberg, who has surpassed most of them in the national polls through profligate use of his essentially unlimited means. I fear that the debate will degenerate into a mud-slinging scrum that benefits only President Trump.

This week, Wall Street Journal Columnist Gerald Seib laid out the dichotomy between the respective theories of the campaigns of U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mr. Bloomberg:

“Mr. Sanders believes Democratic voters are ready to overthrow the system. Mr. Bloomberg thinks they merely want to overthrow President Trump….[T]he fact that Mr. Sanders is running against Mr. Trump is almost secondary; the Sanders view of society’s economic injustices is the same one he would be offering regardless of who was on the Republican line….Mr. Bloomberg touts [his positions on] health care … gun laws and battling climate change. But … [t]he animating argument is that Mr. Trump is dangerous … that beating Mr. Trump is way more important than ideological arguments.”

As anyone that reads these pages recognizes, my sentiments echo those attributed to Mr. Bloomberg. This year, it’s not the economy. The general perception – whether or not accurate – is that Mr. Trump’s economy is booming. Yet his approval rating is below 45%. In Wisconsin, his disapproval rating is 10 points higher than his approval rating despite a state unemployment rate of 3.3%. He is 12 points under water in Michigan despite an unemployment rate of 4.1%. He is 9 points under water in Iowa despite a state unemployment rate of 2.6%. He is at best even in the other swing states although all have unemployment rates below 5%.

Mr. Trump’s low approval rating is presumably not related to Americans’ perception – again, whether or not accurate – of our national health care system. A significant majority of the states that U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate have the highest percentages of uninsured will almost certainly be won by Mr. Trump in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s low approval rating is presumably not related to Americans’ perception – again, whether or not accurate – of his handling of foreign policy. He has been making good on his campaign pledge – whether or not wisely – to reduce the level of America’s foreign entanglements.

One could add to this list, but three is enough. Mr. Trump’s low approval rating is because … it’s him. A majority of Americans have at least tentatively concluded that Mr. Trump is unworthy of his office: that he has no regard for truth, with demonstrable indications of racism, sexism, and religious bigotry; that he seems an unstable, incompetent bully; that he relishes in stirring division and openly welcomes the assistance of foreign enemies for his own ends. They are concerned that he apparently considers himself unrestricted by all norms, rules, and laws. They are bothered by his evident contempt for the institutions and practices that have made us different from the rest of the world – an honest judicial system, a free press and free speech, respectful disagreement — and for those that act with honor, conviction, and principle – such as John McCain, Purple Heart Recipient Alexander Vindman, and Mitt Romney. They are troubled by his clear willingness to trample anything that gets in his way. They inherently know that it is wrong for an American President to use his power against a domestic political adversary, and they know he did. They inherently know that it is inappropriate for a President to financially profit from the responsibility that they have entrusted to him, and they know he does. They are uneasy with the notion that even if they are not in the crosshairs today – as he has focused his venom on his critics, brown immigrants, and Muslims – they could be tomorrow. They have come to realize that Mr. Trump is, in the words of another Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan: “A bad man, and half mad.” That he is, indeed … un-American.

So while I concede that no Democratic candidate can spend all of his or her time addressing the stain that Mr. Trump has placed on our national fabric, I nonetheless submit that in this campaign year, Mr. Buttigieg is wrong: the Democrats’ key to victory is not what they’re for, it’s what they’re against. It’s Donald Trump. If in tonight’s debate the candidates too pointedly attack each other, it will seem to me a counterproductive ego trip. If they aggressively attack Mr. Bloomberg, it will demonstrate almost criminal political incompetence: the only way that any Democrat will be able to counter Mr. Trump’s overwhelming financial advantage in the fall is through maintaining Mr. Bloomberg’s largesse. They should put aside individual ambition for the good of the nation.