BIDEN-HARRIS MASK MANDATE

Yesterday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first public policy speech.  As most of you know, you only get one chance to make a first impression.  Therefore, one would have expected their initial policy announcement to be comprehensive, well-constructed, and significant.  One would have anticipated a statement dealing with the economy, racial inequality, healthcare or some other similarly weighty issue that Americans really care about.  Instead what we got was an inane and gratuitous mask mandate.

What, you say?  Isn’t it safer to wear a mask at all times?  How can it hurt?  Please see my response below.

  1.  Yes.  We should wear a mask whenever we are inside or in close proximity to other people.  Six feet of separation has become the standard.  In point of fact, in my experience, we are already complying with that with few exceptions.  If one wants to enter any public place there are signs reminding one of the requirement.  If you don’t comply, you don’t get in.  In that context the Biden-Harris dictatorial mandate is gratuitous and unnecessary.
  2. Many people will view this as unnecessary, non-beneficial, and yet another infringement on our liberties, which have already taken multiple “hits” since “9/11.”  America is a republic, not an autocracy.  If Mr. Trump had promulgated such a policy he would have been castigated as a “dictator.”
  3. I have not seen any science that supports wearing a mask when, for example, you are alone in your backyard.
  4. Are we supposed to wear a mask when swimming in the ocean, when eating outside at a restaurant, or when we’re alone with no one in the vicinity?  Incidentally, have you ever attempted to eat or drink through a mask?  Or kiss your wife?
  5. How will this be enforced?  Are we going to ask police who have been instructed to standby and ignore looters and criminals to fine or arrest non-mask wearers?  Are we going to be encouraged to inform on our friends and neighbors?  Did I go to sleep last night in the US and wake up this morning in Soviet Russia circa 1930?
  6. I’m sure that the governors are just thrilled to have been put on the spot to enforce this.
  7. I’m not a lawyer, but I doubt that this is even constitutional?  Perhaps, a president could issue an Executive Order, but Biden is not the president.  Thank God!

CONCLUSION

I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point.  Obviously, this was a clumsy, hasty, contrived attempt to “win the day” with the media.  It was not well thought out.  All the various ramifications were not considered.  I hope that this will not be a typical example of their policies, but I fear it might be. They didn’t even take any questions from the media to explain the finer points of the policy.  That was probably a wise decision, since any questions would likely have exposed their mandate to the ridicule it deserved.

In normal times, this policy would be mockingly portrayed on Saturday Night Live.  Alas, don’t hold your breath for that.  Remember Harris is “untouchable, immune from criticism.”

Perhaps, Harris should join Biden in his basement, and the two of them should stay there permanently.

KAMALA HARRIS – THE TEFLON NOMINEE

First, let’s discuss the positives regarding Kamala Harris.  She is the third woman, and first one of color, to be selected to run on a national ticket.  (Can you name the others?  See answers below.)  That is a milestone of which all Americans should be proud.  If the Biden-Harris ticket were to win, in my opinion, that, combined with having elected an African American president twice, should put to bed once and for all the false narrative that Americans are racist and misogynistic.  It probably won’t as Dems find it useful to trot out those accusations when it suits them, but it should.

Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, CA.  Her background is quite interesting.  Many people don’t realize that technically, she is not African American.  Her mother, is a scientist who had emigrated from India; her father is a university professor of economics who had emigrated from Jamaica.  She is not a “rags to riches” story as some have portrayed.  She had what I would consider to be a middle class upbringing in the Berkeley, CA area.  She is a graduate of Howard University and the UC Hastings College of the Law.  Before being elected to the US Senate in 2016 she served as district attorney in Alameda County and the City of San Francisco as well as Attorney General of the State of California.

Historically, the VP nominee has had little impact on the presidential election, itself.  Generally, voters focus on the candidate for president, and rightly so.  Most VP nominees have been plucked from obscurity to “balance” the ticket in some way, either ideologically or geographically.  After the election, most of them are soon forgotten.  Only four vice presidents have subsequently won election for president in their own right,  How many can you name?  See below.

That said, I believe that given concerns among many voters about Joe Biden’s health, stamina and cognitive abilities, 2020 may be an exception.  To me, the current situation is reminiscent of the 1944 election.  Although most voters were not aware of it FDR was in ill health and unlikely to complete the term,  Therefore, it was likely that Harry Truman would ascend to the presidency at some point.  I view the current situation as being similar.   Although voters should focus primarily on Trump and Biden, Harris’ qualifications merit close scrutiny as well.

I see three major issues.  (1) What kind of VP would she make; (2) will she help, hurt or have an negligible effect on Biden’s candidacy; and (3) what are her qualifications to be president if, as many suspect, Biden does not complete his term?

My comments with respect to Harris’ are as follows:

  1.  I view her as the “teflon candidate.”  Criticize her at your risk.  Don’t be surprised if any criticism of her or her policies is characterized by the Dems and/or the liberal media as either “racist” or “misogynistic.”
  2. I am not sure what, if any, power base she brings to the ticket.  California is a solidly blue state already, and I can’t identify what other states she might deliver for the ticket.
  3. When she was CA AG she was accused of protecting her campaign contributors to the detriment of the citizens of CA.  For instance, she has long been accused of acting in the best interests of the Silicon Valley tech moguls, like twitter, Facebook, among others.  This could become a significant issue as these companies have virtual monopolies relative to the dissemination of information, to the detriment of our right to free speech.  Moreover, she declined to investigate Planned Parenthood, another of her significant backers, regarding the alleged sale of body parts of aborted fetuses.
  4. Her policies are strongly liberal, if not radically left.  She has fully embraced the policies espoused by the Sanders-AOC wing of the Party.  For example, she supports the Green New Deal, reparations, Black Lives Matter, defunding the police, free healthcare for everyone, including undocumented persons, slashing military spending, socialized medicine, and open borders.  She is against fracking, private healthcare insurance and charter schools.
  5. I can’t think of any significant bill she sponsored during her tenure in the Senate.
  6. She has characterized ICE as a “domestic terrorist” organization; yet, she has not condemned or even spoken out against the rioters, looters and criminals who have been destroying our cities.
  7. Many voters see her as inauthentic.  She seems to change her positions whenever it is expedient to do so.  Even the NY Times has pointed this out.  As an example, during one debate she famously skewered Biden for his claiming that Robert Byrd, a known KKK member and sympathizer and virulent segregationist, was a “mentor” and for his kind words with respect to other notorious “segregation senators,” such as Strom Thurmond and James Eastland.  Furthermore, she sharply criticized him for giving a eulogy at Byrd’s funeral.  In addition she criticized his stance on busing and crime.  Now, when it suits her, she’s willing to put aside the foregoing and be his running mate.  My favorite of her “flip-flops,” however, is with respect to allowing teenagers to vote.  Recently, she has spoken out in favor of giving teenagers as young as 16 the right to vote, but not long ago in an interview on that issue she denigrated 16 year-olds as “stupid.”
  8. She’s been twisting the facts about the pandemic, blaming President Trump, for the 160,000 plus pandemic-related deaths of American citizens.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows there is plenty of blame to go around including state governors, medical professionals and especially China.
  9.  She has characterized President Trump as “soft” on terrorism, which is simply an outright lie and laughable.
  10. In the primaries she did not demonstrate strong popularity even among Dem voters.  She consistently polled in the single digits and had to drop out even before the first primary.
  11. Even among blacks her poll numbers were not that great, possibly due to her record as California AG.

CONCLUSION

I don’t think Harris is qualified to be president from the standpoint of either experience or ideology.  She has no experience running anything, a state, a business, or anything else.  Moreover, as I demonstrated above she is considerably to the “left” of the mainstream.  She and her supporters will try to hide this and portray her as a “moderate.”  After she was selected the NY Times characterized her as a “pragmatic moderate.”  Huh?  I don’t even know what that is, but clearly she is not any kind of moderate, nor is Biden by the way.  Forget labels.  Just look at the policies they support.

Answers to quiz questions:

  1.  Geraldine Ferraro (1984) & Sarah Palin (2008)
  2.  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, and George H. W. Bush

2020 PRESDENTIAL ELECTION – WHAT HAPPENED TO “UNCLE JOE?”

There are now fewer than 90 days until Election Day.  Fewer than 90 days until what I and many others believe will be the most significant and historic presidential election in American history, a genuine watershed election.  Exaggeration?  Hyperbole?  If you think so, read on, and I will try to demonstrate why I believe that to be true.

Historically, most presidential elections have offered two candidates with small, subtle differences in political philosophy.  Perhaps, one is a little more liberal, and the other a little more conservative, but by Election Day both candidates will have softened the sharp edges of their respective platforms and gravitated toward the “middle,” because that is where most of the voters are.  To be sure, there have occasionally been exceptions to this rule, e. g. Goldwater in 1964 and McGovern in 1972, but they were too far out of the mainstream and consequently were trounced decisively.  The lesson has been clear; if you want to win, soften the sharp edges of your policies and appeal to the majority in the middle.

That is not the case this year.  This year we are being offered a clear choice.  Simply put, we, the voters, have to decide between capitalism as we have known it and lived it for nearly 250 years up to and including the present and socialism as advocated by the Dems prospectively.  Those of you who have been following the news with an open mind realize this.  If not, read on.

First of all, there are two points to get out of the way.

  1.  About half the country despises President Trump, personally,  He is often arrogant, crude, rude and embarrassing.  I get it.  But, I say that is secondary to the other issues that are facing us.  He is running for President of the United States, not high school senior class president.  We are not looking to “hang out” with him; he’s not looking to be your friend.  Personal traits and popularity are secondary to policies and results.  As I have detailed in many previous blogs, he has delivered results, in spades.  So, why should the other stuff matter?  Hint, it shouldn’t.
  2. The charming, folksy “Uncle Joe” many of us remember from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s is gone, long gone.  That Biden, who, despite his flaws (for example, occasionally a little “handsy” with women, a minor gaffe or unintelligible comment), many of us viewed as akin to an eccentric, but likeable, uncle, no longer exists.  I don’t want to be mean-spirited, but it has been replaced by a shell of a man with cognitive deficiencies.   Don’t take my word for it.  See for yourself.  Watch his news conferences (the ones that are unedited by friendly media outlets).  Even though they are scripted and carefully monitored by his handlers they are replete with gaffes, blunders, inaccuracies, and vague, wandering comments.  His handlers are cognizant of his condition.  Why else do you think they continue to restrict him to his basement?  Why do you think he restricts his few and infrequent appearances to interviews with friendly journalists who only ask him “softball” questions?

Let’s put personality aside and focus on the politics.

  1. The Biden of 2020 is “malleable Joe,” who is under the influence of the “Bernie Bros”, AOC and other denizens of the far left.  He figures he needs their support to win, and, consequently, he will say and do anything they want to curry favor.
  2. He has embraced the Bernie/AOC platform hook, line and sinker.  This is the same platform that, a few short months ago, primary voters rejected as too radical.  I have described this platform, in detail, in previous blogs.  Some of the highlights (or lowlights) include open borders, free medical for all, even illegals, free education and voting rights for illegals, a tax increase that will surely include the middle class, restricting free speech, confiscating guns, defunding the police, and the centerpiece of it all – the Green New Deal.  If you value the first and second amendments and the right to protect yourself and your family why would ever vote for Biden?
  3. Just to be clear the GND would eliminate fracking and decimate the oil, gas, coal, auto and other blue collar industries.  If you work in those industries, why in the world would you ever vote for Biden?  A vote for Biden would be a vote to destroy your and your family’s livelihood.
  4. Biden’s wife and some of his supporters have claimed he is a “moderate.”  That is a total mischaracterization and fabrication.  There is no basis in fact for that statement.  Forget labels.  Would you consider anyone who endorses the above policies a “moderate?”  I don’t think so.  Recently, Biden, himself, stated he would be the “most progressive president ever.”  I say, take him at his word.
  5. Incredibly, Biden has refused to condemn or even criticize the rioters who have been destroying our cities and our historical and religious monuments.  They are not “protesters” as some Dems and many of those in the media have characterized them.  They are not “demonstrators.”  Protestors and demonstrators are peaceful.  They don’t destroy property.  They don’t attack innocent bystanders with clubs and lasers.  They don’t murder people.  These are lawless criminals pure and simple.  They have hijacked the Black Lives Matter movement.  And, Biden just sits there.  The old Biden, the moderate Biden, the Biden we remember, would have spoken out forcefully.  If you value our historical figures and our first amendment right to worship freely why would you ever vote for Biden?
  6. Biden and his supporters portray him as a strong supporter of the Black and Hispanic communities.  But, in his 50 or so years in the Senate and as VP can you name one positive accomplishment of his that helped Blacks, Hispanics, and other disadvantaged persons?  Just one.  You can’t, can you.
  7. On the other hand, Donald Trump has accomplished a great deal for those groups in just 3 1/2 years, to wit: (1) the lowest unemployment ever (pre-Covid) for Blacks, Hispanics, teenagers, and women, (2) prison reform, (3) aid to Black colleges, and (4) restricting legal and illegal immigration, among others.  He has done more in 3 1/2 years than Biden has done in 50!  And he is supposedly the racist?!
  8. Who said “If you [black people] don’t vote for me you ain’t black?”  Who insulted blacks by characterizing them as homogeneous while Hispanics are diverse?  Who stated he didn’t want his children growing up in a “racial jungle?”  I’ll give you a hint – Biden, Biden and Biden.

CONCLUSION

Yes, the old “Uncle Joe” we knew and liked is gone.  It is a fantasy being perpetuated by a desperate Party that will do anything to defeat Mr. Trump.  They will even nominate and support a person they know is cognitively impaired and completely under the influence of the radical left.  They are doing their best to hide this and hoping that moderate and independent voters are too distracted and too apathetic to notice.  I believe that we are too smart for that.  Don’t be deceived,

Do you want a cognitively-impaired person like Biden in control of the “nuclear football?”  What a nightmare.  To repeat, because it so important, based on Biden’s own words, a vote for him is a vote for socialism and against the first amendment, the second amendment, energy independence, and jobs in the oil, gas, coal, auto, and many other industries.   The choice is yours.  Don’t blow it!  You will have to answer to your children and grandchildren.

Biden has been a US Senator and VP for nearly 50 years.  He has had a nice, long run.  So let’s put an end to this fantasy of “Uncle Joe,”  It’s time to say good-by.

JOHN LEWIS

A couple of weeks ago we lost a genuine civil rights pioneer.  He was in the forefront of the movement for some 65 years beginning in 1955.  Furthermore, his life was truly a “rags to riches” story that is possible only in America.

John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940 on a farm outside of Troy, AL, the third of ten children.  His parents were sharecroppers.  It is hard to believe that a man of such accomplishments arose from such humble beginnings, but he did.  As I said, “only in America.”

As a youngster, Lewis wanted to be a preacher.  Supposedly, he would practice his sermons on the farm’s chickens.  In the rural segregated South, at first, he had very little interaction with white people and was not aware of the racism that was a way of life.  As get got older, however, and began to accompany his family into the nearby town, that changed in a hurry.  Then, he thought “Jim Crow” was the way of life everywhere until, at the age of 11, he and his family traveled to Buffalo, NY to visit relatives.  It was a real eye-opener.  He couldn’t help but contrast the stark differences of the integrated North with the segregated South.

Lewis’ life began to change in 1955 when he heard a speech by Martin Luther King on the radio.  Thereafter, he began to follow King’s career, particularly the Montgomery, AL bus boycott that year.  A few years later he actually met King and even Rosa Parks.

At the same time, he was pursuing his goal of becoming a minister.  He began to give public sermons.  Moreover, he attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, and was ordained as a Baptist minister.  In addition, he graduated from Fisk University with a Bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy.

During his student days he remained immersed in the civil rights movement in Nashville.  Following the precepts of non-violence practiced by Dr. King he organized and participated in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, bus boycotts and a variety of other protests.  Although these were successful and Lewis was an advocate of non-violence he was arrested many times.

In 1961 Lewis was one of the original 13 “freedom riders.”  The Supreme Court had mandated the integration of interstate bus travel, but the ruling was not being enforced in many areas of the South.  The 13 whites and blacks determined to ride from Washington, D. C. to New Orleans in an integrated fashion to force the issue.  As you can surmise, they were attacked and beaten by unruly mobs and arrested.  For example, in Birmingham the crowd beat them with chains, baseball bats, lead pipes and stones, and then the police arrested them and transported them across the state line to Tennessee.  The “riders” were not dissuaded.  They went to Montgomery where they were assaulted again.  This time, Lewis was beaten unconscious and left for dead on the floor of the Montgomery bus station.  As he told a CNN interviewer years later, “I thought I was going to die.”  Incredibly, 48 years later Lewis received a nationally-televised apology from the Klansman who had beaten him so severely.

Lewis was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (“SNCC”), and in 1963 he became the chairman of the group.  SNCC was noted for its non-violent approach to the advancement of civil rights.  For example, it established Freedom Schools and organized voting registration campaigns throughout the South.

On March 9, 1965 Lewis was one of the organizers and leaders of the famous march from Selma, AL to Montgomery, which included some 600 persons.  This was actually the first of three such marches. Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 voter registration of blacks was severely lagging.   For example, in Dallas County blacks comprised some 50% of the population but only 2% of the registered voters.  The purpose of the march was to highlight this disparity.

As the marchers walked over the Edmund Pettus bridge, peacefully, they were nevertheless viciously attacked by police.  Lewis was among those who were severely beaten on national tv.  The incident became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  The naked violence of this attack shocked and disgusted much of the tv audience.  Much of the public in the North had not really appreciated the gravity of the situation in the South, and this incident brought it home to them very graphically.  Many of the marchers, including Lewis and King, were arrested.  From his jail cell King wrote a letter to the NY Times in which he stated, facetiously, “there are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls [in Selma].”  Many people maintain that that incident was a turning point in the civil rights movement.

In 2014, the incident was portrayed in the movie, Selma in which Lewis was played by Stephan James.  The movie, which was very well done, exposed a whole new generation to the violence of the times and the early struggle for equal rights.

In 1986 Lewis was elected to the US House of Representatives representing the district that encompasses much of Atlanta.  He was very popular.  He was re-elected 16 times, all but once with more than 70% of the vote.  During his tenure he continued to aggressively champion liberal causes.

In 2008 he supported Barack Obama for the presidency.   When Obama was elected Lewis was asked if this represented “the fulfillment of MLK’s dream.”  He replied: “No.  It’s just a down payment.”  In 2016 he supported Clinton over Trump.  He unfairly compared Mr. Trump to George Wallace and declined to attend his inauguration.  This year his endorsement of Joe Biden is generally credited with Biden’s winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

CONCLUSION

In my opinion, in stark contrast to the many pseudo advocates of civil rights who are currently polluting the airwaves and newspapers and are nothing more than “race baiters,” Lewis was a legitimate hero of the civil rights movement.  He was there at the very beginning in 1955.  He organized and attended many of the rallies, marches and sit-ins.  He was beaten and arrested numerous times.  He advocated non-violence.  He paid his dues in blood.  As a Congressman he remained a strong advocate for civil rights and other liberal causes.

Lewis was the recipient of countless awards  and honors, too many to list here.  The most prestigious was the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  He was also an accomplished author.

Lewis passed away on July 17 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.  Rest in peace John.  Even though you are no longer with us your legacy will live forever.

SHOULD SCHOOLS RE-OPEN NOW?

Assuming it can be accomplished safely, should we reopen our schools in the Fall?  That is one of the critical questions facing us at the moment.  Below please find my  thoughts and opinions on the matter.  Although I am neither a physician nor an educator, I have been following this issue closely, and I have strong opinions on the issue.  Much of the following is based on those opinions and observations, but I have supplemented it with the results of studies and analyses published by authoritative sources such as the CDC and various educational sources and media outlets.

According to the CDC and many other medical professionals the available scientific evidence indicates that if children get the CV they are highly unlikely to contract a severe case.  Most of the time they get a mild case, recover quickly and rarely infect others.  Many of them do not even realize they were sick.

Those under the age of 18 account for about 7% of the CV cases and less than .1% of the fatalities.  .1%!!

Multiple studies have demonstrated that the rate of transmission among children and from children to family members or other adults is extremely low.   Is it medically safe?  Nobody wants to do anything to endanger the health of the kids, the teachers or anyone else.  Let’s get that out of the way.  So, the question becomes, is there a way  to reopen the schools and eliminate the danger entirely?  The answer is “of course, not.”  Nothing we do in life is 100% safe.  Every time you cross the street there is a possibility of being hit by a car.  Every time you take a bath there is the risk you will slip, crack your head, and suffer a brain injury.  Yet, we still cross the street and take baths.  Similarly, I will stipulate that there is a very slight risk that a child or a teacher will get infected with the CV.  I also maintain that the risk is so very, very small that it is far outweighed by the benefits, and it should not frighten us into keeping schools closed.  Keeping schools closed carries significant risks as delineated below:

  1. Health-related dangers of keeping kids home.  No one wants anyone to die, especially children, but as you will see, the health risk of not attending school is far greater than the chance of their contracting the CV.  For example, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children return to school.  For many disadvantaged children the daily school-provided meals constitute the most nutritious food they receive.  Missing those meals would have a deleterious effect on their health.  I will include other mental and emotional health issues below under “social issues.”
  2. Virtual learning is not as effective as in-person learning.  According to the CDC  “in-person schooling is in the best interests of the students,” particularly when appropriate mitigation measures” have been taken.  We are all familiar with these measures, which include, among others, wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.
  3. Returning to school is necessary to counteract the “summer slide.”  Many educators and parents are familiar with this phenomenon, although perhaps, not with the actual term.  According to the Northwest Evaluation Association, a research-oriented not-for-profit entity that specializes in academic assessments regarding K-12 students, over the summer students may lose up to 39% of their improvement in reading from the previous school year and up to 50% in math.  These percentages will, of course, vary depending on the student’s grade and other factors, but the salient point is very clear.  Students cannot afford to have their education interrupted, lest they fall behind, perhaps, significantly and irrevocably.
  4. Keeping schools closed has a disproportionally adverse economic effect on working class and poor people. First of all, in many cases the parents, especially a single parent, would be unable to work as they cannot afford daycare, nor do they have the type of job that would enable them to work from home.  Consequently, they may lose their job.  Secondly, many poor families do not have access to a computer, or if they do there are not enough for each child in the family to use.  Thirdly, they are more reliant on schools services as I will discuss below.
  5. Social issues.  There have been several studies regarding adverse effects in this area. Some of these would include “hindering the development” of “social skills and peer relationships,” child abuse, substance abuse, and the inability to focus on and ameliorate student disabilities.  This is especially true regarding poor families that rely exclusively on schools to provide assistance.   According to a 2018 study conducted by the Home Health Services Association, teachers and and other educational personnel are the number one reporters of child abuse.  Without being in the classroom many of these instances would likely go unreported and unresolved.  Furthermore, various studies have shown that some 20% of children between the ages of nine and 17 suffer from some type of “mental health condition.”  Studies of pandemics have found a “strong association” between the length of time being quarantined and the onset of PTSD.  also, physicians, social workers and teachers generally agree that schools provide a safe environment for learning, and we all know that education is the primary path to success in life.

CONCLUSION

Everyone agrees that keeping our children safe is of paramount importance. Contrary to what some cable news outlets have been proclaiming, no one wants to endanger their lives.  As I said above, we all know that nothing is 100% certain; everything we do in life entails some risk.

In my opinion, as I have outlined above, the benefits of re-opening the schools clearly outweigh the risks, particularly if it is done in a prudent, safe manner.  Moreover, since over 20 countries have already re-opened their schools safely we have empirical evidence that it can be done.  The Washington Post and many other media outlets have reported that none of these countries has suffered from further outbreaks of the CV.  Therefore, there is no reason to fear that we would.

These other countries have provided a blueprint that we can follow.  We don’t have to guess.  We have seen what has worked and what hasn’t.  Some of what has worked include:

  1. Staggered times/staggered days.
  2. Staged re-opening, as opposed to all at once.
  3. Require masks and social distancing.
  4. Limited occupancy, either through split sessions or separate days.
  5. Limit outsiders’ access, even family members.
  6. Frequent disinfecting and cleaning.
  7. Temperature scans throughout the day.
  8. Modify or eliminate gym and playground activities.
  9. Serve food in individual portions, perhaps in the classrooms, rather than by buffet.

I don’t understand why many teachers’ unions are opposing re-opening so vehemently.  In California the union has gone so far as to hold school re-opening hostage to a list of far left demands such as defunding the police and ending charter schools as an alternative to public schools.  What do those demands have to do with the CV and the safety of children?  Nothing.  It’s pure blackmail.  The science and empirical evidence, as I have presented above, does not support their objections.  Is the real reason for their objection politically-based.  Some people believe it is for the purpose of hurting Donald Trump’s re-election chances.  Frankly, I am not sure, but I would not put it past the Dems.  Some political commentators have opined that in a presidential election year “everything” is about the election.

I can understand why some parents might feel uneasy about sending their kids to school.  Home schooling is always an option, but I think the scientific and empirical evidence strongly indicates that the schools should be re-opened.

 

 

REGIS PHILBIN

He was described, by some, as “the hardest working man in show business.”  He holds the Guinness World Record for logging the most hours on tv.  He exuded a unique style, for example, a self-deprecating wit, distinctive NY accent, and often irreverent ad-libs.  In addition, he would often relate elaborate, amusing stories in which he poked fun at himself.  In essence, he would make himself the butt of his own joke.  All these characteristics endeared him to his fans like few other entertainers.  People would greet him on the street like a long-lost friend – “Hey Reeg!  How’re doing?!”

Regis Francis Xavier Philbin was born on August 25, 1931 in NYC.  He was a true child of the American “melting pot.”  His father, who had served in the marines in WWII was of Irish descent; his mother was Italian.  Regis’ unusual name was a tribute to his father’s old high school, the prestigious Regis High School.  For years, it was thought Regis was an only child, but some years later he disclosed on Live with Regis and Kelly that he had had a brother who had just died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He was raised in the Bronx.  He had a distinctive Catholic education – Our Lady of Solace grammar school, Cardinal Hayes HS, and Notre Dame University.  He graduated from ND in 1953 with a sociology degree.  After a stint in (the Navy he went into the entertainment business.

Regis learned the business from the ground up.  He broke into the tv business as a page on the Tonight Show.  The host at that time was Steve Allen.  (There have been six principal hosts of the show from its inception in 1954 to the present.  Can you name the other five?  (See below for the answer.)  After that, he was a writer for a LA-based talk show hosted by Tom Duggan.  His first hosting gig was as a last-minute fill-in for Duggan when he failed to appear one night.  He would often relate how nervous he was to jump in at the last minute with minimal preparation, but he pulled it off.

Shortly thereafter, he debuted as a talk show host of his own show, aptly named The Regis Philbin Show from San Diego.  Since the show lacked a writing staff Regis commenced to open each show with a “host chat” session.  He would simply talk to the audience and his co-host, informally, about the day’s current events.  Although he was not the first talk show host to employ this tactic, it became his trademark, and he continued it prospectively.  In 1964 his show was syndicated nationally, but the show didn’t draw well, and shortly thereafter it was cancelled.

Regis’ next step up the ladder was in 1967 when he became the co-host or “side-kick,” on the Joey Bishop Show on ABC.  The role of the “side-kick,” which was popularized by Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show, was basically to laugh at Bishop’s jokes, whether they were funny or not, and take his teasing and abuse in stride.  After the show was cancelled.  Regis then bounced around for several years doing talk shows, game shows and variety shows with a plethora of co-hosts in a variety of cites.

Finally, in 1985 he got his big break.  He was paired with Kathie Lee Johnson (later Gifford), and the pair “clicked.”  In 1988 the show was syndicated nationally as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.  The show became very popular, and Regis’ career took off.  Audiences and viewers loved his style.  Over the years Regis hosted and appeared as a guest on numerous other shows and events, too many to list here.  Probably, my favorite was Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.  Some of you may recall his signature line to a contestant: “Is that your final answer?”

I think the following two testimonials sum up Regis perfectly and explain his popularity.  Geraldo Rivera knew him a long time and was an avid fan.  He recalled “we had wonderful laughs together.  Regis made everyone laugh.”  Rivera added, “he was quick with a quip.”  Arthel Neville, who occasionally co-hosted with Regis on Live, recalled “he [was so] generous.  He [didn’t] mind sharing the spotlight.”  In addition, she said she should have followed his advice with respect to her first marriage.  His succinct advice was “don’t do it,” and he turned out to be right.

CONCLUSION

We are all familiar with Regis’ tv career, particularly his stint on Live, however, in addition he cut several records and albums, and authored various books.  Moreover, he was the recipient of numerous honors and awards.  These included daytime Emmys, TV Guide Personality of the Year, Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and, last but not least, the Guinness World Record for number of hours on tv (16,540).

Regis was married twice and had four children.  Audiences are familiar with his second wife, Joy, who often served as co-host on Live.  He was an avid sports fan, particularly of the Yankees and, of course, Notre Dame.  One of his endearing qualities was his ineptitude with mechanics and especially technology.  He often regaled audiences with his misadventures with the tv remote and computers.  I recall one story, in particular.  It’s too long to repeat it all here, but essentially, he had just bought a new car.  He was driving it into NYC via the Midtown Tunnel.  He had to pay the toll, but he couldn’t open the window or the door to do so.  He was holding up traffic, and you know how impatient NY drivers can be.  Amid all the honking of horns someone recognized him and yelled out “Hey Reeg!” adding to his extreme embarrassment.   He told it a lot better than I just did.  It was just hilarious.

Regis’ health had declined in recent years.  In 1993 he underwent an angioplasty procedure.  This was followed up with a triple by-pass, a hip replacement and the removal of a blood clot in his calf.

Finally, on July 24 he passed away from heart disease at the age of 88.  Rest in peace, Regis.  You entertained us for over 60 years, and you will be sorely missed.

Quiz answer:  Steve Allen (1954-1957, Jack Paar (1957-1962), Johnny Carson (1962-1992), Jay Leno (1992-2009 & 2010-2014, Conan O’Brien (2009-2010), and Jimmy Fallon ( 2014- present).

 

 

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – ARE THE POLLS RELIABLE?

As I write this, there are 102 days until Election Day, November 3.  102 days until we will be voting in what I and many other people consider the most significant election in our lifetimes.   Unlike most elections, this year voters will have a clear choice.

I believe voters will be deciding the future of America for some time to come.  On one side is capitalism, free enterprise, law and order, self-determination and a personally unpopular president whom about half the country dislikes intensely but who has demonstrated that he gets things done.   One the other side is socialism, crime, chaos, a government that heavily controls how we live, and a “nice guy” of questionable mental capacity

In recent months the presidential election polls have shown Biden, the latter choice, to be leading President Trump, the former choice, nationally by between eight and 14 points depending on the poll.  Those same polls also have reported that Biden is leading in most of the battleground states, in some cases by double digits.  Taken at face value these polls appear to be predicting a landslide victory for Biden.

But, not so fast.  Ever since Mr. Trump’s surprise upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 there has been considerable controversy over the reliability of presidential polling.  Pollsters have spent the greater part of the last four years analyzing why the polls failed to detect and report that the election was as close as it was.  Are they less accurate now compared to previously?  If so, why?  The answer seems to be that there are many theories, but no one really knows.

Some pollsters, such as Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight, maintain that the polls are as accurate as they have ever been.  He maintains that they are correct 80% of the time.  Others, such as Jake Novak of Jake Novak News, pollster Glen Bolger and Matt Lackey, VP of Research and Development for Civis Analytics, whose opinions are outlined below, disagree.  In my view, since no one really knows how and why, the polls blew it in 2016 let alone how to correct them, it is likely to happen again.

I don’t want to drill down too far into the polling methodology.  That would bore all of you (and me) to death, but based on my research, I have some thoughts:

  1. Novak and many others denote the obvious, which is that presidential elections are decided, not by the overall popular vote but by state-by-state electoral votes.  Therefore, the predicted winner of the overall national vote will not necessarily win the election.  Indeed this has happened five times, most recently in 2016 when Hilary Clinton lost to President Trump.  One can debate whether or not this is “fair” or “just,” but the rules are specified in the Constitution, and there are various reasons for them.  (Some of you may recall that I analyzed the role of the Electoral College in a previous blog.)  Can you name the four other presidents who were elected despite losing the popular vote?  See answers below.
  2. Many pollsters query “registered” voters as opposed to “likely” voters.  The latter group would be more reliable, but they are also harder to identify.
  3. As I said, national polls have proven to be reliable measurements of overall popularity, but they don’t necessarily predict the presidential winner accurately.  For example, in 2016 the final Rasmussen poll predicted Clinton to win the popular vote by 1.7%.  She won by 2.1%.  Not a bad prediction as far as it went, but it was misleading.  As we know, Clinton lost the Electoral College vote and, hence, the election.
  4. According to Novak state polls have tended to be less reliable than national polls.   Lackey and pollster Glen Bolger agree and attribute that to (1) there is a segment of voters, most likely lesser educated and Trump supporters, that pollsters don’t reach, and (2) many Trump supporters are reluctant to admit it.  This view is supported by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, which opines that many state polls “underweight” Trump’s support because they often fail to “weight or adjust their samples to include more white voters who [haven’t] graduated college.”  Finally, according to Fox News a recently- published poll disclosed that 62% of voters are “reluctant” to express their true political preferences to pollsters, their employers, their friends or anyone else for fear of retribution (in the form of physical violence or loss of job) or of being mocked.  This feeling was expressed by Dems, GOPers and independents, alike, although it was more prevalent among GOPers.  Given the recent aggressiveness of the “cancel culture,” I find this very plausible.  I have to believe that the preponderance of these respondents are Trump supporters.

CONCLUSION

So, what does all this mean?  Well, for one thing, we should take the polls with a “grain of salt.”  I am not suggesting we ignore them, but we should be mindful of the lessons of 2016.  Mr. Trump’s claim that the polls are misleading and underweight his support may have some basis in fact.  According to Politico he “has a point.”

In my opinion, he may still be losing, but in all likelihood the election will be much closer than most people think.  If I were the Bidens I would not be measuring the White House for curtains just yet.

Quiz Answer:  (1) John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824.  (2) Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden in 1876.  (3) Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland in 1888.  (4) George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000.

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE # XVI

Tuesday night, President Trump resumed White House press briefings regarding the status of the coronavirus.  In response to criticism from some people that these briefings had become too long, elaborate and partisan, it was shorter than the previous ones, was delivered in a calm tone, and with fewer questions from the assembled media.  Wednesday night, he followed up with another press conference that was also short and to the point.

Below please find some of the highlights provided by Mr. Trump in those press conferences.  I don’t wish to bury the lede.  Therefore, I will lead with what I consider to be the most significant point.

  1. There are in excess of 100 potential vaccines in various stages of development.  Two of them, in particular, are entering the final testing phase and may be available shortly.  In anticipation of this the administration has already entered into a distribution deal with Pfizer and Bio Tech to provide a minimum of 100 million doses of the “winning” vaccine for distribution.  Mr. Trump stated that a team from the US Army will handle the logistics.   In my opinion, the imminent prospect of a readily available, safe vaccine “trumps” all the controversial and negative news floating around about his handling of the CV.
  2. Medical professionals have improved treatment protocols in the past few months.  They have discovered various therapeutic treatments, such as remdesivir, that have been effective, particularly when prescribed at an early stage of the CV.
  3. As a result, the average time a CV patient has to remain in the hospital has been cut in half since April.  During that same period, US fatalities have decreased 75%.
  4. The median age of those fatalities is 78.  Despite various precautions that have been employed to protect the elderly (except for Governor Cuomo’s faux pas in NY), approximately 50% of all US fatalities have occurred in nursing homes.  This is despite the fact that seniors make up only approximately 1% of the population.  Even though every death is tragic, this outcome makes sense to me as most of the inhabitants are elderly and in poor health to begin with.
  5. The president described the major elements of a major emphasis on nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  Firstly, FEMA is sending additional PPE to all 15,000 registered NHs, including five-minute and 15-minute test kits..  Secondly, HHS is providing funds from its emergency account to NHs for hiring additional personnel and training them.  Thirdly, HHS will be identifying high-risk NHs in each state and notifying the governors so they can take appropriate action.
  6. The overall fatality rate in the US is about 3.7%.  Approximately, 99.96% of the fatalities are adults.  Children rarely get the CV, and when they do they recover very quickly.  Many times, they don’t even realize they were sick.  I think this fact should be considered when evaluating whether or not to re-open the schools.
  7. Some 20 countries worldwide have already re-opened their schools successfully, so there is empirical evidence that it can be done.  I believe that, although there may be legitimate concerns, on balance it would be beneficial to the children.
  8. The US has administered some 50 million tests, far more than any other country.  Moreover, that is three times the number of tests administered by the rest of the western hemisphere and 50% more per capita than Europe. India, with far more of a population, is second with 12 million.  Obviously, simple math tells you that more tests mean more cases.  I don’t think that is the sole reason for the alarming increase in the number of cases, but certainly it is a factor.  Other possible causes could be (1) the recent spate of demonstrations/rioting sans masks and social distancing, (2) increased travel, and (3) the increase in people congregating in groups socially.
  9. Presently, there are no unfulfilled PPE requests.
  10. The president has dispatched some 7,000 military medical personnel to hotspots in AZ, TX, FL and CA to assist.
  11. President Trump endorsed the use of masks and encouraged people to maintain social distancing but fell short of requiring them.
  12. Both Parties are negotiating an additional aid package.  As usual, the GOP and Dems prefer different approaches. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what provisions the package ultimately contains.  Mr. Trump is likely to sign whatever bill comes out of the Congress.  The enhanced unemployment benefits expire at the end of the week, so time is of the essence.
  13. According to Mr. Trump the overall goal is “not [merely] to manage the pandemic but to eliminate it.”  He wants to shelter high-risk persons, enable non-high-risk persons to return to work, and enable kids to return to school.
  14. In other news of interest the NY Times has reported that (1) recently the daily US death rate exceeded 1,000 persons; (2) United Airlines will be requiring passengers to wear masks in its lounges and baggage areas; (3) Harvard announced it will be barring foreign students from campus; and (4) as many as 1/3 of all museums may not survive the pandemic.

CONCLUSION

Some news channels, notably CNN, declined to telecast the news conference, perhaps, on the basis that they didn’t want to give Mr. Trump additional air time.  Some of them provided highlights, which, likely, were edited selectively to portray Mr. Trump in the worst possible light.  In my opinion, this was an example of irresponsible journalism.  The CV is one of, if not the, most significant news stories of the year.  Regardless of politics, the content of the news conference was certainly newsworthy, and these outlets denied their viewers access to the unedited information.  All that said, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Many of our cities remain in chaos, dominated by lawlessness, rioting, looting, destruction of property, and even murder.  The Democratic mayors and governors of these cities (NY, DC, Philly, Portland, Atlanta, Seattle and LA, among others) and states seem to be unable and/or unwilling to stop it.  The situation cries out for federal assistance, yet, these Dem mayors and governors have refused to allow Mr. Trump to send in federal troops to assist (although he has deployed troops to Portland to protect federal property).

I would love it if someone could explain to me the reason for this, other than blatant politics.  The number one responsibility of government is to provide security and protection for its citizens.  Without that, we have no government, no country.  The Dem administrations in these cities and states have failed dismally.  I hope the voters remember this on Election Day.

A final thought: Nancy Pelosi compared the federal personnel helping out in Portland to “Nazi stormtroopers.”  Really?!  That is not a valid or appropriate comparison in the least.  Moreover, it is an insult to the memory of the six million Jews whom the Nazis murdered in the Holocaust.  I think Ms. Pelosi needs a history lesson.  She also needs to apologize.  I’d like to believe she just made a really stupid, insensitive mistake, but it is possible she said it intentionally to pander to some of her supporters’ anti-Semitic leanings.

ZARKO DOLINAR – HOLOCAUST HERO

I am continually amazed at the bravery and selflessness exhibited by ordinary people during the Holocaust.  Often these feats are not fully recognized until many years later or even after their death.  Also, many of these heroes who risked their lives to help Jews and others were not Jewish, themselves, and therefore were not at risk.  Rather than “sit out” the war they chose to risk their lives to help those in need.  Such is the following case.

Žarko Dolinar was born in Yugoslavia on July 3, 1920.  His parents had immigrated from Slovenia.  Zarko had a natural ability in table tennis.  Americans call it ping pong, although if you have ever watched a table tennis match you know that the manner in which the two sports are played is substantially different.

He worked hard at the sport, and in 1938 at the tender age of 18 Zarko won the Yugoslavia TT championship.  Then, in 1939 he won a bronze medal in the individual international world championships and a silver in the team competition.  That performance elevated him to hero status in Yugoslavia.   He followed up that performance by winning the championship of what was known as the “Independent State of Croatia,” which comprised most of present-day Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  By the advent of WWII Zarko had achieved celebrity status in the region.  As we shall see, this was to be of great assistance to him in his more significant endeavors.

The Nazis invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941.  As they did everywhere, they quickly promulgated anti-Jewish laws as part of their “final solution.”  The handwriting was on the wall.  Zarko and his brother, Boris, were determined to help Jews escape any way they could.

Due to his notoriety Zarko was above reproach.  He had connections and access few others did.   He was able to operate freely anywhere and everywhere under the very noses of the Nazis and their collaborators, including at administrative and municipal offices.   He took full advantage.  When the roundup of young Jews began in June 1941, Zarko and Boris commenced to rescue as many Jews as possible without regard for their personal safety.  Zarko was able to procure blank identity papers and seals, which he and Boris used to create travel permits and identity papers for a large number of Jews.

For example:

  1.   Geršon Apfel, was one of Zarko’s Maccabi students.   In the spring of 1941 he learned that Apfel and all his colleagues in Hashomer Hatzair were scheduled for imminent “deportation.”   Zarko took Apfel into his home, prepared a special pass, called a passierschein, for him, and accompanied him to the train station from where a train would take him to the Hungarian-controlled area, where Jews still lived freely.
  2. Žuži Färler, an acquaintance from the Maccabi Sports Club, requested his help to flee.  Zarko transferred her and her deaf-mute parents to his apartment, arranged documents for them, and, personally escorted the family by train to Sušak, which was in the Italian occupied zone.   In Susak Zarko made sure they had secured accommodations before he returned to Zagreb.
  3. Dr. Josef Deutsch was a Jewish refugee from Germany who had fled to Zagreb, where he was arrested.  Using his connections, Zarko managed to have Deutsch released and assisted him in reaching the partisans.
  4. Similarly, Zarko helped a fellow sportsman, Gustav Perl, to reach Tito’s partisans.

Eventually, the Nazis came to suspect Zarko and Boris of assisting Jews to escape, but, for some reason, they never arrested them.

After the war Zarko was a very busy man.  For example:

  1. He continued to compete internationally winning eight medals in World Table Tennis Championships.  He was generally considered to be Europe’s best player in the mid-1950s.  He was the first Croatian to win a world title.  He won the world’s doubles championship in London in 1954 and was the singles vice-champion in Utrecht in 1955.
  2. He worked as a sports coach in various places, in particular at the Maccabi Sports Club run by the Jewish community in Zagreb.
  3. He designed and produced more than 80 different types of rackets.   
  4. For good measure, Zarko continued his education.   In 1949 he graduated from the University of Zagreb with a degree in veterinary medicine, and in 1959 he earned a doctorate in the field.
  5. Later he became a professor of biology in Basel University in Switzerland.

CONCLUSION

Žarko Dolinar was married to Judith Duić, whose family he and his brother Boris had saved during the Holocaust. They had one daughter.

On September 8, 1993, Yad Vashem recognized Žarko and Boris Dolinar, as Righteous Among the Nations, an honor they truly and fully deserved.   Unfortunately, Boris never lived to see the honor.  He had passed away in 1992.

Zarko passed away on March 9, 2003.  They may be gone, but their memory and accomplishments will live forever.

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN ANOMALIES

In trying to analyze the 2020 presidential campaign I feel somewhat confused.  I feel as though I am living in an alternate reality.  Much of the information seems anomalous to me.  What’s happening does not make sense.  It seems like up is down, and down is up.  Left is right, and right is left.

For example:

  1. All the polls show Biden leading President Trump nationally by anywhere from nine to 14 points.  He is also leading in most of the battleground states.  If those polls are accurate Biden will win in a landslide.  However, based on the higher level of enthusiasm I have observed for Trump from his supporters compared to Biden from his supporters I question whether these polls are accurate.  As in 2016 I think President Trump’s support is greater than they indicate.  Biden may still be ahead, just by not as much.
  2. Most analysts agree that a Biden victory would be a drag on the economy and the stock market for various reasons.  So, given the polls, the stock market should be declining.  Yet, it is rising.  Why?  It is very contradictory.  As I write this, the index is at 26,734, which is a substantial increase from the low of 18,592 on March 23.  It’s as if the index is anticipating a Trump victory.
  3. It seems to me several planks in the Dems’ platform would be too extreme for most Americans.  In a “nutshell” they have adopted the Bernie Sanders socialist platform.  Just a few months ago that was considered to be too radical.  Now, the Dems have embraced it.
  4. In my opinion, the worst idea is the Green New Deal.  Among other things it would eliminate millions of jobs.  It would destroy the coal, oil, gas and automobile industries, among others.  Yet, the polls report Biden is leading in all the states that rely on those industries (PA, MI, and OH, among others).  Why?  Don’t the voters appreciate the ramifications of the GND?  It doesn’t make sense.
  5. The Dems are advocating raising taxes to pay for all their programs.  Historically, raising taxes has been a death knell to any campaign.  Normally, politicians avoid mentioning the “T” word at any cost.  Yet, apparently, not this year.  Don’t middle class voters realize that their taxes would be raised also?  Again, it doesn’t make sense.
  6. The Dems have been unable or unwilling to deal effectively with the rioting, violence, chaos and crime in the cities they control.  Their main strategy has been to defund the police departments in those cities, which has exacerbated the problem.  Most major cities have seen substantial increases in murders and other violent crimes in the past few months.  Few criminals are arrested.  In NYC the “no bail” law enables criminals to get out of jail the same day and return to the streets to reprise their criminal behavior.  According to Forbes Magazine the top ten cities with the highest levels of violent crime are all controlled by Dems, in some cases for decades.  I’m talking about NYC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, Portland, DC and Baltimore, among others.  I know many people who, at this time, will not venture into NYC.  Others who live in those cities are thinking of leaving.  Biden and other leading Dems have refused to condemn this chaos, crime and violence or even criticize it.  This should have hurt the Biden campaign.  Yet, he remains ahead.  Again, illogical.
  7. There are various other inconsistencies, but the aforementioned should serve to illustrate my point.

CONCLUSION

I find it very hard to believe that a majority of voters would be in favor of raising taxes, chaos, violence and crime in the cities, and the Green New Deal.  Moreover, most of the electorate seems to have chosen to ignore or at least discount Biden’s obvious decline in mental acuity.  It is apparent every time he opens his mouth.

Perhaps, they are unaware of the severe ramifications of these policies and Biden’s condition. The Dems are on the wrong side of all these issues.  Furthermore, any objective person would have doubts that Biden will be able to perform the presidential duties of the office.  I have discussed these, in detail, in previous blogs, and there is no need to repeat all of them here.  Trump should be ahead comfortably.  Yet, he is losing.

I can only think of three reasons for this: (1) the irrational hatred of him by about half of the electorate, which is causing many of them to ignore the existential threat of the Dems’ socialist policies (2) the biased media, which continually presents the most negative side of everything he says and does, and (3) he is being blamed for the extent of the coronavirus pandemic.  Nothing can be done about the first two.   With respect to the coronavirus there is plenty of blame to go around.  Trump has not been blameless, yet neither have the state and local politicians, the media and the medical experts.  Information out of China was unreliable, inconsistent, and misleading, especially in the early stages.  All of us were deceived.  Be that as it may, there are multiple reports that we are close to an effective vaccine.  Perhaps, we will have it before the election.  Hopefully, that will save Mr. Trump.