FLAG DAY

Today, June 14, is Flag Day.  The week June 14-20 is designated as “National Flag Week.” This year the American Flag, aka “Old Glory,” is 243 years old.  The purpose of FD is to commemorate the adoption of the flag as the official flag of the Thirteen Colonies by the Second Continental Congress by resolution on June 14, 1777.  So, the flag is several years older than the United States, itself.  FD is not an official federal holiday.

Below please find some points of information with respect to FD and the flag, itself:

  1. The evolution of the design is murky and in dispute.  According to one account the traditional design of the flag was the brainchild of Francis Hopkinson, a Continental Congressman from New Jersey.  Hopkinson was also a consultant to the creation of the Great Seal of the US.  Popular legend has held that several of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, commissioned Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia upholsterer and flag-maker, to design the first official flag.  This version has been defended and perpetuated throughout the years by various of her descendants.  However, currently, it is not generally supported by most historians for various reasons.   Based on my research the likelihood is that several persons had a hand in the design.  For instance, at the time of the Revolution there were well over a dozen flag-makers in Philadelphia alone.  Apparently, Ross was involved to some degree.  She is generally credited with replacing the original six-point star with the five-point star.
  2. There are various theories of the origin and meaning of the design and meaning of the stars and stripes.  The likelihood is the ideas for them were derived from a combination of other flags, such as the Sons of Liberty flag and those of various European nations.  More certain is the notion that the 13 stars and stripes represent the original 13 colonies.  As most of us know, over the years, an additional star has been added representing each additional state, for a current total of 50, and their shape on the flag has changed from a circle to columns and rows.  Other than Alaska and Hawaii, can you name the last state added and the date?  See answer below.
  3.  June 14 is also the US Army’s birthday.  It was on this date in 1775 that the Continental Congress established the “American Continental Army.”
  4.  FD has always been a day exhibiting great patriotism and pride, although from time to time there have been some dissenters.  (See below).
  5.  Traditionally, most towns and cities have held parades to honor the flag, although this year due to fears of the Coronavirus, there may be fewer celebrations.
  6.  Several locales, such as Fairfield, CT, Appleton, WI, and Quincy, MA, have claimed to have the “longest running” or “oldest continuous” FD parades.  There is not universal agreement as to which claim is accurate.
  7.  According to Wikipedia the earliest suggestion of a FD to honor the flag was by one George Morris of CT in 1861.  The idea spread quickly.
  8. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson was the first president to issue a proclamation designating June 14 as FD.
  9.  As we know, it is customary to honor the flag by singing the National Anthem before sporting events.  According to UShistory.org., this custom began in the 19th century, albeit sporadically, as the Star Spangled Banner became increasingly popular.  In 1918 and then during WWII it was sung to honor our troops in combat.  Then, after WWII the tradition remained and also spread to other sporting events as we see today.
  10.  We have all observed the ceremonious folding of the flag, for example, at funerals.  The flag is folded 13 times.  Each fold has a meaning, but is not universal among the various branches of the Armed Services.
  11. In 1937 Pennsylvania became first state to designate FD as a state holiday.
  12.  In 1942 President FDR proclaimed a “United Flag Day” or “United Nations Day” to express solidarity among the Allies fighting in WWII.
  13.  In 1949 Congress designated FD as a National Holiday.

CONCLUSION

Unfortunately, this year’s holiday celebration will likely be marred by protests as some groups have been using the flag as a symbol of what they believe is wrong with America.  The flag has been used as a means of protest before, most notably during the Vietnam War when some protestors burned or otherwise desecrated the flag as a means of expressing displeasure with that war.

For the most part, although by tradition most Americans show respect for the flag and what it represents by standing and removing hats when the National Anthem is played there are some who have chosen to air their grievances by kneeling.  This began in 2016 when some National Football League players chose to kneel instead of standing during the playing of the National Anthem in order to, in their words, “raise awareness of racism and police brutality” in America.   If and when professional sports return from the COVID-19 lockdown we are likely to see further protests.

This has been a very controversial issue, and I don’t want to get bogged down in the details in this blog.  Suffice to say, there are several pros and cons.  Polls have been inconsistent.  A recent Washington Post poll disclosed that a slight majority of Americans are opposed to kneeling, but it also disclosed that the gap has narrowed.   In the current climate support for kneeling is likely to grow.

Personally, I am opposed to kneeling.  I understand the reasons for it, but, to me, the overriding factor is that it disrespects the flag and all the people who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  It tends to harden positions on both sides to the point that sensible, rational discussion of the issues becomes very difficult.  I think the protesters would be well advised to find other ways to express their grievances.

Quiz answer:  Arizona 2/10/1912, about one month after New Mexico.

 

BLACK LIVES MATTER, A RADICAL AND DANGEROUS GROUP

I am frightened. Truly frightened. And you should be too. I am not frightened for me, necessarily, personally, but for where I fear America is heading. I will explain below.
Like most of you I have been watching and reading the media’s reporting of the demonstrations and the rioting. Additionally, I watched some of the coverage of Floyd’s funeral today. Not to diminish the grisly manner in which he was killed, but I thought the event was a bit excessive. It was as if a Head of State had died.

Like everyone else, I think the brutal murder of George Floyd was horrific, and I hope and expect that the criminal justice system will mete out the appropriate punishment to the four policemen for their crime. But, I have to say that, at this point, the rioting and demonstrations have gone far beyond honoring George Floyd. It has even gone beyond addressing police brutality and racism, real or perceived, in a calm, rational manner. If the protesters really want meaningful changes they need to tone down the violence and the rhetoric a little.

I will stipulate that people are within their constitutional rights to demonstrate peacefully, and many have done so. In this blog, however, I am referring to the rioters, who have been far from peaceful.

To wit:

  1.  Like most people, I was surprised at how quickly the rioting spread to dozens of other cities.
  2.  I was shocked and dismayed by the fact that the rioters have been allowed to destroy property and attack police and innocent law abiding citizens. In many cases, the police just stood by and let it happen. In other cases, perpetrators were arrested, but, due to no-bail laws, they were released immediately and returned to the streets where they reprised their rioting.
  3.  Many police officers and innocent bystanders, some of whom were trying to protect their businesses, and many of whom were minorities or immigrants, have been assaulted, beaten, shot and/or murdered. These crimes have been underreported by the media, because they do not fit its narrative.
  4.  Now, the rioters, no doubt emboldened by their success, have radicalized their demands. No longer satisfied with railing against perceived police racism and violence toward minorities, they are advocating defunding the police. In some cases, defunding means cutting funds allocated to policing. That is bad enough, but in other cases they are demanding to eliminate the police entirely. As I explained in a previous blog this idea is simply insane. All citizens, white and black, rich and poor, young and old, healthy or infirmed, rely on the police to protect them, to maintain law and order. Law abiding people living in poor neighborhoods, which consist, disproportionally, of minorities need (and want) them most of all.
  5.  I believe that, at times, AAs have been singled out and treated disrespectfully by some police and that needs to be addressed and rectified.  I also believe these instances have decreased in number as more minorities and women have joined the police.  On the other hand, there is substantial data that indicates systemic police racism is a false narrative, created and perpetuated by radical groups and the media. Yes, there are some bad apples, but I don’t view it as systemic as some have claimed. Peter Kirsanow, an AA member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, supports this conclusion. In his opinion, the data shows that AAs are “not disproportionally more likely to be shot [or] killed by cops.”
  6.  I know that data can be twisted every which-way, but the reality is very few unarmed minorities are killed by policemen. It’s just that when an incident does occur it is front-page news, because it “sells.” For instance, we all know about the murder of George Floyd, but how many of you know about the murder of David Dorn. Dorn, a retired police captain, was murdered a few days later by a vandal who was breaking into a pawn shop that he was guarding. He was shot and left to bleed to death on the sidewalk while callous bystanders recorded his last moments on their cell phones. That was just as tragic, but because he was shot by a black looter, not a policeman, it has been underreported.
  7.  A small, but aggressive, vicious and vociferous minority has been pushing the insane defunding idea. “Black Lives Matter” has emerged as the driving force. BLM has even suggested substituting a private police force (consisting of BLM members) to replace the police. Yikes!
  8.  Even though recent polls show that only 16% of the public is in favor of defunding police at the moment, BLM, with a big assist from the progressive media and some far left Dems, has succeeded in intimidating the rest of the populace into silence. I believe few mainstream lawmakers, Dems or GOP, are in favor of this but so far none has been willing to speak out.
  9.  Elected officials in various cities, such as NYC and LA, are now advocating reducing funds for their respective police forces to the point where their effectiveness will likely be degraded seriously. It has been suggested that unarmed social workers, rather than cops, should be sent to deal with domestic disputes. That is a terrible idea. Any cop will tell you that domestic disputes are the most dangerous and dreaded calls. Unarmed social workers are not remotely equipped to deal with them.
  10.  Minneapolis, however, “takes the cake.” Its city council claims to have “veto proof” support for eliminating its police force entirely. With what would it be replaced? Not clear. Apparently, the geniuses on the council haven’t thought it through yet. When a CNN reporter asked City Council President Lisa Bender, whom she would contact if someone were to break into her home her disdainful reply was that calling the police was a sign of “privilege.” Huh? I guess in her mind, living is also a sign of privilege. As the lyrics from the song, Bad Boys go, “what ya gonna do when they come for you?”
  11.  Mayor Jacob Frey attempted to have a rational discussion with one group of demonstrators regarding this issue. Big mistake. They drowned him out with hoots and boos and told him to “get the f**k out,” which he did.

CONCLUSION

So, why am I so frightened for America? Where do I fear this is headed?  As I said, I believe that BLM is a small, aggressive, vicious group of agitators that has managed to intimidate the rest of the populace. The truth of the matter is I believe most people agree with Dr. Ben Carson that ALL lives matter – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, young, old, men, women, children, yours and mine. That’s an opinion that needs to be expressed more often, but most people are too cowed to say it, at least in public. I say it now. Every life is precious. All lives matter. We only get one apiece, and as my friend , Marvin, says, “this ain’t a ‘dress rehearsal.’ ”

In the current political and social climate no one is allowed to criticize BLM and its ideas. Those who do, are likely to be ridiculed, labeled a racist, fired from their jobs, and/or attacked verbally or physically. As a result, the majority, which, as we know from polls, opposes their ideas, is nonetheless remaining silent, hoping, no doubt that the group will simply go away.

Well, I’m not so sure that they will, and therein lies the crux of my blog. In my view, this group is extremely dangerous. It reminds me of similar small, aggressive, vicious minorities that started out as insignificant, were ignored by the majority and metastasized until they controlled the country. History gives us many examples, but I will cite just a few: (1) the Bolsheviks of Russia in the 1920s under Lenin, (2) the Chinese communists of post-WWII under Mao, (3) the Nazis in 1930s Germany under Hitler. and (4) the McCarthy movement of the 1950s in the US.

I hope I am wrong, but I feel strongly that the potential is there. The 2020 presidential election will be pivotal. Dems running for election will be caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” between the hard left who want radical, over-the-top change and the more moderate mainstream Dems who comprise the majority of the Party.

Biden, who even in highly controlled public appearances has demonstrated the inability to put a few sentences together cogently and who changes policy positions depending on his audience, is still leading in most polls. There are various reasons for this, which I have discussed in previous blogs and will again prospectively. But, suffice to say, I fear he would be incapable of standing up to BLM. I am not even sure he would want to. In that case, there is a good chance that my fear will come to fruition.

D-DAY

D-Day.  That’s all one has to say.  Most everyone knows what it was and what it meant. Just the very name conjures up remembrances and images of one of the bloodiest battles and one of the turning points of WWII.  The battle has been memorialized in books and movies, and who can forget the poignant image of countless crosses and Stars of David neatly lined up in military cemeteries in Normandy.

Today, Saturday, June 6 marks the 76th anniversary of this epic battle.  The Allied Forces included some 156,000 troops from various countries, including the US, UK, Free France, Canada and Norway, among others, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 11,000 planes, 50,000 land vehicles, and coordinated landings over a 50 mile stretch of beaches code-named Juno, Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, truly a massive undertaking.  Allied and German casualties have been estimated as high as 20,000 killed, wounded, missing and captured. If you were involved in the actual landing, whether you lived or died was largely a matter of luck and happenstance – two men would be sitting side-by-side in an LST and a German bullet would kill one and not the other.  Think about that for a minute.

In addition to the German guns the soldiers had to deal with the rough surf.  Wearing their battle gear made them heavy and unwieldy, and many of them actually drowned before reaching the beach.  The movie Saving Private Ryan depicts this grisly scene quite clearly and gruesomely.

If you were lucky enough to survive the landing, you became a “sitting duck” on the beach.  Then, if you managed to fight your way off the beach you had to charge into several thousand heavily-armed German troops, which were placed strategically in fortified bunkers.  Once you fought your way past those, you were ready to commence the real battle to liberate France.  Keep in mind, many of these soldiers were just kids as young as 17 and, no doubt, scared s***less.

Planning for the operation began as early as 1943.  Russia, one of our allies at the time (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”), had been lobbying strongly for a second front to alleviate some of the pressure from the Russian Front.  Military leaders on both sides recognized the significance of a second front and expected the Allies to attempt to open one at some point.  The question was where and when.  The Allies were not prepared to attempt such a massive landing until early 1944, primarily because they needed time to build up levels of men and material.  Remember, the Allies were fighting in the Mediterranean and North Africa as well.  Plus, the US was involved in the Pacific War against the Japanese.  Finally, the British’s fighting capacity had been severely damaged in the debacle at Dunkirk in 1940.  Only a remarkable evacuation, aided by thousands of civilian small boats, prevented the Germans from capturing or destroying their entire army on the beach.

The Operation was code-named Operation Overlord.  The landing, itself, was code-named Operation Neptune.  General Eisenhower was in charge.  Indeed, he was in charge of the entire Atlantic Theatre.  As the story goes, when he was put in charge his orders were very simple – “Win the War.”  No confusion; no limited rules of engagement, which hampered us in Viet Nam and other future conflicts.  “Just win, baby.”

The Allies considered four possible landing sites: Brittany, Cotentin Peninsula, Pas de Calais and Normandy.  The first two were eliminated primarily because they were located on peninsulas, which would have afforded very narrow fronts that would have enabled the Germans to trap the soldiers in a counterattack.  That left Normandy and Calais.  Once the Allies decided on Normandy there were many attempts to deceive the Germans into thinking the landings would be at Calais.  Historical evidence indicates that the Germans thought Calais the most likely site anyway, possibly because it was closer to England, but both sites were heavily fortified.  Indeed, the Germans had planned to fortify the entire coast from Norway to Spain, a so-called “Atlantic Wall.”  This would have included concrete emplacements, barbed wire, booby traps, mines, the removal of ground cover, and, of course, troops and armored equipment.  Luckily for us, these fortifications were never completed.  Interestingly, although most of the German High Command viewed Calais as the most likely landing site, General Rommel, perhaps the best general on either side, surmised correctly that it would likely be at Normandy.

Accordingly, he increased fortifications in the area, but, luckily for us he was out of favor for political reasons, so some key elements of his plans for defending the area were ignored or overruled.  Most notably, some panzer divisions, which he had wanted to place in the Normandy area were, instead, retained in and around Paris.

In addition, the German Army was stretched very thinly.  Much of its manpower was committed to the Eastern Front and had been depleted by heavy casualties after five years’ of intense fighting.  Finally, it was relying, for the most part, on captured equipment, which was not of high quality.

One of the biggest unknowns, and one that the Allies could not control, was the weather. Due to the complexity of the operation conditions had to be just so, including the tides, phases of the moon and the time of day.  Only a few days of a given month satisfied all criteria.  For example, a full moon was preferred to provide maximum illumination for the pilots.  Remember, instrumentation then was primitive compared to what it is now.

Additionally, dawn, which was between low and high tide, was the preferred time of day. That way, as the high tide came in it would carry the LSTs farther in on the beach, and the men could spot obstacles, such as land mines, more easily.  High winds, heavy seas and low cloud cover were not favorable.  The planners were determined to wait for a day with ideal weather conditions so as to maximize the chances of success for a very risky and dangerous mission.  In fact, the operation was postponed several times before June 6.

As we know, the operation was a success.  Some of the major reasons for this were:

1. The aforementioned missions to deceive the Germans forced them to spread their defenses over a wide area.

2. The “Atlantic Wall” was only about 20% complete.

3. The Allies achieved air superiority quickly.

4. Much of the transportation infrastructure in France had been damaged by Allied bombings and the French resistance, which hampered the Germans’ ability to move men and material.

5. The German high command was disorganized and indecisive.

CONCLUSION

If, as many historians believe, winning WWII was one America’s greatest achievements, then it can be argued that D-Day was one of our greatest victories.  Certainly, its success shortened the war in Europe and, in the process, saved countless lives (combatants and non-combatants alike).

It’s a shame that, with the passage of time, there are so few veterans of this battle still alive.  Even the youngest ones are in their 90s.

Each year, thousands of people visit the area to pay their respects to those who gave their lives. Special commemorative events are held not only in Normandy but also at other locations in the US, Canada and the UK, among others.

This year, however, due to the CV the commemoration will be downscaled considerably.  Currently, France is banning public gatherings in excess of ten persons.  Therefore, attendance will be limited to a very few dignitaries.  A small, limited ceremony will be streamed as will a “flypast.”  Hopefully, next year the celebrations will return to normalcy.

In WWII we had a clear-cut goal, win the war; the nation was united in support of the war, our government and our troops; we knew who the enemy was; we knew the Axis Powers were evil (Hitler, in particular, was one of the most despicable men ever to walk the face of the earth.); and there was no holding back.  Sadly, we have never had such clarity of purpose again, and, sadly, perhaps, we never will.

DEFUND THE POLICE?

You have to hand it to the Far Left in one sense.  They have the capacity to come up with one wild idea after another.  As soon as one is debunked they come up with another, and another, and another.  For example, they spent three years trying to overturn the 2016 election.  They pushed a false Russian collusion narrative.  They falsified FISA warrants in order to spy on Mr. Trump and certain of his subordinates and supporters.  They subjected the president to a biased Mueller investigation.  They wasted our time and money pursuing the impeachment of President Trump.   They pushed the insane Green New Deal.  But just when you thought they’d gone as far as they could go with their craziness they have come up with the most insane idea yet.  They want to defund local police departments.

Why?  The reason given most often is that old standby, racism.  They would have us believe that the overwhelming majority of police are racist.  They would have you believe that the police go to work every day thinking “how many people of color can I abuse or murder today.”  Yes, there are some “bad apples.”  No one is denying that.  We just saw four of them in action last week.

As I have discussed in previous blogs we all agree that what they did to George Floyd was horrendous.  And, yes, I will concede that many blacks have been unfairly and inappropriately targeted for “stops” and mistreated.  This should be addressed and corrected, and many police departments are doing just that.  But, actual racists are few and far between, certainly when compared to prior years.  Modern police forces include a large percentage of minorities and women who are more understanding of the citizens they serve; it’s not a case of white male police victimizing people of color.  In my opinion, the rioting and wanton violence we are seeing every day, has changed the narrative and obscured these issues.

According to a poll published by the Washington Post police shootings and killings of both people of color and in total have declined considerably.  Despite what the media and the pols tell you, various polls have consistently reflected the public’s positive views towards the police, especially when compared to other institutions.

For example:

  1. According to a recent Gallup Poll 53% of respondents had a “great deal of confidence” in the police.  That degree of confidence far exceeded that of any other institution in the poll.
  2. Congress brought up the rear at 11%.
  3. According to a recent Pew Poll 90% of blacks who had had recent encounters with the police believed they acted “properly.”
  4. Reflecting the fact that most Americans are fed up, scared and crave law and order a recent poll reported about 70% of Americans want the National Guard to be deployed in cities asap.
  5. Alternatively, 58% want the military so deployed asap.
  6. That is most assuredly not the impression one gets from the media and political leaders.  Good and routine does not sell; bad and violent does.  The timeworn phrase “if it bleeds, it leads” is true.

Primarily based on the false narrative of racism, defunding, partially or totally, is gaining momentum, not among normal people, but among politicians, the elites, and the media.

For example:

  1. LA mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed cutting police funding in the city by some $150,000, which is about 10%.
  2.  In Minneapolis, in which over 2/3 of the city’s businesses have been destroyed by rioters, an overwhelming majority of the members of the City Council has endorsed reducing funding to the police.
  3.  NYC’s Mayor De Blasio is proposing to cut police funding by $1 billion.
  4.  The Atlantic has offered the following wandering generality meaningless platitude: “America needs to rethink its priorities for the whole criminal justice system.”
  5.  “Black Lives Matter,” which has been a staunch advocate of defunding has proposed to replace the police with its own private police force.  That should send chills up your spine.

The defunding movement is well-organized and well-funded.  Despite the polls and the opposition among diverse groups as demonstrated above, it is gaining momentum.  It appears that many locales will likely be cutting funding.

Who is in favor of it?  Why?  Glad you asked.  Put on your “Dr. Spock” hat and think logically.  Who stands to gain?  Not the poor and working class minorities as indicated by the above polls.  They live in the high crime areas and crave police protection.  They would like to be able to walk down the street without being accosted and victimized by the corner thug.  They would like to be safe in their own home.  They would like to be able to sit on their couch or lie in their bed and not be shot by a random bullet. Not the immigrant who came to the US to escape violence.   Not the average citizen who does not live in a gated community with 24/7 security.  Not the small business owner who is trying to live the American Dream and not see his life’s work destroyed in minutes.

Who then?  Who benefits?  Think money and power.  Of course, it’s the elites, the “ruling class,” and make no mistake about it, we have one in America.  It’s the politicians who want to stay in power.  It’s the wealthy and powerful of all stripes including athletes, entertainers, business leaders, politicians, powerful corporations, and media moguls, among others, who are and would continue to be insulated from all the ensuing chaos.

They have been orchestrating this entire movement.  It is too well funded and well-organized to be random.  Who has been funding bail for rioters?  Clueless celebrities.  Who has been storing caches of bricks all over NYC and other cities?  Likely, ANTIFA and other violent, far-left groups. Do you think that thousands of people independently decided one day to riot with bricks and bottles and weapons?

Meanwhile, certain politicians and media talking heads have added fuel to the fire.

For instance:

  1. CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo continue to characterize the rioters as “frustrated” and “angry” “protestors” and “demonstrators.”  A rare voice of reason belonged to Juan Williams, co-host of The Five.  Normally, an ardent progressive, he opined “adopting calls by the far left to defund the police would have a disproportionately large impact on poor neighborhoods.”
  2.  NY Senator Chuck Schumer dismissed the rioters as being in the minority, and praised the “protestors” as being part of the “tradition of NY” (whatever that means).
  3. Joe Biden continues to pander and flip flop.  Long an advocate of the police and a sponsor of the Crime Bill, he now is calling for “police reforms,” whatever that means, and the establishment of a Police Oversight Commission to study the issue (a classic case of “kicking the can down the road”).  His abrupt change of attitude strikes me as opportunistic and insincere.  In any event, it has drawn the ire of Bill Johnson, the director of the 200,000 member National Association of Police Organization, a long-time supporter, who characterized his comments as “way left and off the deep end.”

Many people see something even more sinister.  There are those who see this as a means to sow so much chaos and fear that it would cost Mr. Trump the 2020 election.  Before you scoff at that notion, again, think who gains?

CONCLUSION

So what will happen to cities where defunding succeeds?  In my opinion, law and order is essential to our free society.  We have laws that must be enforced.  We have rights that must be protected.  Without law enforcement all that would break down and quickly.

If someone is attacking you, attempting to break into your house or steal your car whom would you call for help?  “Ghostbusters?   Remember most of us do not carry guns.  Many of us are elderly, children, weak, or infirmed.  We need the police to protect us.  That is their function.  That is their job.  Think Mad Max and the movie series, The Purge.  If you haven’t seen those movies do so, and you will come away terrified.

The absence of police would leave a power vacuum.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  It would be filled quickly by another power.  Who?  Whoever is the most powerful.  Whoever is capable of strong-arming everyone else.  Most likely, the strongest, most vicious criminal in the area, akin to the warlords we see in various lawless countries.  If this scenario scares you, good; it should.  If you don’t think it can happen here, think again.

THE DEVASTATION OF AMERICA

And, the devastation of America goes on… and on…. and on right before our very eyes, and we seem powerless to stop it.  What the British couldn’t do in the War of 1812, what the Mexicans couldn’t do in the Mexican War, what the Germans couldn’t do in WWI, what the Great Depression couldn’t do in the 1930’s, what the Japanese and the Germans, again, couldn’t do in WWII, what the North Koreans couldn’t do in the Korean Conflict, what the North Vietnamese couldn’t do in the Vietnam War, what the Russians couldn’t do in the Cold War, what all the various Islamic terrorist groups and the Chinese have been unable to do, what even the CV Pandemic couldn’t do, what no enemy has been able to do in our 250 plus years’ history, we are doing to ourselves.

It is appalling to watch.  Every night we are witnessing it live and in color on tv.   It’s as if America has devolved into a lawless third world country in which the criminals have free rein.  As Fox News host Tucker Carlson pointed out history remembers very few Roman emperors, but we do remember Nero, who supposedly “fiddled while Rome burned.”  Right now, our elected leaders are “fiddling” while America burns.

If someone had predicted this a few weeks ago they would have been dismissed as a nut job, but here we are.  It is happening before our very eyes.  It is real.  And, it’s getting worse.

As you know, it began as a brutal, horrific, horrendous and wanton murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman named Derek Chauvin while three other policemen just stood around and watched.  Everyone who has seen the video has agreed that it was murder.  I have not heard one person defend the policemen’s actions.  Not one.  For probably the first time regarding these types of incidents all Americas are in agreement.  All Americans don’t agree on ANYTHING.  Yet, in this case we do.

So, then, how did we get to the place we are in now?  Good question.  There are many opinions, but here’s mine.

  1. It started out as peaceful demonstrations in one place, Minneapolis.
  2. Floyd’s murder touched a nerve in the AA community as many have long felt there is an underlying prejudice toward them by the police.  Many of them have endured personal experiences of prejudice.  Others have not experienced this and may fail to understand it.  This is an issue that should be debated peacefully.  Whatever, the grievances, violence is not the way to resolve them.  It just obscures the real issue, and prevents reasoned, peaceful debate, which, as advocated by esteemed civil rights leaders such as Gandhi, King and Mandela, is the only way to do it.
  3.  The local police failed to contain these demonstrations, so they quickly morphed into violent rioting not only in Minneapolis but in other cities as well, dozens and dozens of them.
  4. Now, we have gone far beyond peaceful demonstrations.  It is no longer about George Floyd.  It is no longer about how the police may treat AAs differently than Caucasians.  Now, we have looting, destruction of property, mayhem, and murder.
  5.  Now, the situation has spun out of control and is threatening the very fabric of our society.
  6.  And, still most of the local and state governments have failed to take decisive action.

The mob is unhappy that Chauvin’s accomplices – Thomas Lane, J. A. Kueng and Tau Thao  – though fired, have not been arrested as yet.  I don’t like it either, but I am not about to commence looting and burning over it.  I accept prosecutor Keith Ellison’s explanation that he wants to be “careful” and “methodical” in building his case. (Thank God, he is black, or else you know there would be charges of racism.)

Remember, according to that pesky little document, the Constitution, we provide the accused with due process in this day and age in the US.  We don’t just round up suspects and kill them.  This is not the Wild West of the late 19th century or the Old South.  We gather evidence, build a case, take it to trial, and a jury of the accused’s peers renders a verdict.  Often, the process takes months or even years to run its course.  Whereas in this instance some may view it as too slow, that’s the way it is in the US.  That’s the way it HAS to be or else our whole system crashes and burns (so to speak).

As usual, the majority of the destroyed property was owned by poor minorities or immigrants who have seen their life’s work destroyed in a matter of minutes.  As usual, this aspect of the event has been severely and tragically underreported.

As usual, much of the media has irresponsibly strayed far beyond reporting the facts.  I believe many outlets have been fanning the flames for ratings and/or to promote their political agendas.  For example, they often describe the rioting as “protests,” “demonstrations,” or “unrest.”  That is such a mischaracterization.  Call it what it is, rioting, criminal destruction of property, wanton violence, assault, and murder.   Condemn these criminals.  Don’t act like we have it coming.  Don’t toss around inflammatory phrases like “white privilege.”  Criticize the mayors and governors for cowardly inaction while their cities are being destroyed.  But, no, that would destroy their narrative.

President Trump has offered/threatened to employ the National Guard and/or the military to quell the violence.  Polls show Americans would favor that by 2:1.  Yet, many, if not most, Dems and the media, such as Don Lemon and Jim Acosta, have called him a dictator for that.  Moreover, with everything that is going on they have criticized him for walking through Lafayette park to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church and giving an uplifting speech holding a Bible.

Additionally, they have criticized him for “hiding in a bunker.”  They are too stupid to realize that in a crisis he has no choice.  According to Fox News analyst, Dana Perino, who worked in the White House as press secretary to Bush 43, the Secret Service tells him, “Mr. President, we are taking you to the bunker,” and that’s that.  They will carry him forcefully, if necessary.

Biden has emerged from his bunker to deliver a pandering speech in which he criticized cops as perpetrators of “systemic racism.”  Conveniently, he barely mentioned the rioters’ violence.  Biden is such a pandering phony. He did not offer any specific plan.  In his 50 years in politics, eight of which he was VP what has he done to advance the cause of AAs in America.  Whatever systemic racism may exist he helped to foster and perpetuate.

Think about the plight and the mindset of the average middle class citizen as opposed to the wealthy elites and talking heads on tv who are ensconced safely in their gated communities with their own private security, and who love to lecture us.

  1.  The pols have instituted policies and passed laws designed to severely restrict our second amendment right to protect ourselves.
  2. Using the CV as an excuse many of them have released convicted felons from prison.
  3.  In NY they have promulgated a policy of “no bail.”  So, now, being arrested is a joke.  We have a virtual revolving door.  Those arrested are often released back onto the street the same day, free to reprise their crimes.
  4.  In view of the foregoing, a strong police force is the only protection ordinary citizens have.  Yet, policemen have been vilified by liberal pols and media and  physically attacked, injured and even murdered to the point where many of them think twice before getting involved in an incident.

Tell me honestly, under these circumstances would you feel safe walking down a street in NYC, Philly, Chicago, LA or any other city for that matter, especially at night?  Would you feel comfortable if your wife, mother, or kids did so?

CONCLUSION

As I have said  many times, we elect politicians to govern us, to protect us, and to preserve our society.   This is no time for elected officials to hide under their bed.  Now is the time to take decisive action.

Instead, we being subjected to the private feud between NY Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor De Blasio over who is to blame for the failure to quell the riots in NYC.  Cuomo has even threatened to “remove” De Blasio from office for incompetence.  He has since apologized, but, in my view, Cuomo clearly is right.  De Blasio is incompetent on so many levels I would need a separate blog to describe them all. This spat would be humorous if the situation weren’t so critical.

I say to the politicians, you sought the power and notoriety of political office. You must also accept the responsibility of it. Do your job. Put on your “big boy pants,” and make the tough, perhaps, unpopular decisions.  Otherwise, it will be incumbent on us, the voters, to elect people who will.

PROTESTS OR RIOTS?

First, let’s dispense with the 500 pound gorilla.  I think we can all agree that the murder of George Floyd was horrific, unconscionable, horrendous, appalling, grisly, and….. I’ve run out of words, but you get the idea.

No one who has seen the video of Floyd lying face down in the street with his hands handcuffed behind his back and police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pressing on his neck can possibly disagree with that conclusion nor defend Chauvin’s actions.  Whatever Floyd may or may not have done prior to that does not justify Chauvin’s actions, nor, for that matter, the inaction of the other three police officers on the scene.

Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter; as I write this, the others have been fired but not charged.  That could very well change as the investigations continue. Ben Crump, the Floyd family attorney, is not satisfied.  He is advocating for a charge of first degree murder, but as he well knows the DA will normally only bring charges that he feels he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  This case is now under a microscope.  I am confident the criminal justice system will do its job properly and “by the book.”

Thank God, we have the video.  Usually, in cases like this we have to rely on the account of witnesses who often have divergent recollections of the incident and/or have their own agendas.

The primary focus of this blog, however, is not on the act, itself, so much as the aftermath.   For the past few days, like you, I have sat transfixed and horrified by what I have seen on my tv screen.  I feel  like I am witnessing scenes from a third-world country where lawlessness and violence are the norm.  I have watched undisciplined mobs of rioters in several cities burning, looting and assaulting wantonly and indiscriminately.

Make no mistake about it.  These are not “protests;” they are “riots.”   Many people, including some in the media, have been mischaracterizing them, perhaps intentionally, perhaps, out of carelessness or ignorance.  In any event, for their edification, Wikipedia defines a “protest” as a “PEACEFUL display of displeasure or disapproval” usually characterized by “marching, chanting, or [displaying] signs.”  Notice the word “peaceful.”  The right to protest is an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution, that pesky little document that is sometimes overlooked or ignored.

A “riot” is characterized by “violent display[s].”  The perpetrators are not engaged in peaceful, orderly demonstrations such as we have often seen in the past.  By engaging in rioting, they, themselves, are criminals.   To characterize them as protestors is disingenuous at the very least.

This is no longer about Floyd and police brutality.  It has morphed into out and out lawlessness.  It is being fueled by anarchists and criminals who don’t care about Floyd.  Probably, most of them are not even Minneapolis residents and therefore have no compunction in whether or not it is destroyed.  This situation cannot be tolerated in a free, orderly society such as ours.

Predictably, as reported by various news outlets,the rioting has spread to many other cities such as NYC, Chicago, Oakland, Atlanta and Louisville.  It is spreading like, excuse the term, wildfire.  In Atlanta, as rioters were attacking the CNN logo Mayor Keisha Bottoms implored them to just “stop their violence and simply go home.”   Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters, “There is no excuse for the destruction of property …. This is not protest; it is violence.”

Finally, after letting the mobs run wild for several days burning, looting and attacking, Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey have sprung into action.  Today, Saturday, Walz announced the mobilization of the state’s National Guard (for the first time in its 164-year history).  What took him so long?  Who knows.  Maybe, someone should ask him.  Frey, having ordered the police to stand down, is also complicit.   No doubt, many of us are wondering how, in an environment where people are being arrested for having a “catch” in a park or going to the gym to work out these rioters are being ignored.  As Dr. Spock might have said, “that is not logical.”

Furthermore, Fox News has reported that President Trump has placed some units of federal troops on standby, to deploy if needed.  Let’s hope they are not.

CONCLUSION

As I said at the outset, it is apparent what happened.  We can all see it on the video.  The city, state and federal authorities are investigating.   I am confident justice will be done.

In the meantime, that pesky little document we call the Constitution guarantees perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes due process.  Even terrorists like KSM, assassins like Sirhan Sirhan and mass murderers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson received it.

We don’t just round up suspects and kill them.  This is not the Wild West of the late 19th century or the Old South.  We gather evidence, build a case, take it to trial, and a jury of the accused’s peers renders a verdict.  Often, the process takes months or even years to run its course.   Whereas in this instance some may view it as too slow, that’s the way it is in the US.  That’s the way it HAS to be or else our whole system crashes and burns (so to speak)

As usual, much of the media has irresponsibly gone far beyond reporting the facts.  I don’t want to get political, but I believe many outlets have been fanning the flames for ratings and/or to promote their political agendas.   For example, Reverend Al, everyone’s favorite race baiter, who somehow has a job as a political analyst on MSNBC, actually castigated the rioters not for destroying property per se but for burning down BLACK-OWNED property.  Apparently, in his mind, it’s ok to destroy white-owned businesses.

As usual, the majority of the destroyed property was owned by poor minorities or immigrants who have seen their life’s work destroyed in a matter of minutes.  As usual, this aspect of the event has been severely and tragically underreported.

We elect politicians to govern us and to protect us. I say, this is no time for elected officials to hide under their bed.  You sought the power and notoriety of political office.  You must also accept the responsibility of it.  Do your job.  Put on your “big boy pants,” and make the tough, perhaps, unpopular decisions.  Otherwise, it will be incumbent on us, the voters, to elect people who will.

AN ELECTION PARADOX

In my opinion, the 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be a huge paradox.  Historically, a sitting president running for re-election has had a substantial advantage, particularly if the economy has been good, and there is no external threat to national security.  Most of the time they have won re-election, especially under those conditions.

Earlier this year, before the advent of the CV pandemic it seemed like form was holding.  It looked like President Trump would win re-election handily, despite the three-year witch hunt of Russia collusion, which finally had been discredited, and the “trumped-up” (pun intended) impeachment.  But, then, the CV changed everything.   The CV was and is the unforeseen, unanticipated development, the fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench, the wild-card.

For the past three plus years all the polls have shown consistently that to approximately half of the electorate, President Trump is unpopular personally.   They tend to focus on his personality and discount or ignore his achievements.  The other half does essentially the opposite.  They focus on what he does, not what he says.  Prior to the advent of the CV I believe, on balance, President Trump’s achievements had outweighed any perceived personality defects, and his supporters had the edge.

For example:

  1. The twin threats of terrorism, in general, and ISIS, in particular, had been reduced considerably.
  2. The economy was, arguably, the best ever.
  3. Unemployment was at historic lows, particularly with respect to AAs, Hispanics and women.
  4. The stock market was at historic highs.

Moreover, each of the many Dem candidates vying for the nomination had critical weaknesses.  The presumptive nominee, Joe Biden has so much political baggage that his campaign advisors have adopted the unusual strategy relegating him to his basement and campaigning as little as possible.  More on that later.

In addition to retaining the presidency it looked as though the GOP would retain control of the Senate and, possibly, seize control of the House.  Then, came the big game-changer, the Corona Virus.

One can debate whose fault it was, whether or not it was handled well, whether or not the shut-down of the economy was justified, who performed well and who performed badly.  The undeniable fact of the matter, however, is that the shut-down, whether justified or not, has, at least in the short run, ruined the economy.  And, now, instead of being re-elected handily, President Trump is facing a tough fight.  Furthermore, there is a good chance that the Dems will seize control of the Senate as well.

Why?  How did this switch occur?  Traditionally, the electorate votes its pocketbook.  If the economy is going well and people feel prosperous and optimistic, they generally vote for the incumbent.  If not, the opposite occurs.  As the late Casey Stengel was fond of saying, “you could look it up.”

This phenomenon has given rise to the traditional campaign question to voters, “are you better off today than you were four years ago?” The latest candidate to fall victim to a poor economy was George H. W. Bush (41).  He presided over a poor economy, raised taxes and paid the price on Election Day.

As a result of the pandemic the economic situation is very poor.  Some 30 million people are out of work; others have had their hours cut; businesses, large and small, are struggling; and unemployment has risen to levels not seen since the Great Depression.  How much, if any, of this is President Trump’s fault is up for debate.  How long these conditions will last is also up for debate.  But, I believe it has affected his popularity and his chances for re-election.

CONCLUSION

So, now we have a paradoxical situation of a candidate (Biden) with several glaring faults who has confined himself to his basement, eschewed all traditional campaigning, and yet, incredibly, is leading an incumbent president in all the polls.  Obviously, this strategy has enabled him to hide his biggest weakness.  He may have a cognitive impairment or be suffering from the early stages of dementia or Alzheimers.  Additionally, he has a propensity to put his foot in his mouth.  The CV has provided him with a handy excuse to limit his active campaigning, and it is working.

The latest composite of all the major polls shows him leading by seven points.  Furthermore, he is leading in all the battleground states by anywhere from four to 12 points.  I know that in 2016 the polls underestimated Mr. Trump’s support and fooled the so-called experts.  That may turn out to be the case in 2020, but they are still cause for concern for the GOP.

Biden may not even venture out for the convention.  He may choose to appear virtually.  This is contrary too all traditional rules of campaigning.

When is the last time this type of strategy has ever been successful?  Has it ever been?

Students of presidential election politics and history, in general, will recall that “porch politics,” as it was called was employed several times, mostly successfully, by the GOP between 1880 (James A. Garfield) and 1924 (Calvin Coolidge).  The reasons varied depending on the particular election cycle, but generally it was because the candidate was not as articulate or adept at campaigning as his opponent.

To be sure, that was a different era, but Biden sure fits the profile.  In any event, so far for whatever reason, the concept of “less is more” has been working for Biden and the Dems.  Truly, it is a paradox, but in this unusual year it may end up being the exception that proves the rule.

MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day.  Traditionally, most of us have viewed MD as a day off from work, part of a three-day weekend, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, go to the beach or pool club, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation.  But, this year the rules are different because of the CV pandemic.   This year, sadly, many people do not have jobs from which to take a break.  They have been isolated in their homes away from friends and extended family members for months with little prospect of returning to work anytime soon.  This year, many  traditional MD activities are limited or not available.  More on this later.

Back to the holiday, itself.   How many of us actually stop and ponder the meaning of MD?  What does it mean?  What is its derivation?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Read on.

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country.  (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.)  MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 25.  It has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and, in a normal year, Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes.

The original name for MD was “Decoration Day.”  The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is centuries old.  Its origins are murky, but after the Civil War it became customary to “decorate” soldiers’ graves with flowers as a way to honor those who had died in that war.

Several cities claim to be the birthplace of MD.  Warrenton, Va. claims that the first CW soldier’s grave was decorated there in 1861.  Women began decorating soldiers’ graves in Savannah, Ga. as early as 1862.   Boalsburg, Pa. and Charleston, SC, among others, have also made claims.  NY became the first state to recognize MD as an official holiday in 1873.  In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace of MD.

The basis of Waterloo’s claim is that in 1865 a group of locals, including a pharmacist, Henry Welles, General John Murray, a CW hero, and a group of other veterans, simply marched to the local cemeteries and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers.  What gave Waterloo an edge in the birthplace battle was that Murray was an acquaintance of General John Logan, the general who issued “Logan’s Order,” the proclamation that declared “Decoration Day” should be celebrated annually nationwide.

At first, MD was celebrated on May 30 every year.  The date seems somewhat arbitrary as it was not the anniversary of any famous battle or military event.  Perhaps, it was chosen simply because flowers with which the graves are decorated are in bloom and plentiful at that particular time of the year.  The name, “Decoration Day” was gradually replaced by MD beginning in 1882, and in 1887 MD became the official name.  In 1968 the Congress moved the holiday to the last Monday in May.  This annoyed many traditionalists, but the lure of a three-day weekend overcame any objections, and the Monday date has prevailed.

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

1. Flying the flag at half-staff.

Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper.  The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff.  This is intended to honor those who have died for their country.  At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day.  This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.

2. Poppies.

Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920.  This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”).  Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around the soldiers’ graves.  These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.”  This poem caught people’s imagination and popularized the custom.

3. Sporting Events.

No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD has the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others.  Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader.  Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday baseball doubleheaders are all but extinct.  Unfortunately, this year, most sporting events have been cancelled due to the CV.

As I alluded to above, this year our MD celebrations will be muted due to the CV.  We are still subject to lockdown restrictions of various severities in different locales.  Even permissible activities are limited by social distancing or arbitrary, draconian restrictions, which make little sense to most of us.  For example:

  1. There are no MLB games and no NBA or NHL playoffs.  The powers-that-be in those sports have been trying to figure out how to play the games in some manner.
  2. In NY and other states you can play tennis, but only singles, not doubles, even outside.
  3. In NYC and other places you can go to the beach but not in the ocean lest you be dragged out.  No kidding.
  4. In LA you may go to the beach, but Mayor Garcetti has decreed you may only walk on wet sand, not dry sand.  It’s not clear how one is supposed to get to the wet sand without first walking on the dry sand.
  5. Most locales have cancelled parades, even with social distancing.
  6. Many states have banned in-person religious services, although President Trump has countermanded that restriction by deeming them to be “essential.”
  7.  It is not clear to me what the rules are for backyard barbeques.  Allowed?  Not allowed?  Allowed only outside?  Allowed only up to a certain number of guests?   What do you do if you are outside and rain forces you to go inside?  Now you are over the limit.  Do you have to ask some guests to leave?  Obviously, I’m being somewhat facetious to demonstrate the arbitrariness and silliness of some of these rules.  This is a serious holiday to those who have lost loved ones in wars.

CONCLUSION

I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD.  As a veteran, myself, I find it most gratifying that, in recent years, most Americans have come to recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans.  I can remember a time (the Vietnam War period) when it wasn’t so.

So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE XV – TAKING BACK OUR COUNTRY

Whose country is it anyway?  Does the US belong to the politicians?  No.  Does it belong to the elites, such as high-profile entertainers, sports figures, and business leaders?  No.  Does it belong to the talking heads we see on tv and hear on the radio?  God, no!  Well, then, whom?  The answer is very simple but oft forgotten.  It belongs to us, you and me.  We elect the political leaders.  They work for us.  According to the Constitution our leaders derive their power and authority “from the consent of the governed.”  We are the governed, and our consent is granted (or withheld) every year on election day.

Furthermore, we are not required to follow the advice or dictates of someone simply because they can hit a baseball, throw a pass, dunk a basketball, sing, act, make us laugh, or went to Harvard and talk a good game.  Their political opinions and common sense are no better than yours or mine, and probably worse.  If you doubt me, just listen to them bloviate sometime.  As far as I’m concerned they should stay in their lane and refrain from lecturing us.  As I often say, many of them are stuck in the NYC-DC bubble and have no conception of the issues and problems most of us face every day.  I don’t have to name names.  You know who they are.  Many of them are nauseatingly boring, dumb and, worse, omnipresent.

What is my point?  It is time to ease up on the CV lockdown.  We need to do it, and we can do so safely.  By now, we understand the health risks.  We have been inundated with them for the better part of four months now.  We have been bombarded with massive amounts of information, often conflicting, and often flat-out wrong.   I gave several examples of this in my last blog, and there is no need to repeat them here.  You know what they are.  At this point, I think we are fully capable of deciding what we should and shouldn’t do, where we should and shouldn’t go, and with whom.

I believe the lockdown was necessary in the beginning.  We were faced with a mysterious and deadly virus.  We knew very little about it, except that it had the potential to spread like wildfire.  It made sense to act as we did, even though it meant destroying arguably the best economy ever.

But, now, we have weathered the worst.  We have figured out how to mitigate the effects of the CV.  We have profiled those who are at the most risk and we know what we have to do to protect them.  In my view, we have arrived at the point where the health benefits of maintaining the lockdown are outweighed by the economic, social and health dangers of it.  Many people are in dire straits.  They have lost their livelihood and their life savings.  They are unable to feed their families, pay the rent or mortgage, or make the car payment.

The damage is not merely economic.  There is social damage.  Many folks are depressed, and have fallen victim to alcohol, drug and sexual abuse.   Moreover, there is the possibility, or even probability, of long-term health issues that are not obvious at the moment.  For example, many people have had to delay addressing so-called “non-essential” procedures, treatments and operations, which, normally, would have been taken care of without delay, a delay which could cost them their lives.  Even worse, they have lost their self-respect.  They need to, want to go back to work.  They need to, want to feel like a productive member of society again.

Those in charge simply cannot understand this.  They are safe and secure in their bubble.  They are drawing a salary.  They have access to whatever creature comforts they need.  But, they feel compelled to lecture the rest of us.  Many of us are saying, enough, already.  Like the line from the movie, Network, “we’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

The various governors have been put in charge of their respective states’ reopenings.  As I said in my previous blog, they have made some wise decisions and some unwise ones. Some decisions have been so autocratic, arbitrary and heavy-handed that many view them as violations of the Bill of Rights.  Some decisions that turned out to be beneficial have been roundly criticized by commentators who know less than the average person.  Some of them have been real head-scratchers.  Some of them have been so senseless as to be humorous, except we know the situation is very serious.  No wonder compliance has been spotty.  No wonder there have been extensive protests.

Some samples:

  1. LA mayor Garcetti has decreed people may go to the beach, however, they may only walk on the wet sand, not the dry sand.  Question, how does one get to the wet sand without first walking on the dry sand?
  2. In IL Governor Pritzker has threatened to arrest any business owner who opens his  business.  This is the same state in which criminals who are in prison for “non-serious” crimes are being released to protect them from CV, which is rampant in the prisons.   So, they are released, but citizens who just want to provide for their family are arrested and confined to a petri dish of CV.  Does that make sense?  I guess it does to Pritzker.
  3. NYC mayor De Blasio is threatening to forcibly remove anyone who goes swimming in the ocean.  Of course, I have not seen or heard any evidence that one can catch the CV in the ocean, but maybe he knows something the rest of us do not.
  4. Nassau County Chief Executive Laura Curran is permitting singles tennis, but not doubles.  Huh?
  5.  The NJ gym owner who defied Governor Murphy’s executive order and reopened his business was visited by the local cops twice yesterday.  The first officer was reasonable.  He merely reminded those present that they were in violation of Murphy’s executive order, told them to “be safe” and “have a nice day” and left.  A second cop was dispatched.  Obviously, he was directed to be tough.  He issued summons.  Seems to me that was a misallocation of police resources, but I guess not to Murphy and/or the chief of police.

CONCLUSION

As I have said many times, I believe we can and should be more aggressive in opening up the country.  In most businesses we can and must find a way to reopen before we suffer permanent damage.   In my most previous blog I gave some examples.  There is no need to repeat them here.  We have some brilliant, innovative minds in this country.  let’s use them.

By now, every state has reopened their respective economies to some extent.  None has suffered relapses.  Furthermore, there are hundreds of possible vaccines in the pipeline.  Business Insider has reported that Moderna is working on one that is in human trials and shows great promise.  It could be available as early as this autumn.

The average voter is not stupid. He or she is astute enough to realize when something does not make sense. That is the reason for all these protests.  Americans are smart, inventive and ingenious.  By this time, they are cognizant of the risks and can figure out how to deal with them.   I say, give them the flexibility to do so.  The politicians would do well to heed their concerns and to remember that it is our country.  They are just caretakers.  They need to realize that fact, that is, if they want to get re-elected.

 

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE XIV – WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY ARE WE LIVING IN ANYWAY

What kind of country are we living in anyway?  In response to that question, most of you would likely look at me as if I were crazy and declare instinctively “a democracy” or “a republic.”  Until the last two months I would have agreed with you wholeheartedly.  I believe we have been since the founding of the republic, and for the most part, we still are.  However, I maintain in the last few months we have entered a slippery slope toward autocracy and socialism.  We have willingly forfeited many of our constitutional rights.  If you doubt me, that is your right, but read on as I present my case.

For the past three months or so, due to the advent of the CV pandemic and its threat to our health, our political leaders have imposed various draconian restrictions on how we should be living our lives.  Some of these impinge on freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution, that we thought of as sacrosanct just a few months ago.

Most Americans have dutifully complied with the guidance of these political leaders and the medical professionals that they have assured us will guide us through the crisis.   We have willingly agreed to work from home or, in some cases, not at all, shut down small businesses that, in some cases, have been in our families for generations, confined ourselves to our homes (cute term – “shelter in place”), worn masks and gloves in public, refrained from visiting our families and close friends, delayed serious medical procedures that were deemed “non-essential,” avoided group gatherings and followed social distancing guidelines.

We were told these dictates were temporary and necessary in order to “flatten the curve” of CV cases and avoid overwhelming our hospitals.  Don’t worry, we were told, soon we would defeat this virus and things would return to normal.

Okay, we have complied, often at great sacrifice to our personal liberties, personal health and economic wellbeing.  Many businesses, large and small, have been damaged irreparably; millions of jobs have disappeared, in some cases permanently; and unemployment numbers are approaching levels not seen since the Great Depression 90 years ago.  Remember, just three months ago we were in the midst of arguably the best economy ever.

We have suffered through this on the basis of sometimes questionable science.  For the most part, we have sacrificed willingly, simply because we were told to do so definitively  and authoritatively by “experts” whom we trusted knew what they were talking about.  Some scientific and political guidelines have been shifting for little or no reason.  Wear masks; don’t wear masks.  The virus will be a minor short-term inconvenience of limited scope.  No, wait, it is a life-threatening pandemic.  President Trump was a racist and a misogynist  for instituting travel bans; no, wait, he was wise to do so as he saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.  It is essential that you shelter in place; no, wait, perhaps you would better off being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  In retrospect, we now see that no one was really sure how to proceed, not the medical experts, nor the politicians, and surely not the talking heads on tv.  Moreover, we were deceived by the Chinese.  They lied, obfuscated and exaggerated, and our health experts relied on this misinformation to our detriment.

At this point, we have seen considerable improvement, although not total victory.   Now, we are in a phase where we should be able to commence opening up the economy.  We have suffered enough and sacrificed enough, perhaps irrevocably.  In attempting to protect ourselves from the CV we have undermined, if not destroyed, our economic and social wellbeing.  Now, it is time to use some good old common sense.  For most industries we have seen that there are ways to open up safely and prudently.  We need to recapture our way of life before it disappears forever.

It has been agreed that the manner and timing of reopening should be left to each state’s individual governors.   Fair enough, after all, they are more knowledgeable of their respective state’s situation than the federal government.  A “one size fits all” approach would not work.

But what has happened?  The various governors have made some wise decisions and some unwise ones.  Some decisions have been so autocratic, arbitrary and heavy-handed that many view them as violations of the Bill of Rights.  Some decisions that were beneficial have been roundly criticized by commentators who know less than the average person.  In many cases they live and work in the NYC-DC bubble and have no idea what is going on in the rest of the country, nor do they care.  It’s easy for them to lecture us when they are safe and secure in their bubble and drawing a paycheck.  Keep that in mind as you watch them on tv.

Below please find a sampling of some decisions, both wise and unwise:

  1. Georgia was the first state to reopen on April 25.  Many critics, including Stacey Abrams, who is still under the delusion that she is the state’s rightful governor, and commentator Chris Hayes, predicted disastrous results.  Hayes opined the resultant death toll in GA would be “blood on [Governor Brian Kemp’s] hands.”  That inane prediction failed to materialize.  GA’s reopening has been successful and is a model for other states to follow.
  2.  FL reopened soon after GA.  Its governor, Ron DeSantis, was also roundly criticized for “jumping the gun.”  No-nothing talking heads on some cable tv stations (You know who they are.) predicted solemnly and definitively there would be “dire consequences.”  The number of cases would explode; many people would die.  In fact, the opposite has happened.  Hospitalizations, cases and deaths have held steady or declined.  Wisely, FL allocated a substantial portion of its resources to safeguard the most vulnerable, notably, the elderly.  The result, businesses have reopened without significant problems, and FL, the state with the highest number of elderly people, has had fewer than 2,000 nursing home deaths.  Compare that to NY, which, has suffered in excess of 5,000 such fatalities in just the last few weeks,  Furthermore, the overall number of cases and deaths has remained below the national average.  One would think that these successes would be greeted with positive reviews by the national media.  One would think that they would admit their predictions were wrong.  One would think they would be calling for other states to follow the GA-FL model.  But, nooooo!  In fact, one would have to search long and hard to find positive stories regarding GA’s and FL’s reopenings.  It’s almost as if most of the media wants us to fail.
  3. NY governor Andrew Cuomo has talked a good game on tv, but his actions have been questionable, at best.  He has made many bad policy decisions, which I have discussed in previous blogs. His worst and, perhaps, the worst decision anyone has made during the entire pandemic, was to force nursing homes to accept CV patients from hospitals.  One does not have to be a genius or a medical professional to know not to do that.  All you need is a little common sense.  Predictably, some 5,000 elderly died in a few weeks as a result.  Cuomo’s response: “That’s life.  We did everything we could.”  On the positive side, Cuomo has disclosed he plans to reopen some counties, e. g. the Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley and other upstate areas.
  4.  PA has followed suit regarding transferring CV patients to nursing homes.  The state commissioner of health, however, has transferred her 95 year old mom out of the home she was in.  Apparently, it’s dangerous for her, but not for others.  PA Gov. Tom Wolfe has supported her decision.
  5. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of LA, has extended the city’s lockdown through the end of July.  Mayor Garcetti is talking about maintaining it until a cure is found.  Of course, no one knows when that would be.  It could take years.  Meanwhile, his city is dying and not from the CV.  It is dying economically and socially.  Is he waiting for/expecting a federal bailout?  Good luck with that.  This decision is ill-advised on so many levels I would need a separate blog to do it justice.
  6. MI’s governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to maintain the lockdown as long as she can.  She appears to be enjoying the arbitrary autocratic power it is giving her.  She doesn’t seem to grasp or care that her arbitrary and autocratic decisions are trampling on the Constitution and 250 years of precedent.  For example, one cannot mow his own lawn.  How is that a health hazard?   Also, a barber who defied her order had his license revoked.  Moreover, one is not permitted to protest her policies even peacefully.  If anyone does, he  or she is denounced as a racist or a misogynist.  At the moment, MI is not being governed in accordance with the Bill of Rights?   It would not surprise me if there were a revolt.
  7. In TX a beauty shop owner who defied the lockdown orders because she “wanted to feed her kids” and enable her employees to earn some money was hauled into court.  According to the moronic presiding judge she compounded her “crime” by refusing to apologize to him for her “selfish” behavior whereupon she was jailed.
  8.  The WA state government is tracking many people who venture outside, where they go and with whom.
  9. I could name many more inane, ill-advised examples of autocracy, but time and space do not permit it.

CONCLUSION

I believe we can and should be more aggressive in opening up the country.  In most businesses we can and must find a way to reopen before we suffer permanent damage.   For example, many restaurants can open with social distancing and/or outside seating.  I believe patrons would even consent to having their temperature taken upon entrance as an added precaution.  Open Table estimates that 25% of restaurants are in danger of closing permanently.

Airlines could refrain from selling the middle seat and/or operate at less than full capacity.

Retailers could limit the number of patrons at one time, like supermarkets are doing.  Retailers are in dire straits.  “USA Today” reported that retail sales declined 16% in April, and further declines can be expected.

Movie theatres could limit sales to 25% capacity.  Most of the time the theatres are only partially filled anyway.

There are many more examples.  We need to figure out how to accommodate spectator sports, schools, and group gatherings such as graduation ceremonies, weddings, and bar mitzvahs.  People are inventive and smart.  We could do it in most cases.  The fans really want to be able to watch their sports teams.  The owners are in favor, and most players want to play.

According to the latest ABC poll 70% of parents are presently not willing to send their kids to school.  That is not good.  Virtual education is not as good as the real thing.  We need to find a way to return kids to school safely.

The Dems’ response to the Pandemic has been curious and ill-advised.  First, they took a few weeks staycation.  Now they have proposed a wildly partisan “rescue plan.”  It is some 1,500 pages of the far left’s wish list.  I have not read it.  Probably, no one will, which is likely what Pelosi wants.  Remember what she said regarding the Obamacare bill?  “You have to pass it to see what’s in it?”  That seems to be the case with this bill.

Anyway the major points are as follows:

  1. A $1,200 cash payment for illegal aliens.
  2. Complete amnesty for illegals.
  3. Broadening the definition of “essential” jobs to include virtually all jobs.
  4. Expand the definition of “guest workers” to include many additional categories.
  5. Release prisoners convicted of all but the most serious crimes.
  6. Loans for lobbyists.
  7. Repeal the limits for deducting state taxes.
  8. Expand voting by mail. (Many suspect there’s too much voting fraud as it is.)
  9. And my favorite, a $1 trillion bailout to be paid to those states that are in financial straits.  So, citizens of fiscally responsible, well-run states pay for other states’ profligacy.

Sense a trend?  Everything is beneficial to illegal aliens, socialism, and special interests.  Nothing is a real CV-related benefit.  It will probably pass the House, but, thankfully, it has no chance of passing the Senate and no chance of being signed by Mr. Trump.  I don’t even see how any red-state Dem Reps could vote for it.

Why even bother to propose it?  Are they trying to lose the 2020 election?

As illustrated above, we are losing many of our constitutional rights, and our capitalist, free enterprise economic system is in jeopardy.  Our way of life is being transformed before our very eyes.  Like I said at the outset, what kind of country are we living in anyway?  At the present rate, soon you will not recognize it.