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.

JERRY STILLER

Many people, especially youngsters, know Jerry Stiller as the prickly, crotchety Frank Costanza, father of George, on “Seinfeld,” (He popularized the faux holiday, ” ‘Festivus’ ” for the rest of us.”) and/or Arthur Spooner, Kevin James’ father-in-law on “King of Queens.”  (While recruiting Jerry for the role James told him he “needed him in order to have a successful show.”)  Those roles were very popular, but, in reality Stiller enjoyed a 60-year career in tv, movies, on the stage, and as an author. His primary talent was as a comedian, most notably in partnership with his wife of over 60 years, comedienne Anne Meara. He considered himself merely a “decent” actor.

Gerald Isaac Stiller was born on June 8, 1927 in Brooklyn, NY, the oldest of four children.  His mother and his paternal grandparents were polish immigrants.  His father was a bus driver.  He grew up in Williamsburg and East New York in Brooklyn and the lower East Side of Manhattan.

Upon graduation from Syracuse University he studied drama at the HB Studio in Greenwich Village, NY.  At one point, he hooked up with Gene Saks and Jack Klugman in a production of “Front and Center” produced by John Houseman.  Houseman was so impressed with their talent that he called them “the best trio of Shakespearian clowns that I have ever seen on any stage.”

Perhaps, the key moment in Jerry’s life and career was a chance meeting with actress-comedienne Anne Meara in 1953.  They met in an agent’s office.  Jerry took her out for coffee, which was all he could afford at the time, and the rest, as they say, is history.  They married the next year, and the marriage lasted until Meara’s death in 2015.  A sixty-one-year marriage is a real rarity in Hollywood.  The couple had two children, Ben and Amy, both of which are actors.

At Jerry’s suggestion the two formed a comedy team, “Stiller and Meara.”  Meara gave Stiller full credit for the idea.  “He always thought I would be a great comedy partner.  [I] had never thought of [it].”  By 1961 they were headlining in nightclubs, and by 1962 they were big stars.  In one review, “The NY Times” characterized them as a “national phenomenon.”  They appeared frequently on tv variety shows, such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which was the holy grail at that time.

They broke up the act in 1970, but they continued to work.  For example, they did a series of radio commercials for products such as “Blue Nun” wine; and they did a series of comedy sketches on tv.  Then, in 1986 they had their own tv show, “The Stiller and Meara Show.”

During all this time Jerry was extremely active, performing on the stage, on tv and in movies.  His first stage production was “The Golden Apple” in 1954 in which he played the mayor.  He performed in over a dozen productions through 1997.  He appeared in over 60 tv shows from 1956 through 2016, usually guest shots on sitcoms or variety shows.  He appeared in a series of tv commercials for Nike in which he portrayed the ghost of former Green Bay Packers Head Coach, Vince Lombardi.  Finally, he appeared in some 40 movies, as both an actor and a “voiceover,” between 1970 (“Lovers and Other Strangers,” an uncredited role) and 2016 (“Zoolander 2”).  In addition, he authored a memoir titled, “Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara” and the foreword to a book titled “Festivus: A Holiday for the Rest of Us.”

Jerry was nominated for three awards: A Primetime Emmy (for “Seinfeld”), a Grammy (Best Spoken Word Album), and a Screen Actors Guild Award (“Hairspray”).  Furthermore, in 2007 he and Anne were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jerry passed away on May 11, 2020 from natural causes at the age of 92.  Rest in peace Jerry.  You entertained us for 60 some years, and you will be sorely missed.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MAY

Below please find an outline of the significant historical events that occurred in the month of May:

May 1 – Since ancient times, a day for festivals celebrating the arrival of the Spring season. Today, many socialist countries celebrate May Day on May 1 as a holiday to celebrate workers.
May 1, 1707 – Scotland was combined with England and Wales to form Great Britain. The later addition of Northern Ireland formed the UK.
May 1, 1960 – An American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia on the eve of a summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. The incident caused the cancellation of the summit and increased Cold War tensions between the two countries.
May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces located and killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
May 4, 1494 – Christopher Columbus, still seeking the Northwest Passage, discovered the island of Jamaica.
May 4, 1970 – Ohio National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration at Kent State University killing four students.
May 5 – Mexican holiday celebrating Mexican forces’ defeat of a numerically superior French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
May 5, 1865 – Celebration of Decoration Day honoring soldiers killed in the Civil War. Eventually, morphed into Memorial Day.
May 5, 1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard completed a 15 minute suborbital flight, thus becoming the first American to fly in space.
May 6, 1937 – The German blimp, Hindenburg, burst into flames killing 36 of its 97 passengers.
May 7, 1915 – The shocking sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship, by a German U-boat hastened the US’s entry into WWI on the side of the Allies.
May 7, 1954 – The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu, ending their colonial presence in Indo-China. Eventually, this event led to the US’s ill-advised involvement in Vietnam.
May 8, 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea, which historians consider to be the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, commenced. US naval forces defeated Japan for the first time and began their inexorable march toward the Japanese mainland.
May 10, 1869 – The Union Pacific and Central Railroads joined at Promontory Point, UT (symbolized by driving a golden spike into the roadbed), creating the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the entire US.
May 10, 1994 – Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, bringing an official end to Apartheid.
May 12, 1949 – Russia ended its blockade of West Berlin.
May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, VA.
May 14, 1804 – The Lewis and Clark expedition of the northwest, which lasted some 18 months and covered some 6,000 miles, departed St. Louis.
May 14, 1796 – English Dr. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. He coined the term, vaccination, to describe his method of injecting a weakened version of the disease into a healthy person, who would then fight off the disease and develop an immunity.
May 14, 1948 – The State of Israel declared its independence.
May 15, 1972 – While campaigning for the presidency, George Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down.
May 17, 1792 – Some two dozen brokers and merchants began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Eventually, this led to the establishment of the NY Stock Exchange.
May 17, 1875 – The initial running of the Kentucky Derby took place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.
May 17, 1954 – The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, KS), ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional.
May 20, 1927 – Aviator, Charles Lindberg took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first solo non-stop flight between NY and Europe (landing in Paris).
May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, she was lost at sea, and her fate remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
May 21, 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
May 22, 1947 – Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, which provided foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, which was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in that region.
May 24, 1844 – Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, transmitted the first telegram (“What hath God wrought?”).
May 26, 1940 – Great Britain commenced the evacuation of its army trapped at Dunkirk.
May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco.
May 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to be published in the US on a daily basis.
May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect Henry Bacon, was dedicated in Washington, D. C.
May 31, 1889 – The infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed some 2,300 persons.

Birthdays – Niccolo Machiavelli – 5/3/1469; Golda Meir – 5/3/1898; Karl Marx – 5/5/1818; Sigmund Freud – 5/6/1856; Harry S. Truman (33rd President) – 5/8/1884; Israel Isidore Beilin (aka Irving Berlin – song writer) – 5/11/1888; Florence Nightingale – 5/12/1820; Gabriel Fahrenheit (physicist) – 5/14/1686; Nguyen That Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh – 5/19/1890; Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) – 5/19/1925; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes creator) – 5/22/1859; Laurence Olivier – 5/22/1907; Ralph Waldo Emerson – 5/25/1803; Al Jolson- 5/26/1886; Wild Bill Hickok – 5/27/1837; Hubert Humphrey – 5/27/1911; Jim Thorpe – 5/28/1888; Patrick Henry – 5/29/1736; John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President) – 5/29/1917; Walt Whitman – 5/31/1819.

MOTHER’S DAY

Today, Sunday, May 10, most Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day.  MD is celebrated all over the world in some form.  Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate on different dates.  Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

Restauranteurs claim that MD is their busiest day of the year.  Obviously, this year’s shelter-in-place guidelines will deal a serious blow to the restaurant industry, although  ABC News reports that some restaurants will be offering promotions and discounts in an attempt to attract business, in most cases take-out.  In a normal year, mothers would enjoy a well-deserved day off from cooking. And why not? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when a lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother.  Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away.  In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD.  It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday.  By the 1920’s the greeting card, retail, candy and flower industries were marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday.  Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead.  Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries.  At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow.  Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts.  Today, MD is one of the biggest days for the sale of flowers, candy and greeting cards.  Normally, the amount of the average MD gift and the total spent increases every year.  According to Wikipedia last year Americans spent an average of just under $200 on their mothers for the holiday, about the same as the prior year. The overall total was slightly in excess of $20 billion.  It is difficult to estimate this year’s totals because of the effects of the CV, notably the shelter-in-place guidelines and 20+ million unemployed.  But, we do love our mothers, so many families will likely try to make it as special an occasion as possible.  We shall see.  In addition, MD is the third-biggest day for church attendance behind Christmas Eve and Easter.

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which is May 10 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.”  ”Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 19 in 2020).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

Some of you may have noted that I spelled MD as Mother’s Day. This was not an error. The official holiday is spelled in the singular tense. According to Ms. Jarvis the day is intended to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”

MD is one of the few truly internationally-recognized holidays.  One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated.  This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge.  Men, this year, with all the problems caused by the CV, it is particularly important to honor the special woman in your life.  As you plan this year’s MD, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

CUOMO AND THE COVID DUPLICITY

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has been receiving much praise for his handling of the CV in NY. In particular, his daily press briefings have been very popular. He comes off as calm, reasoned and knowledgeable. For many viewers stuck at home these briefings have become “must see tv.” Most of the media loves him. Some people have begun touting him as a possibility to replace Biden as the Dem presidential candidate, or, alternatively, as someone to watch for in 2024. In a nutshell, he has been “riding high.”

However, there is another side of Cuomo’s of which the public is not aware, or, perhaps has forgotten. So as not to be accused of political bias I will refrain from rehashing his various past political stances with which I disagree. For purposes of this blog I will focus on his handling of the CV. Let’s begin with some facts, which are pesky little things not easily explained away or “spun” by spokespersons who could sell ice to the Eskimos.

  1. As I write this blog, according to Wikipedia, the entire US has reported some 1.3 million cases of CV and suffered some 76,600 fatalities. Any death is a tragedy and unacceptable, but, the good news is those are far below most previous estimates. As a whole, the US has done well in combatting the CV, at least medically.
  2. On the other hand, NYS has reported approximately 327,000 cases and 21,000 fatalities. This is terrible. For some perspective, the number of cases is approximately 2 1/2 times that of the second-highest state, NJ, and about equal to the sum of the next highest four states – NJ, MA, IL and CA. Even worse, the state’s total fatalities are also about 2 1/2 times those of the second highest state and well over twice the total of the next four highest states. These are cold hard facts. One can easily verify them at any one of several websites that track and publish them. I will discuss possible reasons later.
  3. President Trump declared a travel ban with respect to persons entering the US from China on January 30 and followed up with one regarding persons traveling from Europe a few days later. You may recall that he was widely and viciously criticized, particularly with respect to the China ban. Some of the non-X-rated criticisms were “xenophobic,” “racist,” and fear-mongering.” Cuomo and his sidekick, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, were among the critics. What was Cuomo doing at the time to combat the CV? From 1/25 – 2/9 he and De Blasio were busy promoting NYC’s Chinese New Year celebrations. They were encouraging people to visit the city. They were telling NYC residents to get out and “live life,” take the subways, trains and buses, go to the restaurants in Chinatown, watch the parade, soak up the festive atmosphere, and bragging how “tough” New Yorkers were. Virus? What virus? They viewed it as less of a threat than the flu. Eventually, Cuomo became aware of the devastating nature of the CV and enacted appropriate mitigating procedures, but much of the damage was already done. Throughout March, Cuomo continued to underestimate the CV. At one point, he told ABC News, “We are fully coordinated, and we are fully mobilized, and we are fully prepared to deal with [the CV].” Finally, on March 31 he seemed to fully grasp the situation, saying, as quoted by ABC News, “We underestimated the virus. It’s more powerful…more dangerous than we expected.”
  4. Like many states NY was woefully unprepared to battle a pandemic. It was short of virtually everything – hospital beds, various PPE, and emergency funds. Cuomo had wasted the state’s emergency funds on ill-advised New Green Deal projects, which had gone bankrupt. Fortunately, the federal government stepped up. It provided tremendous help, such as PPEs and, most significantly, it built a virtual hospital from scratch in the Javits Center and refitted and provided a hospital ship, the “USNS Comfort.” Each state governor was supposed to be primarily responsible for fighting the virus in his or her state. The feds were only supposed to provide assistance and guidance where needed.
  5. In March Cuomo claimed NY was short of healthcare workers. To alleviate the situation he appealed to other states to come to NY to help out. According to the “Wall Street Journal” approximately 21,000 persons responded. They didn’t have to do that; they did so out of a profound sense of duty to provide aid to those who desperately needed it. They provided much-needed assistance under dangerous conditions. I and many others consider them “heroes.” Many of them contracted the virus. What did Cuomo do? How did he treat those “heroes” who had risked their lives and had literally saved the lives of many NYers? He informed them they would be assessed NYS taxes on the income they earned in NY. That is a perfect example of the old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Technically, that may be in accordance with NYS tax law, but there has to be a way to grant an exception under the circumstances. As reported in the “Wall Street Journal” they were heroes [one day] and pawns [in a tax controversy the next]. I don’t have the words to describe how underhanded, mean-spirited, and unconscionable that is, even for a politician. It is another pesky fact that cannot be “spun” away.
  6. And, now we come to the most egregious of all, the nursing home scandal. Because this reflects badly on Cuomo I believe it has been underreported, and some of you who do not watch Fox News may not even be aware of it. Briefly, from the outset of the Pandemic there has been virtually universal agreement among medical personnel, politicians and the general public that the most vulnerable among us are the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. Everyone has agreed that one of the primary goals is to protect them from the CV. Early on, Cuomo cited the problems Washington State had encountered with a couple of its nursing homes, characterizing it as a “cautionary tale of how the virus could rip through [them] if not properly addressed.” Despite that example, on March 25 Cuomo ordered NY nursing homes to accept elderly patients who were infected with CV. As reported in “Metro” he called it an “ethical” and a “legal” obligation. Many, if not most, of the managers of these facilities complained they were not equipped to deal with these patients. They did not have the necessary PPE; their staff was not adequately trained; and the healthy patients already in their care were elderly and vulnerable. Cuomo replied “it’s not our job” to provide PPE to nursing homes, implying they should acquire them on their own. Reaction was swift. A spokesperson for the NYS State Facilities Association denoted that “nursing homes, and assisted living providers and their residents have not been treated as a top priority for assistance with staffing, PPE shortages, and COVID-19 testing. CEO Stephen Hanse warned that the CV would spread through these facilities “like fire through dry grass.” Senator John Flanagan told “Politico” “we know that allowing COVID into a nursing home is an invitation for it to spread, and we need to take necessary steps to protect residents.” Cuomo refused to change his directive, despite the fact that, according to the “NY Times,” at the time the USNS Comfort, which had been deployed to NYC specifically to care for CV patients, had some 980 empty beds. Predictably, since March 25 approximately 5,000 residents of nursing homes have died from the CV. I have yet to hear a rational, reasonable explanation for this directive. I don’t believe there is one, especially not to those who have lost a loved one as a result. In my opinion, Cuomo truly has “blood on his hands.” People have been demanding an independent investigation. We’ll see what happens.

CONCLUSION

As I said, some of the foregoing Cuomo errors and miscalculations can be” spun.” For example, it can be argued that the high death rate was primarily attributable to NYC’s unique situation as the most densely populated area in the country characterized by many people living literally “on top of one another.” In taxing the out-of-state rescue workers Cuomo can probably blame the NYS tax code, even though he could support a carve-out for them if he wanted to. His statement that NYS needs the money was lame. The paltry sum the state would collect would not begin to make a dent in its deficit.
Furthermore, a competent “spinner” can blame the federal government (and, by extension, President Trump) for failure to provide adequate warnings, guidance and equipment. Cuomo has done this, at times. His supporters, who hate the president anyway, would likely agree.

However, the nursing home scandal is the kind of story that resonates and lingers. I don’t know what Cuomo and his supporters can do or say to mitigate it. It can’t be fixed. All those innocent people are dead and will remain so. He can’t blame anyone else (not even President Trump). Because of it, I maintain that much of the bloom has come off the Cuomo rose. To his political enemies, I predict it will be the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s see if the media covers the story objectively.