CORONA VIRUS UPDATE

This blog is an update to my posting on February 27, 2020.  Much has happened since then.  In fact, we have been bombarded with significant developments daily, if not hourly.  It is hard to keep up unless one is glued to the tv or internet continuously.

For example, as reported by various news outlets, such as CNN, Fox, NPR, Haaretz and others, in just the last few days the folIowing significant events have occurred:

  1. WHO declared the outbreak to be a “pandemic,” which means that it has spread across multiple continents or to a significant region of the world.  The designation is not predicated upon the number of cases or deaths, as some people think.
  2. Unfortunately, pandemics have not been rare.  Just in the 21st century we have had three, with SARS and the swine flu being the others.
  3. Corona is thought to have originated in bats, whereas SARS and the swine flu originated from pigs.
  4. According to the CDC the warning signs to be cognizant of generally include headache, shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, fever, coughing, lethargy or bluish lips or face.  Unfortunately, some of these mimic the symptoms for the ordinary flu, so in the absence of testing one cannot be sure if one is infected.  Anyone developing some or all of the above symptoms is urged to contact a doctor for guidance.  Don’t just go to a hospital or clinic.  If you do so and you have the virus you could infect others who don’t.  If you don’t have the virus you could catch it from those who do.
  5.  According to CNN in the US every state except for West Virginia has reported at least one case, although, by the time you read this it, too, may have reported one or more.  Washington State has reported the most, nearly 600.  Keep in mind, due to the shortage of testing kits, the number of reported cases is likely understated, perhaps, significantly so.
  6.  President Trump has declared a national emergency and authorized $50 billion of federal funds to be allocated to fight the outbreak.  President Trump asserted that “no resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever.”  The significance of a NE is that the federal government can institute a variety of actions and policies that normally it would be precluded from doing.  Typically, a NE is only declared during a natural disaster, an epidemic, or a war.  The declaration also had a psychological benefit as witnessed by the strong rally in the stock market.
  7.  The stock market has been bouncing up and down like a deranged yo-yo.  I believe it has a great psychological impact on the populace, so I was glad to see it recover immediately after the president’s speech.  I believe it is considerably oversold, and, as was the case following other disasters and pandemics, such as “9/11,” swine flu, and SARS, it will recover all of its losses and then some as soon as it becomes apparent that the danger has passed
  8.  The president tightened travel restrictions, banning travel to the US from Europe, except for returning American citizens who had been screened.
  9. The House passed an aid package.  The Senate is expected to do so in a few days.  The President has stated he will sign it promptly.
  10.  The president disclosed that the government will be pairing with the private sector to augment testing and medical supplies.  The paucity of testing kits has received the most criticism.  For instance, the NIT’s Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly pointed out that the “US testing system was failing to meet the public’s needs.”   He was particularly critical of the “incompetence” of the CDC, which he blamed for not being prepared for an outbreak of this magnitude.  Consequently, we don’t have an accurate count of infected people.  In contrast, there are reports that South Korea, which a week ago was cited as one of the hot spots, has been testing 10,000 or more persons per day, chiefly by drive-through and now appears to have the virus under control.  Mr. Trump has been eliciting the assistance of retailers, such as Wall Mart and Target, to establish drive-in testing venues.   The obvious advantage over walk-in testing sites is that the person being tested is isolated in his or her car and will not infect others or be infected by others.  NY, IL, and Colorado have already commenced drive-in testing, and other states will likely follow. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that testing can be set up by appointment.  He called it “faster, easier, smarter and safer.”
  11.  In a move that two months ago would have been considered unthinkable, a variety of public gatherings have been cancelled, postponed or curtailed.  For example, in sports, the NCAA has cancelled the remainder of its games, including the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments, which are its biggest moneymakers; MLB is delaying opening its season; the NBA and NHL have suspended their remaining scheduled games; the PGA has cancelled many events and delayed the Masters Golf Tournament until the autumn; and NASCAR will be holding its races without fans in the stands.  For many people who had had a cavalier attitude toward the virus this was a “wakeup call.”  Moreover, many entertainment venues, including Broadway theatres, have cancelled scheduled shows; many colleges have closed and sent their students home; many public schools have suspended classes; movie theatres have begun to limit seating;  theme parks, such as Disney, have closed; and weddings and Bar Mitvahs have been delayed.  Many school classes, business meetings, and religious services will likely be held by virtual reality, rather than in person.  Various businesses are encouraging employees to work from home.   Furthermore, several states and foreign countries have passed laws limiting the number of persons in public gatherings ranging from 500 in NYC to ten in Israel.  The adjustments to our lives seem to be endless and, in some cases, may prove to be permanent.
  12.  Inevitably, some people have panicked.  There have been several instances of “runs” on staples, such as milk and bread, even toilet paper as some people think they need to stock up.  There have even been fistfights on some occasions.  In my opinion, there is no reason for this, but it occurs all the time in a crisis.
  13.  Some countries, for instance, Denmark, Poland, Israel and Czechoslovakia, have closed their borders.  Mr. Trump had closed ours weeks ago.  At the time, he was called a “racist” for doing so, but now it seems like a very  prescient decision.
  14.  Most of the victims have been elderly and/or persons with underlying health problems, such as respiratory problems, diabetes or heart problems.  In a particularly poignant occurrence there was a report out of London of a newborn who had tested positive for the virus.
  15. There have been reports of a vaccine being ready for testing.  I am aware of two – one in Israel and one by a company based in Boston.  That is great news, but it is important to note that clinical trials can take several months.

So, how does the corona virus compare with the most recent pandemic in 2009, the swine flu, aka H1N1?  Glad you asked.  Read on.

According to WHO:

  1.  There were 1.4 billion confirmed cases worldwide (61 million in the US) of the swine flu compared to 132,000 of the corona virus so far (some 1,300 in the US).
  2. Fatalities – 575,000 for swine flu (12,469 US) vs. about 5,000 for corona (36 and counting in the US).
  3.  Of course, the Corona Virus has not yet run its course.  Most experts predict a spike before it does, so beware.
  4. According to “Business Insider” the mortality rate for the swine flu was only .02%.  Corona’s is estimated to be 3 – 4%.  By contrast SARS mortality rate was 9.6%.

CONCLUSION

There is no doubt that the Corona virus is a serious outbreak.  At first, it seemed to take us by surprise.  Part of that was due to the Chinese government’s underreporting the severity of the outbreak and its laxity in dealing with it.   However, as various governments and health organizations have begun to gear up, and people have begun to observe common sense precautions, it now appears that we will prevail.   As I said above, we have prevailed over several pandemics in the past.

One disquieting note is that due to the shortage of testing equipment we don’t really know the extent of the outbreak.  Additionally, we could develop a shortage of basic medical equipment, such as ventilators, and even hospital beds prospectively.  Hopefully, we will rectify that soon.

Another potential problem is brewing in some cities, such as NY, LA, SF and Seattle, which have large groups of homeless people.  They are living in dangerously unsanitary conditions.  Many of them are in poor general health to begin with.  These areas are a prime breeding ground for any disease, especially Corona.  There is potential in these locations for a sizeable concentration of cases.

The other matter that irks me is that some have sought to politicize this outbreak by criticizing and blaming their political opponents.  For example, (1) As noted above, President Trump was roundly criticized by his political enemies when he restricted travel into the US.  Meanwhile, several other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Spain and Italy have also done so, some early on and some later. (2) One of the “fake news” networks was complaining about a “lack of diversity” among the members of  VP Pence’s task force. Really? Who cares?  We need the best people whether they are white, black, brown or purple, male female or other, and it appears that we got them.  (3) Furthermore, some were saying that referring to the outbreak as the “Chinese flu” was racist and insensitive.   Another inanity.  Where did the virus originate?  China.  In the past we have had the “Spanish flu” and the “Asian flu” based on the areas of origin.  To me, the abovementioned criticisms were a totally irresponsible distraction.

Some politicians and members of the media have been engaging in fear-mongering.  I believe that has contributed to the wild gyrations of the stock market and the “runs” on some products.  Now is not the time for that.  That is distracting and counterproductive.  What the people need is to be reassured by calm, rational leadership.  I think President Trump has struck exactly the right note.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  When this outbreak has been contained, then it would be appropriate to analyze what we did wrong and institute corrective action to guard against a recurrence.  At this point, we have to all work together to solve the problem.  Hopefully, we will.

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES

Most of you are familiar with the children’s fairy tale, “The Emperor Has No clothes.”  For those of you who may not be, the gist of the story is that the emperor is very proud of his new clothes.  He wears them in public to show them off to everyone.  In reality, he is naked, but no one has the courage to acknowledge it.  Instead, they ignore his nudity, pretend he has clothes on, and tell him how great he looks in them.  Finally, one person, a little girl, blurts out the honest truth that the emperor has no clothes on whereupon everybody finally acknowledges the truth.

That, my friends, is what we are seeing now with Joe Biden.  Any objective person can readily ascertain that Biden has “lost a step,” maybe two or three.   He has always been prone to gaffes, but now they are more frequent and serious.  He forgets what day it, where he is, what office he is running for, tells us emphatically that guns killed “150 MILLION” people last year, and mixes up his wife and sister.  No one seems to want to admit it, not his campaign staff, not his supporters, not the Dem Party leaders, not the mainstream media, and, most importantly, not most of the general public.

Things are so bad that his handlers have limited his campaign speeches to seven minutes or so.  Moreover, they are seeking approval for him to use a chair to sit on in the next debate.  I suppose the theory is that the less he speaks, the less the chance that he would utter a damaging gaffe.

Meanwhile, Biden continues to rack up the endorsements.  The first significant endorsement, and the one that is generally viewed as the one that turned the tide was South Carolina Senator and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.  It came on the eve of the SC primary.  Until then, Biden’s campaign had been floundering seriously.  He was running short of money, and he was being attacked mercilessly by the other candidates.  It looked like Sanders had the inside track to the nomination.  Biden had suffered through disappointing losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.  In NH he hadn’t even bothered to stay to the end of the night to thank his supporters who had labored long and hard for him for months.  Instead, he left early to campaign in SC.

Following Clyburn’s endorsement Biden won big in SC.  He might have won anyway, but the Clyburn endorsement had to have helped significantly.  Suddenly, “Old Mo” was on Biden’s side.  Klobuchar, Bloomberg and Buttigieg dropped out and endorsed him.  Warren stayed in the race, which likely benefited him by syphoning off votes from Sanders.

He cleaned up on “Super Tuesday” and followed up with resounding victories on “mini Super Tuesday.”  Now, the money and endorsements are pouring in.  Except for Sanders and Elizabeth  Warren, all of Biden’s major former opponents have endorsed him.  Moreover, the DNC and Party insiders are in his corner.  Now, it is Biden who looks unstoppable.

As I write this, the nomination is his to lose.  He leads in the delegate count 846-684 (a misleadingly large lead since most of the remaining states will be awarding delegates proportionally rather than winner-take-all; the demographics of the upcoming states favor him, particularly Florida; and finally, he is perceived to have the best chance of defeating President Trump in the general.

CONCLUSION

But, is Biden’s sudden rise a good thing for America.  Nobody wants to talk about it, but Joe does not seem mentally competent.  Even Sanders has been reluctant to raise the issue.

Can we/should we elect a man who seems incapable of governing effectively?  The issue of his incompetence is not being discussed anywhere, except on Fox News.  It is being assiduously ignored, just like in the aforementioned children’s fable.  Except, this is real life, folks.

In my opinion, the “deep state,” Party insiders and their allies in the media are fully aware of Biden’s condition.  But they have their reasons for ignoring it:

  1.  Their overriding obsession is to defeat Donald Trump no matter what the cost and the impact  on America, and they realize that there is no other candidate who can.  Mr. Trump has been their worst nightmare.  He is uncontrollable, and he has been successful.  He has “called them out,” and he has taken away their absolute power and influence.  They want it back in the worst way, and they will do anything to get it (even support a candidate they know is incompetent).  Presidents come and go every four or eight years, but the “deep state” is more or less permanent.
  2. Biden is a “good soldier” who can be controlled by the “deep state.”  As president, he would dutifully follow the guidance of his advisors, including and especially his vice president.  He would not make waves.
  3. He would be unlikely to seek a second term, in which case the vice president or some other loyal party person would hopefully ascend to the presidency.  This would be the VP whom the insiders had secretly selected in the proverbial “smoke-filled room.”
  4. Even better, he might not even finish his first term.   No matter.  Trump would be gone, and the “deep state” would be back in business.

What America needs is people to speak up, like that little girl, and tell the electorate that Biden, figuratively, “has no clothes.”

PRESIDENTS’ QUIZ

We are in the midst of what could very well be an historic presidential election.  It promises to be exciting and contentious.  Each of the three viable contenders – President Trump and Dem hopefuls Sanders and Biden – has a cadre of very strong supporters and also harsh critics.   When all is said and done we could end up with another four raucous years of President Trump, an avowed Socialist in the White House and/or a female vice president.

With that in mind, I thought a presidents’ quiz might be appropriate.  How much do you know about our presidents?  Let’s see.

You know the drill.  No peeking at the internet.  No asking “Alexa.”  Good luck.

  1. Donald Trump is president # (a) 42, (b) 43, (c) 44, (d) 45.
  2. Who was the only president to serve in both WW1 and WW2?  (a) Harry Truman, (b) Dwight Eisenhower, (c) Douglas MacArthur, (d) John F. Kennedy
  3.  Each of the following served as generals in the US Army, EXCEPT: (a) Theodore Roosevelt, (b) Franklyn Pierce, (c) Benjamin Harrison, (d) Andrew Johnson.  Bonus – There were 12 in total.  How many can you name?  See below.
  4.   Only two presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, JFK and who else? (a) Eisenhower, (b) Jackson, (c) Taft, (d) Teddy Roosevelt.
  5.  Who is the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively? (a) Grover Cleveland, (b) James Buchanan, (c) Teddy Roosevelt, (d) Chester A. Arthur.
  6. What was Lady Bird Johnson’s real first name? (a) Eugenia, (b) Claudia, (c) Alice, (d) Mary
  7.  Who is the longest-lived former president?  (a) George Washington, (b) George HW Bush, (c) Jimmy Carter, (d) Ronald Reagan
  8.  Who was the oldest president on his inauguration date? ( Jimmy Carter, (b)  Ronald Reagan, (c) George HW Bush, (d) Donald Trump
  9. Who was the only president who never got married? (a) Andrew Johnson, (b) Warren Harding, (c) James Buchanan, (d) John Quincy Adams.
  10. Who is the only president to have also served as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court? (a) Woodrow Wilson, (b) James A. Garfield, (c) Benjamin Harrison, (d) William Howard Taft
  11.  Who was the first president for whom “Hail to the Chief” was played? (a) John Tyler, (b) George Washington, (c) Andrew Jackson, (d) FDR.
  12.  Which president’s wife was the first to be dubbed “First Lady?” (a) John Adams, (b) Thomas Jefferson, (c) James Madison, (d) James Polk
  13. Who was the only president to serve in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812? (a) James Monroe, (b) John Quincy Adams, (c) Andrew Jackson, (d) John Tyler.
  14.  Who was the only president to serve as president and vice president without being elected to either office? (a) Gerald Ford, (b) John Adams, (c) James Monroe, (d) Martin Van Buren
  15.  Who was the first president to live in the White House? (a) George Washington, (b) John Adams, (c) Thomas Jefferson, (d) James Madison
  16. Who was the shortest president? (a) John Adams, (b) James Monroe, (c) James Madison, (d) John Quincy Adams.
  17.  Who was the first president to be born in the US? (a) Andrew Jackson, (b) George Washington, (c) James Buchanan, (d) Martin Van Buren
  18.  Who had the shortest tenure as president? (a) James K. Polk, (b) William Henry Harrison, (c) Rutherford B. Hayes, (d) Samuel Tilden
  19.  Who was known as “Old Kinderhook?” (a) Franklyn Pierce, (b) Chester A. Arthur, (c) John Tyler, (d) Martin Van Buren.
  20.  How many presidents have died in office? (a) 6, (b) 8, (c) 10, (d) 4
  21.  How many presidents were elected despite having lost the popular vote? (a) 4, (b) 5, (c) 6, (d) 8.
  22.  FDR won four terms as president.  How many VPs did he have? (a) 1, (b) 2, (c) 3, (d) 4.

ANSWERS: 1. (d); 2. (b); 3. (a); [ Washington, Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Franklyn Pierce, Andrew Johnson, US Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Henry Harrison, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Eisenhower] 4. c;  5. (a);  6. (b);  7. (c) (95 and counting);  8. (d) (70, FYI Biden would be 78; Sanders would be 79);  9. c;  10. d;  11. (a);  12. (c) (President Zachary Taylor referred to Dolley Madison as “First Lady” when he eulogized her at her funeral.)  13. (c);  14. (a);  15. (b);  16. (c) (5′ 4″); 17. (d);  18. (b) (32 days); 19. (d) (That was the derivation of “okay” or “OK”);  20. (b); 21. (b) ( John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, Donald Trump); 22. (c) (John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Harry S. Truman)

So, how did you do?  I’d like to know.

DEMOCRATIC 2020 NOMINATION UPDATE

You can’t make this up.  The battle for the Dem 2020 nomination has had more twists and turns than a Hollywood “whodoneit.”  For months Joe Biden was the presumptive nominee.  Then, Biden faded as whenever he spoke in public he reminded us that he was a 77 year-old gaffe machine.  Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren took turns as media darlings.  Then, one by one, they faded or self-destructed.  Meanwhile, incredibly and against all odds and logic, avowed Socialist Bernie Sanders’ popularity grew.  He had money; he had an organization; he had grassroots support all over the country; and he had a cadre of intensely loyal supporters.  It seemed increasingly likely that he could win the nomination.

His ascendancy was horrifying not only to most voters but also to the Dem establishment.  I and many others have long asserted that Sanders would never get the nomination.  The Dem establishment would simply not allow it.  Not only would his nomination virtually insure four more years of the hated Donald Trump, but it could easily lead to the loss of the House.  They stopped him in 2016; they would do so again in 2020.  It was just a matter of when and how.

Indeed this week the establishment struck.  They struck suddenly and most effectively.  Their plot to derail Bernie was executed brilliantly.

  1.  On the eve of Super Tuesday Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out and threw their support to Biden.  The timing was right.  Biden had just won the South Carolina primary, which was his first strong showing in any state, and hundreds of delegates were at stake.
  2. Wednesday, Michael Bloomberg dropped out and, you guessed it, endorsed Biden.  His candidacy had been ill-advised from the beginning.  He was never a serious contender.  I believe he entered the race primarily because, at the time, it seemed as though Biden was floundering, and he saw himself as the guy to derail Bernie.   Instead, he embarrassed himself.  He wasted some $500 million for the dubious honor of being filleted on the debate stage, and he won a grand total of five delegates in American Samoa, which most voters cannot find on a globe.  (Don’t feel sorry for him, however.  He still has around $60 billion left, to assuage his feelings, give or take a billion.)
  3. Now, Biden is the only moderate Dem remaining, and the field is clear for him to win the nomination
  4. As a bonus, Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race through Super Tuesday.  Then, after having syphoned off votes that would likely have gone to Sanders, she dropped out.  I am not sure if she was part of the plot, but she could be.  Or, perhaps, she really does hate Sanders and wanted to play spoiler. The fact of the matter is that she no longer had any chance to win, and her timing had the effect of inflicting maximum damage to Sanders’ campaign.   I believe that her presence on the ballot on Super Tuesday swung the results from Bernie to Biden in several states.  For example, Warren got 11% in Texas; Biden beat Bernie by 4.5%.  In Maine she got 16%; Biden beat Bernie by 2%.  In Minnesota she got 15%; Biden beat Bernie by 12%.  If Bernie had won those three states the political landscape would have looked significantly different today.
  5. What were the dropouts promised?  Who knows, but if Biden wins don’t be surprised if they turn up in his Administration.  Already, he has promised Beto, who is strongly anti-second amendment, to be in charge of confiscating guns.  The others?  Even a VP nod is not out of the question.

CONCLUSION

So, now we are down to two – Biden and Bernie.  Sounds like a comedy team, doesn’t it?  (Isn’t that characterization most appropriate?)  The DC and Dem establishment will do its best to support Biden and destroy Bernie.  Just watch the news coverage prospectively.

The nomination is now Biden’s to lose.  I am looking forward to the next debate.  It will be one on one.  Biden will have no place to hide.  Despite all the forces arrayed against him Bernie is not dead yet.  He is not ready to concede.  Nor are his rabid supporters.  I believe the next several months will be verrrrry interesting, if not historic.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MARCH

Below please find some of the significant events that have occurred in March.

3/1/1932 – In one of the most notorious kidnappings ever, the 20 month-old son of renowned aviator, Charles Lindbergh, was taken from his home. Tragically, the child was later found dead only a few miles away.

3/1/1961 – President JFK established the Peace Corps, which sent volunteers to developing countries to provide healthcare, education, and other basic human needs.

3/1/1974 – Several senior officials of the Nixon administration were indicted for obstruction related to the infamous Watergate break-in.

3/4/1681 – England’s King Charles, II deeded a huge tract of land in the New World to William Penn in settlement of a debt. Appropriately, the area became known as Pennsylvania.

3/4/1789 – The first meeting of the US Congress occurred in NYC.

3/4/1830 – Former President John Quincy Adams returned to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives, the first, and only, ex-President to do so. [Who was the only ex-President to serve in the US Senate? See answer below?]

3/5/1770 – British soldiers opened fire on a group of demonstrating colonials, killing five, including Crispus Attucks, an African-American, who later became celebrated as being the first American to die in the Revolutionary War.

3/5/1946 – The term, “Iron Curtain,” was first used (in a speech by Winston Churchill) to describe the separation between the free countries of Europe and those that were under the domination of the Soviet Union.
3/6/1836 – The Alamo was overrun by Mexican troops, who slaughtered every last defender, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett. “Remember the Alamo” became the inspirational rallying cry for Texans’ fight for independence from Mexico.

3/10/1862 – The US began distributing paper money in denominations of $5, $10 and $20.

3/10/1880 – The Salvation Army was founded in the US.

3/11/1918 – The “Spanish Flu” first appeared in the US. By the end of 1920 it had been responsible for some 22 million deaths worldwide.

3/12/1609 – The British colonized Bermuda (by accident, as a ship headed for Virginia had been blown off-course).

3/12/1888 – The infamous “Great Blizzard of 1888” wreaked havoc on the northeastern US. In NYC it dropped 40 inches of snow over 36 hours and was responsible for some 400 deaths.

3/12/1912 – Girl Scouts of America founded.

3/12/1938 – In the first of many blatant acts of aggression, Germany invaded, and later annexed, Austria.

3/15/44 B.C. – Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate by a group that included his friend, Brutus (“Et tu, Brute?”).

3/16/1968 – American soldiers killed 504 Vietnamese men, women and children in what became known as the “My Lai Massacre.”

3/17 – Celebrated in many countries as St. Patrick’s Day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, who is credited with converting the Irish to Catholicism in the 5th century.

3/22/1972 – Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender.

3/23/1775 – In a speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry intoned his famous words, “give me liberty, or give me death.”

3/24/1934 – President FDR granted independence to the Philippine Islands, which the US had controlled since the Spanish-American War.

3/24/1989 – The oil tanker, Exxon Valdez, ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spewing forth some 11 million gallons of oil over some 45 miles of natural habitat, creating the one of the largest and most devastating ecological disasters in US history.

3/25/1807 – The British Parliament abolished slavery throughout the Commonwealth.

3/25/1911 – A raging fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in NYC killed 123 in just minutes. The tragedy shined a spotlight on the working conditions of immigrant women who were laboring in the garment industry for long hours and low pay.

3/26/1979 – Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accord peace treaty, brokered by President Jimmy Carter.

3/28/1930 – Constantinople was renamed Istanbul.

3/28/1979 – An accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant created a controversy over the use of nuclear power that still has not been fully resolved.

3/30/1981- President Ronald Reagan is gravely wounded by a would-be assassin. He recovered shortly to resume his duties and later quipped that he “forgot to duck.”

3/30/1909 – The Queensboro Bridge (aka The 59th Street Bridge) opened.

3/31/1968 – President LBJ, who, for many, had come to symbolize the futility and frustration of the Vietnam War, announced he would not run for re-election.

Birthdays – 3/1/1904 – Glenn Miller, bandleader (“Moonlight Serenade”), in Carilinda, IA; 3/2/1793 – Sam Houston, led the fight for Texas independence, Rockbridge County, VA; 3/3/1831 – George Pullman, invented “Pullman Car,” which improved sleeping accommodations on trains, in Brocton, NY; 3/3/1847 – Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, among others, in Edinburgh, Scotland; 3/4/1747 – Casimir Pulaski, Revolutionary War hero, in Poland; 3/4/1888 – Knute Rockne, football coach, in Voss, Norway; 3/6/1475 – Michelangelo, Renaissance painter, in Caprese, Italy; 3/9/1451 – Amerigo Vespucci, explorer and cartographer for whom America is named; 3/9/1934 – Yuri Gargarin, first cosmonaut in space, in Gzhatsk, Russia; 3/14/1879 – Albert Einstein, physicist who developed the theory of relativity; 3/14/1833 – Lucy Hobbs, first female dentist, in NY; 3/15/1767 – Andrew Jackson, 7th President, war hero in War of 1812, in Waxhaw, SC; 3/16/1751 – James Madison, a Founding Father and 4th US President; 3/18/1837 – Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President (only president to serve two terms non-consecutively), in Caldwell, NJ; 3/19/1813 – David Livingstone, explorer and missionary who famously went missing in Africa. When he was finally found by newsman Henry Stanley, the latter supposedly uttered the famous line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume,” although that might have been an example of Hollywood hyperbole, in Scotland; 3/19/1848 – Wyatt Earp, Wild West lawman and gunfighter, in Monmouth, IL; 3/19/1860 – William Jennings Bryan, known for “Cross of Gold ” speech and for the dubious honor of being only person to lose three presidential races, in Salem, IL; 3/21/1685 – Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, in Germany; 3/24/1874 – Erik Weisz, aka, Harry Houdini, escape artist, in Hungary; 3/26/1911 – Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams, III, playwright (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), in Columbus, MS; 3/29/1760 – John Tyler, became 10th President upon the death of William Henry Harrison, Charles City County, VA; 3/30/1853 – Vincent Van Gogh, Postimpressionist painter, in Groot Zundert, Holland; 3/31/1731 – Franz Joseph Hayden, composer, considered to be father of the symphony and string quartet, in Austria; 3/31/1878 – Jack Johnson, first AA boxing champion, in Galveston, TX.

Answer to quiz – Andrew Johnson (TN)

CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK

Is it time to panic yet?  Has the outbreak of the Corona Virus, aka COVID-19 (the “virus”), reached the pandemic stage?

Based upon my research for this blog, I would say the answers are:  “No” and “probably not yet,” but I can see why some might disagree.  The World Health Organization (“WHO”) has issued a statement that “while it still too early to call it a pandemic countries should nonetheless be in a ‘phase of preparedness.’ ”  That said, it is important to note that the situation has been very fluid, and by the time you read this it may have deteriorated to the point where the above answers may have changed.

With respect to the virus please be advised of the following information, which I have gleaned from various sources, such as Wikipedia and various news outlets, such as tv reports and “The Washington Post.”:

  1. The WHO and other health agencies have complained that much of the information about COVID-19, particularly that which has been available on the internet, has been incomplete, contradictory and infodemic (so excessive as to be confusing and counterproductive).   For example, the virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, possibly at the Huanan Seafood Market, in December, although there have been reports disputing that market as being the source.  There has also been speculation that (a) the virus originally leaked from a lab in Wuhan that was conducting experiments in biological warfare, and (b) infected lab animals were smuggled out of the research facility and sold for human consumption.
  2. The number of people infected has been increasing at an alarmingly rapid pace and spreading geographically.  As I write this, over 82,000 cases have been confirmed in some 50 countries, resulting in over 2,800 fatalities.  Furthermore, on February 25 for the first time the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number inside China.
  3. On the plus side, over 32,000 of those infected have recovered.
  4. To date, after China, the highest incidences of infection have been in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan.  Officials of each of those governments have been severely criticized for their ineffective and/or slow actions to control the outbreak of the virus.
  5. As one might expect, most of the deaths were patients who were (a) over 60 and (b) had pre-existing conditions, especially respiratory, cardiovascular or diabetes.
  6.  The number of those infected has been consistently underreported, substantially so in some countries.  This could have been due to health officials being slow to recognize the symptoms of the virus (which mimic the flu or pneumonia).  However, some people, notably the WHO’s John Mackenzie and the CDC’s Anne Schuchat, have speculated that, at least in the case of China, there was a deliberate attempt to minimize the situation, possibly, for economic and tourism reasons.
  7.  The common early symptoms are fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue and myalgia (muscle pain).  If untreated, these can lead to acute respiratory distress, severe pneumonia, sepsis, and, ultimately, death.
  8.  The incubation period varies, but most put the outer limit at 14 days.  This presents obvious problems as far as identifying those afflicted before they can spread the disease.
  9. The primary means of transmission is via respiratory droplets, e.g. coughing and sneezing on someone.  It has been estimated that the average sick person is likely to infect two to four others.
  10. So far, there is no effective vaccine to treat or prevent the virus, although several health agencies have been working feverishly to produce one.  The National Institute of Health has reported that it expects to have one ready for human trials as early as April.
  11. As a means of mitigating the spread of the virus public health officials urge people to observe basic hygiene, such as frequent handwashing (for 20 seconds or more), avoiding touching one’s face and mouth, and avoiding being to close to anyone who is coughing or sneezing.  Avoid touching objects, such as door knobs or railings.  The virus can survive on those types of objects for up to nine days.  The use of face masks for those not infected is not recommended, except for caregivers, as there is no evidence that they protect one against infection.  On the other hand, a mask might give one a false sense of security.  Anyone infected is urged to stay at home as much as practicable.
  12. Furthermore, various countries have instituted travel restrictions or bans to infected areas and quarantines of those infected.  Airports, train stations and other points of entry have stepped up their vigilance of arriving travelers.  In addition, many have closed schools temporarily and postponed or cancelled group gatherings such as sporting events and concerts.  There has even been discussion of holding sporting events in empty stadiums.
  13. The US instituted a Level 1 travel watch, which it later upgraded to Level 3 for some areas.  As I write this, the US has had only 60 confirmed cases and no deaths. That makes sense, as I would expect proportionally fewer deaths in countries, such as the US which have a strong health infrastructure.
  14. President Trump has been criticized by his political enemies, unfairly, in my opinion, for the manner in which he has handled this matter.  In a recent press conference he was upbeat and positive.  He urged people to “remain calm,” and he characterized the US’s containment of the virus as “close to airtight.”  He was criticized for those comments by some people.  It’s almost as if they would rather there be more deaths if it were to mean a failure for Mr. Trump.  I find that bothersome.  I believe that in a time of crisis such as this we should put aside political differences and support the president.

CONCLUSION

As stated above, I believe the outbreak has not yet reached the “pandemic” stage.  Although much of the world’s health agencies were slow to react to the danger, it now appears that they are fully engaged.  Also, although the virus has spread rapidly the death rate has been very low, around 3%.

In addition to the abovementioned health hazards there has been and will be a strong economic impact from this virus.  China is a significant trading partner of not only the US but also many other nations.  The inevitable disruptions to its economy will have a significant impact on the economies of the rest of the world.

The financial markets have already reacted to this, perhaps overreacted.  When President Trump urged people to “remain calm” he was referring to investors as well.

In a macro view, I would like to point out that the world has survived many pandemics thrughout recorded history.  Many of you will recall the SARs outbreak of 2003 and the Asian Flu of 1956-58.  In addition, historians will recall the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and the Black Death of 1346 – 1353.  Those were scary as this now appears to be, but I believe we will survive.

 

BERNIE SANDERS

As I write this, despite the overt and covert opposition of most of the Dem leadership and much of the mainstream media, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy has been thriving.   To wit:

(1)  He has won the popular vote in all three primaries that have been contested to date (and by a wide margin in Nevada, which has a diverse electorate).

(2)  He has continued to raise considerable amounts of money.  To this point, he has raised more than any other candidate, except for self-funding billionaires Steyer and Bloomberg.

(3)  He is generally acknowledged as the Dem frontrunner.  Furthermore, the preponderance of the campaign contributions he has received are from small donors suggesting broad support of ordinary people.

So, how did this happen?  What is his appeal?  Do a large plurality of voters actually support Socialism?  Can an acknowledged Socialist actually be elected president?  Can he be stopped?  If so, by whom?  All good questions.  I’m not sure I have the answers.  I’m not sure anyone does, but read on and I will give it my best shot.

To understand Bernie and his political philosophy it is necessary to go back to the beginning.  Bernard Sanders was born on September 8, 1941 to a Jewish working-class family in NYC.  His father was a paint salesman.  Often, he would complain bitterly about societal inequities that he perceived to be the cause of his lack of success.  One might surmise that this influenced the development of Bernie’s economic and social beliefs.  Money was tight.  His older brother, Larry, recalled that although there was money for essentials, like food and clothing, “major purchases, like curtains or a rug were not affordable.”  Both parents died relatively young.  His father was 57; his mother was 46.

Bernie was an outstanding athlete.  His elementary school basketball team won the Borough of Brooklyn championship one year.  In high school he was captain of the track team, and one year he placed third in NYC in the one-mile race.  He was less successful in politics.  He ran for president of the student body and lost, finishing last.

He became interested in politics at an early age, particularly the rise of Nazism in Europe.  Much of his family had emigrated from Poland and Russia.  Those who had remained behind in Poland were murdered in the Holocaust.

He attended Brooklyn College for one year and then transferred to the University of Chicago from which he graduated in 1964 with a BA in political science.  By his own admission, he was a “mediocre” college student.  He characterized the schoolwork as “boring and irrelevant.”  To him, “the community was more important to his education.”

Bernie began to exhibit his Socialist bent while at the U of C.  The 1960s were a period of violent protest and upheaval, and Bernie fit right in.  He became very active in the nascent Civil Rights Movement.  He joined the Young People’s Socialist League, which was the youth adjunct of the Socialist party in the US.  Additionally, he became a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), of which he served as chairman of the university’s  chapter.

In 1968 he moved to Vermont.  In the 1970s he ran for political office several times as an independent and lost every time.  In 1981 he was elected mayor of Burlington and served four terms.  As far as I was able to discern from my research, this, at the age of 53, was his first real job.  Prior to this, he had relied on the financial support of his wife and girlfriends and government support.  In 1990 he was elected to the House of Representatives.  He was elected to the Senate in 2006.

In my opinion, his career in the Senate can best be described as pedestrian.  He has only sponsored a few bills that actually became law.  He developed a reputation as a quirky maverick.  Most of the time he was registered as an independent.  I maintain that he only switched to the Dem Party because he wanted to run for president as a Dem.

He managed to avoid military service during the Vietnam era.  Was he a “draft dodger?”  Perhaps, although his supporters deny it.  We do know he was strong critic of the war and applied for a conscientious objector deferment, which was a common ploy among draft dodgers at the time.  It was denied, but by then, he had “aged out.”   You can evaluate his actions for yourself.

Consistent with his Socialist/Communist political leanings he has visited Cuba, where he tried unsuccessfully to get an audience with Fidel Castro, Nicaragua, where he met with the pro-Soviet Sandinista Government leaders, and Russia, for his honeymoon.

This, then, is the candidate who somehow has managed to become the front runner.  How?

  1.  The promise of “free stuff” is very alluring and hard to resist.  For example, at first, glance, who wouldn’t be in favor of free single payer healthcare for all, even undocumented immigrants?   Who wouldn’t be in favor of a guaranteed income or of having their suffocating student loan debt, which for many is in the six figures, paid off?  On the surface, helping the oppressed and persecuted by opening our borders doesn’t seem so bad.  Why not help those less fortunate than us?  In view of all the murders annually, why not toughen gun laws?  The Green New Deal will benefit our environment.  What’s wrong with that?
  2.  It’s only if and when one analyzes these policies and others that “warts” show up.  The most obvious problem is that there is no way to come close to paying for these pie-in-the-sky plans, and that, my friends is the crux of Socialism.   No one even knows how much these policies will cost.  Estimates have run as high as tens of trillions of dollars per year.
  3.  Many of Bernie’s supporters have no idea what Socialism is and what damage it would do, especially the version he is preaching.  They need to be educated.  If they realized what it means and what it has done to other countries that have tried it, they might change their tune.  Typically, Socialist ideas sound good, but they simply don’t work.  Bernie’s version of Socialism has never been successful anywhere.  Contrary to what he claims, it’s not the Scandinavian version.  Even the president of Denmark has disavowed it.  It’s the type that has plagued the economies of Russia, Cuba and Venezuela, among others.
  4. Bernie has taken advantage of a weak field.  The other candidates are too old, too timid, too inexperienced and/or too reluctant to put forth policies that mainstream voters favor.  Instead, they have misread the electorate and have allowed Bernie to pull them too far to the left.
  5. I believe that for some of his supporters, their support is a “protest” vote.  They don’t really support his ideas or even understand their significance.  They just don’t like the current system.  They feel it is not working for them.  They are unhappy and want to try something else.
  6.  Bernie has a way of explaining his ideas in a positive way.  He’s an excellent public speaker, almost mesmerizing, akin to an evangelist.  Someone, a reporter or a rival candidate, needs to force him to explain them, in detail, expose them.

CONCLUSION

Due to the foregoing, I firmly believe that Bernie’s election would be disastrous for the American way of life.  The key question is can Bernie be stopped or is his candidacy inevitable?  At the present time, he definitely has momentum, but his nomination is not inevitable.  Nine months is a lifetime in politics.

The power brokers in the Party are adamantly opposed to his nomination.  They perceive that it would lead to a decisive Trump victory.   I agree.  I can visualize a debacle similar to George McGovern’s defeat in 1972.  The Party leaders and their allies in the media are determined to derail a Sanders nomination as they did in 2016.  Their latest trick was to bend the debate qualification rules to qualify Bloomberg to participate.  That tactic backfired miserably due to Bloomberg’s inept performance.  But, you can be sure they will keep at it. There is still time to thwart Bernie’s candidacy, but the Dems need to (1) find a moderate candidate who can appeal to the mainstream of the Dem Party and (2) follow the steps outlined above.

Who could it be?  I don’t know.  Maybe, there isn’t anyone who is up to the task.    If you have any suggestions, to quote the late Ross Perot, “I’m all ears.”

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

It is impossible to discuss Black history without discussing the slave trade. Since February has been designated as Black History Month,  I thought it appropriate to publish a blog on the topic discussing not only the sordid history of slavery, but also the many significant accomplishments of AAs.

Slave trading is as old as recorded history.  Ancient peoples, such as the Egyptians, Arabs and Romans, among others, were active practitioners.  Before the industrial revolution took hold, slaves were essential to do the back-breaking physical labor required, such as, for example, building the pyramids, tilling the fields, and rowing the huge warships. Basically, if you lost a war you were either killed or enslaved.  Slaves were not viewed as people.  They were perceived as property to be bought, sold, raped, beaten, or otherwise mistreated.

Most present-day African-Americans (AAs) are the descendants of slaves that were transported from the west coast areas of Africa to the Americas from the late 16th century through 1865.  Most of these slaves were captured in raids conducted by white slave traders, however, it was not uncommon for African chiefs, (for example, those located in Benin and Mali), to sell black prisoners of war to these “slavers.”

The slaves’ passage from Africa to America, which normally took six months, was beyond brutal. Without going into too much graphic detail, the trip, itself, was probably worse than what awaited them at the end.  First of all, the slaves were separated by gender.  Men were generally put in the ship’s hold where they were so crowded that often they had no space to lie down.  Starvation and disease were rampant.  Many slaves died en route and were dumped unceremoniously overboard.  Women were kept closer to the crew.  Rape was common.  Occasionally there would be a rebellion, but these were quickly and brutally suppressed.  All in all, some 12 million AAs were transported to America in this manner, but countless others never made it.

The first slaves arrived in present-day US in 1619 at the ironically-named Point Comfort near present-day Hampton, VA.  This was some 30 miles from Jamestown, which, as some of you will recall, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World.  The English settlers treated these early arrivals as indentured servants, rather than slaves, and released them after they had completed their period of indenture.  However, before long, this practice was replaced by outright slavery.  It is estimated that only about 5% of the slaves were transported to the American colonies.  The vast majority were shipped to the West Indies, or even South America, where the working conditions were significantly more brutal (harder work and inferior food and medical care) and the death rates substantially higher.

Quiz question: What was the first American colony to legalize slavery? Answer below.]

In early America, owning slaves was common.  Many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned some 200.  Before you condemn them for that, however, consider that slave ownership was a symptom of the times in which they lived, and I do not believe it is appropriate to judge them by today’s standards as many are wont to do. It has been documented that even some free blacks owned slaves.

By the early 19th century slavery had become more commonplace in the South than the North. Without going into excessive detail, slaves were an economic necessity to work the vast plantations that produced cotton and other crops on which the South’s economy depended. Meanwhile, the North had become more industrialized and less reliant on slave labor. The two regions were on a collision course that ultimately resulted in the Civil War, followed by Reconstruction, “Jim Crow” laws, and segregation that lasted well into the 20th century.

AAs have distinguished themselves in every war. For example, the first person to give his life for freedom during the Revolutionary War was an AA, Crispus Attucks, who perished at the Boston Massacre in 1775.  Some 5,000 AAs fought in the Continental Army, side by side with whites. Therefore, technically, the US Army was integrated before it was segregated.  Even after the British and their loyalist supporters offered to free any slave who joined their side, many AAs stayed loyal to the Revolution.

During the Civil War approximately 200,000 free blacks and former slaves fought with the Union Army both before and after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
During WWI the armed forces were still segregated, and most AA units were relegated to support roles.  Even so, a few units, such as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” did see combat. That unit ended up serving on the front lines for six months, longer than any other unit, and 171 of its members were awarded the Legion of Merit. Moreover, Corporal Freddie Stowers of another unit was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.  Sadly, somehow, the Army (intentionally or not) “misplaced” his paperwork at the time, but his surviving sisters received it on his behalf from President Bush 41 in 1991.

Nearly 2 million AAs served in the US military during WWII, once again, in segregated units. Many of them, such as the famed Tuskegee Airmen, did so with distinction.  Over 700 AAs were killed, and many more were wounded.  Undoubtedly, their bravery and patriotism was one of the factors that led President Harry Truman to order the integration of the armed services after the War.  AAs have continued to serve with distinction in every war since.

CONCLUSION

Presently, most people would say the US is divided racially (as well as politically, economically, socially and geographically).  That is problematic, but, I maintain we have made significant strides as a society.  Critics should try to put things in perspective.  We’re not perfect by any means, and we should strive to improve, but name me a country that is better.

AAs have made innumerable contributions to society in all fields of endeavor.  Below please find a brief list.  Most of these names should be very familiar to you.  Due to space limitations I am sure I have omitted some very important people.  Feel free to make additional suggestions to the list.

Civil Rights

1. Martin Luther King – In my opinion, the most influential American civil rights leader ever. His espousal of non-violent protest won over many whites as well as blacks. His assassination was a tragedy for the civil rights movement.
2. Rosa Parks – The simple act of refusing to give up her seat on a bus was a landmark event in black civil rights history.
3. Frederick Douglas – Escaped slave who became one of the leading abolitionists of the 19th century.
4. Harriet Tubman – Escaped slave who was an integral “conductor” of the “underground railroad” in the 19th century.  She made in excess of a dozen trips and rescued an estimated 70 slaves without losing any of them.
5. Jesse Jackson – Renowned and influential civil rights leader for over 40 years. Ran for President in 1984 and 1988.
6. Sojourner Truth – Influential 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. Fought for equal rights for women as well as blacks.
7. Ida Wells – Civil rights activist, journalist and newspaper editor. Relentlessly investigated and exposed lynchings, which were all too commonplace in the South at the time.

Politics

1. Barack Obama – Served two terms as President of the US. Regardless of your opinion of his political philosophy, he was the first AA president.
2. Shirley Chisholm – First AA congresswoman (1968-1983). Ran for President in 1972.
3. Douglas Wilder – In 1989 became the first AA to be elected governor (Virginia).
4. Carol Moseley-Braun – First AA senator (Illinois).

Presently, there are thousands of AAs holding elected office and dozens who hold or have held significant government positions, such as Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, and NSA Head Condoleeza Rice.  Furthermore, the 2020 presidential campaign featured AAs, such as Corey Booker and Kamala Harris.  Others will likely follow and, perhaps, win.

Sports and Entertainment –

There are a plethora of examples in this field, but, to my mind, these four stand out.

1. Jesse Owens – “Stuck it” to the Nazis by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 demonstrating that AAs were not inferior as many thought at the time.
2. Jackie Robinson – Broke the “color barrier” in major league baseball in 1947, paving the way for thousands who have followed and will follow, prospectively.
3. Muhammed Ali – World champion boxer and an inspiration to blacks worldwide.
4. Oprah Winfrey – Strong media personality and role model to AAs and women, in general.

Answer to quiz question: Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery in 1641. Kudos to you if you got it right.

DEMOCRAT PARTY DEBATE FIREWORKS

The ninth Democratic presidential candidates’ debate last Wednesday night in Las Vegas was everything that the previous eight were not.  It was contentious, entertaining, and, at times, chaotic.   The knives were out.  Politeness and gentility were nowhere to be found.  On many occasions, the candidates were interrupting and talking over each other.  After a while, the squabbling became excessive and detrimental to the process.  In my opinion, there were several sidebars, which I will discuss below, but the overriding result was the devastation of Bloomberg’s candidacy and, with it, the Dem Party’s Plan B for the nomination.

Can he recover?  History shows that nine months is a very long time in politics, so it’s possible.  But, at the moment it is hard to see how.

There were several minor skirmishes, such as Buttigieg criticizing Klobuchar for misremembering the name of the president of Mexico and Klobuchar retorting “are you calling me dumb?  Are you mocking me?”  It seems like those two have real issues with each other.  Evidently, they realize that they are both running in the same lane, moderate (relatively) Midwesterner, and only one of them can survive.  However, the main event featured the absolute annihilation of Michael Bloomberg.  In previous blogs,  I had asserted that Bloomberg was a poor debater, and it showed.

All the others ganged up on Bloomberg who, for the most part, was unable to defend himself adequately.  He just stood there passively, like a deer in the headlights, seemingly too stunned to come up with any retort.  I don’t know if he was inadequately prepared by his advisors or if he just “froze.”

He was attacked for various policies, but the most damaging were (1) his “stop and frisk” policy, (2) his hostility toward women, and (3) his attempt to “buy” the election.  There were many “zingers,” but the most telling and memorable was Warren’s characterizing him as “a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians.”  That’s the kind of line that will resonate and be remembered.  I don’t know if that represented truth or hyperbole, or a combination of the two, but it probably doesn’t matter, and Bloomberg did not deny it.

Additionally, she scored points against him for his various non-disclosure agreements that many women had signed.  She challenged him to disclose them, but he refused.  Again, he had no effective retort.  It got to the point where one almost felt sorry for him.. Almost.

In the aftermath, the liberal media was relentless in its criticism.  Even the airheads at CNN and MSNBC were brutal in their assessment of Bloomberg’s performance and depressed as to its meaning.  The following is a sampling of some of the more memorable comments: (1) they “tore the skin off him;” and  (2) Bloomberg “was the Titanic to Warren’s iceberg;”  Viewers of “Morning Joe” were treated to the site of Joe Scarborough trying to calm down a “panicking” Danny Deutsch who was lamenting that Sanders was “running away ” with the nomination.  The general consensus was that the real winner of the evening was Donald Trump, and I would agree.

CONCLUSION

How did the Dems get into this mess?  How has it developed that an admitted Socialist appears to be the runaway favorite for the nomination?  More importantly, how do they extricate themselves  from this mess?

As to the former, there are a lot of theories, but I believe that the primary reason is the weak competition.  Sanders has his hard core of supporters, but it is nowhere near a majority.  He has  been thriving against a weak, timid, divided field that is devoid of a strong moderate.  No one has been willing to stand up for “traditional” moderate Democrat policies.  They’re all deathly afraid of the twitter crowd, which, due to its aggressiveness, wields considerably more power than its numbers would suggest.  They don’t seem to realize that the twitter crowd’s opinions reflect merely a small slice of the electorate, not the majority.  The anti-Sanders crowd has to coalesce behind a moderate alternative with the courage to speak out.  I think a majority of the Dem voters are waiting for such a person.  Where is he or she?

As I and many others have been predicting the Dems are likely headed for a brokered convention.  Since it appears that no one candidate will have secured a majority of delegates the power brokers will probably have to decide the matter in the proverbial “smoke-filled room.”  So much for transparency.

Who will emerge as the candidate?  Your guess is as good as mine.  It could be anyone.  Hillary?  Patrick Leahy?  Biden?  Bloomberg? Someone else?  I believe three things are certain: (1) It will NOT be Sanders.  (2)  His supporters will not react well to being “screwed” twice in a row.; and  (3) The “winner” will lose to Trump, possibly in a landslide.

 

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – FEBRUARY

February may be the shortest month, but there has been no shortage of significant historical events during the month. For example:

2/2/1848 – The US-Mexican War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The US paid $15 million for a huge swath of land that encompasses parts of present-day CA, AZ, TX, UT, NV, NM, CO and WY.
2/3/1870 – The 15th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote.
2/3/1913 – The 16th amendment to the Constitution was ratified authorizing Congress to collect income taxes.

2/5/2020 – The Senate votes to acquit President Trump of all Articles of Impeachment.

2/6/1933 – The 20th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which changed the presidential inauguration date from March 4 to January 20.
2/6/1952 – Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne of the UK with the death of her father, King George VI.
2/8/1010 – The Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce.
2/9/1943 – In one of the bloodiest battles of WWII the US captured Guadalcanal after six months of intense fighting. The KIA included 2,000 Americans and 9,000 Japanese.
2/10/1967 – The 25th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which clarified the procedures for presidential succession.
2/11/660 BC – The date of the founding of the Japanese nation.
2/11//1990 – Nelson Mandela was released from a SA prison after 27 years.
2/12/1999 – The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton concluded with a “not guilty” verdict.
2/13/1635 – Boston Latin, the first taxpayer-supported public school in America, was founded in Boston.
2/14 – Celebrated around the world as St. Valentine’s Day.
2/14/1849 – Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a US President in office (James K. Polk).
2/14/1929 – The infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred in Chicago, as members of Al Capone’s gang, posing as police, gunned down members of the Bugs Moran gang.
2/15/1898 – The USS Battleship Maine blew up under mysterious circumstances while anchored in Havana harbor. Although culpability was not proven, this incident precipitated the War of 1898 with “remember the Maine” as the chief battle cry.
2/15/1933 – A failed assassination attempt on FDR resulted in the death of Chicago mayor Anton Cermak.
2/19/1942 – The US commenced the internment of Japanese Americans.
2/20/1962 – Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit.
2/21/1965 – Former Black Muslim leader, Malcolm X, was shot and killed in NYC.
2/21/1972 – President Richard Nixon arrived in China for the first State visit with communist China.
2/23/1991 – US ground troops initiated Operation Desert Storm versus Iraq.
2/24/1582 – Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar. The latter has become the standard worldwide.
2/24/1867 – The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The Senate acquitted him by one vote.
2/27/1950 – The 22nd amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which limits the president to a maximum of two terms or ten years in office.
2/27/1991- Operation Desert Storm concluded.

Birthdays – Hattie Caraway, Bakersville, TN – 2/1/1878, first woman elected to US Senate; John Ford – 2/1/1895, Cape Elizabeth, ME, Oscar winning director; Elizabeth Blackwell – 2/3/1821, Bristol, England – first female physician in US; Norman Rockwell – 2/3/1894, NYC – artist and illustrator; Thaddeus Kosciusko – 2/4/1746, Poland, Revolutionary War hero; Charles Lindbergh – 2/4/1902, Detroit, MI, first non-stop solo cross-Atlantic flight; Aaron Burr – 2/6/1756 – killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel; George Herman (“Babe”) Ruth – 2/6/1895, Baltimore, MD, generally considered best baseball player ever; Ronald Reagan – 2/6/1911, Tampico, IL, entertainer, 40th President; Charles Dickens – 2/7/1812, in England, British novelist; Sinclair Lewis – 2/7/1885, Sauk Center, MN, novelist and social critic; William Henry Harrison – 2/9/1773, Berkeley, VA, 9th President (died after having served only 32 days); Thomas Edison – 2/11/1847, Milan, OH, inventor; Abraham Lincoln- 2/12/1809, Hardin County, KY, 16th President, preserved the Union, freed the slaves; Charles Darwin – 2/12/1809, England, author; Galileo Galilei – 2/15/1564, astronomer and physicist; Susan B. Anthony – 2/15/1820, Adams, MA, women’s suffrage pioneer; Sonny Bono – 2/16/1935, Detroit, MI, entertainer; Nicolaus Copernicus – 2/19/1473, Poland, first to declare the sun, not earth, was the center of the solar system; George Washington – 2/22/1732, Westmoreland County, VA – “father” of US, 1st President; W.E.B. DuBois – 2/23/1868, Great Barrington, MA, AA educator; William (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody – 2/26/1846, Scott County, IN, reputedly killed 4,000 buffalo; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 2/27/1807, Portland, ME, poet (“Paul Revere’s Ride”).