Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I know we are living in difficult and dangerous times, when even going to the grocery store requires an act of courage. So maybe we should adopt the advice of the great American philosopher Bobby McFerrin: Don’t worry, be happy.

In his hit song from a decade or so ago, McFerrin opined:

Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now

Well with the virus taking lives and destroying economies, I guess it is an understatement to say that “we have some trouble.”

Still, I can understand the sentiment of many these days when they proclaim “but when you worry you make it double.”

Well, I remain worried, and I’m taking this situation seriously. Wait a minute. I need to go wash my hands. Oops. I digress.

Anyway, I’m in the age group deemed to be most at risk. And based on last year’s health report card where I battled twice with pneumonia, I’m okay wearing a mask and social distancing. I also can’t imagine eating in a restaurant where servers are wearing masks and instead of napkins you are given clorox wipes. Ugh.

I’m also not sure exactly how to grade the Trump administration’s response to this crisis. I guess it rests somewhere between pathetically inept and catastrophic. But hey. What do I know?

Well, I do know that this has been a terrible hardship on business owners and on people who must work to put food on the table. But I also know that around 100,000 Americans (and counting) have died because of this pandemic.

Given all that, it appears that our national patience to adhere to expert medical advice is wearing thin, and calls — primarily from conservatives and evangelicals — to reopen the country are beginning to carry the day.

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I also discount the increasingly popular belief that this entire health crisis is some kind of government plot to take away our individual freedoms. C’mon folks. Trump and his cronies aren’t that smart. They can’t even get Mexico to pay for a wall across our Southern border. I digress.

So it appears that we are stuck between a rock and a hard place: keep things shut down to slow the virus and protect as many as possible or move as fast as we can to reopen, consequences be damned.

Here’s from an article on CNN:

All 50 states have now partially emerged from coronavirus lockdowns, but with only a handful of states showing significant improvement in infection rates, some experts caution it could be too soon.

On Wednesday, Connecticut became the final state to begin lifting restrictions, allowing retail shops and restaurants to reopen their doors.

Despite the reopening milestone, health officials say, Americans remain at risk of catching the highly transmissible and sometimes deadly virus.

Oh boy.

And we’re not just taking about a handful of people.

New numbers from the Penn Wharton Budget Model show that reopening states could cause positive coronavirus case numbers to tick as high as 5.4 million by July 24.

The model explores various scenarios under which states reopen, include continuing lockdowns, and a partial reopening. The model also forecasts those scenarios if social distancing rules continue to be adhered to or are relaxed.

For the PWBM forecast, the model considers that states reopen on May 18. All totals are cumulative, and include past positive cases and deaths.

If states fully reopen with no social distancing rules in place, as many as 5.4 million people could test positive for coronavirus. And if states reopen while still practicing measures of social distancing, nearly 4.3 million people are projected to be diagnosed with COVID-19 by the third week of July.

Partially reopening the states with social distancing rules in place would result in nearly 3.2 million positive cases.

The forecast represents a large uptick in positive cases in the United States which currently stands at 1.5 million, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.

And according to the PWBM, the number of deaths would also start to rise as states reopen.

Oh well.

Why worry, be happy.

Winter Is Coming

I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of the TV saga Game of Thrones. It’s a little too stark and gory for me. Much like shopping at Walmart these days. I digress.

Anyway, one of the themes that resonated throughout the mystical lands of Westernos and Essos was the notion that Winter Is Coming. And when the series reached that point, we all knew that shit was going to hit the fan.

Since POTUS is a big TV fan, perhaps he can place the Winter Is Coming warning into the context of the current virus crisis.

After all, that was kind of the message that Rick Bright gave to Congress this week. Bright, until being ousted from his position, was charged with developing measures to fight infectious diseases.

Here’s from CNN:

Rick Bright, the ousted director of a crucial federal office charged with developing countermeasures to infectious diseases, testified before Congress on Thursday that the US will face an even worse crisis without additional preparations to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our window of opportunity is closing,” Bright said. “Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”

The “darkest winter in modern history.” Say what?

POTUS, are you listening?

Bright criticized the Trump administration for failing to implement a “standard, centralized, coordinated plan” to combat the virus and questioned its timeline for a vaccine. His testimony came a week after filing a whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired from his job leading the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for opposing the use of a drug frequently touted by President Donald Trump as a potential coronavirus treatment.
About an hour before Bright’s hearing, Trump tweeted that he had “never met” or “even heard of” Bright, but considers the NIH senior adviser a “disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!”

And more:

Bright claimed that the administration missed “early warning signals” to prevent the spread of the virus. He said that he would “never forget” an email from Mike Bowen, the hearing’s other witness and the vice president of the medical supply company Prestige Ameritech, indicating that the US supply of N95, the respirator masks used by health care professionals, was at a perilous level.

“He said, ‘We’re in deep shit,'” testified Bright. “‘The world is.'”

Hmm. “We’re in deep shit.”

Hard to argue with that assessment.

And it’s certainly enough to send a chill up and down the spine of this citizen journalist.

So it appears that Winter Is Coming.

Wonder if POTUS can require Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch, to wear a face mask?

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Kent State Massacre 50 Years Ago

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young immortalized the massacre of four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, with the following:

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

I wasn’t planning to write about this — but I couldn’t get it out of my mind this morning. Kent State and May 4, 1970. That’s 50 years and a lifetime ago — but I still think about Allison Krause and the others who were killed and injured that day.

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I didn’t know Allison — or Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder. But I think about Allison because of the Pittsburgh connection, hers and mine. And I think what a shame. Allison and the others would have been — should have been — in their late 60s or early 70s now. Maybe they would be ending careers. Maybe they would be parents — possibly grandparents. I can’t shake those thoughts having been at Kent State myself in 1970, although graduating in March and back home in Pittsburgh in May.

I know there is no point in rehashing what happened on May 4, 1970, and the days immediately before it. If you have an opinion, like me, it has been anchored in concrete for years. For most others now — it’s history.

Yet it is a day in America’s history worth remembering.

And what happened at Kent State 50 years ago today is something we must never forget.

 

Hillary: Warming Up In The Bullpen?

To quote the Beatles: “I read the news today, oh, boy!”

And the news, dominated as it is by the virus pandemic, ain’t all that good these days. But if you go beyond that crisis and examine other items, there is a story making the rounds on the Internet that points to something that could be even more devastating.

It appears that Hillary Clinton is preparing to jump into the presidential race if Joe Biden face plants between now and November.

Arrrgh.

Here’s from an article from The Hill, a fairly reputable publication for Inside-the-Beltway folks. Liz Peek opines that “As Biden struggles, Hillary waits for the call“:

Hillary Clinton continues to hover in the wings, ready to step forward should Joe Biden fail.

Don’t look now, but Joe is failing. Not only has his campaign been rocked by sexual assault allegations from onetime staffer Tara Reade, but the public is beginning to give up on the former vice president. A new Emerson College poll showed 57 percent of likely voters think President Trump will win reelection in November.

Remember, establishment Democrats put forward Uncle Joe because he was the “safe” candidate, bound to defeat Trump. Oops.

Oops, indeed.

I’m okay with Uncle Joe. He wasn’t my first choice. But he certainly is a step up from the doofus currently sucking the air out of the Oval Office.

But Hillary? C’mon!

Back to Liz Peek:

Democrats’ obstacle to pushing Biden aside is Sanders. The Independent Vermont senator was the runner-up in the primaries and continues to hold on to his delegates. Democratic leaders do not want to see Sanders resurgent; they are convinced he is unelectable. But they also know that if they move to replace Biden at the top of the ticket and don’t elevate Sanders, the Bernie Bros would revolt.

Indeed, it seems clear that party officials are so worried Sanders might stage another run that they canceled the 224-delegate rich New York state primary. They claimed the vote would have been dangerous in the epicenter of COVID-19, but since they still plan to host a primary for state and local officials, that excuse seems weak.

As the primaries roll forward, especially with officials’ thumbs on the scales, Biden will almost certainly win the candidacy. In the absence of a brokered convention, how could Democrats replace their standard-bearer?

One idea has been to convince Biden to step aside in favor of the very popular Michelle Obama, seen as a sure bet to beat Trump. So far, though, the former first lady has reportedly rebuffed all invitations to enter the fray.

That leaves Clinton. Biden could choose Clinton as his running mate and then step down before the election and allow Hillary to run in his place.

Clinton is the only VP candidate who would be able to pull off such a last-minute switch. She has the team, the resources and the experience to be the nominee; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) do not.

Clinton is ready and eager. She is desperate to avenge her 2016 loss (which she still blames on Putin) and has pumped up her public profile to keep herself in consideration. In past months, she has conducted endless interviews, promoted the uber-flattering four-part Hulu film about herself, made headlines by attacking Sanders and Mark Zuckerberg, and fired unending broadsides against Trump.

Unfortunately, Hillary still carries more baggage than a porter on a transcontinental railroad.

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Oh, well.

What’s the saying?

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.