Monday, Monday Musings

The Mamas and the Papas sang the popular lament “Monday, Monday.” It was one of their biggest hits, and it allows me to use the title to offer some miscellaneous musings on this Monday afternoon. As we near the halfway point of the 2020 year, it has been a quite troublesome one. And, it is likely to get worse.

– Pandemics are equally opportunity offenders. Your race, country, ethnicity, political leanings, etc. matter not.

– Most people are smarter than our elected officials. Many years ago, I used to think the opposite. And, it may have been true with folks like Jack Kemp, Bill Bradley, Tip O’Neill representative of a more learned lot of legislators.

– Yes, many voters can be fooled, but for the most part, they will make better decisions than our leaders will, especially, when such leaders are well funded by donors to think a certain way. And, that may be their stumbling block, the elected officials are paid to do what they are told by large donors.

– To this point, if we took a collection of reasonable folks as a cross section, told them about the various problems armed with cost/ benefit summaries of various actions, they could do a better job than funded elected officials of addressing the issues.

– Intolerance is not a healthy attribute and is harmful to many. Our friend Roger notes, the only allowable intolerance is of intolerant actors and actions.

– Speaking of intolerance, it would be a nice change for our country if its president did not walk around with a can of gasoline fueling racist fires. A leader would condemn racism, not tweet about how the racist is maltreated.

– Finally, it disappoints me that too many are so wrapped up in themselves, they refuse to help others and wear masks and/ or socially distance. If a store does not ward off non-mask wearers and take precautions, then we should find other venues that do.

COVID-19 could care less if your feelings are hurt. As my brother-in-law, who served in the USAF said, it is not like your being asked to storm a beach at Normandy, so wearing a mask is not too great a burden.

I have faith, but still wear a seatbelt – an active COVID-19 response

“I have faith, but still wear a seatbelt,” was uttered in an NPR interview with Dr. Derrick DeWitt, the minister who leads the Maryland Baptist Aged Home. Why was DeWitt being interviewed? His long term care facility has been able to avoid the COVID-19 virus. How did they do it?

DeWitt shared when the president noted there are fifteen cases, but will be down to zero at the end of the week, DeWitt chose not to believe him and decided to act. This was toward the end of February. Think about that statement, DeWitt did not take the president at his word and acted, instead.

DeWitt immediately introduced social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene measures. Again, this was in February. To date, the Aged Home as had no COVID-19 cases.

When asked if he got push back, he said some said we should just have faith in God. This is when he made the statement about still wearing a seatbelt. He added when people in leadership positions fail to give clear guidance, it is up to us to take necessary actions.

People in leadership need to heed these words. We need elected officials to tell us the truth. When officials choose to ignore this, they do far greater harm. As I have said before about the president and it also applies to the vice-president, if you cannot add value, please stop talking.

Trump Environmental Protection Agency makes it easier to harm infants

The dramatic headline is designed to get your attention, so please forgive the theatrics. Yet, while the president distracts us with his chaotic, incompetent and untruthful actions and words about more headline issues, his misnamed Environmental Protection Agency has struck again.

Amanda Mills penned the following article on June 23, 2020 in the online publication “Nation of Change,” “Trump’s EPA rolls back regulation of chemical linked to brain damage in infants that can be found in drinking water.” I will include her entire brief article below.

“Last week, Trump’s EPA decided to roll back regulations of a chemical that causes brain damage in infants. This chemical, perchlorate, is found in rocket fuel and can also be found in public drinking water.

Environmental experts and Health professionals have been fighting this deregulation that was created during the Obama Administration.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler claims this move ‘fulfills President Trump’s promise to pare back burdensome ‘one-size-fits-all’ overregulation for the American people.’

According to Associated Press, perchlorate from runoff contaminates the drinking water of as many as 16 million Americans, the Obama administration said in 2011 when it announced the EPA would act to set maximum limits for perchlorate for the first time.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior strategic director for Health Erik D. Olson says this decision is ‘illegal, unscientific, and unconscionable. The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening the health of pregnant moms and young children with toxic chemicals in their drinking water at levels that literally can cause loss of IQ points. Is this what the Environmental Protection Agency has come to?’

According to Common Dreams, the NRDC plans to challenge the order in court, claiming the consent decree did not allow for deregulating the chemical.”

I truly wish I were making these things up and kids will not be harmed by the president, but as evidenced by previous EPA actions and his blatant lack of empathy for COVID-19 victims, this is not really a stretch. As conservative pundit David Brooks has said, the president “lacks a sense of decency or empathy.”

These roll back of environmental regulations have been deliberate efforts to make it easier for industry to not worry about pollution. Environmental protections cost money. Sadly, when industry has not been permitted to get away with harming people, animals and the environment, it becomes a major motion picture as “Dark Waters” was last year or “Erin Brockovich” years before.

And, the troubling part is people who live in more rural or town areas near these facilities are the ones who get screwed or killed. These hard working folks make up some of Trump’s voters. The ecologist and biologist Sandra Steingraber has testified in front of Congress and the European Union parliament. She is has authored several books, her first being “Living Downstream” and her second “Raising Elijah.” In these books, it shows how industry outguns and outspends local people harmed by their pollution. It takes a Herculean effort to fight this injustice, hence the heroic movies when it does happen.

One thing Steingraber points out is our pollution metrics tend to measure the impact of pollution on a 50 year old man. That is the wrong metric. Kids have developing brains and lungs, mouth breathe more than adults, put their hands in their mouths more frequently, play outside more and are lower to the ground. They are more susceptible than adults are to chemical pollution. Plus, pregnant women are caring for two lives (maybe more), so we need to be extra careful with them.

So, this is why the Trump EPA’s decision to permit easier pollution is so over-the-top callous. Please question this move. Make people stand up and explain why this is a good idea. As I have mentioned before, I knew of Trump’s negatives, but what I feared most is what Trump would do to our environment and climate change actions more than anything. This is just one more example.

Mark Cuban tells Sean Hannity of Fox he is voting for Biden

Joe Concha of The Hill penned “Mark Cuban endorses Biden on Hannity: He ‘actually wants to run a country'” based on the appearance by billionaire Mark Cuban on Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s talk show. The remarks are worth noting given where he made them and his answers to Hannity’s questions based off GOP rhetoric.

“Mark Cuban told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he will vote for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump in November, arguing that Trump ‘only wants to run a campaign’ while Biden “wants to run a country…

‘Do you believe that he has the strength, the stamina, the mental acuity, the alertness to be taking on what is the toughest job in the world, being the president of the United States?’ Hannity asked. ‘Do you in your heart believe he does?’

‘One hundred percent. Absolutely,’ Cuban replied.

‘Tell me what Joe has done that you were proud of that qualifies him to be president after 50 years [in public life],’ Hannity later asked, noting Biden was vice president for eight years before Trump took office.

‘I think the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is easily the biggest accomplishment and it’s unfortunate Trump is trying to dismantle it,’ Cuban, the billionaire star of “Shark Tank” and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, responded.”

I would add Biden has long held a bipartisan manner of governance and helped push Obama to move faster on the gay marriage issue by speaking openly about it. I would add Biden has a working relationship with many foreign leaders and will help restore (or at least improve) America’s relationships. Obama relied on Biden as much as his two Secretary of States to reach out.

Hannity’s questions are interesting, as this line of attack is being echoed on line. Yet, the attack falls down when it could be applied to the incumbent, who is chaotic and incompetent in his leadership style. The article can be linked to below.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/mark-cuban-endorses-biden-on-hannity-he-actually-wants-to-run-a-country/ar-BB15UHH8?ocid=spartan-dhp-feeds

He keeps missing the point

Turnout was low at the pep rally, about 1/3 of the arena per the official count. As expected, it is everyone else’s fault per the drawing card. I am certain heads will roll because of the low turnout and rumblings are underway. But, throughout all of this, the drawing card is missing the point. He violated the trust of his loyal fans by risking their health and lives.

Yes, there were a number that showed up to support the drawing card. Very few masks were used, well because the drawing card does not wear one, why should they? Very little social distancing occurred, even though it was easier with a 2/3 empty arena. Sadly, some of these folks and their relatives, friends, co-workers and chance encounters will be exposed to COVID-19.

While I am well beneath perfection, the drawing card has numerous flaws, none of which he will admit. But, one of his more egregious ones is the inability to be accountable for his mistakes and bad decisions. It rivals his inability to tell the truth with any consistency, as it is a cover-up defense mechanism.

To be brutally frank, the drawing card deserves very little trust. When his friend Howard Stern noted the drawing card could care less about his most loyal of fans, it was not a surprise. His wanting their votes, applause and support, was thrown to the wolves, when he staged a pep rally in the middle of a pandemic which is not going away, then required his loyal fans to hold harmless his campaign if they got COVID-19.

The preceding sentence is as good a metaphor for why this person does not deserve people’s trust as any. Loyalty to the drawing card is a one way street. In his defense, people might say he had Barr fire the New York prosecutor who is investigating Rudy Giuliani. But, in actuality he is more worried about the dirt that might come back on him. It is all about The Donald. Always has been, always will be. Every decision or statement circles back to that large ego.

So, the point being missed is the reason the turnout and poll numbers are low are due to one thing and one thing only. The person blaming everyone else. At some point, people notice when you show you do not care about them.

Trace your steps and be careful event attendees

Tonight will be the grand reopening of the presidential pep rallies. First stop Tulsa. My strong advice to attendees is please don’t go, for your sake and that of your families, friends, co-workers and fellow citizens. Because this president chose to misinform about the pandemic risk dating back to January which continues to this day, his cult-like followers are more at risk, since they believe what this person says.

Ironically, on the night of the last pep rally on February 28, 2020, the president referred to COVID-19 as a “Democrat hoax.” That night, the first known American COVID-19 death was occurring. Now, we have over 119,000 deaths, 27% of the global deaths with only 5% of the population. And, it appears to be getting worse again with business reopenings and too many folks acting rashly.

The Tulsa gathering will be indoors, which is big no-no, with so many in close proximity. And, due to the misinformation, which includes a false bravado of not wearing a mask, it is likely more than average will not wear a mask or follow social distancing. Please note, I have been equally concerned about the Black Lives Matter rallies, but at least they are outdoors. Pandemics do not care how altruistic a protest or gathering is. It is an equal opportunity offender and killer.

In this case, we have a person who craves applause. He invited you to this gathering. This group won’t ask him tough questions. They will just cheer his tag lines that are offered without much basis or sand over the edges of the truth. And, they will be exposed or expose others. It should be noted, the president’s campaign will require attendees to sign a statement saying they will hold the campaign harmless, should they get sick. That speaks volumes.

So, if people feel they must attend this and future events, please check your ego and protect yourself and others. Wear a mask, practice social distancing if you can, take some hand sanitizer and a change of clothes, and wash your hands. When you get back to your car, use that sanitizer and change your shirt or clothes. And, record this date and who you came in contact with, if you can. You may want to self-quarantine as well. If you feel poorly with any of the COVID-19 symptoms, go get checked.

I say the same thing to those protesting. Please be careful. Altruism is not a defense. And, what the folks in Tulsa should realize, but sadly do not, the last person to listen to about the pandemic is the one you are going to see.

COVID-19 cases and deaths climb in various states, but good news may be coming

We have long learned to deem any information coming from the US president as NOT factual. We will have fewer surprises that way. We have also learned the vice president is not too believable either. Both people tell us how the US COVID-19 numbers are improving in advance of the president beginning his applause seeking pep rallies.

Yet, Reuters reported yesterday that cases and deaths are significantly increasing in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. My home state of North Carolina is also seeing increases, which is why the governor could not confirm a full house for the GOP convention in August, which led to its movement to Florida, which has a worse problem. And, the US is now past 118,700 COVID-19 deaths, which is 27% of the global COVID-19 deaths, with the US having only 5% of the population.

But, some good news is on the horizon. Reuters reported today the following:

“The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was moving to update its guidelines on treating people stricken with COVID-19 to reflect results of a clinical trial that showed a cheap, common steroid can help save critically ill patients.

Trial results announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone, used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in diseases such as arthritis, cut death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital.
The WHO’s clinical guidance for treating patients infected with the new coronavirus is aimed at doctors and other medical professionals and seeks to use the latest data to inform clinicians on how best to tackle all phases of the disease, from screening to discharge.

Although the dexamethasone study’s results are preliminary, the researchers behind the project said it suggests the drug should immediately become standard care in severely stricken patients…

The positive news comes as coronavirus infections accelerated in some places including the United States and as Beijing cancelled scores of flights to help contain a fresh outbreak in China’s capital.

‘This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement late on Tuesday. The agency said it was looking forward to the full data analysis of the study in coming days.”

Let’s hope this dexamethasone does the trick. I know we need something to stem the pandemic growth here and elsewhere. Having large rallies indoors is not conducive to stemming the growth and, sadly, neither are the protests for Black Lives Matter, even though they are outside, which helps some. Unfortunately, altruism does not get you a hall pass, so please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Tuesday’s truths

Tuesday will arrive shortly Greenwich time, so let me borrow tomorrow for a few truths of the day.

An interesting dichotomy occurred courtesy of the US Supreme Court which ruled discrimation on the basis of sex in employment includes sexual orientation. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ community and allows the US to join 74 other countries who have a similar law. The dichotomy is only last week, the Trump administration rolled back equal treatment for LGBTQ people under the Affordable Care Act. The SCOTUS ruling could very well be argued that it should apply to the Trump change finding it discriminatory.

One would think the police would be a little more careful with detaining African-American civilians, with the active protests going on. Yet, in Atlanta the police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a black man running away with a taser. Now, I realize the man had a taser he took off an officer, but why shoot at all and why shoot to kill? Did an intoxicated man doing something stupid need to die?

COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the rise in the US and elsewhere. As of today, the US has around 118,000 deaths about 27% of the global total, with only 5% of the global population. Yet, the US president is in desperate need of his ego being stroked, so he will risk people’s health and lives, just so he can hear applause. We know about his tone deafness to scheduling it on Juneteenth, which has now been moved, but Tulsa has its own horrific racial history.

On top of all of that, anyone attending a Trump pep rally, must sign a hold-harmless statement should they catch COVID-19, meaning they cannot sue the Trump campaign. Think about that. Trump wants your money, your applause and your vote, but if you get sick, you are on your own. And, that is a good metaphor for the US president.

If you don’t deal with a crisis…

There is a hard lesson for people in leadership positions, that should not be this hard to understand. If you don’t deal with a crisis, it has a predictable habit of biting you in the rear-end.

The first and foremost lesson in addressing a crisis is to tell people the truth. Only then, can you enlist their understanding and help.

The second key lesson is to show sincere empathy for what people are going through. If they detect insincerity or a self-serving mindset, you will lose their trust.

The third lesson is to do what you can to help people or lessen the dilemma. Do not make matters worse. Not unlike the Hippocratic Oath, a leader should “do no harm.”

Having said these three lessons, it should not be a surprise that Messers. Bolsonaro, Johnson and Trump have failed miserably to address the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice crises facing Brazil, United Kingdom and United States.

Jair Bolsonaro has lied to Brazilians from the outset on COVID-19. Several health ministers have resigned because of his ham-handling of the pandemic. And, his country has long had poverty and racial tensions, which go unaddressed.

Boris Johnson was supposedly sitting pretty as the New Year rang in. Yet, not taking the pandemic seriously, he risked not only his health, but others. Now, he is facing backlash from some in his own psrty. Plus, he has been slow to address the racial protests which have hastened with the American police killings.

In the US, Donald Trump also naysayed and downplayed the pandemic even after being apprised of the risk. He continues his misinformation and has put people at risk by pressuring reopening and placing his own followers at risk with scheduled events.

Further, the president’s racist bent has further divided America and he adds fuel to the flames by being tone deaf to the protests.

The similarities of these three men precede their mishandling of these crises. Each are known for being untruthful, populists, and self-centeredness. Bolsonaro is even referred to as the Brazilian Trump. And, like Johnson, Bolsonaro has heightened risk by not following social distancing. And, like Trump, he has embraced a possible cure before it was proven, which remains so.

All three have failed in addresses these crises. Trump ridicules Brazil for its pandemic response, but the US numbers are far worse. Yet, each is doing their best Wizard of Oz impersonation saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” What they fail to realize, even a curtain cannot hide their mistakes.

Smaller plates, less white food

Since we are doing more boredom eating and likely eating more comfort food, here are a couple of tips that help me keep my weight somewhat level. Use smaller plates and eat less white foods.

The latter is not a race connotation. It is a reference to those fattening carbs – potatoes, rice and breads. And, we sure love those three items. So, the key to their intake, short of abstinence from them, is portion control – use a smaller plate and don’t go back for seconds (or limit what seconds look like).

I have been able to slowly take off and keep off the pounds. This has been an extended journey over five years involving light exercises each morning, walking and hiking and shrinking portions. The key to the latter is eat less of the good tasting, bad foods.

So, what has worked for me are some of the following:
– use a smaller plate for meals
– share meals of take out food (order one steak, potato, salad for the two of you)
– eat fewer potatoes, less rice and only one piece of bread, if you must
– eat bread-less (or maybe one bun) hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches
– when snacking, do not take the bag to the couch, put what you want in a small bowl
– when snacking, filling items like dried fruits or mixed nuts will pacify that hunger pang
– eat more green, red, and yellow foods, especially the green ones

If you are pre-diabetic, watch any fruits because of the sugar intake, and definitely cut down on the carbs, because the body will convert them to sugar. Also, unsalted or lightly salted nuts are better than those laden with salt. If you indulge one night, just make-up for it the next few days. I have a target weight. When I pop over it a few pounds, then I will eat more salads for lunch.

But, please do not take my advice by itself and check with you doctor before you do anything drastic. One final note – know your numbers: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. This will help you devise a long term plan.