In a land not so far away, in a time not so long ago

January 25, 2020 – from the Oval Office of the White House

My fellow Americans. Today, our country faces a pandemic risk, that only has begun to hit our shores. I have been briefed on multiple occasions by the Directors of Intelligence, Defense and CDC regarding the coronavirus risk to our country. The virus appears to easily spread and can be deadly to some who have other medical issues they are dealing with.

Since, mission #1 in a pandemic is to tell the truth, I want to shoot straight with you. If this hits our shores like anticipated, then we need to be prepared to act. I have been told masks are important, and we may have a shortage.

In fact, Mike Bowen, owner of the largest surgical face mask producer in the US — Prestige Ameritech in Texas — contacted our officials in the Department of Health and Human Services on January 22, the day after the first US coronavirus cases were identified. He asked the US government to provide the funds needed to dust off four dormant manufacturing lines, and his firm would produce 1.7 million N95 masks every week. I have authorized emergency funds to Prestige Ameritech to start these dormant lines effective immediately.

Masks will only get us so far, but are a key part of the plan. So, I am asking the Vice President to head a task force to work with the CDC, both chambers of Congress, governors, major health care systems and facilities, and supply manufacturers to identify concerns, needs and develop a national and state level plans.

I have learned a new term called social distancing, which suggest people to remain six feet or more away from each other. I am told washing hands after some contact would also be wise. So, I would suggest people to start doing more of these things until we know more.

Since the coronavirus appears to have originated in China, I want this task force to advise me by the end of the month on whether travel restrictions to and from China, and other areas of Asia and around the world, are needed. In the interim, I would ask business leaders to reduce the amount of travel in their companies until we determine next steps. Private citizens should do the same. People returning to our country should self-quarantine for at least a week, I am told, but that time may need to be longer.

There is obviously a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus. As we learn more and develop plans and suggestions, we will conduct briefing sessions led by the Vice President and head of the CDC and other important scientific voices. I ask that you be diligent and do what is needed to protect yourself, families and friends.

Let me emphasize. This is not a hoax and it is not something we can just blow past. We need a concerted effort and take this seriously. There may be a time when we need to make more than suggestions requiring certain behaviors. Let’s hope it does not come to that. But, if it does, we will need your help to comply.

Thank you all and may God bless America, as well as our friends around the globe.

The President of the United States

Note: This speech did not occur. However, Prestige Ameritech offered twice to the White House to restart the idled lines in January. Because of the mask shortage, the initial emphasis was on masks for medical practitioners, which increased risk to other citizens. The US president did enact a travel ban to and from China on January 31, but would have been better served with more staging (and less blaming) beforehand about the risk. Democrats (and others) who were critical of the travel ban due to how it was communicated, should have been more supportive. Frustratingly, the president’s references to the virus being a hoax and downplaying the impact occurred throughout February at major pep rallies, placing many folks in attendance at risk. The misinformation continues until this day, which is amazing in its own right.

All over the place

My favorite conservative pundit is David Brooks, who appears every Friday on PBS Newhour and NPR to recap the events of the week. I have found his voice one of reason, even if I do not agree with everything he says. I have also read several of his books on subjects like building character and community.

He has been an even-tempered critic of actions, decisions and behaviors of the US president. Last Friday, he used the word “inconstancy” of the president as a great risk in addressing COVID-19. The president will change his position within the hour, he consistently misinforms where it needs to be corrected, and he naysayed the severity of the coronavirus through the end of February, so we lost six weeks.

And, the misinformation continues today. So, much that NPR and other news outlets stopped covering his press conferences live. Building off Brooks’ term, I would say the president governs “all over the place.” He will change his tune due to criticism in the news or if he likes a message from one of his sycophants.

One of the better news shows happens to be a comedy show called “Last Week Tonight” starring John Oliver. The focus of this past Sunday night show is the danger people are being placed under by poor leadership, but also by sycophants.

Oliver notes this theme that danger to the American economy is far worse than people dying is beyond misguided. It is dangerous. He highlights words by the president, conservative host Glenn Beck and the Lt. Governor of Texas who downplay the health risk and speak of economic Armsgeddon.

As Oliver points out it is easy to talk big with others taking the risk with their lives. Then Oliver points out the economic fall out of overwhelmed hospitals and people dying. We are witnessing even now the cost of early inaction.

We must focus on the health of people first and foremost. I fully understand the need to help financially people who are in need due to layoffs or hours reduction.

Yet, while we missed opportunities to plan, we cannot miss any more. We must listen to the truthtellers and ignore those who are politicizing and trying to obfuscate the truth.

As Oliver addressed critics, he said he wants the president to succeed at helping fight this virus. But, he cannot be when his primary mission is how he looks. Perhaps Brooks comment a few months back is the more pertinent one – the president lacks common decency and a sense of empathy. That speaks volumes.

The primary focus on the economy is not just make believe

The coronavirus is a tough one. It may be less deadly than other illnesses, but it is still killing many and impacting others. And, while we have heard the young need to worry the least, the numbers indicate that people the ages of 54 and below are the largest group being hospitalized. One ER nurse said it surprised her how many younger folks were being stricken.

Yet, deal with it we must or it will overwhelm our healthcare providers. We simply do not have an abundance of free beds. We are still awaiting a workable vaccine. So, we must do what is asked of us to control its spread. We must “flatten the curve” of the virus.

But, this social distancing has caused our global and US economy to understandably grind to a halt. In essence, our economy is simple – people who need things buy them from people who have them to distribute and so on down the supply line. When people stop buying things, the supply chain grinds to a halt.

Focusing on the economy, people impacted by the virus and the companies that have had to furlough them, is not unwise. But, it cannot be the primary focus. It is an important one, but keeping people safe is the key. Getting them money to buy groceries, medicines and non-durable products is important. Making sure they have a job to return to is important.

But, we cannot lose sight of what this virus can and could do. One of my concerns that precedes the current tenure of the incumbent president, is the significant majority of his decisions can be traceable back to his fragile and large ego. He cannot tolerate looking poorly or accepting blame for anything. So, that has always been his top-of-mind mission. It is also one not conducive to solving problems.

Since the president thrives off the stock market (his main barometer for the economy) success, the fact it has tanked due to the virus reflects poorly on him. It matters not that any president does not have a huge impact on the economy good or bad, but as Warren Buffett said of the current president, “If he is going to take the credit for the rise, he must take blame when it falls.”

So, many fear that decisions will be made that prop up the stock market, but put us at risk. And, until people start buying more things, taking more trips, etc., the economy will still lag. Yes, the economy is important, but let’s focus on it from a people impacted lens. The article below is telling.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/trump-is-in-a-frenzy-over-the-economy—not-so-much-the-virus/ar-BB11Bkcf?ocid=spartanntp

I heard that…

Misinformation abounds, in general, but especially regarding the coronavirus. And, it is easily passed along, not just by politicians whose mission may be self-serving more so than altruistic, but by people who are trying to be helpful.

Listen and read what people in the public health or medical profession are saying. My previous post spoke of living our lives, but we still need to heed cautions.

People are reacting in various ways. A crisis brings out the best and worst instincts in people. It also reveals their insecuritues and other imperfections. But, at the heart of the matter, it shows how vulnerable we are.

Our friend Jill focused today on several folks doing good things in this time of crisis. A link to her post is provided below. Our friend Roger and I spoke of those who are hoarding, price-gouging and taking advantage of the crisis.

Quite simply, social distancing does not give one license to be a jerk. We can still be friendly and meet and greet from six feet away.

Yet, let’s not pass along misinformation. Facebook is attempting to pull down such posts. A key rule of thumb is if it sounds incredulous, it most likely is. It is like the countless bogus conspiracy theories, why questions can help diffuse them.

Finally, sources of information known to be less than truthful or factual are not suddenly going to be more accurate. If they appear that way, it is based on the knowledge they can no longer mask their lies. Good People Doing Good Things — Helpers In These Trying Times

End of the weekend musings

This old body is weary from various chores. I am still slowly cutting down cedar trees that had fallen during a particular windy storm and decided to clean out the gutters that appeared in need from the ground. I sit here with ibuprophen inside and aspercreme on the sore muscles.

Here are a few random musings for the end of the weekend:

– the president needs to stay away from impulsive travel bans; his first one in 2017 was so bad it was pulled after two days; this one has left US people coming home in long lines for hours heightening risk. One person said folks were referring to the process as Dystopian.Apparently, vetting, planning and communicating are not in his to-do list. Of course, he likely does not use a to-do list.

– Biden looks to have the mojo to carry him to the Democrat nomination. I am hoping Bernie will help convince his more ardent followers to support Joe. And, I hope Joe will be open to at least listening to Bernie. Yet, he needs a good VP choice and he should also involve some of the young and talented tbinkers like Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke on his team. Abrams has been rumored as one the VP candidates, but also being rumored are Senator Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren among others.

– if you want a good microcosm of how untruthful the president is, please refer to the compilation below which summarizes his various and sundry statements on the coronavirus dating back to January. His priority has always been himself, so rather than tell Americans the truth, the president has covered his behind.

– I personally don’t see how the economy can avoid being affected by the restricted to travel, canceled events, fewer outings, etc. This will have an echo effect.

That is all for now. Have a great week. Be safe.

**************
Compiled by my friend Scott on his Facebook.

All direct quotes ….

“I know more about viruses than anyone.” 🦠
January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
February 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
February 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”
February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
March 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
March 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”
March 9: “This blindsided the world.”
March 13: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”

—direct Trump quotes on coronavirus

The greatest coronavirus risk is in the White House

Per Reuters “Breakingviews – Donald Trump is rising risk factor in virus battle” this morning before the additional precipitous stock market decline “Donald Trump is becoming a growing risk factor in the virus battle. The U.S. president’s address to the nation on Wednesday night sparked more market panic. A $50 billion pledge for small businesses hit by Covid-19 is good, but his speech lacked public-health remedies, was full of mixed messages and focused on a Europe travel ban. He’s missing both diagnosis and cure. Trump’s primetime speech followed his administration’s trend of inadequate and confusing responses since coronavirus cases started rising in the United States.” A link to the full editorial is below.

The Washington Post echoed these remarks in an opinion piece called “Trumps oval office failure.” A link to the editorial is also below.

About three years ago, after the absolutely disastrous travel ban that was implemented without vetting, advance communication or planning was pulled after two days, conservative pundit David Brooks gave us a clarion call. He said the Trump White House is “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Sadly, per the book by Michael Lewis called “The Fifth Risk,” the White House started out that way by firing the entire transition team, trashing their research of candidates, leaving positions unfilled, not attending scheduled briefings of how the many government departments work.

Even after filling many jobs, this White House has the highest turnover rate of any of the previous ones, the boss is walking powder keg who people try to keep from blowing up and who has a disdain for study and, as a result, push back on poor decisions is not occurring as it was when a few capable people were there. Plus, there is no consistent planning or communication messaging. To say it is willy-nilly, would not be an overstatement.

So, along comes a real crisis. Not one that is on a distant shore, but one that is here. We need a leader who is calming and we know will shoot straight with us. The president does neither in calmer times, so it is not a surprise he is not so doing in a crisis. I have shared with our Senators for many months the president is a national security risk and a threat to our democracy, our country and our planet. I wish I was off base in my feelings, which are not my own.

If we want stabilization and planning, the best the president can do is let some one else handle it. He needs to step back and let someone who is first and foremost trying to solve the problem, solve it and be the face to America. What I see is a president whose first mission is protecting his own brand, then second helping people. That cannot be the priorities of the US president.

One of my wife’s friends, who is a huge Trump supporter, made the comment to her “at least we have the right person in the White House.” That statement could not be further from the truth.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-breakingviews-idUSKBN20Z0GR
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/opinions-trumps-oval-office-failure/ar-BB115UhK?ocid=spartandhp