Predicted and predictable

Nate Silver is the genius behind 538, one of the most accurate predictors of election results. 538 weights various polls based on their relative veracity. What his polls showed in 2016, after the late Comey announcement, that while the median favored Clinton winning, Trump could win within acceptable standard deviation. People focus too much on the median and not the range.

With this background, Silver said something of import recently, that many of us have said less succinctly. He said the COVID-19 contagions that are cropping in schools and colleges are both “predicted and predictable.”

When people get together without strict adherence to social distancing and mask wearing, exposure to COVID-19 will occur. And, the virus spreads exponentially, not arithmetically. This means when ten people get it, they infect ten more, who infect ten more…This is why the president was forewarned of the pandemic risk in January by US intelligence and why his misinformation and mishandling is so problematic.

Let me go further. If all people don’t wear masks, socially distance, wash hands and act with some common sense, COVID-19 will be with us much longer. I know we want to get back to normal, but managers, owners, deans, school executives, and elected officials must understand that corralling the virus cannot occur unless we all do our part. Even if a vaccine is created, a recent survey said only about 70% of Americans would take it.

This is why telling people the truth is so critical. Only then, will people follow instruction. And, sadly in the absence of truth tellers who must be supported not demeaned, conspiracy sources get listened to. As an example, measles had been eradicated in the US, until the anti-vaxxers spread their conspiracy information and now it is back.

Further, unless we have a president who tells the truth, we will not solve many problems. And, as an epidemiologist and historian said, telling the truth is mission one in dealing with a pandemic.

The pandemic risk is exponential, not arithmetic

I read today in The Charlotte Observer the president called the North Carolina governor asking for full opening of the Republican National Convention (RNC) with no social distancing or masks required. Think about this. He has the nomination. He just needs the delegates to vote on it. Yet, he is advocating the gathering of Republicans which heighten the risk by people who believe him when he says these protocols are not needed.

Pandemics work exponentially, not arithmetically. Let’s just say 0.5% of the people at the RNC get infected. That is 250 people who expose people serving food, ushering, securing, guiding them around Charlotte. That is 250 people who take the risk back to their communities to expose their families, friends and communities. On February 28, a night the president still called the Coronavirus a hoax, we had the first recorded American death due to COVID-19. We now are passed 105,000 on May 31, three months later. The question to ask is it worth 250 people infected in late August, that will cause a much large number of deaths come the day of the election?

I want Trump supporters to realize the risk the president is placing on the Republican party and others just so he can hear applause at the RNC. Yet, many citizens are smarter than this president and other politicians. While masks being worn by Democrats and Independents exceed 80%, 58% of Republicans are wearing masks, which means more are than are not. So, if this convention occurs without limits, will they come? If they do have the RNC, just maybe only the delegates and a few supporters actually show up; that would help the exposure immensely, but not rid ourselves of it.

Let me update a few ratios in closing. As of today, the US has 5% of the global population and 28% of the COVID-19 deaths. Thinking we solved this problem is a huge mistake in overconfidence and is yet more evidence of misinformation to gloss over the problem. Those US deaths tally 105,000 and counting as of May 31. Remember, we just crossed 100,000 last week. The summer weather will help, but we must keep our social distancing, keep good hand washing hygiene, wear masks in stores, in spite of what some influencers may tell you. It is only your and your family’s health we are talking about.

A Democrat governor cares more about Republican Convention attendees than the president

As per usual, the US president is heightening an issue for political gain. In this case, it may back fire. The president has declared via tweet, for the governor of North Carolina to guarantee now the summer GOP convertion in Charlotte must open up for a full audience.

The Democrat governor Roy Cooper, who has been following a data driven process, has been rightfully concerned about the pandemic risk of large gatherings. His Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, who is a very matter-of-fact and thoughtful public servant, has sent a letter to the Chair of the Republican convention, for them to share what planning efforts they have made to assure the safety of the attendees.

To state the obvious, we are talking about 50,000 delegates, reporters and supporters descending on Charlotte from around the nation and planet. A contagion like this will heighten exposure to locals as well as spreading the exposure when they return home. It should be noted, while the summer may help dampen the risk, the reopening of stores will have (and already is having) the opposite impact heightening exposure.

Three states (Texas, Florida and Georgia) with GOP governors have responded to the president’s threat to move the convention. A couple of thoughts to ponder. Charlotte won the selection to host because all other cities dropped out in the end. Also, Charlotte City Council voted only 6 to 5 to host the convention.

Finally, something the president is surprisingly terrible at is understanding planning and execution of things. You would think being a developer, he would understand these issues better. Time and again, his impatience and imprudence cause rash decisions which have come back to haunt him.

So, it is unsurprisingly clear Governor Cooper, as a Democrat, is more concerned about the health and welfare of the Republican attendees than the president is. It is unsurprising as every decision the president has made on COVID-19 prioritizes how it makes him look over helping people. The president craves the adulation of adoring fans. But, the convention really is an unneeded affair at this point and the delegates could mail in their votes (pun intended) or vote electronically in a virtual convention.

Now about these governors who raised their hands, their COVID numbers are worse than those in North Carolina. Plus, it takes a city to host, so the governors will need to work with the cities, who may not want the exposure. Yet, one thing which must be said, as a group, Republicans have bought into the president’s misinformation on COVID-19, so the health risk is higher for this audience.

Since I live in Charlotte, I have been OK with the GOP Convention being here. But, if we cannot address the safety issues and as the pandemic numbers worsen, my feeling is Mr. president, if you want to move it, don’t let the door hit you in the fanny on the way out.

A voice of wisdom says harsh truths

The following paragraphs are excerpts from the article “A world redrawn: US coronavirus response fatally ‘chaotic,’ says Noam Chomsky” by AFP.

“The United States is on a chaotic path with no federal plan against the coronavirus pandemic as it reduces public health funding and ignores the advances of climate change, according to activist scholar Noam Chomsky, considered the founder of modern linguistics.

Question: How do you read the current situation in the United States, where coronavirus has killed more residents than any other nation in the world?

Answer: There’s no coherent leadership. It’s chaotic. The presidency, the White House, is in the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac who’s interested in nothing but his own power, electoral prospects — doesn’t care what happens to the country, the world.

The president himself has said that it’s none of his business. He’s said that the federal government can’t do anything.”

The remainder of the article is more of the same, but I encourage you to click on the link below. To be a former business person, the president is not known for planning and execution. He is more known for rash decision-making and untruthful behavior.

After being briefed several times in January by our national intelligence people on the pandemic risk, instead of being the leader we needed, he chose to down play and nay say it, even calling it a hoax and continuing to misinform us still today.

People have died and are dying. The world is horrified by how poorly we have handled this, leading the way with 28% of the global COVID-19 deaths, with only 5% of the global population.

Just yesterday, the president said the increase in number of illnesses and deaths is fake news. Two things. Mr. Trump, that is the kind of response you’d expect from a banana republic dictator. And, Mr. Trump, if you cannot add value, please stop talking. America needs a leader, not what you are doing on a daily basis.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-world-redrawn-us-coronavirus-response-fatally-chaotic-says-noam-chomsky/ar-BB14xpRn?ocid=spartandhp

Brazil, Russia and America – tell tale signs

Three countries that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are Brazil, Russia and America. A key similarity is their three leaders down-played the pandemic. And, Messers. Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump continue their misinformation to this day.

A pandemic expert who participated in a Bush task force on pandemics, said mission one is to tell people the truth. He noted Singapore remained opened, but the leaders told people the truth, told them what they needed to do with social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, testing, and tracing, and because of being truthful, people did what they were asked. Singapore has had a far better handle on this than these three countries.

In an article in The HuffPost called “Brazil is the new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic” by Travis Waldron, the following quote jumps off the screen, “Bolsonaro’s denial and incompetence have led to a predictable surge in cases.” Brazil has had national two health directors resign in the last two months over differences with the Bolsonaro who has been encouraging gatherings and shaking hands in public. Brazil has roughly 7% of the global COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has also downplayed not only the virus, but has made sure the numbers are watered down. While publishing 7% of the global COVID-19 cases, the deaths have been published at only 1%. Per a Time article, “Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin admitted on May 7, the real number of infections in the capitol city was at least three times higher than the official figure.” Putin’s folks deny that the number fudging is happening. But, we should never forget how leaders in the predecessor Soviet Union denied the massive problem of the Chernobyl meltdown.

Not to be outdone, the US leads the way. With about 5% of the global population, the US has over 31% of the COVID-19 cases. The US president actually said this was a “badge of honor” due to our testing. Yet, we have not done near enough testing and people getting sick is not a badge of honor. Further, we have 28% of the reported global deaths. From the outset, the president naysayed, downplayed, even said the Democrats were making this into a hoax. The misinformation continues to this day with false bravado, failing to push national interventions on masks and testing, not wearing a mask, promoting cures, citing incorrect data and even stating we should try to ingest disinfectant. But, the key is we missed 6 weeks of planning to prepare ourselves and that failing rests on the shoulders of the person we needed to be presidential.

Fortunately, governors of both political parties have made more fact based decisions based on their states. And, for the most part, the American people have come together to help each other. The governors who have tried to follow the president’s lead, find themselves risking their populations more than they should. And, one that tried to read the president’s mind, found himself criticized by the president when the public reacted negatively. The sad truth is the US president’s mission one is not telling the truth – it never has been on any issue – it is to make himself look good and win the reelection. When someone makes decisions based on errant goals, the problem will continue.

The hard truth is COVID-19 will linger with us for some time and will spike again in cases and deaths. Some of that uptick is occurring now in areas. COVID-19 cares not about geography or party. The president is not incorrect when he says more testing increases the number of detected cases, but that is only part of the story. The more people gather together, the pandemic will rear its ugly head and increase occurrences. We must be smart about how we interact with society and others in the many months ahead. And, we need people in leadership positions to tell the truth.

Saturday in the park – a few wandering comments

It is a good day for a walkabout, so let’s head to the park, allowing for social distancing. As we wander, here are few thoughts to ponder.

I saw where Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, sold one of his several Super Bowl rings for charity, garnering $1.1 million. Very nice. It reminded me of an interesting accusation Kraft made on a visit to Moscow. He accused Vladimir Putin of pocketing his ring after he asked to see it. Putin said Kraft gave it to him – Kraft said he did not.

I received a letter from one of my Senators in response to my emsil on my concern the president is firing Inspectors General. He said it was the president’s right to fire the IGs. I called and left a message thanking him for the letter, saying I understood his point, but strongly disagree. Firing IGs is like firing the umpire and should be of concern to all senators, regardless of who is president. We must have governance over any president, but especially this one who is not known for telling the truth. By the way, commentators Mark Shield and David Brooks echoed these concerns last night on their PBS Newshour recap of the week.

I read in my newsfeed the fuss about mail-in voting is a lot of hot air about nothing. Five states currently use mail-in voting to a heavy extent – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It seems people don’t like to drive a long way to a voting precinct and prefer to mail it in. Having lived in a state that saw a Republican super majority plow through ALEC based cookie cutter language on Voter ID Laws, one party is trying to limit voting for their own benefit. Voter fraud is very miniscule, but you would think it is rampant. Fortunately, the judges saw the NC law as “precision-like” discrimination and ruled it unconstitutional. The problem in America is we need to encourage more voting, not less.

China is not the only one who tried to cover up what was happening with COVID-19. After being briefed in January on the pandemic risk, the US president chose to naysay the risk and misinform per his modus operandi. The misinformation continues to this day. On the good side, Americans are coming together. We see the more strident folks beat on their chest and say “I am invincible,” but most Americans are doing what they can, observing social distancing, and helping each other. To be brutally frank, we deserve a better leader than the one who is misinforming us routinely. We need people in leadership positions to shoot straight with us and not try to do things to win an election, first and foremost. Ironically, if the president had chosen to be presidential beginning in January, he could have helped Americans and helped his chances of winning.

Joe Biden had another slip up. Joe screwed up presuming black votes were his. That was wrong. Yet, later in the day, Biden did something that is very un-Trump like, he apologized for his remarks to an important audience. This is not unusual for Biden to say things he may want to check and it will happen again. Yet, it is very important to note biographers have said Trump was taught by his mentor Roy Cohn to “never apologize and sue everyone.” Having watched Trump for years, I must confess I cannot recall him apologizing. He is more inclined to blame someone else than be accountable. Biden was accountable for his screw-up. Yet, no one should take voters for granted, including Joe

Well that is enough to chew on while you walk. Have a great weekend. Be safe.

A needed idea or two

When “Saturday Night Live” first aired, they would end the funny news segment with a repeat of the top story for the hearing impaired. Chevy Chase would re-read the top story, while Garrett Morris, would shout out what Chase was reading.

If Republican Senators and leaders cannot get the president to stop doing his press conferences, maybe we need to bring out a Garrett Morris type character who would shout out over the president. The Morris character could shout, please do not accept the words of the president as the truth. What he just said is not only wrong, it is harmful.

Absent that, maybe a correspondent with some gravitas could ask the president if he actually believes what he just said? Maybe, he or she could say, are you joking or being sarcastic, as we are going to report what you just said word for word? Here is your chance to set the record straight.

Another adventuresome reporter could stop the president when he interrupts, saying I asked Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx that question, not you. Maybe, they could be charitable and say, “Mr. president, with all due respect, I would like to hear the doctor’s opinion.”

What the latest round of remarks that offered a dangerous tactic about ingesting or injecting disinfectant (and UV light) has done, is the inanity was so pronounced and obvious, that even Trump supporters cannot hide from them. They may serve as a historical marker like Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” remark.

I know the president’s team is trying “erase the remarks” saying he was being sarcastic, but I cannot forget the look of Dr. Birx trying to hide in her chair and not look at the president as he looked at her for validation. Yet, while very memorable, these remarks are not outliers. Too many times, Trump staff has had to waste taxpayer time to make it look like the president’s remarks were not what he meant or supportable by some strange set of facts.

I forwarded my post called “Mr. president, if you cannot add value, please stop talking” to my GOP Senators and Congressman. They know already that the president has and is screwing up. At some point, as things continue, I am going to pose the question to them, are you ready to save our country, our planet and your party and support Joe Biden over your party’s candidate? There are some Republicans already there.

Mr. president, if you can’t add value, please stop talking

Yesterday, even the untruthful president went beyond the pale. He actually parroted something he heard somewhere that UV light and disinfectant could be used internally to combat COVID-19. Please read the previous sentence for full effect.

Three comments. First, we should have been concerned when Trump and his VP stood at the podium without doctors. Dr. Deborah Birx was present, but sitting in a chair to the right of the president facing his side. Watch her reaction as he speaks to her for validation – she is not making any eye contact to betray her thoughts.

Second, Lysol put out a statement last night. Please do not ingest or inject our product or any other disinfectant. It is dangerous. A host of doctors noted this is not advice that should be followed.

Third, even Republican Senators and party leaders have asked Trump to leave the speaking on COVID-19 to the experts. He has already forced out one Vaccine expert for disagreeing with him on a treatment the president even now has abandoned. The expert is considering a whistleblower complaint.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Birx have often had to correct the president, sometimes in the same conference. Mr. president, this is not one of your rallies where you lie with much greater frequency. These conferences are supposed to be helpful. Yet, John Oliver said it well on his recent comedy/ news show “Last week tonight,”

“The president is belng actively harmful to Americans with his misinformation.” When Lysol has to put out a press release to say don’t use our product internally, it is time for the president to follow his fellow Republicans advice and let others speak on these issues.



If you don’t want to heed their advice, maybe Mark Twain’s may be more directive. Twain said, “It is better to let people think you are a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Former Trump official is voice that the GOP needs to hear

Morgan Chalfont of The Hill has penned a piece called “Scott Gottlieb becomes key voice warning Trump GOP on coronavirus” (see link below). Gottlieb is the former Trump appointed director of the Food and Drug Administration who resigned his position for personal reasons after two years. Per the article, Gottlieb is a doctor and cancer survivor and is well thought of by members of the GOP and others.

While he forewarned the White House and Congress at the end of January that COVID-19 was a major concern and called it pandemic before the WHO called it such, he apparently is making needed in roads. Even though the president has tried to rewrite history saying he did not naysay virus, he led the GOP efforts to downplay it, which is still amazing to me. Gottlieb’s comments finally broke through and his message is getting heard by the GOP in March.

The article notes a key reason he is getting heard is he is not indicting people, but that does not stop him from disagreeing with actions. In early March, he said the country is in for a hard couple of months. This kind of candor is needed and I am, at long last, glad people are listening.

Note this has not stopped the flow of misinformation from the president, but it is good to see the issue being addressed with more seriousness of purpose. I saw an editorial cartoon that is fitting – a person was praying for God to ask the president to stop talking. We need to hear more from those who have expertise and medical background like Drs. Fauci, Birx and Gottlieb.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/scott-gottlieb-becomes-key-voice-warning-trump-gop-on-coronavirus/ar-BB12cdCi?ocid=spartandhp

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.