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Thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2020

Three differences characterized this year’s NFL draft. First, of course, was the format. Instead of the Las Vegas extravaganza, the NFL followed the isolation and social distancing protocols required due to Covid-19, and everything was done virtually. Overall, I thought the NFL handled it well. In the later rounds, when the time between picks shortened, ABC, the network I watched, had trouble keeping up with the picks. They tried to cram in too much feature material at that pace.

Second, the talent this year is as deep as I can remember. There were at least 15 players who were legitimate top 10 ones, and the second round looked a lot like the first. There were several excellent quarterbacks, and the number of talented wide receivers was astounding, reflecting, I think, the evolving game at the college level. (Spoiler alert: OU got the best one.)

Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off looking human and likeable. At times, he was very casual, almost slouchy. I think his stock went up with the public.

How ‘bout them Cowboys? It was a little embarrassing to see the owner and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys dancing on national television – neither was particularly good at it. But you cannot blame them, because University of Oklahoma wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb had just fallen into their lap at #17 in the draft. Since Lamb was rated the sixth best player in the entire draft by the Cowboys, you can understand why the ‘Boys were so excited. They never dreamed that Lamb would be there. They jumped on him like a duck on a June Bug.

This unexpected event upset the Cowboys’ initial plans. It was thought Dallas would take an edge rusher with their first pick and defensive backs thereafter, but after taking Lamb and dancing, they got back on schedule and took two very promising DBs with subsequent picks, and then began filling back up needs at edge and center with excellent picks, I think. Each player taken was ranked higher than when Dallas was able to take them.

I would have taken Lamb under any circumstances, but there is an underlying reason Dallas was safe taking the risk of changing their plan to take an edge rusher first, as I see it. Dallas has signed two suspended edge rushers – Randy Gregory and Alton Smith – who are hoping to be reinstated before next season, whenever that it. I think Gregory at least should win his case, because he was apparently suspended for using (a lot of) pot, and pot is not even a banned substance in the NFL player agreement anymore. I think Goodell will relent on Gregory. I do not know enough about Smith to comment.

Along the way, The Cowboys took DL Neville Gallimore, also from Oklahoma, who could end up being a real steal. Gallimore’s sophomore and junior seasons were nothing to write home about, but that was when OU had a terrible defensive coaching staff that produced one of the worst defensive teams in OU and NCAA history. After a new defensive coaching staff was brought in, Gallimore’s play skyrocketed his senior year. I think he could really blossom under professional coaching.

None of the other NFC East teams had distinguished drafts and Philadelphia’s was poor. Washington got a great player in Chase Young, but they lost one when they were forced to trade Lane Johnson, another OU product and perennial All-Pro player to San Francisco, because Lane flat out refused to play another down for the Redskins.

Bottom line: The Cowboys nailed this draft, and I think they should be a lock on the NFC East this season, assuming there is one.

The most intriguing pick in the draft also involved a Sooner – quarterback Jalen Hurts to the Philadelphia Eagles – who only three years ago selected Carson Wentz and paid him a ton of money to go out on the field and get injured frequently.

The most charitable way to look at this pick is that Philadelphia wanted a hedge against their huge investment in Wentz, given his history of injuries. My take is that it goes deeper than that. I think the Eagles are, deep down, no longer completely sold on Wentz.

The worst draft was that of the Green Bay Packers. They not only did not help themselves much, but in the process seriously disappointed their certain Hall of Fame bound franchise quarterback – Aaron Rodgers.

Last year, the Packers seemed to be one piece away from getting to the championship game. Instead of getting that piece in the first round, they drafted Rodgers’ future replacement instead. Rodgers wants to win now. He cannot have been pleased.

I thought the Baltimore Ravens had a very good draft as well.

It seemed that every eligible player on the four playoff teams was drafted high. It made me wonder why, with so much talent taken in the draft, why Ohio State hasn’t done better in the college championship hunt than they have the last few years.

Lots of good players in the draft. I hope they get to play this fall, for their sake and mine.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 26, 2020

Small Business Loans Program: The mishandling, corruption and fraud in administrating this program is emblematic of everything that is wrong with American politics today.

With this program, as with all such federal distribution programs, however they are set up in theory, when the lobbyists, fat cat donors, corporate executives, bankers, hedge fund managers, and their enablers in the legislature are finished, the bulk of the money is always raked off by them before their intended beneficiaries ever see a nickel of it, and what they do see is the hind tit of the total. And there is nobody to stop it the way our system works today. The wrong people are going to jail.

The bodies politic: Over the last couple of days, I have been trying to calculate the effect of Covid-19 on the voting public. I don’t mean the political calculation. We all know what that is. Trump’s base is not moving at all. It is like a diamond, rock solid. But like a diamond, it cannot grow. In fact, the only influence on a diamond is compression. On the other hand, every time Trump opens his mouth, I see independent voters, mostly women, revulsed by Trump and moving away from him as if he had put his hand on their knee.

No, I’m thinking of the demographic calculation. Note: this is a rather cold- blooded calculation, so please forgive me.

On the one hand, the virus is killing “people of color” (can’t we find a better term?) disproportionately, and most of them, blacks in particular, vote Democratic, so this favors Republicans. On the other hand, this virus, like most others, kills older people disproportionately, who tend to be more conservative, hence Republican, which favors Democrats.

Switching to whites, the virus seems to prefer males (probably because we are more careless and age faster), and many white males, particularly uneducated ones, tend to be not only Republican, but Trumpsters. Every time an uneducated white male goes down, you can scratch a Trump voter off the list. And there are many more whites than people of color, so I think this favors Democrats.

States with large, urban populations, which tend to be blue, are being hardest hit, which favors Republicans in theory, but these states (except Texas, Louisiana and Georgia) tend to be so Democratic that it’s hard to imagine enough of their citizens dying off to change the color of the state.

Whereas small, rural states are so red, it is hard to imagine enough change from the lethality of the virus to have much effect on them either. Fortunately, from the Democratic viewpoint, these tend to be states with small populations and hence few electoral college votes. For my money, you can have them all, except those where the fishing is good.

However, if there is going to be any shift among red or blues states, I think it might be red ones, Nebraska, for instance, whose residences see many of their friends and neighbors being wiped out by ignorance and inaction of their leaders, and may begin to wonder what the hell is happening here?

Bottom line, I think when the first wave of the virus has passed through before the election, there will be more “absent” Republican voters than Democratic ones. But I’m really counting on independent female suburban voters to put an end to Trump. The virus will be a contributing factor, to be sure, but only an indirect one.

Ban All Immigrants: Trump announced a total, temporary ban on immigration to protect against the virus and save American jobs (what jobs?).

Trump made this announcement to everyone simultaneously, including his own immigration officials, which caught them completely by surprise and unprepared. Fortunately, the ban bans practically nobody, so little if anything will change, except Trump gave his ignorant, xenophobic base a good jack off. (Sudden thought: if Trump jacks off his base, is that masterbase-ion?)

There is specious plausibility to this idea, but Trump got it ass backwards. We are the ones with all the virus cases. Other countries should be banning us from coming there, which for the most part, they are.

Animal Farm: The Department of Health and Human Services raised a lot of eyebrows when it put Brian Harrison, chief of staff at HHS in a responsible position dealing with Covid-19. Harrison has minimal experience with infectious diseases, but he owned a dog breeding business for six years, so there you are. I’m sure he’ll do a hell of a job.

Which is just what President George W. Bush said about Michael D. Brown, head of FEMA when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Brown’s qualification for FEMA was that he was Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.

Horses and dogs, Incompetent Republican administrations. Is there a pattern developing here?

Worst State: Early on, I decided that Texas would get the worst state cup this week because of Representative Louis Gohmert, easily the stupidest person in the U.S. House, which is really saying something. (When I want to call someone stupid, I call them a Gohmert.)

Gohmert announced that there is a miracle cure for Covid-19, a magic sprinkle powder that Germany developed and is using with great success, though no such powder exists, and Germany has never heard of it.

Then lo and behold, Gohmert is trumped by Trump, who suggests the best cure may be to ingest Lysol or Clorox or some such disinfectant, and infuse UV light into ones’ body, though he was vague about how this might happen.

So, we must infer from this that Trump is not only as stupid as Gohmert, but rabbit ass crazy, as well. Nevertheless, this is a weekly state competition, so Texas still gets the cup.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 20, 2020

“When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.” Kind of reminds you of Nixon and the good old days of criminality and corruption in the White House, doesn’t it?

Trump made this assertion and then backed off quickly, something he never does, but in this case with good reasons, not least of which is that he sounded like Nixon.

Next, it’s not true. The Constitution (10th Amendment) gives the states authority in areas not specifically given the federal government, and local policing authority is one of them.

More significant politically, Republicans have always been the party of states’ rights and Trump’s assertion upset a lot of Republican politicians. Clinging to their states’ rights mantra is how Republicans get away with disgusting things in some states, which they cannot get away with federally. Republicans want to hold onto that.

More worrisome to Trump, it must have dawned on him that if he has total authority, he has total responsibility, something he wants no part of. If he spreads the authority among the states, he can hope to dodge any blame.

That being said, make no mistake that, though the Federal Government doesn’t have the authority to boss states around on local matters, it has many ways to make a state’s life miserable if it doesn’t cooperate.

Trump’s check is in the mail: It would be laughable were it not so pathetic that Trump insisted his name be on the relief checks and then said he didn’t know how it happened. This poor, needy man.

Having Trump’s name on a check, even if it is just a blob and not the official signature (He’s not authorized to sign checks on the Treasury, thank goodness. He’s stealing enough from us already.), is not something that raises confidence. I can think of any number of things that Trump has insisted on putting his name on that have gone bankrupt, sideways or been criminally prosecuted.

As an aside, I have submitted a tax return and I receive Social Security, but I have not received a relief check with his name on it or otherwise. Not even a direct deposit. I’m just sayin’.

Shutting Down the Congress: Trump has threatened to do this if Congress doesn’t come back into session and approve his nominations. Setting aside that Republicans (I’m looking at you, Moscow Mitch) started the odious practice of keeping Congress open this way and did it routinely to President Obama to frustrate his appointments, Trump can’t shut down Congress except in extreme, specific circumstances that don’t apply here, and somehow I don’t see Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi embracing the idea.

Then there is the insult to the Constitution that Trump wants to make recess appointments to posts he hasn’t even submitted a permanent nominee for yet, because he knows the Senate couldn’t stomach many of them. Recess appointments were not intended to evade Congressional oversight. Not even Moscow Mitch will put up with this nonsense.

Close the Post Office: Though the Constitution requires a post office, Republicans have been trying to kill it for years, or at least privatize it so they can turn it over to their rich friends.

But now Trump has another incentive to kill the post office. It would put an end to those pesky mail in ballot arguments before the upcoming election.

One World Together at Home: I watched this special (at home) Saturday night. I did not intend to, but someone with influence on me suggested I do so I did, and I’m glad I did. It was overall a terrific, moving effort that had to overcome many technical obstacles due to the virus it was condemning.

One thing I enjoyed about it particularly was that it was basically an homage to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other do gooders, which Trump is trying to blame for his own failures. Practically every celebrity or expert thanked and/or praised the WHO. The show was basically saying “World to Trump: kiss our rosy red rectum.”  I could imagine Trump stewing in his orange juice upon hearing it. I expect a tweet storm soon.

Prediction: When the virus is finally under control, many new homes will be built with showers in the garage.

Worst state: All the worst states, save one, are resisting the social distancing and shelter at home guidance for containing Covid-19. What else would you expect from these sorry states?

That one state, surprisingly, is Arizona, who is doing a better job than the others. To be sure, it is not perfect. Remember last week when I said our useless Governor Doug Ducey had included some unworthy businesses on the essential list, such as hair parlors and nail salons? However, compared to the other worst states, we’re taking it pretty seriously. So, all the worst states except Arizona get a share of the cup this week.

“Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas,” By Stephen Harrington

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 16, 2020

Having not lived in Texas for almost 20 years now (Has it really been that long?), though I still make frequent visits, I have been going through a period of nostalgia for my adopted state, with the result I have read three books about Texas in rather rapid succession: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright, Goodbye to a River, by John Graves and Big Wonderful Thing, by Stephen Harrigan. All three are excellent reads, but Harrigan’s book is a tour de force.

Harrigan acknowledges that when he was approached to write this book by the University of Texas Press, he was not at all sure he was the right man for the job, not being a professional historian.

It turns out that Harrigan is perfect1y suited to the job. He is an excellent historian, as is vividly obvious from the book. Also, he has a great deal of personal knowledge about Texas, having been writing magazine articles about it for Texas Monthly and other publications for years. He has interviewed many of the characters covered in the modern-day era of the book. Most important, Harrigan is native born and a Texan through and through, with a deep understanding of the culture.

(Is there such a thing as a professional historian? I know there is such a thing as a professor of history, but is history itself a profession? Napoleon called it “a lie agreed to.”

I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted to read this book or not, but I was hooked in the opening chapter, about Big Tex, the gigantic automated cowboy greeter at the annual Texas State Fair in Dallas – by far the largest state fair in the country. I couldn’t put it down. (At 830 pages, it wasn’t easy to pick up either, but Harrigan’s writing style helps it along smoothly and enjoyably.)

Big Wonderful Thing is a very credible history of the state, spiked and spiced with an anthology of events, celebrities, villains, clowns, cultural icons and absurdities. (I’ll let you decide where George W. Bush belongs.) Its title is part of a quote from Georgia O’Keeffe’s description of Texas when she first moved to Canyon, Texas to teach art in 1916.

Though it is obvious the author is deeply and abidingly in love with Texas, he doesn’t shy away from its flaws. He addresses them straight on, including Texas’ greatest ones: rampant racism and extreme xenophobia. He evokes Faulkner, who loved and despised the South simultaneously. I’m like these guys, only without any of the writing talent. I love Texas, but I despise its racism, xenophobia and blood culture.

Harrington also has thoughts about the contradiction of two disparate Texas characteristics: valor and arrogance, though he acknowledges the obvious that valor is in decline and arrogance is ascendant.

The blood culture is understandable, though inexcusable. Texas has experienced turmoil, conflict, war and revolution throughout its history, between and among Spain, Mexico, American immigrants, America and Native American Indians, particularly the Comanches, up to and beyond the Civil War. (Texas fought on the side of the Confederacy enthusiastically and was enthusiastically punished for it after the war.)

One of the minor themes I enjoyed reading about was the shift in political dominance in Texas from Democrat to Republican. I saw the exact same thing happen in Oklahoma when I was attending the University of Oklahoma. (Every Oklahoman secretly wants to be a Texan and thinks he or she basically is, except for the second Saturday in October when Oklahoma plays Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.)

The funny thing about this change of party is that there wasn’t really any change at all. Both states are pathologically conservative, so, when Democrats became Republicans, their politics remained the same.

(This conservatism may be changing in Texas. Some think the state is turning purple, trending to blue. You can’t have three major cities without absorbing some cosmopolitanism. A major influx of Hispanics has had an influence also, which state politicians seem to be resisting like at the Alamo.)

Like the rest of America, Texas is a land of immigrants. It has been fought over by continuous streams of immigrants of various sorts, nationalities and motivations, fighting to hold and to live on it. (Think Six Flags Over Texas.) But, regarding immigration, Molly Ivins’ observation applies presciently that “Texas is just like the rest of the country, only more so.”

Harrigan sums it up thusly: “People viewing Texas from the outside have always recognized that there is something different about it, not just in its expanse but in its attitude, also, in its annoying, ineradicable mythic presumption. But it’s hard to live here and not feel a little of that presumption stirring inside you…there is … a hard-earned conviction that the word “Texan” belongs to you as righteously as it does to anyone else.” I certainly feel that way.

A colleague of mine used to tell this joke about himself. He was recruited to our advertising agency in Dallas from one in Chicago. For the first six months he lived in Texas, he looked down on it. Within 12 months, he had bought a pick-up truck, and within 18 months, he had a shotgun hanging on a rack in the back seat of the pick-up. That’s what Texas does to you.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 12, 2020

Wisconsin: ignoring its own stay-at-home order, the Cheese Head State held its primary Tuesday, the only state with a primary scheduled in April not to postpone it, also refusing to adopt a mail-in only format, or even extending its mail-in deadline in response to the disruption of Covid-19, thus disenfranchising countless voters, even including those who requested mail-in ballot but had not yet received them.

This event brings into sharp relief the partisan divide between common sense on the one hand and determined ignorant spite on the other, not to mention a viciously partisan state supreme court, which has abandoned all pretense of judicial temperament.

The Republican Party has stopped trying to win votes and is now only trying to suppress them, because that’s what you do if voters don’t like your policies and you have no principles.

(An aside: the grandson of a friend and neighbor, a fine student who is already working at the Salk Institute, had narrowed his choice at which University to get his PhD to between the University of Chicago or the University of Wisconsin. On Tuesday, he chose Chicago over Wisconsin. I wonder why?)

Trump’s campaign rallies: I don’t watch Trump’s daily briefings on Covid-19 because they are not briefings at all, but surrogate political rallies, full of disinformation, happy talk, insults, media slamming and other lies. In other words, Trump’s typical disgusting farce.

However, I watched a few minutes of one recently, and I think the media is abetting Trump. They insist on asking questions about things Trump has said that are obviously lies, trying, I assume, to get him to tell the truth. This is futile. Trump is never going to tell the truth. The media are just giving him a chance to tell his lie again, helping him reinforce it.

I am now in the camp that the rallies shouldn’t be televised, only interviews with experts. Or in the alternative, charge trump’s campaign huge amounts to cover them and tag them as paid advertisements. They are, after all, nothing but campaign rallies.

Various and Sundry Inspectors General: Trump is firing them willy nilly, plus anyone whose functions resemble theirs, or anyone with any integrity, for that matter, because they insist on doing the right, responsible and/or legal thing, which shins a flashlight under the refrigerator where Trump and the other cockroaches abide.

Inspectors General, at least, are supposed to be independent, but so long as the executive branch can fire them at will, this is not possible. The only reason things have worked well so far is that there has never been a president corrupt enough to be truly afraid of them, only potentially embarrassed. There should be a limit to a president’s authority over IGs. Specifically, they should only be removeable for cause in the legal definition. Change the law.

Testing: I watch a lot of news about the virus because it is important, but there are two aspects of the information I am getting that frustrate me. First, I don’t think we know anything until there is much, much more testing. What we have done so far is an inconclusive smidgen.

Second, the numbers all seem to be expressed in absolutes. I would like to see them all reduced to per capita. For instance, ranking our number of cases and deaths to those in Spain or Italy or Sweden are meaningless to me unless they are reduced to account for the relative populations of the countries. Ditto for tests. Trump is bragging about their having been two million tests here, but two percent is a tiny fraction of our population. Other countries may be testing much higher percentages of their citizens (I’m certain most of them are), but the per capita calculation is not applied.

Re-Opening the economy: There is a silly debate as to when the economy should open back up and who will decide when that will be. Some say Trump and some say the virus. I say the economy will open up when people feel it’s safe enough to go back to work, and not before.

Linda Tripp died: I don’t say things like this very often. In fact, I try not to say or think them at all. But I am glad this miserable excuse for a human being is dead, and I’m happy that she is. Her betrayal of her “friend” Monica Lewinski exposed the worst kind of character. Iago was nicer to Othello.

As Lewinski herself said after Tripp sold her out, “I hate Linda Tripp.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tomato/tomato: I say Trump’s base is determinedly ignorant. Jon Mecham thinks it is “willfully stupid.” You can decide.

Sudden Thought: How about firing everyone in the Trump administration remotely involved in the Navy chain of command and putting former Aircraft Carrier Teddy Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier in charge? He seems to be the only one with the qualities required for leadership, and compassion for the personnel he commands.

Super Moon: One of these occurred this week. They occur when the moon is full and at a time when the moon is closer to Earth, which increases the impression. In fact, this moon occurred when it is closer to us than any other time this calendar year. I haven’t done the math (I’m not sure I could), but the moon was 14% closer to Earth than average, but the brightness appeared 30% greater. Interesting.

Worst State: Kansas is on a roll and gets the cup again this week because its Republican dominated legislature has overturned the Governor’s order prohibiting large gatherings, including religious services, so Kansans can all go to church on Easter and infect one another and those with whom they come in contact thereafter. You all deserve everything that happens to you.

As I publish, the Kansas State Supreme Court has sided with Democratic Governor Kelly and against the Republican legislative wackos, so religious crazies won’t be able to kill each other off after all, though I suspect some will still try.

(As an aside, the three hot spots in Kansas for Covid-19 all emanated from church gatherings. I’m just saying.)

Covid-19: 20,000 Dead, 40,000 more to Die

Posted in Health - aging, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 11, 2020

I’m having some trouble getting my head around these Covid-19 numbers in juxtaposition with the pronouncements coming out of the White House.

In round numbers, in mid-April, we have about half a million diagnosed cases of Covid-19, with about 20,000 deaths due to the virus. This is a lethality rate of about 0.04%, which is much higher than typical viruses, but is also a moving number, which could decrease with more data.

60,000 total deaths are now the forecast, which means we may expect another 40,000 deaths. That is way down from the early models forecasting from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, which is a really good thing (we learn as we go, right?), but still a whole lot of deaths. And that 60,000 figure, I understand, assumes complete social distancing and self-isolation (“if we do everything right”), which is not yet the case.

Trump says he wants to “open up” our economy about May 1. Hmmm. So, if the models are right, or close to right, and Trump thinks this thing should be over by May Day, that means we should expect another 40,000 deaths in the next 15 days, or about 2,667 per day.  Does anyone seriously expect the economy to “open up” in those circumstances?

Obviously, these numbers are ad absurdum. That many deaths are not going to occur in the next two weeks. In fact, some experts think the death rate may have peaked on Friday, when it hit 2,000. So, logically, these 40,000 projected deaths are going to stretch beyond May 1, possibly way beyond.

But channeling Trump’s optimism, let’s extend the timeframe to “open up” the economy to Memorial Day, May 31. 40,000 deaths over 45 days is still 889 deaths per day. I’m not buying it that people are going to be ready to go back to work when we’re still losing about a thousand lives a day to the virus.

These are not editorial comments; these are just the numbers and dates being presented officially. But it is plain as the bodies piling up in the morgues that the situation is a lot more nuanced than what is being advanced.

Sadly, Trump is not a nuanced kind of guy. He is a clueless kind of guy and not interested in becoming less so. So, interspersed with cautious comments from experts (cautious because caution is warranted and because if they speak too candidly, they know they will be fired), is a mash-up of happy talk and crazy talk.

The saddest thing is that Trump is too stupid to realize that if he would take/had taken forceful action to increase testing and mandate massive manufacturing of ventilators and other medical equipment, the timeframe would be shorter and the deaths fewer.

P.S. I’ve given up on trying to calculate lives lost unnecessarily by state, due to inaction or willful stupidity. The news that we let 40,000 people into the country directly from China after the date Trump said he had banned such entries, renders all the calculations mere guesswork and not worth the effort.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 6, 2020

April Fool’s Day: To state the obvious, Trump’s prediction that our Covid-19 deaths would go to zero, and that the whole disease would magically disappear by April was a cruel joke.

Trump is now nodding in the affirmative at the experts’ opinion that deaths from the virus in the U.S. could rise to the hundreds of thousands, but he still hems and haws about taking truly aggressive action to address it, leaving the hard work to governors and mayors and individuals. Perhaps it’s just as well; they’re all more capable of rational action than he. But, rest assured, when the virus finally does subside, Trump will take credit for it.

Trump said Saturday night that there is “a lot of death ahead,” as if it were something he knew but we didn’t, though we did know, and he was in denial about it. But things would have been worse if he hadn’t been a superhero. What a pig part!

The price of being stupid: One expert opined that for every day that we are not in lockdown, deaths will increase about 15% per day in state where there is not one, due to their failure to do so. Counting from the day Trump banned travelers from China but has done almost nothing since, I may be able to calculate per state how many Covid-19 deaths Trump is personally responsible for. I’ll let you know what I am able to work out.

Note: the deaths can’t all be laid at Trump’s feet. Some Republican governors are guilty of some of them, due to their own misfeasance. I’m looking at you, Florida Governor DeSantis. I’ll try to factor that into my calculations.

On a related note, Thomas Massie, the miserable low-down Kentucky Republican Congressperson who held up the relief package vote by a day or two and forced his colleagues to return to D.C. to vote his mischief down, has earned himself a primary opponent. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual.

Sunday Disservices:  Rodney Howard-Browne, the Florida mega-church minister who held Sunday Services, drawing his flock into close proximity with one another, thus endangering their health and wellbeing, is still crowing about this defiance of common sense and disservice to his congregation. (As anyone who reads my stuff would surmise, I do not consider church an essential business.)

In my deepest, darkest fantasies, I would love to see this minister, and his entire gullible, superstitious flock, wiped out by the virus. In fact, I’d like to see all evangelicals go the way of all flesh gruesomely because of their hypocrisy and abandonment of moral principles in their genuflection to Trump. For one thing, it would wipe out the majority of Trump’s base just in time for the national election in November.

Of course, I can’t and don’t wish it. But I can fantasize about it.

Infrastructure money in the next relief package: This was a great idea 12 years ago when President Obama begged for it. It would have been a big help in recovering from Dubbya’s economic ruination then, because it would have put people to work. But I’m not sure fighting for the money in the current circumstances is the right time.

For one thing, it detracts from the immediate priority of fighting the virus. For another, I don’t see how the money can be intelligently spent right now, because people are supposed to stay at home and not get close to one another. It’s hard to see how you can do that and construct a road or bridge or anything else.

National Institutes of Health: Is it just me, or does this organization’s logo look like a football helmet?

Masks, I knew it all the time: Because I am a septuagenarian, and my immune system is badly compromised at present due to four surgeries on my broken jaw, I have tried to be very cautious about Covid-19, though my daughters say I am not being cautious enough, in part because I have been meeting with four other guys for a weekly poker game (we have suspended this game until further notice.)

American medical experts were at the time saying masks weren’t particularly helpful, but I wore a mask to the poker games and just about everywhere else anyway because Asians like them and they are pretty smart, so I thought why not? As I was wearing mine, I found a genuine benefit from them on my own: it kept me from touching my nose and mouth.

Since then, American experts have been coming around to recommending masks, and I was heartened when Dr. Manuel said one reason he was coming around is that masks keep you from touching your face. I’m feeling pretty smug.

Briefly noted: Trump fired Inspector General Michael Atkinson for doing his duty and reporting the whistleblower letter to Congress, which is Trumps’ right but shouldn’t be except for cause.

This is nothing but garden variety petty vindictiveness on the part of Trump, so common that it barely warrants mention, unless you care about proper functioning of a democratic government.

Worst State: I was tempted to give the cup to Arizona this week, because our Governor, Doug Ducey was very late to order the closure of non-essential businesses, and when he did it was with moronic exceptions, such as beauty salons and nail parlors. You can’t experience less social distancing than in one of those places, except, well, perhaps massage parlors. (I wonder if they’re on the list of exceptions.)

But I can’t single out Ducey, because there are other empty suit governors who have dithered and stalled also. Besides, Arizona is late for almost everything, including being the last state to recognize Martin Luther King Day.

As an aside: I often confuse Governor Doug Ducey with that blithering idiot Steve Doocy on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” Though the spellings are different, the names are pronounced the same and the individuals have the same knuckle dragging I.Q.

I laughed out loud, literally, when I heard our Secretary of State and Kansas favorite son Mike Pompeo accuse Russia, China and Iran of spreading disinformation about Covid-19. Talk about the pot calling the kettle a liar. So, Kansas gets the cup this week over Pompeo’s mendacity, not stupidity.

Coming Attraction: As this was going to post, The Sunday New York Times reported that after the disclosure of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, 430,000 people flew directly from China to the U.S., including 40,000 since Trump said he banned their entry. This news will require more study before comment.

More Thoughts on Events the Week of March 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 30, 2020

In my latest blog, I mentioned some long-term neglects that we are feeling the effects of acutely at this time. Here’s another one, perhaps the most important one.

Our sickcare system sucks: Despite all the happy talk from both political parties (Senator Sanders and a few others excepted), we have a crappy healthcare system. It is the most expensive in the world and it produces only average outcomes. And for all of this, our system doesn’t even cover all our citizens.

And don’t even get me started on Medicare Part D – the prescription drug portion. The doughnut hole was supposed to shrink to zero in a few years; it hasn’t. And generic drugs, the ones supposed to keep costs down, keep getting more and more expensive. This is Dubba’s fault. He supported the idea of drug insurance, but he was too craven to ask people to pay for it with a tax increase, or to let Medicare, the world’s largest drug purchaser, to negotiate prices, which is insane.

I have Medicare and a supplement (why?), so things work pretty well for me, though someone needs to explain to me why my supplemental insurance, which covers 20% of my costs, is more expensive than my Medicare premium that covers 80%. It’s a rhetorical question; I know the answer. It’s one of the reasons our system is so expensive.

Still, I have problems. The paperwork is voluminous. I get the occasional unexpected bill from some doctor who did something for me that is not covered by the insurance. Usually, I don’t even recognize the doctor’s name. I could be getting scammed for all I know.

We need a better, less expensive, more comprehensive system producing better outcomes. And we could have one, if the insurance industry didn’t have our legislators by the short and curlies. Let’s elect some braver ones.

We need a War Production Board*: When I was getting my MBA at Indiana University, I was fortunate that one of my professors had been a member of the War Production Board during WWII. Authorized by President Roosevelt, the WPB took control of much of our manufacturing capability, goosed it up and focused it on producing war material. We turned out astronomical numbers of planes, tanks, ships and much more over the course of the war, and this was on a much smaller industrial base than we have today. They got it done.

So, why are we struggling to produce ventilators, masks, gowns, etc. by the millions now? Don’t answer; it’s a rhetorical question, and we all know the answer.

*And another president. Or both.  

Sudden thought: I sense my blogs are getting edgier and angrier, but I seem to be getting less feedback.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 29, 2020

Coulda, shoulda woulda: We are in one hell of a crisis right now, the kind that only a national response from the federal government can address. Sadly, this particular administration is egregiously unsuited to the task. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this administration couldn’t help an old lady across the street with a green light. Hell, they wouldn’t even want to.

However, intellectual honesty requires we acknowledge that however incapable President Trump is, there are also other reasons we are in such physical and financial peril today that go back further than Trump, things we should have been addressing for years and chose not to do. These failures are now biting us on the butt.

First, we have been shaving back the staffing and competence of our federal government for decades. Trump is not the first to do this, only the worst. As the country has grown our government has been shrinking inversely. One of our political parties wants it that way.

And, despite all the conservative happy talk, the government has been growing and not in a good way. Layer upon layer of incompetence. Look no further than the FDA, which should be front line with the best and is not.

However, the prize goes to the Department of Homeland Security, an idea which only Dubbya could have been talked into, that added a spectacularly huge and bloated layer on our intelligence services without, I submit, much to show for it. We went for a show of quantity instead of quality.

Second, we have been pissing away money on scandalously wasteful priorities: Senseless wars, bloated military, giveaways to already rich plutocrats and debt service to pay for our irresponsible borrowing.

The Trump administration has been particularly egregious in this regard. It borrowed more than a trillion dollars, probably closer to two, and gave it to the richest of us. Now, we could really use that money and it’s not there.

John Maynard Keynes said we should deficit spend in times of want and pay the deficit down in times of plenty. Politicians remember the first part but ignore the second part. Since World War II, the only president to follow both parts of the dictum was Bill Clinton, who was smart enough to use the windfall he enjoyed from the Dot.com bubble to balance the budget. Contrary to dire warnings, it helped the economy enormously. 

The fact is, Americans want a whole lot of things but don’t want to pay for them, and politicians don’t have the courage to tell us the truth. It’s easier to borrow. We borrow about half of what we spend every year. That’s a disastrous way to manage a budget.

Finally, the government squandered our trust in it. It’s worse than that really. I trace the steep loss of trust back to President Reagan, who told us we shouldn’t trust the government. Conservatives have been echoing that canard ever since and the trust has eroded commensurately.   

Actually, I lay much of the blame for this on Nancy Reagan, considering that the president wasn’t present during his second term, due to Alzheimer’s and Nancy was in charge.

Let them get back to work: Channeling Marie Antoinette, Trump and his economic and political advisors (where does he find these crazies?), advocated – and have since walked back due to outrage, not wisdom – sending people back to work on or about Easter Sunday, in effect prioritizing the economy over human life. This thinking is not only twisted, but misguided, because it wouldn’t resurrect the economy.

Most people, who tend to prefer life, wouldn’t go back to work, and those who did would soon be sick and incapacitated. The economy would collapse anyway and without an economy or federal support, many people would become desperate and bad things would happen. They would certainly take it out on Trump. Wait a minute! Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.  

Cure v Problem? Discuss?: President Trump says he does not want the cure for Covid-19 to be worse than the disease. Well, Covid-19 sickens and kills people. What cure is worse than that?  Personally, I would rather be alive and broke than rich and dead.

Trump is obviously more concerned about the stock market than American citizens. If my 401K is seriously depleted and Covid-19 and Trump are gone, I will consider it a successful political contribution and live with it.

Trump’s guiding characteristics: We all know that our president likes authoritarian leaders, and that, like Miniver Cheevy about the Medici’s, he longs to be one. But at this moment in time, he has authority to deal with Covid-19, but he is not using it aggressively or wisely. So, in addition to his being a narcissist and a sociopath, he is also a coward.

Sudden thought: Could we quarantine Trump and put New York Governor Cuomo in charge for 14 days? We’d be in a lot better shape.

Worst state: Texas gets the cup this week, because Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says at-risk senior citizens (of which I’m) should be willing to die if it will save the country. Note to Patrick: These are not mutually exclusive choices, or even legitimate choices at all. And by the way, Patrick, kiss my rosy red rectum, you disgusting pig part.

Patrick is what passes for a leader in Texas, which is what is the matter with Texas.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 16

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 23, 2020

Those of you old enough, do you remember when President Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem?” It turns out Reagan was right. When you staff the government with thieving gypsies and incompetents and people determined to tear the institutions of government down, when a crisis comes along, Trump’s government does become the problem. We’re seeing that right now.

States, municipalities, corporations, charities, medical professionals and individuals are making Herculean efforts to address Covid-19. The only ones failing miserably at their task is the Federal government.

Actually, the Feds’ performance is worse than failing; it’s exacerbating the crisis. The White House is spewing out misinformation and happy talk while the country is in deep viral doo doo. Like Hurricane Katrina when George W. Bush was president, Covid-19 was always going to be bad, but the president is making it worse. Many people are going to die needlessly due to this pig part.

Pants wetter in chief: Almost immediately after he was elected, President Trump’s detractors questioned his ability to handle a true crisis situation, given his mental weakness, his ignorance, his lack of curiosity, corrupt character, inability to tell the truth and his narcissism.

It’s doubtful these pundits had Covid-19 in mind when thinking about potential disasters Trump might face, but they were spot on in their doubts Trump would handle any crisis competently, even those he created himself. Now we know; he can’t. Leaders walk on water in a crisis. Trump is passing water in this one.

Covid-19 is a perfect storm for Trump. It is dead serious, global and unmoved by tweets. It is egalitarian – an equal opportunity plague that can infect anyone easily and doesn’t check passports or recognize borders. It lays Trump bare for everyone to see what a pathetic human, let alone a leader, he truly is.

He knew it all the time: Trump now says he knew early on that Covid-19 would cause a pandemic. Trump is so stupid he doesn’t realize that if he knew a pandemic was coming while telling the American people it is a hoax, that makes him more despicable than he already is. What must it be like to be incapable of telling the truth and unable to admit a single mistake?

Sickly Senate: Both Romney and Paul have tested positive for Corvid-19 and are self-isolating. On the last Senate vote on a relief package, the vote was 47-47 and the measure failed. (If I were a Democratic Senator, I wouldn’t have voted for the bill either. It resembled Trump’s tax cut, which gave all the benefits to rich corporations and screwed everyone who works for a living.)

This means that only 94 senators voted at all. Presumably, other senators are self-isolating than just Romney and Paul. This raises some interesting possibilities.

Since Republicans, broadly, are taking fewer precautions than Democrats, what if more Republican Senators get sick than Democratic ones to the point Democrats have the majority. Would McConnell still be the Senate Majority Leader? Would it matter? Senate Democrats may be able to take over the senate and put an end to McConnell’s shenanigans.

More interesting still, what if so many senators get sick that the senate can’t raise a quorum? How will the legislative branch function then?

Worst State: The cup this week goes to Texas, thanks to the dumbest sombitch in the House, Louis Gohmert. Gohmert held up the House financial relief bill for a couple of days. When I want to call someone stupid, I call them a Gohmert.