Send Children To School

I want to stipulate up front that sending children to school in the midst of a pandemic is a very difficult decision for parents. Isn’t it the primary job of parents to keep their loved ones safe?

Nicholas Kristof, op-Ed columnist at the New York Times, makes a compelling case to send children back to their classrooms. Here are a list of facts and observations he makes in a piece published on Thursday (some are actual quotes):

  • Millions of students will soon have missed a year’s worth of in-person instruction. This is inflicting permanent damage to the group.
  • Republicans’ reluctance to wear face masks and distance is one reason so many Americans have died.
  • Democrats, disproportionately, are culpable for letting bars stay open while keeping schools closed. Democrats presided over one of the worst blows to the education of disadvantage Americans in history.
  • The aforementioned actions the political parties have resulted in more dropouts, less literacy, widening race gaps and long-term harm to some of the most marginalized youth in our country.
  • The San Francisco Federal Reserve estimates that educational disruptions may increase the number of dropouts over 10 years by three percent. This will decrease the number of educated workers in the labor force.
  • Rich kids have gone back to school and have been mostly on affected.
  • Low-income students often do not have Internet or Zoom services.
  • Children are disappearing. Some never login and some give up trying to learn online.
  • Financial aid applications for colleges have decreased by 10%.

According to McKinsey & Company school closures exacerbate racial inequality.

  • Remote learning does not work well for many students.
  • The Center for Disease Control found that in person learning has not increase community transmission of Covid.

Notwithstanding all of this evidence, no parents should be forced to send their child to school. But these same people must recognize that the perils of not doing so are not as great as they think, and the damage to their children could be long-lasting.

If I did have a child of school age, I would send them to school if it were available.

Biden Thinks He Can Negotiate With Iran

President Biden is falling into the same trap as his former boss and mentor, Barack Obama. Biden mistakenly believes he can negotiate with, and reason with, Iran’s ayatollahs relating to their nuclear weapons aspirations and that sanctions are an impediment to peace.

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, has seconded the generally accepted belief that Iran will take advantage of US negotiators if the 2015 nuclear deal is revamped. After all, Obama hacks have joined Biden’s negotiating team and are prepared to give away the ranch one more time.

If a new deal enables Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction at any time in the future, the effort will be a failure. Correspondingly, an agreement that increases Iran’s cash flow to fund terrorism would be disastrous. Don’t be misled, Iran’s two principal objective are these items.

Trump abrogated the aforementioned deal with Iran and ratcheted up sanctions with the goal of encouraging regime change. The sanctions are essentially bankrupting Iran and its people. Oil revenues were slashed, and warmongering Iranian clerics continue to use every available rial to fund new weapons research and to pay for their far-ranging terrorist agenda.

Rockets struck a US base in Iraq this week. A contractor was killed, and several others were wounded. To make matters worse, a US service member also died in the attack. The State Department said the US would bring those responsible to justice. Most experts believe an Iran-backed militia group was behind the attack, and Iran either implicitly or explicitly was involved. Nevertheless, the US “has responded with a major concession on Iran sanctions that will … support such groups”.

No doubt Tehran believes Biden is so anxious to make a deal that he will ignore or downplay further hostile activity towards the US and its allies.

The Biden administration “will rescind Mr. Trump’s claim that UN sanctions … had been restored on Iran through the ‘snap back mechanism.’” This effectively acknowledges that Iran has the right to purchase advanced weapons. The Wall Street Journal said, “it’s a strange way to hold accountable people trying to kill Americans.”

This is deja vu all over again. Obama wanted to do a legacy deal with our worst enemy that was based upon mutual trust. Yet, the ayatollahs cannot be trusted. Why would the US agree to allow a rogue nation, committed to destroying Israel and killing Sunnis, to build a nuclear device that will totally destabilize the Middle East?

Regime change should be our goal. There will be no peace in the region until the current regime is replaced with more moderate leaders.

My Covid Tale

I passed another Covid milestone yesterday, after having received my initial vaccine inoculation. The Covid experience has not been smooth sailing for me during the past year as I already had the virus and have been told that at my age, I’m vulnerable.

Logistically, I’ve had some issues as well. A few weeks ago, I returned from Miami, and schlepped to an armory in northern Manhattan. My wife was able to get me an appointment to receive the vaccine by making scores of phone calls to the facilities that are dispersing the vaccine. I arrived at the armory in time and was greeted by some very nice people who guided me through the process.

While filling out one of many questionnaires, there was a query about being out of the state within the last 10 days. This was the day after I arrived from Florida. I told my interviewer about my return to New York, who said I might not be able to get a vaccine because Florida was on the blacklist, meaning that one had to quarantine for 10 days upon arriving from the Sunshine State. Apparently, the Floridians are not following the rules.

No way would I lie; it would have been criminal and immoral to do so. I didn’t follow the eligibility standards, and so I had to wait several more days before I would be qualified to receive the vaccine. It really is an honor system that I hope not too many Americans are gaming. I would not be able to live with myself if I made someone sick inadvertently.

Ten days later, my wife began a new search for a vaccine appointment. Bingo. this time I schlepped from Manhattan to Queens and into an elementary school converted into a virus vaccination facility.

My wife dispatched my younger daughter to accompany me. Sometimes I get lost or run into trouble on my own. It’s not easy being over 70. My daughter handled all the paperwork for me and even filled out my application. She also served as my interpreter because I cannot understand anyone who speaks with a mask on their face.

To reiterate I’m aged, frequently get into trouble when visiting medical facilities and doctors, and I don’t hear so well. I inadvertently left my “ears” (hearing aid) at home.

I was chatting with a male nurse who was preparing to give me the vaccine. I begged him not to hurt me. I’m a little bit of a cry baby. He said it wouldn’t until tomorrow. I said thanks. The second day is supposed to be a real kick in the pants.

Every single person I interfaced with was respectful and polite. It was a well-organized. The only problem was that the place was not crowded. It’s no wonder the inoculations are taking so long. You call up for an appointment at a bunch of places, and they all claim they’re full. In the meantime, when you do get a time, there are empty seats and staff looking for someone to take care of.

So here I am. I had Covid, I had a high level of antibodies, I’m still masked and distanced at all times, I’m, vaccinated and still wondering whether I can contract Covid again, see my family safely, travel, pass the disease to others and so on. I even listened to Dr. Fauci and have 50 questions that remain unanswered.

It’s going to be a long haul. But at least the vaccine didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.

Should The US Forgive Student Loans?

There is $1.7 trillion of student debt outstanding in the US. The Biden administration is considering a debt forgiveness program that would reduce that amount somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 per student. These proposals would not have any impact on private student debt or debt already paid by borrowers.

Three out of four Americans are in favor of reducing student debt by $10,000, according to the latest College Investor Survey; this amount has been endorsed by the Biden administration. If instituted, it probably would be with an executive order and not enactment of a new law. Biden’s fellow Democrats are pushing for a $50,000 per student reduction, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren. They claimed that such a move would “close the nation’s racial wealth gap.”

Women and people of color would be the greatest beneficiaries of a debt forgiveness program. At $50,000, 80% of federal student loans would be stricken. This would reduce debt for 36 million Americans. Women owe 2/3 of the total student loans, $31,300 is the average for white women, $29,900 is the average for white males and $35,700 is the average for Black males. Within the last 12 years, 38% of Blacks have defaulted on loans, three times higher than whites. 85% of Black Bachelor of Arts recipients have student debt and 69% of whites have student debt. 90 percent of student debtors have accepted government offers to put monthly payments on pause during the pandemic.

[Note: Fox News 8 and Pimco were the sources for most of the aforementioned statistics.]

The questions surrounding this costly entitlement proposal are:

  • What if any benefits would accrue to students who have paid back loans? Answer: None.
  • Where will money come from to pay for the program? Answer: From taxpayers.
  • How much money would accrue to debtors? Answer: Zero. Loan payments would cease.
  • How would forgiveness of debt impact the economy? Answer: It would increase the chances of inflation as the federal government cancels debt and increases payments to those affected by the pandemic.
  • How would students who have been paying feel about the program? Answer: Probably, they would feel cheated.

What alternatives could be considered in lieu of forgiveness of debt?

  • A universal reduction in college tuition across the board.
  • A moratorium on debt payments, rather than forgiveness of debt. It would give debtors a chance to catch up on payments 5 to 10 years in the future when they are earning more money.
  • Forgive $10,000 per student, not $50,000.
  • A surcharge on tuition for wealthy families. Once again, look to the affluent to pay more to subsidize the needy.
  • Elimination of college tax exempt status. This would force colleges to pay taxes on profits.
  • Free tuition at state and community colleges.
  • Revamp college curricula to include more practical studies that would increase employment and wages.
  • Force private colleges to give more scholarships rather than using cash to increase endowments.

Defying Orders Means More Suffering And Death

Covid has literally turned our world upside down. The vicious disease has the entire world on edge. I find it hard to believe that everything is so out of control. And yet, there are so many Americans that are resisting authoritative demands to be more careful about how they live their lives during these times.

I spent time in Florida during the pandemic. While walking along the boardwalk in Miami, I witnessed a sinful attitude among so many fellow Americans. I estimate that over 80% of the of individuals walking, running, riding bicycles and parents strolling with young ones were not wearing masks. What a travesty. How could so many be so self-centered and uncaring for their neighbors?

One sick person in a small group can easily infect hundreds and even thousands of people. Relatives and friends of those infected on the boardwalk automatically become targets of this horrible disease.

So many of the clubs along the same route play loud music and several offer happy hour prices to lure in young people. Again, many were unmasked, and they were certainly not distancing. How can you live with yourself when you flagrantly defy orders to cover up and separate? How can you live with the fact that you carelessly made others ill and possibly killed a vulnerable innocent person?

The same holds true for medical experts and politicians who wantonly pass along guesses about the peril of the virus and encourage others to act normal in spite of the presence of the disease? Our leaders and medical experts should be working together, collaborating and giving us accurate and important data. How can we decide what to do with our families? Should the kids go to school or study remotely? Can you contract Covid a second time? Are young people not candidates to parish from the disease? How dangerous is it to fly on commercial airlines? To make good decisions for our families we need accurate assessments.

CEOs and boards of directors of major companies have been forced to make life and death decisions for their employees. It’s not that simple to allow employees to work from home when a business is dependent upon workers selling face to face or assembling products. And what about eateries and grocery stores? These people need to come to work and be exposed to more danger than most.

Our leaders and lawmakers must set priorities, not use the pandemic as a political football. They should be focused on the disease because it, or a stronger related virus, might be capable of wiping out the human race. Really, how can we not take the threat seriously? The disease has ruined our lives for a year to this point. Are we going to let it prevent us from having a normal existence for another year or two? Are we going to take the chance that Covid can kill every one of us?

It’s time all Americans and other countries around the world recognize that we are at war with an enemy that is more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction. Most of our focus should be on wiping out the disease.

You may ask what can we do short-term to protect ourselves? It’s the same old story over and over again. Wear masks, distance, wash your hands thoroughly every time you are near a bathroom and avoid crowds.  

Musings About Covid

It’s been an eventful year. Unfortunately, I contracted the Covid flu last March. It was a harrowing experience that continues to threaten so many people worldwide. It has changed the way we live each day of our lives.

My bout with the virus can be described as relatively moderate. I had a low-grade fever and suffered from aches and pains for several days. I was confined to my bedroom where I slept 15 to 18 hours each day and ate all of my meals alone. One good thing is that I didn’t realize how dangerous the disease could be for someone my age, 70 plus. If I knew how vulnerable I was, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown on top of all the other terrible feelings I had at the time.

At one point, I complained to my wife that I felt trapped in my room. I was losing my mind being cooped up for such a long period of time. I should point out that I was also recuperating from a minor medical procedure, which necessitated taking some strong medication. So, besides feeling like hell, I had to deal with anxiety and reactions to the drugs, which was disquieting to say the least.

I persevered and tried to get back into a strong physical fitness regimen. Every day, I walked in the oppressive heat. And, I resumed my yoga practice, which included meditation and physical fitness. I worked diligently trying to relax and fight off the negativity that overwhelmed me. It all ended successfully for me, but Covid still threatens the world every day.

The disease is sinister and sneaky. It attacks and kills individuals that suffer from respiratory problems, auto-immune issues and other maladies such as diabetes and asthma. I’ve commented before on this blog that I’m surprised the virus has overwhelmed us, and we have been so unprepared to deal with it. Billions of dollars are spent on medical research each year. Why hasn’t concern about a virus that could wipe out the human race gotten more attention and research dollars?

In 1919, millions of people died from a similar pandemic. In 2020, medical experts were surprised and ineffective dealing with Covid. Is it possible that not enough money has been dedicated to virus research? Is political correctness getting in the way of allocating our research dollars towards the most dangerous threats?

Information dispersed to the public has been misleading, incorrect and downright harmful. How many times have medical experts changed their minds about this malady? Have the experts done a good job cataloging the disease? Kudos are warranted for drug companies that created vaccines in record time. But the simple process of distribution has been abominable.

There is no consensus about who should be inoculated first or second or third. We don’t know whether we can be re-infected with Covid. We really are unsure about whether the antibodies protect us after we contract the disease. We don’t know a lot of things including whether Covid will impact our lives in future years. We learned nothing from the pandemic that took place 100 years ago.

Our federal and state governments have failed us miserably. They botched the distribution of vaccines. About 1.5 million people have received two doses of the vaccine out of a total of 340 million in America. The vaccine has been available for 30 days. You do the math. It’s going to be a long time before everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be fully vaccinated. Bitter disputes between federal and state officials have messed up the process. One would think that the federal government should lead the charge given the severity of the pandemic.

The Democrat government is once again wasting time trying to denigrate Donald Trump. Their efforts should be directed at supporting our economy and getting vaccine into every American.

Every day, my wife and I discuss the return to normalcy. What does it mean? Will we once again dine inside restaurants, and not have to eat on the street in 30-degree weather? Will we be able to go to a movie or are we destined to watch films at home on next Netflix forever? Will our children be able to go to classrooms to learn again without the threat of contracting the virus? Will all the people who were furloughed regain their jobs and be able to support their families? Seems to me the vaccine is the first step, and we need to produce more vaccines as quickly as possible.

Another major issue is travel. My family is uncomfortable traveling on commercial flights domestically. Will foreign travel bounce back and be safe in the near future? Will Americans once again be able to visit London, Paris and Tokyo?

And finally, my heart goes out to those that have delayed weddings, birthday parties, religious ceremonies, christenings, anniversary get togethers etc.

I wish everybody good health, and if you are sick, a speedy recovery.  

The Filibuster Is Critical To A Two-party Government

There was a balanced article in the New York Times yesterday about the fate of the filibuster in the Senate. I suggest interested parties read this publication.

I have addressed the filibuster several times in recent days because it is such a critical element of lawmaking in the Senate.

Let’s start with the basics. To pass a law, legislators must obtain approval of the House of Representatives and the Senate, along with the signature of the president. The House operates with a simple majority. The Senate can pass a law with a simple majority if no senator objects. If one does object, the bill must be approved by 60 senators, a supermajority, if you will.

The importance of the filibuster cannot be overstated. Recent history proved this point. In 2013, Senate Democrats voted to change the filibuster rules as it pertains to confirmation of judges, except for the Supreme Court. This action enabled Democrats to confirm a large number of judges that would normally have been unacceptable to Senate Republicans and would have been blocked with filibusters. Republicans were furious about the action by Democrats and soon found their revenge.

In 2020, Senate Republicans took control of the Upper House and changed the filibuster rule further by subjecting Supreme Court justices to a simple majority for confirmation. This action has changed the nature of the Supreme Court for decades as Donald Trump was able to fill the court with relatively young conservative justices. These confirmations could have a devastating impact on many embedded laws affiliated with social issues, including abortion rights, gun control and a plethora of management/worker issues in this country.

Now let’s consider the current state of affairs. Elimination of the filibuster for every day lawmaking will increase the power of the Democrat majority in the Senate. It will enable the Senate to pass laws with a simple majority. With a filibuster, the minority can require a supermajority vote of 60 to pass a law. Abrogating the filibuster only abets the activities of the majority, so long as it holds power. When the majority changes, as it often does, the advantage swings from the former majority to the former minority. So many senators think it is shortsighted to abolish this important protection for the minority.

What will Biden, the House and the razor-thin majority in the Senate do with total control of the legislative process? They might enact frivolous laws that do not represent the wishes of a majority of people in the country. The filibuster traditionally makes controversial and difficult legislation more challenging to pass by forcing consensus and compromise.

For instance, if the Biden administration wants to push through legislation that increases taxes for the middle class even if the majority of citizens are against these tax increases, they can do it. The minority has no power to stop them. This proposal would normally face opposition from the minority Republicans who would likely use a filibuster to impede it.

The bottom line is that without a filibuster, a government that controls all three branches of the lawmaking process is too powerful. As citizens, we need to demand that important legislation finds some consensus to become law. This becomes problematic without a filibuster.

Democrats Prepare To Behead, I Mean Impeach, Trump Once Again

The New York Times published a photo of House members parading in step to present articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Again! The photo shows masked and sinister members doing a death march across the Capitol rotunda towards the Senate chambers. It would have been more effective if they wore black robes.

My first impression was the group was on their way to behead a failed leader (or spouse) like the old days in Europe a la Henry VIII. The ax man must have been waiting in the Senate sharpening his tool of death before he decapitates our shamed leader.

Why are leaders and lawmakers obsessed with impeachment after Trump has left office? Do they hate the man so much that they want to embarrass and ridicule him even after he has passed presidential power to Biden? What’s to gain by humiliating just less than half the electorate in this country, or about 73 million people? Most recognize they pulled the wrong lever in 2016 and 2020.

Oh, I know. How about preventing Trump from running for office in the future. He has as much chance to win a presidential race or a governor race as a convicted murderer. So, what is it that Democrats are trying to accomplish?

Maybe they want to trounce their political opposition in this country. Maybe it’s the Republican Party, as a whole, that is their target. I stipulate that Republicans made a huge mistake voting for Trump. But this has been exposed, reprimanded and the Department of Justice can go after Trump for crimes committed including his intention to incite a riot in Washington at their leisure.

The wisdom of paralyzing the Republican Party is questionable. A two-party political system is much more efficient and beneficial than a one-party system. Ironically, the latter is closer to a monarchy than the first.

We need a strong opposition party to prevent the majority party from, well, doing stupid things. Spending too much time increasing entitlements unnecessarily, forcing change in our social system, killing capitalism (and spreading socialism), opening borders, increasing taxes and so much more are on the Democratic agenda and must be restrained.

A strong minority party with a filibuster in hand is the only way to protect us from the radical left.

And one final point. A show of unity that Joe Biden says we need in America is not going to happen if Democrats are sore winners and continue to belittle their adversaries. Unity, comity, compromise and effective legislation needs to be encouraged by the party in power not the party that lost power.

I would prefer the beheading group depicted in the Times photo to refocus on delivering vaccines to end the unnecessary deaths from Covid. I would like to see the federal government work towards strengthening our economy even more. I would like to feel safe from threats by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorist groups around the world.

Joe Manchin For President

Congress may be ripe for a bold political maneuver, if radicals in the Senate get too frisky in the weeks to come. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has an extraordinary opportunity to pursue a run for the presidency. As part of this process, he is also in a position to alter the power of Democrats in the Upper House.

Manchin has been acting like a centrist and a peacemaker between warring factions for many months. He has even voted with Republicans in certain important issues such as the first Trump impeachment.

In a veiled threat during a TV interview, Manchin indicated that he would vote against the elimination of the filibuster should Democrats decide to change the rules of the Senate.

Enacting laws can be impeded by a filibuster. To end a filibuster, the party supporting legislation, must find 60 votes to end debate. As you know, the Senate is split 50/50 so Democrats have a deciding vote via Kamala Harris.

The only way Democrats can dominate new legislation in the Senate is if they can eliminate the supermajority requirement to end filibusters for laws. Note: confirmation of judges and Supreme Court justices occurs with a simple majority. The rules were changed in recent years.

Manchin believes that the filibuster is an important aspect of the lawmaking process. It protects the minority party and the Americas from frivolous lawmaking. But suppose Democrats moved to change the filibuster rule? And suppose Democrats work to defund the police, enact an unwise and expensive Obamacare law, move forward in an effort to impeach and indict Trump, while diverting attention from curing Covid?

These are all pet issues for Manchin. This could possibly give him pause to continue to be a Democrat. Maybe he should consider negotiating a deal with Sen. McConnell to jump over the fence and become a Republican. What would the terms be for such a bold political gambit?

Perhaps Manchin would vote with Republicans if he was given choice committee leadership positions in the new Republican majority. With this power he could prove to Americans that he should be considered for higher office. Like, maybe a run for the president in 2024 as a Republican.

I’m sure you’re scratching your head upon hearing this suggestion. But if you really want a centrist to be your president, a man with moderate perspectives, Manchin may be the right choice for you. I guess it will depend upon how persuasive Manchin would be with McConnell and other powerful Republicans.

If Manchin became a Republican, Republicans would have 51 seats in the Senate, and Democrats would have 49.  

Americans Must Choose Revenge Or Progress

In a previous blog post, I said that it would be wise to put the Trump experiment behind us. This was not to say that the president shouldn’t be investigated for crimes associated with tax fraud and abuse of power.

The reason why I expressed this opinion is that America needs to heal, and political vendettas should be set aside for the good of the country. My experience talking with liberal individuals is that they along with many left-wing politicians in Congress and radical reporters in the media want to draw and quarter the president in the public square and that there is no punishment too extreme for Trump alleged “crimes against humanity.”

I agree illegality needs to be prosecuted, but it should be investigated by the Department of Justice over time, not by Congress who should be ensuring a timely distribution of Covid vaccines, caring for the fragile economy and keeping an eye on our enemies and terrorists that would do us harm.

Righteous liberals are wishing the worst for Trump. Infect him with Covid, put him in jail for life, and even execute him, they say. So many of these loving, empathetic and peaceful individuals are relishing the destruction of a man and president of our country for the purpose of settling a score.

When Richard Nixon was under siege in the 70s for felonious actions, Gerald Ford, who succeeded him, pardoned him so that Americans could end a very terrible moment in history. This action saved the US from the pain and embarrassment of the moment and may well have save the Republic. And it also cost Ford his reelection. It was a brave deed.

The mad dogs in Congress led by impeachment mongers are looking for approval of their unsuccessful efforts to prove anything in earlier days of the Trump administration. They should be more worried about our country, not putting notches on their belt for bringing down a US President.

I’m tired of talking about Trump. I’m tired of saying that he’s toast and will be forgotten the day after Biden’s inauguration. Of course, that assumes Pelosi and the liberal press give us all a break and focus on more serious threats to our life, country and liberty.

So libs, continue to say Trump was a bad guy, and he deserves a slow death. This will drag out a sordid tale indefinitely while our neighbors are dying and the world is crying out for leadership.