John Lewis Will Be Missed

John Lewis was a congressman who represented Georgia from 1987 to 2020. He passed away on July 17th.

I really didn’t know very much about Congressman Lewis until I read the essay he drafted a few days before his death. He asked the NYTimes to publish it after he was gone. The piece is a moving expression of hope and love. Lewis was a devout follower and disciple of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The thrust of the op-Ed is fairly straight forward and enlightening. He believed the strides that the Black Lives Matter Movement has made in the past weeks and months, in terms of its notoriety and message, could be the basis of a new round of hope that will ultimately afford all people the dignity they deserve. It’s yet another opportunity to rid our society of deep-rooted bigotry and to accelerate the slow, and exasperating, struggle for equality.

From the grave, Lewis pleads with people of all colors to join together and “Stand up, speak up and speak out.” He says, “When your see something that is not right, you must say something. We are complicit when we tolerate injustice.”

Lewis is calling upon “ordinary people with extraordinary vision to redeem the soul of America. . .  by getting into good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Lewis implores everyone to vote and participate in the democratic process. “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent” in a democratic society. But we must also study and learn from history. “The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time.”

Lewis calls for the current generation to protest nonviolently so “that peace finally triumph[s] over violence, aggression and war.”

I regret that John Lewis did not live longer so I could learn more about his motivations and ethos. America lost a great man, an understated wise person.

It’s Pathetic: Trump Or Biden

There’s intrigue in the air. Hopeful candidates, political hacks, businesspeople, community organizers, minority groups and the news media are jockeying to position themselves before the 2020 elections. Public relations gimmicks and false advertisement in newspapers and on TV have overwhelmed Americans. The truth is difficult to come by. Every communication is wharped by election considerations.

For the first time in recent history, voters are perplexed about their choices for the highest position in the land. In most previous elections, voters would have said that at least one of the presidential contenders was well qualified to become the most powerful person on Earth. Not this year. We have two men vying for the top spot or who are a bad combination of a sick joke and outright incompetence.

On the one hand, we have Donald Trump, who miraculously stole the presidency from Hillary Clinton in 2016. Even Trump thought he was going to lose big to Hillary, as she attempted to extend the Clinton dynasty. What a surprise! The polls showed her easily defeating her opponent, and the know-it-all media was prematurely celebrating a big victory. All of a sudden Florida fell to Trump and a number of battleground states voted for Trump for the hell of it, or because Clinton didn’t feel the need to visit these places during the campaign.

What we got is a caricature of a megalomaniac as president. He didn’t know what he was doing at first and governed the country like the despot he was in business. But there was too much smoke, too many mirrors, too many lies, too much bad judgment floating around. Every Trump hater began to label the president a fibbing, self-aggrandizing, incompetent, non-diplomatic, racist, misogynistic, sexist, mean person.

For four years, America has put up with Trump’s quirky personality and inability to work with or trust anybody he hired to be Secretary of State, Attorney General, head of any number of intelligence agencies, etc. Trump’s non-familiarity with big government has turned Washington topsy-turvy. The nation’s capital is more than ever chock full of con artists, shylocks and social climbing power mongers. But now, we also have a person with bad character in the White House.

Internationally and diplomatically, Trump has been the laughingstock of the global community. His counterparts in every country couldn’t believe that the most powerful man in the world was a dingbat. Play to his ego, and you can get whatever you want from Trump, they thought.

Anyway, we survived the last four years, barely. To make matters worse a pandemic has attacked the world and made the political scene even more insane. Now we have a terrible politician playing the role of an infectious disease expert. An existential threat is being managed by a man who was famous for being a robber baron and a real estate con artist.

Many believed Trump would drop out after four years of abuse by the entire Washington infrastructure. What kind of man comes back for more punishment after getting eviscerated each and every day on all the news outlets? Everyone hates the president, even people who support him. We hoped he would say after four years, “That was fun, I want to do real estate deals and build golf courses. I quit.” No way, he wants four more years.

You would assume that savvy liberals and Trump’s opponents would recognize that he is really vulnerable and ripe to be taken down. For the second time in four years, Democrats picked a person who is one of the few people around that Trump can defeat. Joe Biden, 79 years old, Sleepy Joe, is the man that has been chosen to defeat the president. He’s been hanging around Washington for 50 years and never really accomplished anything. He likes to remind Americans that he was Vice President. Big deal.

How could Democrats select Biden to run against Trump? He’s too old, too mistake prone, inarticulate, bumbling, not respected and after half a century of doing stuff in Washington, is clearly unprepared to be president.

Just about any decent Democrat could beat Trump head-to-head, and the liberals picked Joe. They are 0 for 2 picking contenders for the presidency in the past four years. Who is the Democrat king maker? He should be summarily fired.

And consider the positions Biden must take to solidify his base: de-funder of police departments, supporter of violent protests, pro entitlement giveaways in which unemployment pays more than a real job, releaser of criminals from prison, open borders advocate, illegal immigration sponsor, government over spender, etc. And most importantly, Joe has to sound like a socialist to collect votes.

I’m shaking in my boots about the staying power of Covid-19. I’m also frightened that either Trump or Biden will be president for the next four years. Doesn’t the country have some better individuals to be president. Apparently not, at least in 2020.

Who am I going to vote for? Neither of these two candidates.

 

 

Covid Misreporting and Back to School Decisions

Reporting by health officials and the mass media of coronavirus deaths continues to be very misleading. This is outrageous because the strategies moving forward to fight the pandemic will be impacted to a great extent by how public opinion effects our leaders. If the facts are incomplete, withheld or spun improperly, our leaders may be influenced to act inappropriately. The back to school issue, for instance, can be greatly distorted depending upon how one considers and evaluates deaths from the virus.

The natural inclination is to be conservative when it comes to our children. When in doubt, do the safest thing. But if an assessment of back to school includes concern about potential deaths, which it should, our leaders should be leaning towards the back to school alternative. This is because very few deaths of young people are attributable to the coronavirus.

The American Council on Science and Health provides statistics about Covid deaths in the US by age.

Public health officials and the media have been warning us that coronavirus kills not just old or immunocompromised people, but young people too. While this is true, it remains relatively uncommon. The CDC provided accumulated mortality data about COVID-19 from February 1st through June 17th. It follows below.

 

AGE GROUPS

Deaths       % Covid Deaths

 

Under 1 year          8             0.008

1-4 years             5             0.00 5

5-14 years            13           0.013

15-24 years           125          0.121

25-34 years           699          0.676

35-44 years           1,780        1.722

45-54 years           4,976        4.815

55-64 years           12,307       11,909

65-74 years           21,462       20.769

75-84 years           27,259       26.640

85 years and older    34,435       33,322

All                   103,339      100.00

 

As shown, deaths of young people, from babies to college students, are almost nonexistent. The first age group to provide a substantial contribution to the death total is 45 – 55 years. This group contributes nearly 5% of all coronavirus deaths. More than 80% of deaths occur in people aged 65 and over.

Of course, there are other considerations. For instance, children could be infected and possibly bring the virus home to parents and, worse, grandparents. This essay is not politicking for one decision over another. Rather, it is merely pointing out that if leaders are shying away from opening schools because of the mortality alone, the decision is not sound.

 

 

Trump Wins Over Incapacitated Biden

Several important people I’ve spoken with recently are convinced that Joe Biden will defeat Donald Trump in November. I think it’s too early to definitively call a winner. But, based upon the 2016 turn of events, and corresponding misreading of election polls, Biden prognosticators are likely to be disappointed.

Right now, it seems like the whole country is disgusted with Trump’s antics and anti-social perspectives. He has not backed off one iota personally. He continues to lie and exaggerate on most important issues and congratulates himself endlessly, even as problems continue and the pandemic persists.

Yet, more and more Trump antagonists are saying, if the president was not so obnoxious and self-aggrandizing, they would be lauding his performance. The fact is many Americans are ashamed to say that Trump is a better choice than Sleepy Joe, even though it’s probably true.

The president’s record regarding many important situations is pretty good. For instance, he has China and Russia on the ropes, having exposed horrible abuses and misbehavior on their part.

Even the president’s performance regarding the pandemic has been noteworthy. Unfortunately, he keeps exaggerating victories over the virus. Yet, he’s not to blame for the suffering and death that have taken place.

For 100 years, medical experts knew that future influenza threats were inevitable and dangerous, and they were existential in scope. A nuclear skirmish in one part of the world would not end mankind as we know it, but a super bug could potentially kill off the human race.

During the years since the 1919 pandemic, health experts asked for and received trillions of dollars of research money. But they were using too much of it towards many diseases that are not existential risks. Cancer research is critical, but to spend an inordinate amount to decrease this form of this disease is not more important than research to prevent another pandemic that could kill all of us.

Trump should not be blamed for the misappropriations of funds over the years. Also, Trump recruited the best minds to fight the coronavirus. Although he is making the calls about masks, distancing and logistics of the disease, medical experts are actually directing the president. Regrettably, our medical research gurus have let us down.

It’s popular to lay all the missteps on the president. I think a huge number of Americans appreciate that Trump was doing his best and implementing plans guided by his advisors. His demeanor implied something else, but his stance on opening the economy more rapidly and bringing the kids back to school are reasonable, even if you disagree with comments made on the subject.

The economy, the strongest part of Trump’s legacy, has persevered. The market is a great indicator of expectations for the future. Pessimists say the pandemic will last another year or so, but the stock market is saying otherwise. Sure, things will not be absolutely normal for a long period of time, but it seems to many that some forecasts are crazy negative. Even after 9/11, our country rallied, and all the dire predictions were overstated. If Americans in hot spots across the country follow simple rules pertaining to reining in the virus, the pandemic will subside.

Unfortunately, the reporting on the virus is not accurate. The mass media is so intent in defeating Trump that they misrepresent the truth. Most importantly is the reality that a large majority of deaths are among older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions. Young children, statistically, represent a microscopic number of deaths. Just like the measles, the bug attacks the weak and feeble. Young people are contracting the virus but very, very few are dying from it.

This misreporting is the backdrop for the decision to delay the opening of face to face teaching at the largest school districts in the country. The teachers’ unions are manipulating the decision makers politically. It’s a ploy to hurt Trump’s chances in November. Keeping the kids at home, keeping the parents from working, exaggerating the number of deaths among the young are all a means to an end, defeat Trump.

There are many silent Americans who are supporting Trump over Biden. They are not speaking up because it’s embarrassing to say you are a Trump proponent. This silent majority, just like in 2016, together with the rock-solid Trump bloc, will carry the president to victory. I’m not a supporter of the man and will not vote for him, but the reality is the reality.

And just a word on Biden. He is not mentally capable of being president. He continues to be a bumbling political hack whose only accomplishment after 50 years is that he was vice president to a substandard president.

Protest Without Violence

This blog post is not meant to minimize Americans’ freedom to protest. Americans have a constitutional right to express their misgivings with federal, state and local government actions.

But, should protesters be protected if they destroy government and personal property? And why would one American feel a need to assault his or her neighbor’s home or business under any circumstances? Does this action have any conceivable benefit to society? Doesn’t violence cause government officials to dig in their heels on issues and become more difficult to reason with?

Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandhi and Nelson Mandela are among the most successful protesters in history. Interestingly, they made great strides and peace on three different continents. Nonviolent, yet stern, protest can get things accomplished. Smashing windows, turning over cars and hurling dangerous items at the authorities are a recipe for disaster. If you want to encourage settlement of a legitimate dispute, don’t do anti-social things that antagonize the people you must negotiate with.

Great lessons can be learned from the actions of labor unions. Over the years, violence was prevalent in union negotiations. Labor and management resorted to brutal and physical tactics that only prolonged corporate disruption. Both sides lost time and money. Today, union negotiations are very tactical and productive; the threat of halting operations has proven to be a highly potent and productive means of negotiation. Seldom are union negotiations violent.

Disputes that we are witnessing today are in large part public relations ploys. Unhappy groups whether they come together because of civil rights, racial injustice, abortion or police brutality can make a difference, but they need the support of many Americans to inspire change.

But, if a group is looking for empathy and support, why do things that aggravate and alienate other Americans who might be sympathetic to the cause. If you have a beef against violent or inappropriate police activities and want support, don’t destroy neighborhood stores, houses and property. It’s just an awful negotiating tactic.

In many situations, the worst elements of our society encourage violence not because they are sympathetic to a cause, but because they are anti-American and anarchistic. Fighting amongst ourselves will not expedite justice and fairness. We should all be wary of troublemakers and provocateurs that want to destroy institutions, not reform them.

There are a lot of things in America that create terrible emotional grief for our citizens. Everybody has a cause or causes that are important to them. It’s fine to seek out other others who agree. It’s fine to organize. It’s fine to disrupt and show strength in numbers. It’s not fine to smash windows and loot neighborhood stores.

All those who think they have a legitimate gripe should read about revolutionaries that have changed things without destroying other people’s lives. Mandela took over his country with virtually no bloodshed. He also gave up many years of his life to convince his adversaries that he was a noble man. Change is possible without shooting or punching other people and destroying property.

 

How About Absentee Ballots- Duh?

America is approaching a critical moment in its history- a general election that includes the vote for president of the United States in the midst of a global health crisis. What precautions are government officials taking to ensure that the contest between Trump and Biden is fair, representative of the wishes of the electorate and open to all voters? And, will polling places be safe?

 

The state of affairs dealing with voting and counting ballots was in a dangerous state of flux even before the pandemic. The Russians have been interfering in our electoral process, and it seems that every election is challenged because the system is antiquated, and no one trusts the results.

 

I hasten to point out that the pandemic, and the widespread order to distance and avoid crowds, is only going to make the process that much more inefficient and undependable. American are already skeptical about a fair election. Do our current representatives appreciate this situation? I, for one, have seen little on the subject.

 

Many people will likely avoid polling places. They will crowded. Lines will be long. The importance of just one vote may seem to be unimportant compared to the present dangers of participating, but every person’s vote is critical to our democratic ideals.

 

We have been taught that the election of our leaders is one of our most important civil responsibilities. The people we elect have the power of the purse, and one man has the ability to instigate a nuclear war. We must strive to elect qualified people to manage our money and our foreign affairs.

 

The pandemic is probably going to decrease the number of voters that show up on election day. Generally, that means the Republicans have an edge. But, this election, in the minds of many, is a very important moment for America. Solving the pandemic problem, dealing with national deficits, responding to Russian and Chinese misbehavior, ensuring women’s rights and Black rights, and scores of other issues are on the table in this election cycle. And the most urgent objective of many Americans is to end the Donald Trump masquerade as the most powerful person in the world.

 

What’s going to happen on election day? Will it represent the true feelings of the majority of the citizens, probably not? Will the vote be an uncontested mandate for the winner, probably not? Will enough people vote to make the election a clear statement of how Americans want their country to be governed, maybe?

 

What if the election is chaotic and inconclusive because of light voter turnout, greatly impacted by the pandemic? Will people not vote because they are frightened about contracting the virus? Have any of our leaders and lawmakers considered the issues that will surround an election in November, long lines and extended periods of waiting? Exposure to disease?

 

The time is right to encourage absentee ballots on a widespread basis. It’s easy to vote in this manner, and there are no health risks. Our government should be encouraged to change the system from waiting for hours on a line to a simple mail in process. Maybe then we will have a fair election, a significant majority of voters will show up to cast a ballot and the most qualified people will win. And most important, nobody will get sick in the process.

 

Using Students For Political Gain

President Trump’s strong-arm tactics relating to education are inappropriate and immoral. For political purposes, the president has contrived ways to get Americans to discount the risks relating to the pandemic in the educational sector.

Exacerbating the situation is the poor reporting by health sources and the mass media. Are these groups simultaneously trying to influence the political landscape? For weeks this blog has demanded to know the most relevant statistics about the deadly virus. For instance, the media continues to emphasize the number of new cases (which are related to the increased number of tests) and ignores the more important statistic of deaths of healthy young people (supposedly they are very rare).

To reiterate, are healthy young people dying, or does the virus seek out the aged and the physically impaired for the most part? With accurate information, discussions about opening and closing aspects of American life could be made more effectively.

Trump has decided to focus on schools, all of them, Kindergarten through graduate school by threatening state leaders and educators who are concerned about the well being of their constituents. As mentioned above, the stats are not conclusive, so decision-makers must decide without full information. How can the president penalize anyone for taking a conservative approach when it involves our children, and our future?

Opening public schools in August and September is one of the most frightening propositions. Millions of children are at risk. Many of them have parents and grandparents who are vulnerable. Thousands use public transportation or buses filled to capacity to commute to school. The largest populations of students are in urban centers where population density makes it wise to teach remotely, so many classes will be online. This is advisable, at least for the short term or until the virus shows signs of ebbing.

And what about the thousands of teachers who would be put at risk; there are quite a few who are vulnerable because of age and unaffiliated medical conditions.

In college and gradate school, Trump is trying to impede visas for international students unless they take in-person classes. (Note: Just yesterday afternoon, Trump apparently abandoned this tactic.) Most colleges are shying away from crowded classrooms in creative ways. But many classes will still be taught face to face. This will endanger students, teachers and the support staffs. Why not defer actual classroom work until the stats are more favorable. And why is Trump so insistent? Is it because of the election?

The response from leaders, decision makers and health officials has been disappointing. This is not to say anything condescending about first responders. A president on the ropes is harassing our leaders and decisions makers. His tenure is on the line and he’s prepared to go all in to be reelected, even if innocent Americans will be subjected to a deadly disease. It’s shameful.

Health officials have wasted decades and trillions of dollars not focusing on influenza and it existential impact on societies around the world. These experts know new strains are brewing constantly, but they chose to focus elsewhere. What could be more important than stopping a pandemic?

 

 

Back To Basics: Education And Jobs (A Strawman Proposal)

Throughout history, Blacks have been short-changed in America. Beginning in 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and Confederate slaves were given their freedom, Blacks have been promised unconditional citizenship, equal rights and a share of the American dream.

It is patently obvious that promises and assurances over the years have not resulted in real equality for people of color. This state of affairs has inspired massive protests across the nation in recent months, and has highlighted many areas where Blacks experience bigotry and discrimination.

It is time for real action and less discourse. As our leaders consider how to deal with inequality, they should keep in mind that changes, which affect Blacks, are not things that white politicians, white sociologists and white philanthropists can effectively execute in a vacuum. They must work together with Black leaders in the public and private sectors, successful Black business people, Black entrepreneurs, enlightened Black visionaries and the Black community at large.

An ultimate arrangement must include promises that will be kept by both sides and tangible objectives for both Blacks and whites that result in systemic change. Idle chatter and grandiose speeches about good intentions are not enough. A Black moment has arrived. There has never been a time like the present for Blacks to make true advances.

There are a plethora of issues that must be addressed before equality can become reality for Blacks. Each one must be considered individually no matter how painful they are to discuss. The realities of the Black experience have impeded Black prosperity and must be analyzed and discussed without prejudice or vitriol.

In this essay, a proposal will be presented that should be considered by our leaders, Congress, large corporations and the Black community. It involves several of the important areas that need to be addressed before Black prosperity becomes commonplace. They include education, jobs, work ethic and values.

Really big money is available from corporations in today’s environment. Corporate America has the resources and inclination to accomplish many things for the Black community. But everything begins with education. Throwing money at problems without proper consideration will not solve problems. Black children must be engaged, want to learn, become prosperous and be a catalyst to long-term change for themselves, their families and their communities. Americans of all colors must do everything possible to encourage this to happen.

The key to this strawman proposal for inner city children is to combine high school education with job training and work for pay that effectively assimilates young Blacks into the mainstream workforce. In presenting a proposal, I’ve assumed that a single large corporation, Corp. ABC establishes Academy ABC for rising high school students (9th grade). The number of students will ramp up by 100 each year, so that the Academy will have 400 students after four years.

A typical school day follows. Students are transported by vans and buses provided by Corp. ABC. The children arrive at the Corp. ABC facilities before 7:30 a.m. They are fed breakfast and report to their work areas by 8 a.m. The students earn a salary that exceeds the going minimum wage for their work. The workday ends at 1 p.m., after 45 minutes to eat lunch, which is also provided by Corp. ABC.

The students are then transported to Academy ABC located offsite. There, they attend school and learn the basics that all children should be taught in high school, along with special training. The latter could be trade instruction (such as carpentry, plumbing, firefighting, emergency medicine and even police training) that they agree to study at the beginning of the school year at a work fair.

During their four years, the opportunities will be great. For the most successful students, college would be the next step. Corp. ABC would likely provide scholarships, if necessary. Other students who do not want to attend college may seek permanent employment at Corp. ABC. And others may pursue careers in trades that were offered during their tenure.

Of great importance is for the students to understand that education is a critical element to finding employment that will enable them to support themselves and their families. Also, what will come is awareness that having a paid position necessitates reporting for work every day.

In summary, Corp. ABC and Academy ABC will provide the following to the students:

  • A first class education that is at least as competitive with the best charter schools in the country.
  • Breakfast and lunch every workday.
  • An entry salary.
  • Transportation from home to Corp. ABC and Academy ABC (and back home).
  • Training for jobs after high school.
  • Scholarships for college.
  • Possibly full time jobs at Corp. ABC.

 

Many corporations would hopefully adopt this prototype. If 50 of the largest companies in the country established similar programs, 20,000 students would be hired and 5,000 per year would be available to be hired at the companies that recruited them, a diverse pool of man and woman-power.

In-kind donations could be solicited to help defray some costs for corporations, including technology, supplies and teachers (Teach for America).

Trustees would be recruited from the Black community. They would work with Corp. ABC and Academy ABC to incorporate important social values and character lessons into the program.

Great teachers will make the program a success. Given the financial support of Corp. ABC, the Academy should be able to pay top of the market compensation for not only teachers, but all of the staff. The Academy will be encouraged to recruit non-professional staff from the neighborhood in which the Academy resides.

In conclusion, Black children need incentives to breakaway from the shackles of poverty. Getting educated and finding a job are the necessary first steps in this process. The aforementioned program is a grass roots effort to give young Black children the training and work ethic that will lead to higher paying jobs and job satisfaction. The program outlined herein is a tangible way to foster change in places where education does not play an important role in the lives of young Black Americans.

 

Young People May Be The Key

It’s becoming apparent that young Americans will ultimately decide what direction the Covid-19 pandemic will take prospectively. This group is abandoning isolating and masking more often as each day passes.

After spending time in New York, Colorado and Florida during the past several months, I can attest to many unsafe actions by the youngest among us. Is it the belief that they will live forever that drives them to take unnecessary risks? Or are they aware of the statistics that indicate young people who contract the deadly virus do not die from it, unless they have an existing condition?

The problem with these perspectives is that many can pass on the deadly bug to others that are vulnerable. Older people, including ones they love, such as mothers fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers can and have been dying in increasing numbers. Who is responsible for the actions of these individuals? Why do they care about their own amusement more than the safety of others?

Consider the actions of young people over the past few months. Where do they congregate? It is summertime in every state, so being outdoors and in the sun is a prime activity. Sitting on the beach without distancing or masks could be a deadly past time.

In the evening, drinking increases and so does the risk of spreading disease. Crowding anywhere to savor the music and socialize with others has been a major inspiration for the virus. Wearing a mask while one is trying to meet others is not popular. If a casual meeting results in further intimacies the odds of contagion increases exponentially.

Protesting in large groups is another popular activity of the young. Crowds are a risk. Asymptomatic individuals can create havoc as rabid demonstrators abandon masking and do not keep their distance from others. Emotions are high and spreading ones’ beliefs trumps all other considerations.

In and this day and age, and during the pandemic, living at home with parents and other older relatives is commonplace. If these older people are 50 or 60 years old, statistics indicate that contagion and subsequent death is much greater. Where are the responsible people? I don’t know, but they’re not the ones schmoozing on the beaches and at nightclubs.

If we are ever to beat this disease, young people will have to cooperate. Simply put, we need to avoid going to places where crowds are dense and where conditions are ripe for disease, like transportation centers, subways and elevators. The alternative is that the number of cases will continue to grow and many older people will die.

The other possibility is enforcement led by the police, National Guard and even our standing army. Americans don’t want a deadly disease or armed officials deciding how we live our lives.