Trump Derangement Syndrome HQ.

Weight-loss program, or TDS?

Trump holds financial interest in pharmaceutical company that produces hydroxchloroquine!”

Those are headlines in Salon.com and the New York Times. Okay, I’ll bite, that means…..what? Reading the text, they try to portray two pieces of information as damning: 1-It seems that a guy named Ken Fisher, who runs Fisher Investments, a world famous money management firm, owns shares of a company, Sanofi (among many), that produces Plaquenil, a brand name for hydroxychloroquine. So what? Fisher is called “a major donor to Republicans”. Well, shiver me timbers, walk him out on the plank!

2- In any event, the crack team at the New York Times also thinks it’s unfurled the mystery. “As of last year,” reports the paper, “Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.” When you see the words “largest holding”, what do you think? In fact, “largest” means 3.3% of the fund, in this case! In addition, both Salon and the NYT say the mutual fund is “a Dodge and Cox fund”, without naming it. The actual fund is Dodge and Cox International Stock mutual fund, which invests presently in 68 different companies (that what stock mutual fund do), has assets of $50.2 billion, and owns stocks of at least 7 international pharmaceutical companies. Before anyone gets self-righteous, if you have a 401(k) or employer-provided defined benefit pension, you probably own shares of that same mutual fund. It’s been very popular for a long time. My information, as well as that of the NYT, comes from the fund’s own website, their downloadable pdf of holdings.

David Harsanyi at National Review writes: “As far as we know, Trump probably owns less than $100 of Sanofi stock in one of his mutual funds. If things go well, say he triples his position, Trump will be taking in upwards of $300. Art of the Deal, indeed. Though it’s unlikely. Sanofi is a French drugmaker that produces the hydroxychloroquine-label Plaquenil. The drug, however, isn’t patented, it isn’t particularly difficult to manufacture, and there are a bunch of giant pharma companies around the world already ramping up production of generic versions. Sanofi is less likely to benefit than Novartis or Bayer (check everyone’s mutual funds, pronto!). So cunning is Trump’s scheme to spike his $1,000 mutual-fund position that he called India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, this week and convinced him to lift a ban and start exporting even more generic hydroxychloroquine to the United States.

“When Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine, reporters scoured the world to find overdose cases so they could claim the president had blood on his hands. When that effort came up short, they clutched pearls after some nitwit couple thought it wise to ingest fish-tank cleaning liquid. Now this. Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug, not a pill that Americans can buy in bulk at the local Walmart and hoard in their closest and pop prophylactically each day. Media keeps asserting that Trump is “ignoring the experts.” Well, the president didn’t induce South Korean doctors to use hydroxychloroquine. He didn’t induce Indian doctors to use it. I assume American doctors who are now “off-labeling” the drug to patients have some medical reasons behind their thinking.”

What the “lamestream media” (Trump’s term, which I agree with) is trying to do in the midst of the MOST SERIOUS THREAT WE HAVE EVER FACED, is to discredit the president and all his advice. While I am disappointed in the Trump administration’s handling of the epidemic, I believe it is fair to consider some questions:

  1. Is it possible that the President of the United States has information that you and I don’t have?
  2. Is it possible that the President of the United States has pressures (and conflicting advice) and responsibilities that you and I don’t have?
  3. Is my disappointment with the Trump administration’s handling of the epidemic based on comparing it to perfection, or hindsight?
  4. If it turns out that hydroxychloroquine could have helped a lot of people, but the media’s efforts to invalidate Trump’s advice resulted in most of those people staying away from it, how will I then think about that media?
  5. Is this a time to put partisan politics and Trump Derangement Syndrome aside?

I suggest you go to Salon.com, and look at all the headlines. Then convince me they aren’t enslaved to the Democrat Party! Do you have a 401(k), or does your employer have a pension plan for you? Then you probably own shares of Dodge and Cox Stock International mutual fund. Why? It has been one of the best performing and therefore most popular stock mutual funds since it’s inception in 1965. Could that be a reason for Trump’s trusts to invest in it?

I will give the Babylon Bee the last word. “Liberal Treated With Hydroxychloroquine Hopes He Still Dies Of COVID-19 To Prove Trump Is Stupid.” While Trump has been giving people hope that hydroxychloroquine could save lives, his political opponents have called it false hope and claimed Trump has no idea what he’s talking about. Jeffery Walton, a lifelong Democrat and progressive had joined in calling Trump “irresponsible” and an “ignoramus” and now has an opportunity to prove it by simply dying. “It’s such an opportunity, I don’t want to pass it up,” Walton said. Doctor Glenn Logan, Walton’s physician, says he’s been up and down. “After we gave him the hydroxychloroquine, he got really excited about the idea of dying to prove Trump is dumb, and his good mood helped his condition, and he started to improve. Because that would only help Trump, his getting healthier made him depressed, which caused his condition to deteriorate. Which made him really happy. Which helped him recover and… Well, it’s been a weird cycle.” Dr. Logan has been warning Walton that there is a chance he could fully recover. Walton is trying to prepare himself for this — a world where everything isn’t black and white and Trump can be right about some things — but he insists he’d much rather die.

For those of you who don’t know, or Snopes is your go-to source for the facts, Babylon Bee is satire. That means don’t try to look Jeffery Walton.

Update, April 8: On Monday, Democratic Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett credited President Trump with effectively saving her life. She suffered from COVID-19 but recovered after taking the drug. “If President Trump had not talked about it, it would not be something that’s accessible” in Michigan, she told Fox News, due to “an order that was put down in my state.” Indeed, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) initially threatened physicians who would offer the drug to coronavirus patients — before reversing herself and even requesting the malaria drug from the Trump administration.

Hydroxychloroquine isn’t just saving lives in Michigan, however. Dr. Anthony Cardillo, the CEO of Mend Urgent Care in Los Angeles, said he is witnessing “significant success” in prescribing hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients. “Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within eight to twelve hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told ABC News. He probably doesn’t read Salon.com or the NY Times.

Sensa huma?

Mike Leach, the new football coach at Mississippi State, is known to have a twisted, irreverent sense of humor (a proclivity we share). Last week he Tweeted a picture of an old woman knitting her husband a scarf in the shape of a noose, with the caption, “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf..” I think it’s funny, and so do a lot of people, but…..not everyone. Mississippi State football player Fabien Lovett said he has entered the NCAA transfer portal, saying he has three years of eligibility remaining. The announcement comes a day after head coach Mike Leach apologized for a now-deleted Twitter meme that featured a noose. Lovett responded to the post with “wtf” on his Twitter account.

He did not say if the decision to enter the transfer portal was because of the controversial tweet. He did, however, retweet someone who wrote “Good for Fabien! This being the 21st century, one would expect to know what is offensive. I hope more players leave MSU and not just football. Leach’s apology is not enough.” He also retweeted Shannon Sharpe’s critical comments about Leach’s tweet: “Given the history of Emmett Till and lynchings in the state of Mississippi, Mike Leach, as the head coach of Mississippi State, you seriously thought it would be cool to post a picture that had a noose in it?” On his TV program Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, Sharpe ranted, “This is a fire-able offense! Shannon, I am really sorry that Mr. Til was lynched…..in 1955! So, 65 years ago some terrible and ignorant people lynched a man due to the color of his skin. That stinks. So it follows that even 65 years later, during the worst epidemic of our lifetimes, and yours, no one can show a picture of a noose, even as a joke, even using an elderly white woman as the foil? Sharpe may be your last name, but it doesn’t denote your powers of reasoning.

Predictably, Mr. Leach immediately deleted the tweet and “apologized” as soon as he got attacked. Mike, if you are going to tweet a joke, and it isn’t intended to offend but to help people laugh, DON’T APOLOGIZE!!! The Mississippi State football coach posts a photo with a funny caption more days than not. He said one of his favorites was a picture of a fenced field with a sign on it that said, “Do not cross this field unless you can do it in 9 seconds because the bull can do it in 10.

I can’t wait for someone to get offended at the two Farside cartoons I started out with. Here’s my apology, just in case: “I am truly sorry that your sense of humor, if you ever had one, has been replaced by either fake outrage or hypersensitivity. Those of us who have managed to retain our ability to laugh–whom I would wager laugh at ourselves most often–take no pleasure in outrage, self-righteousness and thin-skinned sensitivity. I can only hope you will GET A LIFE! As for deleting my post, or removing the cartoons you chose to take offense at, DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH! If you do, and let if out too fast, you might suck in a gigantic cloud of coronaviruses.

In Seattle, the sidewalks surrounding the municipal court buildings were littered by piles of human (?) shit, and judges, attorneys and visitors were vocal in their complaints. The feasible solution was to hose the piles into the streets and down the sewers. Halt, full stop, a City Councilman held up the cleaning by…..can you guess? If not, you must lack empathy. He complained that hoses couldn’t be used because they might remind POC’s of fire hoses used to disperse demonstrations. None of us living, with the possible exception of soldiers, have experienced the level of fear and insecurity caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, and the infection called CoVid-19. As I sit in my car in the parking lot of a Starbucks, sipping my nitro coldbrew while using their WiFi, every employee and most of the customers—all in their cars—are today wearing masks and gloves. Last week no one was. Isn’t it time to mentally let go of past sins and bring your mind up to speed?

PARTING SHOTS

Erick Erickson writes: Faith over fear. Update: figured I should note that I did not make this. Two kids who are the ages of our kids have been making these and selling them for $20 then buying break room snacks for local hospitals with the money. I added the lights. What is he referring to? It’s the cross, symbolizing Easter.

Newsweek (it should be called Newspeak) headlined this: “Conservative radio host Erick Erickson criticized for placing a ‘burning cross’ in front yard.”

Erickson writes, “Jesus has entered Jerusalem. He will end the week nailed to a spit upon, beaten, tortured, nailed to a cross, and killed. He’ll be blessing people all the way to Golgotha.” AND THAT’S NO LAUGHING MATTER, BECAUSE THREE DAYS LATER HE WILL CONQUER DEATH AND OFFER US ALL ETERNAL LIFE!

Put a nail in the coughin’.

I just stole my title from Jim Goad’s post on Takimag.com called don’t cough on me, bro. In fact, I have stolen most of his post and now present it to you. Prepare to “hate” a few “covidiots”.

The Department of Justice recently issued a memo about COVID-19 implying that “Threats to intentionally infect other people” could be classified as terrorism. Of course, it’s never “terrorism” when the government scares everyone, which is basically what they do for a living. Any government that fails at keeping its citizens constantly terrified is quickly overthrown. But on this one small point I can agree—at a time when almost everyone is on edge, anyone who purposely tries to amplify the fear should be squashed like a bug.

In Missouri, a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with making terroristic threats for licking food items at a Walmart while saying “Who’s afraid of the coronavirus?,” then uploading the video to YouTube. In Illinois, a man has been arrested after coughing on both food and people at a supermarket while recording himself. A group of “juveniles” in Virginia has been arrested for coughing on supermarket produce and uploading the videos to social media.

A Pennsylvania man is facing charges after reportedly laughing while coughing in an elderly, mask-wearing man’s face at a supermarket and telling him he has the coronavirus. Two New York State women have been arrested after allegedly coughing on employees and telling them they had coronavirus, then pepper-spraying employees when they ran outside to catch their license-plate number. A Wisconsin woman was banned from a supermarket after licking a freezer handle and claiming it was a form of “protest” against the pandemic. A Missouri man was taken into custody after allegedly coughing at customers and writing “COVID” on a cooler at a Dollar Tree store. In Minnesota, a man was arrested because according to a police statement: The man became frustrated using the self-checkout lane and coughed on a white female employee who tried to help him. The employee quickly backed away….A black male employee intervened, and that’s when the man said that racial minorities, namely blacks and others of Asian descent, are to blame for the coronavirus pandemic.

In upstate Pennsylvania, a supermarket was forced by police to toss out $35,000 worth of produce after a woman coughed all over it as part of a “twisted prank.” The same viral behavior has replicated itself at stores in New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, and New Jersey.

I’m always bemused to see people who have nervous breakdowns at imaginary crimes such as “misgendering” who think they’d be able to handle the murderous stress of being a cop for even a minute, much less a lifetime. And naturally, since they’re one of the few groups who absolutely have to be out in public right now witnessing people lose their minds in real time, cops are being spat upon left and right.

In Denver, a woman who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after allegedly plowing into four parked cars reportedly spit in a police officer’s face and said, “There’s some corona for you, now all you need is a lime.” In Manchester, England, a man has been jailed for six months after coughing on a police officer and telling him, “I am Covid and I am going to cough in your face and you will get it. A 20-year-old New Jersey man has been arrested for aggravated assault and making terroristic threats after not only kicking police, but coughing and spitting on them while claiming he has the coronavirus. In Florida, 23-year-old Christian Perez made things worse for everyone after being stopped for reckless driving and then coughing in officers’ faces while saying he had COVID-19. “I have the coronavirus and I hope you have it now,” a Texas woman allegedly barked to a state trooper after coughing on him when he’d dared to arrest her for outstanding warrants.  A Pennsylvania woman has been arrested for removing her face mask and intentionally coughing in an officer’s face four times. In New Jersey, a woman who was arrested for drunk driving allegedly coughed on an officer and told him, “Oh, by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you now.”

As if hospital workers aren’t facing enough terror right now, a fat and ugly Maryland man who has COVID-19 has been arrested after allegedly coughing on several hospital workers and saying it didn’t matter because no one cared about him, anyway. Even more bizarrely, a Connecticut doctor has been arrested for purposely hugging and coughing on nurses at his hospital. A Colorado man who says he was “stressed” after losing his job and “aggravated” about how people were responding to the crisis apparently thought it would be a good idea to cough in an elderly woman’s face after she asked him to maintain a safe distance from her on a hiking trail.

A Rhode Island middle-school teacher is being investigated after tweeting that she would pay people who were infected with coronavirus to cough on Donald Trump. A New York man named Baruch Feldheim who has been arrested for allegedly hoarding nearly 200,000 medical masks also reportedly coughed on FBI agents while claiming he had COVID-19. Two Pennsylvania men have been arrested after a gas-station incident where one of them scolded the other for coughing in public without covering his mouth, then allegedly drove his car into the man, who then allegedly fired four shots at the man’s car.

On March 21, a Detroit bus driver recorded an eight-minute video that went viral in which he complained about passengers wantonly coughing in public: We out here as public workers, doing our jobs, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families, but for you to get on the bus and stand on the bus and cough several times without covering up your mouth…that lets me know that some folks don’t care. Utterly don’t give a fuck, excuse my language. Less than two weeks later, the driver was dead of complications from COVID-19.

Thankfully, here in Spokane, most of the people I encountered at the Safeway and Trader Joe’s have taken to wearing masks, whereas last week I saw hardly any. My physical therapist’s office just decided to require all patients and the staff to wear masks. About time.

Do you wonder “where did all these stupid asinine people come from?” I suggest you watch Fail Army, on YouTube. We might as well get a few laughs while we wait for what’s next. https://www.youtube.com/user/failarmy

The kind of crisis that shows how mature you are?

It’s a Lamborghini Huracan, not a “wipe-your-can”

In a crisis when the good of all hinges on the sacrifices of many, or can be unhinged by the irresponsibility of few, “maturity” becomes more crucial than ever. How I am defining maturity includes:

  1. Being more careful than usual before speaking; choose to encourage rather than discourage: I was grocery shopping the other day, and the cashier immediately wiped down the card reader, my credit card, and every surface within her reach with disinfectant wipes. There were two things I thought of saying. “Do you realize that the instructions on those wipes say ‘the surface must remain wet (from the wipes) for 4 minutes’?” and “thank you.” I only said “thank you for doing that, and for working in these conditions.” Why not the other? No one will keep wiping surfaces like that for 4 minutes. Repeating those instructions might have simply discouraged her. I choose to encourage her.
  2. Flexibility to switch gears when the need arises: Starting in late January, around the time when the Chinese city of Wuhan was put under lockdown, Chinese communities across the US had sprung into action, organizing donations of masks and protective gear to relieve the massive shortages in Chinese hospitals. But by the time March rolled around, China’s need for supplemental supplies tapered off, while cities in the US became tragically reminiscent of Wuhan in its early days. In response, those same Chinese donation operations that had rallied for Chinese health providers quickly reversed their course to focus on donating supplies from China to US recipients, where hospitals are still so understocked that medical staff have resorted to reusing masks far beyond the requisite contamination window, and wearing trash bags for protection.
  3. Doing more than just obeying (let alone defying) the rules laid down to protect us all: 430,000 people have arrived in the U.S. since the Chinese officials disclosed the deadly virus in January. Passengers continued traveling from Beijing to Los Angeles and New York under rules exempting Americans from the clampdown, which took place Jan. 31. Roughly 279 flights arrived in the U.S. from China. I won’t even mention the “springbreakers” and other scofflaws, which include “baby boomers” in denial about the dangers.
  4. Resisting the temptation to use the crisis as an excuse to shirk responsibilities: From Esteban Elizondo, NY Post: Leave it to Yale students to make a crisis about themselves. While worldwide death tolls from the coronavirus grow exponentially every day, these privileged Ivy Leaguers are putting their (supposedly) considerable brainpower into getting out of homework. That’s right. About 24 hours after the semester went online due to coronavirus fears, Yale students demanded a “Universal Pass” policy for the semester. No grades, deadlines or benchmarks. Everyone automatically passes their classes. The university, led by mollycoddler-in-chief Peter Salovey, is feeding this defeatist mentality, allowing Yale students to become accustomed to the university dropping its academic standards whenever they’re mildly inconvenienced. After President Trump got elected, students demanded midterms be canceled because of the adverse effects on their mental health. Professors capitulated. Universal Pass, unsurprisingly, has been framed as a fight for low-income students. Infantilizing the disadvantaged is a typical activist behavior at Yale. Whether protesters are “striking” because of climate change’s effect on indigenous communities or pushing for the nullification of grades because a slipping economy will harm low-income students, the demands of elite Yalies always conveniently line up with those of the underprivileged. But, in reality, this latest crusade is just an excuse to do less work and abolish academic standards altogether. In my four years at Yale, I was consistently shocked by the creative excuses used by my peers to skip classes and exams. 
  5. Using the enforced isolation and “time away” to good advantage: In 1665, “social distancing” orders emptied campuses throughout England, as the bubonic plague raged, killing 100,000 people (roughly one-quarter of London’s population), in just 18 months. A 24-year-old student from Trinity College, Cambridge was among those forced to leave campus and return indefinitely to his childhood home. His name was Isaac Newton and his time at home during the epidemic would be called his “year of wonders.” Away from university life, and unbounded by curriculum constraints and professor’s whims, Newton dove into discovery. Newton himself would say about this forced time away from university life: ‘For in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention & minded Mathematics & Philosophy more than at any time since.’”
  6. Think long and hard about how you will behave in the worst case scenario: From Ed Yong in The Atlantic: There are three possible endgames: one that’s very unlikely, one that’s very dangerous, and one that’s very long. The first is that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given how widespread the coronavirus pandemic is, and how badly many countries are faring, the odds of worldwide synchronous control seem vanishingly small. The second is that the virus does what past flu pandemics have done: It burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors that it eventually struggles to find viable hosts. This “herd immunity” scenario would be quick, and thus tempting. But it would also come at a terrible cost: SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible and fatal than the flu, and it would likely leave behind many millions of corpses and a trail of devastated health systems.

The third scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. This is the best option, but also the longest and most complicated. It depends, for a start, on making a vaccine. If this were a flu pandemic, that would be easier. The world is experienced at making flu vaccines and does so every year. But there are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses — until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare — so researchers must start from scratch. It’s likely, then, that the new coronavirus will be a lingering part of American life for at least a year, if not much longer. If the current round of social-distancing measures works, the pandemic may ebb enough for things to return to a semblance of normalcy. Offices could fill and bars could bustle. Schools could reopen and friends could reunite. But as the status quo returns, so too will the virus. This doesn’t mean that society must be on continuous lockdown until 2022. But “we need to be prepared to do multiple periods of social distancing,” says Stephen Kissler of Harvard.

How will YOU be acting during scenario three? This scary epidemic is in the early stages, and my next post shows how badly many “covidiots” are already acting. You will wish this virus could selectively thin them out.

Where true comfort is found in the worst of times.

“Before honor is humility.”
Proverbs 15:33
Charles Spurgeon wrote: Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self, God will fill them with his love. He who desires close communion with Christ should remember the word of the Lord, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, “He descended that he might ascend?” So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it. God blesses us all up to the full measure and extremity of what it is safe for him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in his holy war, you would pilfer the crown for yourself, and meeting with a fresh enemy you would fall a victim; so that you are kept low for your own safety. When a man is sincerely humble, and never ventures to touch so much as a grain of the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow men. True humility is a flower which will adorn any garden. This is a sauce with which you may season every dish of life, and you will find an improvement in every case. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.

Part 3: Caveats of my Covid plan.

MY PHASE 1: Starting now, passing legislation similar to that of S. Korea, which gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts. That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow others to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person. This is necessary, since we are so far behind S. Korea in our capabilities to test and trace, and our understanding of how a respiratory virus spreads. Pass such legislation immediately, then institute a 14-day “hard lockdown” of any city or town with any known infected persons I believe would better serve our populace, even starting now, than what we are doing now. In addition, prolong the current rules of closing “non-essential” businesses and group activities, and required wearing of masks of the asymptomatic (protection for others rather than the wearer) for 14 days!

Caveats: Could the US and all the state governments actually agree on and pass legislation similar to that of S. Korea? How long would that take? Would Americans accept such measures? What I am calling a “hard lockdown” means NO travel (other than essential commercial distribution) allowed by any means to or from any city or town with documented cases for 14 days. How could travel be prevented? How can closures and mask wearing be enforced? If after the 14 day hard lockdown, cases start to increase in a specific city or town, will the people accept a new 14 day period, after their brief taste of freedom and raised expectations? Before I answer those questions, I want to give some examples of the dynamic between virtue and freedom.

Takimag.com: In the Athenian democracy, virtue trumped freedom, according to Plato, especially as the democratic mob had put his mentor Socrates to death. Today, in the name of freedom, dour, self-appointed social justice warriors who cannot conjugate a verb correctly have shut down free speech in Western universities. In the name of freedom, Democrats in the U.S. Congress tried to hold up the stimulus bill in order to extort funds for “national minorities and gender pay equities.” In the name of freedom of expression, CNN complained that the presidential task force against the virus lacked diversity. Nancy Pelosi demanded special LGBTQ provisions in Trump’s $2 trillion package, delaying it’s passage. The impeachment farce was a deadly distraction just at the time early action needed to be taken on Covid-19. Joe Biden called Trump a racist three weeks ago for banning flights from China. NBC invited the billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman to tearfully predict that “Hell is coming,” while having shorted the market the day before and cashing in a cool 2.6 billion greenbacks. (Under normal conditions that would merit jail, but people’s minds are elsewhere.) In fact it’s a depravity of freedom that has large parts of the world’s media praise the communist regime for coming clean in mid-February, rather than late December. And it is a bigger depravity to condemn those who point the finger at the Chinese as racists. And then one has virtue, like the hundreds of thousands of volunteers against the virus, the thousands upon thousands of front-line defenders who risk their lives daily, and of course the Germans giving the rest of Europe ventilators and a chance to survive. 

What has democracy been historically but demagoguery, in the main? “To hear these defenders of democracy talk,” wrote Joseph de Maistre in his Study on Sovereignty, “one would think that people deliberate like a committee of wise men, whereas in truth judicial murders, foolhardy undertakings, wild choices, and above all foolish and disastrous wars are eminently the prerogatives of this form of government.” For our Founding Fathers, who intended this country to be a Constitutional Republic, democracy meant mob rule. In truth, we are essentially passionate animals, and therefore often irrational when our comforting expectations are thwarted, or when things don’t go as we wish.

Phase 1 is the hardest part. Could my plan work? Could the US and all the state governments actually agree on and pass legislation similar to that of S. Korea? Realistically, based on what I see taking place, the wrangling we have experienced already, and the adversarial relationships between the parties, the president and the media, I would say “no”. How long would that take? Even if agreement was reached eventually, the lockdown would continue even longer than curently projected. Would Americans accept such measures? Very doubtful. What I am calling a “hard lockdown” means NO travel allowed by any means to or from any city or town with documented cases for 14 days. How could travel be prevented? Imagine police or even National Guard roadblocks, checking license plates, turning back hundreds of drivers, chasing (even shooting?) those who try to get away. How can closures and mask wearing be enforced? Fines (like $1,000 in Laredo, Tx), cutting power to or padlocking scofflaw businesses, arrests (if the courts are even open). If after the 14 day hard lockdown, cases start to increase in a specific city or town, will the people accept a new 14 day period, after their brief taste of freedom and raised expectations? Once again, not likely. Police will already have been fatigued by the first 14 day lockdown. To summarize, I think my plan would be better, if enforceable, but I don’t think enough of our populace has the civic virtue, maturity, trust in authority, and self discipline to obey the directives of a hard lockdown nor, especially, the measures probably required to enforce it. Therefore, we have what we have.

If your contention is correct, why have so many individuals and businesses voluntarily complied with the “social distancing” orders/recommendations for even longer than 14 days? I alluded to that in Part 1. I can’t get a haircut across the street but I can drive anywhere I want. HARD restrictions and requirements–wearing masks and no driving out of your city–are more likely to be pushed against, especially if combined with cellphone and credit card tracking and other “privacy violations”. No populace in the world is more protective of their illusions of privacy and freedom, especially compared to Asian cultures.

MY PHASE 2: See the official “roadmap to reopening.” It makes a lot of assumptions about increasing our ability to test for and track infections, and provide medical care, and has fewer negative economic repercussions than Phase 1.

My “not road map” to Reopening, Part 2. Plan considerations.

I don’t know if my ideas are logistically or politically possible, or if they are, whether the stupid or selfish or irresponsible folks among us would destroy the plan, and who am I anyway? I am a nobody, just a guy…who thinks a lot. Before I break down my alternative plan (not a road map, for reasons discussed in the previous post), I want to explain why I would start it from right now, April 4, 2020. It is both useless and counterproductive to criticize what has already been done or what we failed to do.

Why? January 22, 2020, from Smithsonianmag.com: For now, the Center for Disease Control has declared the immediate health risk the virus poses to the American public to be low. The infected patient, a man from Washington state who recently returned home from a trip to Wuhan, China, began experiencing symptoms last week, and was quickly hospitalized. He remains in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. This week, millions of people will be traveling to China for Lunar New Year on January 25. However, as Qin and Wang report for the New York Times, many have begun to cancel their trips to the Wuhan and surrounding regions. Until we have more information, it’s really hard to know how worried we should be,” says Josie Golding, an infectious disease expert at the Wellcome Trust, in an interview with the BBC. Already, comparisons to SARS have fueled some fear, she says. But a lot has changed since then, she adds. Now, “we’re a lot more prepared to deal with those types of diseases.”

Were we? From Newsweek, April 3, 2020: As of this morning, over 245,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally in the world. More than 6,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 9,200 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources. Over 53,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan late last year. There have been over one million confirmed cases globally, with almost 212,000 recoveries.

So the reality is, the normal human cocktail of hubris, wishful thinking, shortsightedness, and “business as usual” scurrying about has allowed a faster and wider distribution of this a lot more prepared to deal with those type of disease.” My plan will be heavier on human psychology, crowd behavior and economic/health long term tradeoffs and lighter on immediate public health considerations than the official “road map”.

We are already in official phase 1, and I believe we have been in it too long already. There comes a point–I call it the “crossover point”–when the financial and emotional damage to families and individuals (from the imposed conditions) will kill, or irreparably harm, more people than would have died from the disease itself. Neither I nor anyone can prove when that occurs. In part, the reason for the government’s distress is a widely accepted estimate that up to 240,000 Americans could lose their lives even with current measures against the virus. That’s computer modeling, but according to the Washington Post, several White House staffers have doubted the accuracy of the figures. One source said  Anthony Fauci told others there were too many factors at play to come up with an accurate estimate. “I’ve looked at all the models. I’ve spent a lot of time on the models. They don’t tell you anything. You can’t really rely upon models,” he said to members of the task force, according to the Post. So why do I think that the more draconian and lengthy shutdowns do more harm than good? Government officials and the experts they call on are, understandably, more afraid of blame for underestimating the severity of the virus than for overestimating the severity of the disease. Why? Damage from the “cure” takes a much longer time to manifest than damage from the disease. Blame for deaths from the virus is NOW, blame for deaths, business failures and other damages takes longer. Human beings always opt to “kick the can down the road”, government officials even more so.

“Down the road” is the explicit economic threat: a depression-like downturn rivaling the 1930s—prolonged double-digit joblessness, an unprecedented economic contraction, and widespread bankruptcy. The reason for the grim economic outlook is, oddly enough, the government’s very concentration of its financial cannons on the economy. When the government shows it has a convincing regime in place to restrain the virus — massive, population-wide testing, and a way to trace and quarantine those with whom victims have been in contact — the markets will gain confidence, and a floor will be created underneath the economic collapse. Until then, we are looking at the current freefall.

In a rare peek at official thinking, James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, told Bloomberg last week that the jobless rate could climb to 30% next quarter and that the economy could contract by 50%. That was not counting for the impact of hundreds of billions of dollars thrown at companies by Congress as support to hold on to their workers. But even so, private estimates after the legislation are similar — Goldman Sachs forecasts a 34% economic contraction and 13.2% unemployment in the second quarter, and Deutsche Bank 33% and 12%. Although no one placed the forecasts in historical context, if we reach anywhere near those numbers, it will be far worse than the Great Recession, and nearly the magnitude of the Great Depression.

History has many examples. The current lockdown strategy is a bleak choice of (allegedly) fewer short term deaths against a much larger long-term death toll. The following examples, both negative and positive (S. Korea), are the basis of my belief that a 14-day “hard lockdown” would have been preferable to the multiple months of uncertainty we are experiencing.

Italy, for example, already had a 135 percent debt-to-GDP ratio before the crisis. It is hard to imagine how it will be able to borrow more without a commitment from other European countries to jointly be responsible for more Italian debt—something the northern European countries are still strongly opposed to. The ECB is already printing money like crazy, and another Greece-like situation will make it ramp up the printing presses even more. We have been down this path many times before, where the cure could be worse than the disease. The German hyperinflation of 1921-1923 created a resentful, impoverished middle class which ultimately led to Hitler’s rise to power. How many victims of financial ruin will end their own lives? In the modern era, for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate, there has typically been an increase of about one percent in the number of suicides. A study conducted by Brenner in 1979, found that for every 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate, mortality increased by 1.2 percent, cardiovascular disease by 1.7 percent, cirrhosis of the liver by 1.3 percent, suicides by 1.7%, arrests by 4 percent, and reported assaults by 0.8 percent. How many lost lives out of 300 million in the USA does a 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent unemployment rate represent? 

South Korea has emerged as a sign of hope and a possibly model to emulate. The country of 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic; it reported only 74 new cases today, down from 909 at its peak on 29 February. And it has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control. “South Korea is a democratic republic, we feel a lockdown is not a reasonable choice,” says Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist at Korea University. South Korea’s success may hold lessons for other countries—and also a warning: Even after driving case numbers down, the country is braced for a resurgence. New case numbers are declining largely because the herculean effort to investigate a massive cluster of more than 5000 cases—60% of the nation’s total—linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive, messianic megachurch, is winding down. But because of that effort, “We have not looked hard in other parts of Korea,” says Oh Myoung-Don, an infectious disease specialist at Seoul National University.

South Korea learned the importance of preparedness the hard way. In 2015, a South Korean businessman came down with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) after returning from a visit to three Middle Eastern countries. He was treated at three South Korean health facilities before he was diagnosed with MERS and isolated. By then, he had set off a chain of transmission that infected 186 and killed 36, including many patients hospitalized for other ailments, visitors, and hospital staff. Tracing, testing, and quarantining nearly 17,000 people quashed the outbreak after 2 months. The specter of a runaway epidemic alarmed the nation and dented the economy. “That experience showed that laboratory testing is essential to control an emerging infectious disease,” Kim says. In addition, Oh says, “The MERS experience certainly helped us to improve hospital infection prevention and control.” So far, there are no reports of infections of COVID-19 among South Korean health care workers, he says.

MY PHASE 1: Legislation S. Korea enacted since then gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts. That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow others to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person. This would be part of my phase 1 plan, since we are so far behind S. Korea in our capabilities to test and trace and understand how a respiratory virus spreads. Passing such legislation during a 14-day “hard lockdown” of any city or town with any known infected persons I believe would better serve our populace, even starting now, than what we are doing now.

Caveats: Could the US and all the state governments actually agree on and pass legislation similar to that of S. Korea? What I am calling a “hard lockdown” means NO travel allowed by any means to or from any city or town with documented cases for 14 days, along with the current rules of closing “non-essential” businesses and group activities, and required wearing of masks of the asymptomatic (protection for others rather than the wearer) for 14 days! How could travel be prevented? How can closures and mask wearing be enforced? I will address those questions in Part 3.