Asking tough questions is not a threat; reporters are not PR agents…

March 30, 2020

I admit, I am biased against President Trump. But I particularly dislike the way he berates journalists who ask critical questions. He declares that they are poor at their job. Just saw a video where he suggested to a proven professioanl PBS correspondent that she should be “more positive”, and he also seemed to insinuate that she had moved between jobs due to lack of ability. He claimed her questions were “threatening”.

I don’t care what your politics are, pro Trump or anti-Trump or indifferent. A true journalist’s job is to ferret out the truth. Yes, some will ask so-called “gotcha questions”, which when asked solely for showmanship are possibly out of order. But if asked to bring out the truth, they are in order. A confident and wise president could turn a gotcha question into a positive for himself. And I mean without changing the subject at hand or otherwise dodging the question, or threatening questioners.

JFK was good at that. He seldom bristled at tough questions. He just answered them. Full disclosure: I am aware, though, that his press conferences were said to have been at least somewhat set up. Even so, he answered what appeared to be questions that could make him look bad. He also admitted sometimes that he was wrong, as I recall.

To not be able to admit you could be wrong could cause you to constantly make bad moves. Pride cometh before a fall. I think that could fit here.

Journalists who only ask softball questions designed to make the recipient look good are not journalists at all. I think they are called “public relations” people.

As a news consumer I want objective information. I even prefer that in opinion articles or so-called news analysis pieces. Issues need to be examined fairly from all angles when possible.

Unfortunately, much of the news we get today appears to be at least a bit tainted with bias. As I have stated in this blog, it is not presented in the even-handed way I was taught it should be in journalism classes when I was in college, pre-internet days.

I still trust the New York Times and PBS and NPR, and do not trust Fox. But I am occasionally disappointed with my mainstream favorites. They seem to sometimes blend non-attributed opinion with objective and attributed material. Of course one cannot simply overlook or fail to mention when Trump simply tells a bald faced lie or makes up or misuses statstics and other material. But simply running constant headlines that the president is lying somehow sounds like a campaign against him, even if it is true. One can simply report what he said but also include factual backround. That can be tricky or dangerous too because there is a fine line between background and information and advocacy and bias and editorializing. No one said honest and professional journalusm is easy.

Also, broadcast journalism, where so many catch what news they can, by its very nature tends toward a more simplistic wrapup and explanations by whoever is presenting it, rather than quotes from a variety of sources.

Print journalism nowadays seems to have copied that format to some extent. The average person, I suspect, does not feel he or she has time to read long pieces. Instead they want quick reports and summaries.

Those who would try to fool the people prefer the people remain ignorant or unaware or even unconcerned with all the facts or points of view on any issue.

And then you have this thing called Fox News, which seems to have been created by appealing to a demographic that feels its concerns and views have been ignored. Fox has a market in both hardline, far-right partisans, and just average folks who prefer to hear what squares with their own pre-conceived notions. Too, I think it appeals to conservative folks who see some of their cherished values, i.e., God and and pro-life, the flag, and the preservation of the status quo in society threatened by too liberal ways of thinking. To some extent I can see that, right or wrong.

I don’t like to make snap judgments on what others believe.

But no matter what I myself believe or what side I take, I prefer an objective examination of the issues. Except for my belief in individual freedom and capitalism with fair market protections or constraints, I do not care to be chained to a set of pre-ordained ideals.


Drop the politics, listen to the science…

March 28, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic. This is by far the biggest national and world crisis of my lifetime, which began Aug. 13, 1949, my lifetime began then, that is.

China fell to the communists in 1949. We had the Korean War in the early 1950s. I was just a baby or toddler. In my coming of age we had the national tragedy of the Vietnam War (so much miscalculation). I as so many others found myself in the military. I was fortunate in that I was sent to what was then called West Germany. One of my brothers was sent to Vietnam but fortunately came back alive. My other brother retired from 20 years in the military service in that time.

(I don’t think any of the three of us are war hawks, but at least we can all say we did our part in the military for Uncle Sam. So many war hawks never served.)

There were the gulf wars. There was 9/11, the baby boomer’s version of Pearl Harbor perhaps.

But as far as I can see, Covid-19 eclipses all (except for those who lost their lives or their loved ones in the other incidents).

Covid-19 does not care who you are, what your race is, where you come from, or your economic status. And it is bringing the whole world to a virtual standstill. To those who would play politics with it, no matter what your ideology, I say shame on you.

To the politicians I say, please assist the doctors and scientists, and do your part to simply formulate your policies around that. You do have to sort through differing opinions even among the experts, of course. But I wish that President Trump would do more of the right things he may be doing and cease his back and forth contradictory statements that seem to be designed to pander to some of his know nothing base (by “know nothing”, I mean people who do not want to be confused by facts). If we all get through this and the economy picks up, you, Mr. President, will probably win re-election. You have even a better chance if you quit your nonsense and your insulting and intimidation of people who dare to disagree with you. Show you are a bigger man that that, if you can.

China, where it all began, seems to have managed to get through the crisis. If we can believe what comes out of there (and in a communist country that is a question), then there is hope the Covid-19 will level off here in, say three months or a little more? China has the advantage in that it is a police state that can simply order its obedient citizens to stay put when it wants to and they will obey like domestic dogs. But free Americans have the sense to do what is best for their (our) own health, I would hope.

Assuming that we survive, I think, I hope, the best that can come out of this global crisis is a little more respect for science. I don’t know how we in some cases have gone back to the Middle Ages in our distrust of science (so many distrust it, it seems; maybe just a vocal minority). Why do so many people assume that science is just something political? That is not to say, that some don’t use it for political purposes, but in the whole science is just based on what can be seen through an objective process, what is provable to our own brains.

Religion is based on faith. It has its place. And it can co-exist with science. Faith that God will protect you is good for your soul, but wash your hands.

p.s.

Another upside is that pollution levels have gone way down with the shutdown. That may be short lived but on the other hand if this continues for a time, we may develop friendlier habits to the environment. Once you experience clean air you might not want to go back.


No money in the budget for the homeless but when everyone else is threatened…

March 27, 2020

With the news of the $2 trillion stimulus bill (now law) in my mind, and after a finally successful search for hand sanitizer, I drove home and along the way I saw what I always see so much of these days, homeless people.

The thought occurred to me: it is bad enough we with places to live have to endure this pandemic, but what about the homeless?

And this really galls me: so, before all of this, politicians (and the general public) just threw up their hands about the homeless situation. Tsk, tsk, tsk, but what can we do? Just not in the budget to do anything.

Oh, but come the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens us all (the whole world), young and middle aged and old, rich, middle class, lower class, homeless, suddenly out of the thin air the federal government, with a Republican (you know they are fiscally conservative) in the White House and a Republican-controlled senate, that effectively controls the gate on all legislation, yes suddenly out of thin air, $2 trillion in one bill, the most expensive ever passed. My Lord!

But we did not have anything for the homeless. What would Jesus say, all of you God-fearing Republicans? And for that matter, all of you God-fearing whatever you are.

I know the homeless situation is a complicated problem. Really. Who are these people? How did they get into that situation (so many people are a paycheck away)? How many of them are in such poor mental and physical shape that they would never be part of the regular working society? Do you find individual homes for them? Who pays for that? Do you make camps for them? Can people be forced to live in a camp, which might have its own security problems? And where would these camps be (not in my backyard, many would say)? And years ago, Sacramento County (California) tried to force the homeless to stay in a specific quarters only to be told by a court that such an order was unlawful.

Whatever. Humanity, common decency, and health for everyone for gosh sakes, demands we do something about and for the homeless. And no I don’t think one has a right to be homeless — to put it bluntly, not when you poop on the street or in the backyards or in the parks. It is not healthy for the homeless or the rest of society. And it is a blight.

To my mind, there should be camps. They need to be safe and reasonably comfortable but they do not have to be plush, spartan might do. The rent would be to take part in keeping the place up to the best of one’s ability.

It will cost money.

Just like that $2 trillion stimulus bill.

p.s.

I’m not a Bernie Sanders fan, but I was with him when he mocked those Republicans who objected to people on unemployment getting $600 on top of what their state might alot for their, I guess, weekly check. Oh my god the world will fall apart! he mocked.

In some cases people might make more on unemployment than working. One can see that in at least two ways: getting more not to work is not a good incentive to work or maybe the employers should be paying more money in the first place. Of course the idea is that people are being paid as an insurance and only till they can secure employment again. But how millionaires and billionaires can fret over such pocket change (in their world) is a little disgusting to me.

You see, these folks live in a very different world, far from the madding crowd.

What they might keep in mind, however, is that crowd outnumbers them. Guess maybe that is why they voted for the $1,200 for individuals and more for families, and the unemployment bonus, along with the billion-dollar giveaways for big business.

p.s. p.s.

I realize that even some people of more modest means might see padding out the unemployment checks as fiscally irresponsible and wrong but one has to realize this is a special situation — and the idea is to somehow keep the economy going with a huge amout of people forced to stay home in this pandemic. Will it work? Seems to me if it contineues for long it would create inflation. I mean governments through history have printed money to keep afloat and it did not work.

But right now more important than economics is science — we really need to heed the doctors on this one and turn a deaf ear to some pandering politicians.


Finally I feel blessed to be a truck driver…

March 22, 2020

From time to time during the past 25 years I have cursed my fate of having to make that midlife career change and going into truck driving (don’t get me wrong, some days I love it). But now I thank my lucky stars. At least for the moment I seem to have all the work I want and then some, while so many people are suddenly out of a job (at least temporarily and who knows how long that temporary will be?).

The Covid-19 pandemic is still in its infancy, so I don’t know how this will shake out for me. But I am home for not much more than 34 hours, which allows me to get what is called a “restart” on my allotment of 70 hours per seven days, the regulation for most over-the-road truckers. I guess there are now some emergency exemptions to the hours of service rules for critical goods, but in my job I have not been made aware of them yet. And before all of this I was happy that with the new electronic logs I would not be made to work over the 70 hours (owner operators might not like that, but for me, I can only work so much and then I need to rest).

So, what is the effect of this pandemic on trucking as far as I can see (and I am only talking now about me — I cannot see the big picture yet)? Well right off the bat the plus is LIGHT TRAFFIC! I drove into LA the other day during rush hour. Never have seen such light traffic. I drove out in rush hour. Amazing! Never got out of LA that fast.

Am I hauling critical goods? Well I haul just about anything and everything that can be put in a box that I call my van-type refrigerated (does not have to be on when hauling dry loads) trailer. About 50 to 80 percent of the time (just estimating) I haul produce. Since this pandemic was named as such I have indeed hauled produce. But I also hauled a shipment of bottled water. The outfit where it was bottled said they had not had so much business ever (even in the heat of summer). And I hauled it to a Costco store in the LA area. Even without the pandemic and its panic buying I know Costco shoppers love their bottled water. Once I hauled a load into a Costco store in the San Francisco Bay area that had run out. People were offering to buy it off my truck before I could get to the dock. It was not mine to sell of course.

But I also in the past many days have hauled a lot of beer. Well people need beer. Most of the bars are closed but the supermarkets are open.

The sit-down restaurants at the truck stops are only offering take-out now. The drivers’ lounges are closed (but I never have time to lounge anyway, or if I do, as in waiting for a load or waiting for unload, I lounge in my truck anyway).

Have not been affected by the toilet paper shortage — yet. The trucks stops so far have it in the restrooms. I even have some at home (and since I only get home briefly, no problem — yet). Hand sanitizer? I have almost run out and cannot find any at the stores. My youngest daughter has offered me a pack of alcohol wipes — I might have to drive my truck near her place to get them.

Right now I am wondering how this stay-at-home and closed-border policy is going to affect the fruit and vegetable harvests. Not sure if there will be a shortage of labor in both the fields and packing houses. And much of my income comes from that production. I mean my company (the one I work for) hauls all kinds of stuff, but produce has been our mainstay.

Been mentioning this a lot lately, that is the fact that I am 70 and still working pretty much full time (I have been taking like two-month vacations — to Spain, which looks iffy this year, to say the least). But here it is. Because I was foolish and did not start my retirement savings till relatively late in the game, I find it necessary to work. But I think it has turned out to be a blessing for me. It keeps me healthy (possibility of infection with Covid-19 notwithstanding) and self-sufficient.

Life on the road can be very good and it can be very bad. It changes from moment to moment is seems. Yeah, the love/hate thing.

But for now I am counting my blessings.


Panic buying? Can you really blame folks?

March 22, 2020

Shoppers are being criticized for buying too much toilet paper and hand sanitizer and other items and told they are engaging in a senseless panic during this ongoing Covid-19 world pandemic.

Well to me it’s like what comes first? The chicken or the egg? I mean first we are told that we need to stay at home if we can and if we can’t at least use hand sanitizer when we can’t wash our hands with soap and water.

People seeing a grave crisis that could disrupt supplies naturally want to stock up while they can. Some get greedy I suppose. And who knows what are the best things to stock up on? In our modern society we are used to using toilet paper and don’t know a practical substitute (no jokes needed here). And I imagine a lot of people are thinking if they do get sick they may need lots of tp. Not to get graphic, but maybe wash cloths that can be washed for reuse might be in order there.

Maybe we should all install bidets that are so popular in Europe. They’re kind of fun.

I have not gotten in on the panic buying as it is called. Been out on the road on the big truck (have not been hauling the afore-mentioned items, though). But I don’t necessarily blame folks for wanting to stock up. I mean I have not been able to find those items to buy and if I now did, I would try to buy ahead.

Early on we were assured the panic buying was not necessary, new orders were on their way. Well guess not. The shelves are still bare where I shopped.

If you are polite you don’t buy any more than you need. You also will be left without what you need later.

Now supposedly toilet paper and hand sanitizer are domestically made products for the most part, so they are not on the slow boat from China.

Manufacturers reportedly are doing their best to ramp up production. But it has been such a shock to the supply chain that things are backed up. I also read that not all stores are equal. The big box stores have more pull in getting the products because of their size.

One story said this is not like a localized demand, such as caused by a hurricane. The whole nation, the whole world, is affected. Our supply chain is not capable of reacting to such a thing in a timely manner.

A lot of things in our modern supply chain are amazingly efficient. At the same time a lot of them are way behind the times.

Anyway, again, while I would not like to see myself as one who would rush in and grab way more than he immediately needed of something, I can see why with all this uncertainty people are worried the stuff they are looking for might not be there the next time. Heck it is not there now.

With people being told to stay home, it is hard to see how anything is going to get done.

And no one seems to be able to define essential work or industries — at least not after medical and food production and sales. But we depend upon so much more.


A prolonged shut down could bankrupt us; public order might break down…

March 20, 2020

UPDATE: Medical experts say the covid-19 virus has a higher death rate than the seasonal flu. It spreads easier, with even those without symptoms carrying and spreading it. A vaccine is expected to be at least a year off before the population at large can be immunized.

Everyone staying home and business at a virtual standstill would bankrupt the economy in a short time, that is if this all (stay at home orders) lasts more than a couple of weeks, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece warns. The government itself will not be able to sustain us for long.

I don’t want to be an alarmist but I am concerned that if this virtual lockdown of the nation continues for long and people run out of money and food and so on public order is likely to break down. The other day I heard that gun shops were doing land office business. I can see why people might want to protect themselves, even though I am not a card-carrying gun rights advocate. My interpretation of the Second Amendment differs from them (but I accept that the common attitude among many is that citizens simply have a right to posses guns — there has to be some restrictions and there are.)

What we need is steady leadership. We do not have it at the top. But I think that state and local officials are stepping up to the plate.

—– —- —- —–

My last post was a little over a week ago (March 10, 2020). All I was worried about at that time was getting my hands on some hand sanitizer. Never did. I still have some left in a small plastic bottle. Toilet paper, I have some left at home but I am on the road. So far the restrooms have that.

So what can I say about this covid-19 virus pandemic, this world-wide crisis? I can say it is without a doubt the biggest deal of my whole 70 years on earth. I think about it almost every waking moment and not at the same time. I mean I am a truck driver, and I have found myself lucky so far. My job as of now continues unabated. What comes next? I have little idea.

—– —— –‘– —– —–

Well, this just in: California’s governor has just ordered all residents to stay home. Essential services or activities are exempt, I think. The order will not be actively enforced by police, it was reported. But the fear or belief, it was reported, is that up to 50 percent of the state’s population could become infected with covid-19. Most would not suffer serious consequences. But those with compromised immune systems are in danger, for example. The thought is that social distancing in the extreme could cut down drastically on the spread of the disease.

— —– —— —— —— —–

One thing I have realized is that I have little stomach left for the conspiracy believers and the Cliff Clavins (the blowhard ignoramus of a postman on Cheers) who spout off their own ideas, such as: it’s all a hoax, or it’s no worse than the flu. I’m not sure what it takes for them to believe otherwise or whether they really believe what they say. I guess our own president was a non-believer or he thought expressing doubt would make it go away. We could only wish. And who knows? Maybe it will all blow over soon (does not seem like it, though).

It is a come to Jesus moment for us all. A time to take stock of our life. Yes, we probably will get through it (most of us), and let’s hope we learn something, and are stronger for it.

I think our great Trump, who is now a believer and claims to have been from the start (yeah, whatever), has likened it to a war. He’s probably right. We should face it that way and marshal all of our resources against it, pull out all of the stops.

But just like WWII, the big one, we let our defenses down. We had let our military atrophy. We or someone in government, could that be Trump? cut spending on epidemic preparedness. He claims he knew nothing about it. Maybe so. But we were caught flat footed. But unlike WWII we are not an island away from the rest of the world. Not today. We are all interconnected in commerce. And the virus was literally jetted to us and all around the world from its birthplace or where it first appeared in China.

So just cut off China. Well too late. Also we depend upon China for so much of our goods for everyday life, including — news to me — much of our medicines, either the pills, or other mediums of medicine themselves, or the ingredients, that often come from there.

President Trump in the beginning tried to minimize the epidemic turned pandemic, calling it a Democratic Party hoax. And I stole the following paragraph from an article in National Review:

On February 26, President Trump described the coronavirus situation this way: “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” On March 17, he described it this way: “I have always known this is a real pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

——-

Trump, while beginning to take the whole thing seriously, still makes racist remarks about the “foreign virus” or the “Chinese virus”. While the communist Chinese government deserves harsh criticism or rebuke for trying the keep the epidemic secret, it does no good for the president to use bigotry to stir up the white nationalists, well except perhaps for his own re-election purposes. But we need the cooperation of the Chinese here. They probably know more about this thing than we do.

And of course we are dependent upon world trade for our whole economy it seems. But with the virus, nations, including our own, are resorting to isolating themselves.

And this has never happened. Businesses all across our own nation that are non-essential (and how do you figure what exactly is essential?) are being pressured or forced to close, throwing millions instantly out of work. Republicans of all people have even agreed to a scheme to send nearly everyone, maybe millionaires or billionaires excluded (not sure on that), checks, upwards of $1,000 or more (per month maybe, or at least once or twice — who knows?) to keep the economy going or at least to stave off starvation. Of course $1,000, although always welcome, would not pay the rent for most people these days. But you see, the money people are in a bind. They can’t throw us all out of work and keep making money.

And where does this money come from? It is printed I guess (since Vietnam when we abandoned the gold standard in order to finance a war without requiring a war tax — easier to sell politically). Paper based on nothing more than the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Do we have or does the world still have faith and credit in the U.S.? We all hope so.

And up side is that with all the increased hand washing and hopefully better personal hygiene over all, not only may we not get the covid-19, we might not get the flu or a cold or other ailments or not pass it along to others.

There is some nonsense precautions, or at least to my eye. Tried to get my personal coffee mug filled at a truck stop this morning. I was told, no, they only will serve you with their own re-usable, disposable mugs. Starbucks is doing that too. Well the reason I went to using my own mug a long time ago (not always but a lot) is that I did not want to have to use one of those lids that we all have to manhandle to get separated from the others. Also who says those disposable cups are not contaminated? I’m not getting the logic on that one. Not a big deal, though. Just glad someone is open.

So many stores are having to close. None of us knows how long this will last or how long our government can keep us going.

And yes, to all you doubters or conspiracy freaks: it is possible all this will blow over soon (but again it does not seem like it). But I don’t think all the doctors and scientists and medical personnel around the world are conducting a hoax. I have to put my faith in them more than you. You just know what you know… because?


Yes, we have no hand sanitizer today

March 10, 2020

I drove several miles north of town to find hand sanitizer. Too late. Everyone is out of it. The local online newspaper warned me of that but after striking out at a nearby drug store, a customer there said she found some at a hardware store of all places. But I was too late. I found that I still have some but not much. Been using that stuff a lot these past two decades and more as an over-the-road truck driver.

I’ve been home with my own yearly virus (at least that is what I call it. My sister says it might be hay fever), so I have not been out much. But other than the no hand sanitizer I did not notice any panic or even deserted streets. If I wanted to know where all the action is at or where it is not I’d have to go to Walmart. But I stay away from that zoo at almost all costs — not saying I never go there.

Of course the run on hand sanitizer is over the covid-19 epidemic or pandemic (novel coronavirus-19). The bug ravaged China and thanks to our wonderful world trade and our interdependent world it spread over the earth. Knocking out our rival China might have at one time seemed good but the rest of the world along with the U.S. has become so dependent upon China for goods and inputs that go into making goods, as well as it’s ever-growing consumer market, the whole world stands to suffer.

Just the disruption in markets and transportation threatens individual national economies as well.

Meanwhile, there is mass confusion in the United States between the government and the scientists and medical community and the people. Our president alternately says it is not serious, it is serious, but it is no problem, no worse than the flu. Government officials say everyone can get tested for covid-19 if they want, well not enough test kits yet, and some doctors have been denied the test kits or the ability to test.

And we really don’t know how serious this is, well in the long run. I mean the stock market is taking a nose dive, whole countries are in lockdown, Italy for instance, and some schools are closed and many events cancelled right here in the U.S.


Adding to all the covid-19 confusion, an oil price war has apparently resulted from a feud between Saudi-Arabia and Russia after a drop in demand from covid-19 disrupted China, which has sent oil prices tumbling, contributing to the downward spiral of the stock market, the magnitude of which has not been seen since 2008.


In my last post I wrote how there were a couple of suspected covid-19 cases in my own home town but they came back negative, but now one has come back positive.

And I don’t mean to make a big deal about my own age, 70, each time I post, but being this age, considered elderly, I know I am more susceptible for complications if I should contract the disease. Added to that, as a trucker, it would seem there are all kinds of chances of contracting the disease, simply by virtue of travelling all around — increased chances of exposure.

My local newspaper, The Record-Searchlight, quotes several everyday folks here not being terribly concerned about covid-19, like what’s all the fuss?

I imagine they are comparing it to the predictable flu, which has been around, like, forever. There is a vaccine for that. A lot of people don’t bother to get it (I did, get it). We know that elderly people sometimes die from it, as well as others, but most of us just get sick for awhile.

While thousands of people worldwide die from the flu each year, like I say, there is a vaccine or vaccines to prevent it (even if they do not always work on all strains).

But one doctor said on a video I watched that the death rate among covid-19 patients seems much higher than that of flu patients.

People with underlying medical conditions are more susceptible to dying from covid-19.

Current statistics as of writing this (3-9-2020), from the Wall Street Journal, say there are 111,400 cases of covid-19 in 100 countries, with 3,892 deaths. In the U.S. alone, 607 cases, with at least 25 deaths. But here’s the thing, there are still a lot of unknowns about covid-19, and I understand it is mutating into other strains, and we do not have a vaccine for it and probably will not for at least a year.

I feel confident we (the U.S. and the world) have the technology and scientific and medical knowhow to combat this thing, with the only thing standing in the way politics.

The sad fact is we have an irresponsible and ignorant and selfish man as president. He seems more concerned about his image, his chances of re-election, the optics, than marshaling the forces to get on top of this thing.

And as I understand it, he and the Republicans have cut funding on various programs that go into our preparedness. There may be blame on the Democratic Party side as well, but the Republicans are the ones with the White House and the control of the Senate, thus the purse strings, even though spending bills originate in the currently Democratic-controlled congress. After the fact now, after the virus has already hit, a bi-partisnan spending bill to fight the coronavirus has been signed into law. But the administration was forewarned but with the anti-science attitude that has permeated the Republican Party, actions were not taken earlier.

There are still shortages of covid-19 test kits and equipment needed by medical personnel.

A crisis needs reassuring political leadership. Even with mistakes or mishaps, the public can feel assured and safe if it knows that responsible people taking responsible actions are in charge and are on top of it.

Right now it seems our political leadership at the top is falling short of that.

Every time there is a photo op with President Trump and the medical-science community, Trump ends up contradicting their message or at least muddling it. And he sometimes browbeats others into soft peddling or holding back on important information.

Trump attended a recent CPAC meeting (a major conservative group) where some were exposed to covid-19. Trump subsequently shook hands with one person at least who had been in contact with another person who tested positive for covid-19. Trump well could have been infected himself. Maybe he needs to be tested. If he knew he had it he might take it more seriously.

Some politicians, such as former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, are self-quarantining themselves, after possible exposure.

President Trump should not be afraid of the effects of the coronavirus, except if he has it himself. This pandemic is not his fault. A hit on the economy from the confusion and market disruptions and consumers not buying is not his fault.

Things happen. But it is how one handles a crisis.

Maybe, Trump has run into something all his bully talk, all his demagogic ways cannot control.

Trump is an admitted germaphobe. Yes, then, he should be afraid, very afraid.

But even though Trump’s chaos theory method of governing seems like it might be working against him now (it certainly is not reassuring to the public), in some way in the end it may win out — for him, that is. Since medical science and nature itself may whip this pandemic, if victory or some stability in the crisis comes in time, Trump will crow he was right all along. And his followers will be like the locals here — what’s the fuss?

p.s.

But I hope all works out well, even if it does take the pressure off Trump. I’ll be satisfied to see him defeated at the ballot box over his presidency in general, minus covid-19 effects.


Is my yearly virus not just my yearly virus? Do I dare cough in public?

March 7, 2020

First off, I am almost 100 percent sure that I do not have the coronavirus-19. But I get a viral infection of some sort at least once a year (have for at least the past decade), one year I got it twice. It usually comes in January or February; that one year I got it in January and March, as I recall. My main symptom, the most important to me, is that it saps me of nearly all my strength. I’m not talking lifting weights. I’m talking fatigue to the max.

I don’t run a fever, usually, and not this time either. And I have no shortness of breath, but I have or did have these past many days a runny nose and a cough (not a dry cough, I would say).

Today (Sat. March 7, 2020) I am reading that the most common coronavirus-19 (or covid-19) symptoms are fever and dry cough.

At 70, I still work on a full-time basis (except I take a long, long vacation) as a long-distance truck driver, mostly up and down the West Cost, and in these past several years, mostly between Portland and Los Angeles, but into Nevada and Arizona too, occasionally up into Washington state (which is having quite a bout with covid-19).

So, anyway, about last week I began to feel that yearly virus coming on. But it did not prevent me from working. But as the days wore on my strength began to ebb. Finally one evening I arrived back at my home terminal for what would have been just a night at home or in my truck sleeping — I chose to sleep in the truck. I was out of energy to the max. I awoke in the middle of the night and realized the virus had taken hold (the yearly virus, not the covid-19, I’m all but sure). In the wee hours of the morning it was all I could do to crank down the landing gear on the trailer — I mean I had to take it ever so slowly.

Been home for several days. Each day I see in the news how the coronavirus is spreading. It has hit fairly close to home. There were two possible cases right in my home town, but just now writing this I read that the tests came back negative — well that’s good news. One person has died from the coronavirus in the town where one of my daughters lives, Roseville, Ca. And a ship awaits off shore in the city of my birth, San Francisco, with 21 folks (mostly crew) testing positive for the virus. I think the Roseville fatality was a person who had been on that ship on an earlier part of its cruise. A sick passenger from the cruise ship off San Francisco was to be airlifted off the vessel today, the SFGATE site reports.

There are many cases throughout California, Washington state, and all over the nation. I won’t cite too many statistics here — they are ever changing and of course do not count those who have not been tested and even may not show symptoms but who could be spreading the virus, which seems to pose the most threat to older people (that be me) and those with compromised immune systems, and very young children.

But I can say that as I write this on Saturday morning, March 7, 2020, on the West Coast, today’s New York Times tells me there are 317 recorded cases of coronavirus in the U.S. (Update: CNN now says 400), with 17 deaths. Worldwide, there are more than 100,000 cases, various sources report. By far, China, where the virus first made its appearance in December, has had the most cases, 80,652, is a recent statistic. But the epidemic has leveled off there, it is reported. Worldwide, there have been at least 3,567 deaths attributed to the covid-19.

Other than to repeat that covid-19 has spread all over the world, I will leave the statistics there.

What I will say, though, is that this all could cramp my style for vacation. For the past six years I have travelled to Spain and have enjoyed picking up on the culture, interacting with the people, learning the language, enjoying the scenery, and the food, and let’s don’t forget, the wine and beer. But that country is having its own bout with the virus. Not sure at this time, what the international travel situation will be come next fall, that being the usual season of my travel. Not even sure what local or regional travel will be like in my home country, the USA.

And while it is on my mind, let me just insert here: let’s listen or read the information from medical professionals not that crap from the White House or politicians in general. Anyone who simply thinks this covid-19 is no more dangerous than the common cold or seasonal flu is likely in denial. True, even the experts admit there are a lot of unknowns, and of course we all want to be hopeful, but a little reality check is in order. Better to be safe than sorry.

Interestingly, though, I just read a piece in the Wall Street Journal that suggests that fighting the spread of the virus by the conventional ways, hand washing and such, may be far more practical and have far more successful results than ordering people to simply stay home, which could have drastic economic consequences for individuals and the macro economy as well. That’s worth more reading and research and thought, I admit.

A vaccine that could be available to all is said to be likely at least a year away.

I do think, however, we need to demand in what ever way we can that the politicians, including numero uno in the White House, stand aside, and let the credible info from the medical doctors and researchers and other health authorities through to us, unredacted by Vice President Mike Pence or anyone else. I do not know if Pence is doing a good job or not in his position as virtual czar in the federal government’s program to fight the virus — hopefully he is up to the job and is more sober (I don’t mean in terms of alcohol) than his boss.

For a guy who gets around (in a big truck), I don’t really get around that much, even when I am not sick. I live alone. Out on the road, 90 percent of the time I am alone in my truck. I do of course go to truck stops and facilities where I pick up and deliver freight. But since I have not been out much (except for a few trips to a nearby small grocery store), and since I have little contact with other people, save my daughters and siblings via phone, I don’t know what the current attitude of folks is concerning the coronavirus. Are they scared? concerned? or nearly oblivious to it?

I haven’t gone to Target lately, but I always buy hand sanitizer there, along with baby wipes (good for washing out in the field as it were — I do NOT throw the wipes into the toilets and clog up plumbing). I’m often not near hot running water in my job; wipes really help clean hands and arms. Sanitizer of course disinfects. And isn’t it a dilemma when we have been told that overuse of alcohol sanitizers is attributed to the appearance of super germs, resistant to antibiotics, and yet we are advised to use the sanitizers in the face of the covid19 outbreak?

I know when I was at the grocery store just yesterday I was trying hard to suppress a tickling cough. My face is not pale or red, and my nose was not running, so I was sure I was not displaying symptoms of being ill. But if I had let that cough go, what would people think? I did cough, but suppressed it the best I could and of course coughed into my sleeve.

Why did I go out? How else am I to get food?

And the fact is I need to return to work soon. I don’t want to join the local homeless population, which seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. I am on the mend, though. In fact my virus this year seems to be somewhat milder than in past years.

When my symptoms were more acute, well even yesterday, I thought about calling my doctor’s office for an appointment. I usually do not go to the doctor for normal, seasonal ailments. But I decided to give it the weekend. On Monday I either return to work or stay home some more. If my symptoms get worse, I’ll call the doctor.

And now, how is it going to be out there on the road? Will people be taking unusual precautions? Will freight movement drop off? Will they keep those restrooms a little cleaner (that is always a problem), will I dare cough or sneeze in public?


Warren drops out, she should back Biden, will she? Will a woman ever be president? of course!

March 5, 2020

Will Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorse Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden? She is dropping out of the Democratic Party race for president, and has been more closely aligned with Sanders’ leftist policies — Medicare for all, free college, free lunch (well someone pays), but has conservative roots — she began her political activity years ago as a Republican.

She might hold a grudge against Sanders. Sanders, she claims, told her a woman could not win the presidency. I think I am correct that in a debate Sanders denied saying that but later maybe walked that denial back. The cameras were running and the sound on when Warren confronted him after a debate about it all and Sanders just said “let’s don’t talk about it now”. Hey I can see that he might have said that in private discussion simply as something between two like-minded people in a candid discussion. To say one does not think a woman could be elected (at this time) is not the same as saying a woman should not be elected at this time.

However, I hope Warren, who is one bundle of energy — she’s feisty — will put her high energy level to work for Biden. The Democrats need to win this one for the sake of the free world.

And at some point I hope Sanders bows out and gets behind the party ticket. I mean sure, he probably needs to stay in right up till the convention if he can, drawing in his faithful. But at some point for the good of the party and the nation he needs to support the party, that has been good enough to let him in the game, even though he is not a true Democrat — registered instead as an independent and a self-described socialist or democratic socialist. He did graciously concede to Hillary last time after a good fight.

(I realize things could conceivably happen and Sanders goes into the convention with more delegates — but it does not seem so at this time.)

Sanders is an idealist. I think his heart is in the right place, but somehow I don’t think he quite gets the almost uniquely American free spirit where even the lowly worker class does not see themselves as simply part of a mass but individuals who cherish their independence and freedom and their own chance to rise above the mass (even if it never happens, and was never going to — it’s an attitude).

Yeah, sounds crazy, but I would hope Sanders could convince his most faithful followers that they would be better to throw in their lot with Biden this time. Sanders, who keeps urging the crowsds on, telling them that it is going to take the highest participation ever to oust Trump, is likely correct. The Democratic silent majority, if you will, is probably going to need the support of the Sanderistas, and it should not forget them in victory next November. In fact, it may want to bend a little to them before that.

One more thing. Ms. Warren had far too many plans. Did anyone ever read them? I recall a candidate years and years ago who kept saying he had it all laid out in a book that he wrote. Did anyone read the book? No.

I think generalities work better out on the hustings. Campaigns are not the time or place to work out specifics.

Oh, can a woman win the presidency? Of course. It will happen — but it does not seem so this time. More women just need to get out there and compete.

I could see a path where Biden chooses a female running mate, gets elected president, and then does not run for a second term — his age? he might not make it anyway — and the vice president runs or fills out his term and runs.

And get this: what if Trump pulled a fast one and dumped Mike Pence and put a woman on the ticket?


Rays of hope: signs of unity to defeat Trump, virus mutating with a less virulent strain…

March 4, 2020

Well, here’s two rays of hope in the time of the coronavirus pandemic: there are reports now that Chinese medical scientists have discovered that the virus is mutating with at least two stains, one more aggressive than the other. There are signs that infections with the more aggressive type are leveling off. Secondly, as the result of Super Tuesday voting it looks like the Democratic Party is consolidating behind Joe Biden — although Bernie Sanders is still strong (it’s a two-man race now).

I mean I see these two dissimilar events, the threat of the virus and the movement to remove a stain on the White House and America that is or who is Donald Trump, as related in that obviously the virus threatens the health and economic activity of the world, and at the same time four more years of Trump would do in the idea of a civilized democracy and the credibility and leadership of the United States in the world. Both existential threats to our civilization.

They say Biden’s comeback from the political dead is nothing short of a miracle. Before last weekend he had been written off, his political obituary written. Then he wins the South Carolina primary on Saturday and is taking the most states in the Super Tuesday voting. Actual delegate counts are still to be decided or tallied. Oh, and several other candidates have dropped out and endorsed Biden, including multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who dropped either a quarter of a billion or nearly a billion dollars of his own money into his campaign, depending on whose figures you go by, to only win American Samoa. Even Tulsi Gabbard was able to pick up one delegate there, the last I read. Maybe one cannot really buy an election, at least not on the national level.

Of course there is always the possibility that Sanders might still survive and go on to win the Democratic nomination, except it seems highly unlikely to me (and my political prognostication skill is low, I admit). The worrisome part is what happens to the Sanders supporters if they lose. Will they support Biden? Indications are that they may not. Sanders is right in his campaign speeches when he declares it will take an unprecedented turnout of voters to defeat Trump — well I think that may be true.

Of course, also it will take huge numbers of those Trump voters from 2016 in those all-important battle ground states (adding to the all-important Electoral College tally), such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, who may now have realized the emperor has no clothes. There is that strange dynamic in which both Trump and Sanders voters have similarities. Some have even suggested Sanders could have beaten Trump but was cheated out of the nomination by insiders in the Democratic Party who rigged the rules. If Sanders gets most of the popular vote in the primaries (and there are more to come) and misses out again, there might be hell to pay — or in other words four more years of Trump. It’s a troubling issue.

So anyway, I was talking to someone, whose name I will omit, and he decided to support Joe Biden but agreed with me that it was too bad Biden could not be better than he is. He joked that Biden’s campaign slogan could be “he’s good enough”.

I’ve come to think that he might be, if for no other reason than he is not Trump.

It is said of Sanders that in all of his years in congress, first in the lower house and then in the senate, he has done little. He’s mostly talk. Apparently a lot of voters, particularly the young, like his talk, especially about the system being rigged against them.

It may well be. So political participation is important. If you don’t care, you can bet there are others out there who do, and they will get what you thought you should have had.

But this all or nothing game that has developed in politics poses dangers to a functioning democratic (small d) society where issues can be discussed and resolved with a free flow of ideas. Sometimes you just have to align yourself with the candidate or party who comes closest to your desires.

I was going to write: “besides, no one president is going to drastically change things”, then I realized, that is the problem, Trump has, and not for the better. He is anti-science and practices and promotes authoritarianism and incivility.

But I think we will survive on both counts, the virus, and Trump (maybe even if he were to be re-elected).

I was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer 13 years ago and was led to believe that my life expectancy could be as little as five years or even five weeks. I’m 70. Probably will simply die of old age.

It’s all good until it isn’t.


Note: I have used the word pandemic in its dictionary sense. Not sure that the coronavirus is officially a pandemic yet — but in practical terms it is — an epidemic spread all around the world.