Question For Conservatives Pushing For Fast ‘Re-Opening’

Here is a question to ponder.

If it is so hard to maintain a healthy environment at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the most famous office address in the world, where staff members are tested regularly, some every day, then how can businesses across the country without anywhere near as much access to the same resources establish a safe space for the workers?

South Dakota Republican Governor Digging Political Grave

Before I get too far into this story about South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem it needs to be noted this is the same person who used–even after the rebukes–her anti-drug campaign tagline: “Meth, We’re on it”.

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We are not talking about a person of great academic achievements. She was a former South Dakota Snow Queen.  And she governs like one.

So with that comes another in a series of news stories about her lack of scientific reasoning when it comes to COVID-19.   As the slaughterhouse chaos grows.

The disdain for data-driven policy moves from conservatives, as we proceed with this pandemic, is startling to witness.  To only pander to Donald Trump in the guise of active governing is astonishing to witness.  Yet that is what she is doing.  As a result, there will be actual deaths that can be placed at the feet of Kristi Noem.   In time, that will resonate at the ballot box.

But it’s also drawn criticism even from Republicans in her solidly red state, who say she’s been slow to lead the response and seems focused on climbing the political ladder. They worry, along with health experts, that the fallout from her decisions hasn’t yet been felt. The state’s virus caseload isn’t expected to peak until June.

“No governor has faced this enormous a test before, but this is the kind of challenge they will be judged on,” said Gail Gitcho, a Republican strategist and former communications director for the Republican Governors Association. For Noem’s national profile, Gitcho added, “it becomes her leadership resume for future office.”

(Playing with the lives of citizens for her future partisan desires is vulgar.)

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Noem has stuck to a hands-off approach, refusing to order businesses to close and rejecting calls for sweeping stay-at-home orders. She’s held her ground even as mayors and doctors — including the state’s largest medical association — called for stricter measures.

Noem argued that would only delay the peak of infections and extend disruption of daily life. She invoked the state ethos of individualism and said she trusted South Dakotans to be responsible.

Red-County In Wisconsin Shows Frustration With Federal Response To Pandemic

It is not hard to decipher how the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic is playing in the urban centers around Wisconsin.  Going into 2020 there was already an oppositional view of Donald Trump and his policies in places like Madison, Milwaukee, and Eau Claire.  But the White House’s slow response of not recognizing the grave health risks posed by the virus, along with not putting the full force of the federal government behind the mass production of needed items for doctors and nurses, has now brought dismay to both ends of the political spectrum.

I was truly surprised at this week’s front page of my home-county newspaper, the Waushara Argus.  The county is rural and politically red, conservative, and proud of it.  But above the fold in the paper were published rather stunning words from Robert Sivick, the Waushara County Administrator.

Traditionally the Federal government takes the lead in crisis situations and State and local governments follow suit. Unfortunately, that appears to no longer be the case. At the Federal level we hear conflicting directives ranging from claims of strong
national authority to passing the buck to State and local governments.

To make the distance from the White House talking points even wider the administrator added the following.

Finally, we must accept the fact COVID-19 will be affecting our lives for some time to come. Only a vaccine and widespread inoculation will allow us a complete return to normalcy.

There is a recognition come this fall and winter a resurgence of the virus is likely, and the only way for normal participation in society to again resume is to have a breakthrough with a vaccine.  No one is believing, as Trump stated this week, that the virus will just disappear.

I am not in any way suggesting that Republican areas of the state are turning on Trump.  Political allegiances run deep, and there is no doubt that the conservative base is solid in their support of the incumbent.  But that does not mean there is no frustration with how this pandemic has been handled by the federal government.

In phone conversations and Facebook chats with family and friends in that area one theme keeps being repeated.  In advance of Governor Evers’ order to stay home many in rural Wisconsin were already ‘hunkering down’ and taking proactive steps such as making sure they had food items and essentials to make it through what they felt was coming.   They now feel they have done their part–and in some cases more than their share.

But to learn that there were shortages of medical supplies and now disruptions with the meat supply have left some wondering how Washington did not have better thought-out plans.  We could win a world war on the other side of the globe, one older man told me, but we could not manufacture enough face masks for the nation.

There are countless angles to be studied and written regarding the enormity of the pandemic.  One sliver of that crisis will be the further erosion of faith that the citizenry has in the ability of government to meet the needs of the time.  Some might argue that was by design, with Trump not wanting to use the power of the federal government.  In the rural places of this state where folks do not talk like policy wonks or follow each breaking headline, there are those who just believe that such moments like this is a time that the government must act.  And when it fails to do so something is lost about their notion of America.  

That is sad.

5.7.20 Argus

Why Delivery And Curbside Pick-Up Might Not Be Good Idea During Pandemic

Like many people in Wisconsin, and as data is now showing also around the nation, many ‘hunkered down’ prior to state orders to do so.  We saw the storm coming and took appropriate measures, such as stocking the pantry, so to reduce the need to interact with others during the pandemic. We valued our health, and also understood our community role so as to reduce the ability of the virus to travel.

The severity of the pandemic and the economic catastrophe are double disasters.  As I write our nation has over 72,000 COVID-19 deaths and a predicted unemployment rate come Friday of 16%.  Many are wishing to see the economy re-start, while others understand that data and medical advice are the best routes to make sure the virus is not allowed to spike in ways that create needless deaths, and new infections that overwhelm hospitals.

We have been told local restaurants are hurting financially and that some will never again reopen.  We know that many workers in the industry are struggling.  As such, during this pandemic, we all have been repeatedly asked to call for home delivery, or for curbside pick-up.  As for this home, and as much as we feel for those impacted, we just have concerns about the safety factor of take-out food at this time.  That is not an unreasonable frame of mind.

And for good reason.

Last week a long-time couple (in their 30’s) walked to a Madison restaurant to pick-up their food order.  They wore masks,  as all medical advice shows to be prudent, but when at the counter met a disdainful attitude from the worker.  Why the masks was the question from the one passing along the food?

This is very concerning to me.

First, for anything other than genuine words of appreciation to customers for coming in to spend money during a pandemic is shocking on its face.

But it is the second reason that hits home to this post.

To not have an appreciation for why a person would wear a mask during a pandemic is especially troubling when coming from a food worker.  If there is such an easy dismal of others being safe it is a sure sign the worker is not taking seriously the repeated medical advice about this virus. They are making food for others to eat at a time they are being flippant about what is required to be safe.

Yeah, sign me up for multiple food orders.

The number of people wearing a mask, who pass along my corner on the isthmus, is slim.  Many of those disregarding science are in their 20’s and not adhering to self-distancing.  And I suspect some of them work in the food industry.

While there is a desire among some to gin up the economy quickly it needs to be said business is only viable if there are customers.  Before folks again turn out in the numbers needed to make an eatery financially stable there has to be faith that it is a safe thing to do.

If food workers do not take the safeguards to ward off the virus in their daily life they can not expect patrons to again flow into restaurants.

And so it goes.

Humphrey’s History Video: Concord Woods Ablaze!

During Wisconsin’s Stay At Home order, so to combat COVID-19, I am recording a series of 60-second grand stories from history.   Today the story is ironic, to say the least.

Donald Trump, You Are No Abe Lincoln!

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Donald Trump foolishly compared himself to President Abraham Lincoln on national television. As Trump sat in front of the iconic Lincoln Memorial this weekend one thought came to my mind instantly.  I have never before seen Trump look so small. Trump was looking so desperately for credibility.  It was not a good hunt to be on in front of the nation.  (This was the Dukakis in a tank moment for Trump.)

It was embarrassing to watch as Trump demonstrated he did not have any sense of history concerning our nation’s most important leader. (President George Washington was vital in that he limited his time in office, but Lincoln showed the world a democratic nation must not be allowed to self-destruct. If the United States could not make this system of government work, which then could, he asked?)

Trump said during the television interview that, “They always said Lincoln. Nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.”

Wow!

Lincoln was assassinated.  But listening to Trump it seems he is far more troubled by being asked for accountability for his actions! He is so put upon, he feels, to be asked to act like an adult, and discard his boorish behavior.

The differences between Lincoln and Trump are massive.

For instance, Donald Trump’s name adorned the first casino in America to have an in-house strip club. He is the first American president to have made a cameo  appearance in a soft-core pornography film, and he has called his struggle to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while sleeping around his “personal Vietnam.” 

One can see from those points alone that Lincoln’s at times bawdy jokes do not add up to the poor decisions and absence of morality that shapes Trump’s life.

But here is the largest difference between Lincoln and the diminished figure who sat in front of Lincoln.

When Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg he did so not only as a military Commander-in-Chief but also as the President of the people of the United States.  Such a mission required that he be more than a military tactician and instead search for the larger meaning of the battle and the horrific number of dead and speak to the people.  The battle had taken place in July and as Lincoln spoke in the fall there were still bodies piled and covered in lime powder.   His words were short but never forgotten.  They have resonated more over time than when he spoke them but there was no doubt he was one with the people who he served as their leader.

Trump has had many. many hours in front of the media during this pandemic pontificating and blowing verbiage about.  He has not been able to address with empathy the loss of life or convert heartfelt feelings to the families and friends of those who have died due to the lack of actions during his watch.

Lincoln saved the country.  Lincoln ended slavery, which was the central issue of the war. Lincoln gave his life to his country.  Lincoln was not a schooled man in the traditional sense, but was a genius with men and governing.

All Trump had to offer the nation was his self-pity, and it was embarrassing to watch. It was just one more chapter in a pathetic example from his time in office.  When the interview was over it was clearer than ever what is, and what is not, a great president.

Lincoln made the point by holding his place in the history books, as always.

As for Donald Trump there is only one thing to say.  Trump is no Abe Lincoln.

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How Many American COVID-19 Deaths Are Acceptable So Business Owners Will Not Bitch?

This blog has been consistent about the need to use science and data to navigate our path forward when it comes to reopening businesses–be it in Wisconsin or New Mexico.  This blog has also been most aware of the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking on all aspects of the national economy.  But to pursue a course of reopening any business in a willy-nilly fashion without adhering to the medical determination as to what needs to occur prior to openings will create more infections and deaths of our fellow citizens.

Today sobering projections were made known from internal Trump Administration documents.  There are frightful projections of a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks. The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, according to an internal document.  To put that in terms of where we are today, that is a 70% increase from the current number of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.

What you and I have been doing….what millions of us have been doing over the past many weeks….that is hunkering down and listening to the advice of medical and government professionals will be upended because too many people want to make money by opening their businesses too early.

Trump’s lack of leadership, his utter incompetence, his disdain for amassing information, his blame game, his slow and derelict behavior in January, and February have all been witnessed by the nation.  But Trump’s now gleeful desire to turn the economic spigot on for his personal election purposes is the most disgusting and dangerous action yet taken during his term in office.

Instead of his usual verbal tics Trump needs to explain in detail why he dismissed our forward pandemic warning post set up by President Obama in China?  Trump needs to address the nation and explain his behavior of dismissing all the warnings received by our intelligence agencies, his own trade advisor, former Vice-President Biden, and all the Democrats pleading with him to act as a leader.

Now Trump is placing the lives of the citizenry in more danger by wanting to gin up the economy at a time when the medical data does not support such a move.  While the country has stabilized, it has not really improved, as shown by the data of case and death numbers remaining on a tragic plateau that is only tilting slightly downward.  To allow Trump to proceed in the fashion he is will ensure his own projections will come to fruition.

Three thousand dead Americans.

That can be placed into a stunning metric.  That is the equivalent of a 9/11 every single day.

What an epic failure of governance!  By a Republican from a political party that does not believe in governing.

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Humphrey’s History Video: What Happened To Checkers, Nixon Family Dog?

During Wisconsin’s Stay At Home order, so to combat COVID-19, I am recording a series of 60-second grand stories from history.    Today as Paul Harvey might say, ‘the rest of the story’ about Checkers.