Why the Left Thinks We’re Evil

 

I think that it’s easier for people on the right to understand that leftists mean well than it is for leftists to understand that people on the right also mean well. In his book, Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt wrote:

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

In Thomas Sowell’s phrase, a good economist must go beyond “stage one” thinking.

Unfortunately, people on the left tend to get stuck at stage one. They see, for example, that a high minimum wage will make minimum-wage workers better off. Additional thought is needed to understand that increasing the cost of low-skilled labor will reduce the demand for that labor.

Even more thought is required to see that the people helped by the increase – those who keep their jobs or can still find jobs after the increase – are likely to be the most employable. That is, they have the most knowledge and experience and they are the least discriminated against. Those hurt by the laws will be the least employable – the least educated, least skilled, and the most discriminated against. In other words, minimum wages help those who need help the least and hurt those who need help the most.

To someone who can’t, or won’t, go beyond stage one thinking, it’s so blindingly obvious that an increased minimum wage will help the poor that they believe that anyone who disagrees must hate poor people – that is, they must be evil. Someone who can see to stage two or three also understands stage one and is unlikely to believe that someone who can’t get beyond stage one is evil.

Moreover, people who truly believe that an election brought evil people into power are more likely to take to the streets than are those who believe that an election merely put stage one thinkers in office.

Call It the Great Panic of 2020

 

In the last 100+ years we had The Great War (later “World War I”), the Great Depression, and the Great Recession. I think it’s time to give a name to the first self-inflicted worldwide depression: the Great Panic of 2020. Getting the right name for the current crisis could frame the public debate on the policy solution. Other suggestions for a name are welcome in the comments section.

Financial depressions in the 19th Century were known as “panics.” The Panic of 1837 was one of the worst with bank failures, bankruptcies, and 25% unemployment. Some historians believe it lasted almost seven years.

Reporters and talking heads on TV are constantly attributing the current depression to the coronavirus pandemic. I don’t agree. It’s the reaction of governments all over the world to the COVID-19 pandemic that has destroyed millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth. Dennis Prager in a recent column made the case for “why the worldwide lockdown is not only a mistake but also, possibly, the worst mistake the world has ever made.”

The body’s auto-immune system’s reaction to the COVID-19 virus can cause a cytokine storm which fatally attacks the lungs and other major organs. Similarly, the lockdown policies to the COVID-19 are a reaction that affects public health.

Many people are dying, or will die, because of the body politic’s overreaction to the virus. They are the patients who are not receiving medical tests, treatment, and care because of the shutdown of “non-essential” medical care at hospitals all over the western world.

The Great Panic of 2020 is harming the economy directly. Opinion polls indicate that people are afraid to return to their normal routines. If 75% of the public refuse to eat at a restaurant, go to a movie theater, fly in an airliner, or go on a cruise, how can the economy start any recovery?

The sad fact is that the COVID-19 virus is fatally afflicting a small segment of the population, (e.g. the elderly, especially people in nursing homes). For example in Minnesota, about 80% of the deaths associated with COVID-19 are in nursing homes and the victims have a median age of 83 years.

A sane policy would revive the economy for everyone else while protecting those vulnerable people from infection.

The Merry Month of May: My First Beatles Album

 

Bach Meets the BeatlesSomehow, even as a child of the sixties, I survived to adulthood without a single Beatles album to my name.  My mother, whose musical tastes were quite eclectic, never cottoned to the Lads from Liverpool, and they didn’t “send” me much, either.  We came to the United States in October of 1963 thinking that perhaps we’d escaped the phenomenon–but, No!  They followed us here, making their first stateside appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9 of the following year.  But I never traveled hundreds of miles, or stood in line for hours or days, to buy tickets to a Beatles performance.  I never formed part of a hysterical mob of screaming young women greeting them at the airport, or at the arena or concert hall.  I never howled, or fainted, or threw my panties at the stage while watching them perform.  I never even bought one of their records, not 45, or 33 1/3, single, or long-playing, ever.

Mr. She, although growing up in earlier times, likes The Beatles, and I discovered when we took up together, that he did have a few of their albums.  “Oh, well,” I said to myself.  “Can’t win ’em all.  He’s really fond of jazz, too.  Argh.”  So our home was occasionally graced by what I considered some caterwauling, in between my playing what amused me–early twentieth-century music hall songs and ballads, eighteenth-century Scottish music, old fashioned country-and-western, some African composers, Flanders and Swann.  And Bach.  You know, the stuff every girl plays on the gramophone when she has a chance.  Still no Beatles for me.

Somewhere, after a few years of marriage, that changed.  Mr. She gave me a birthday present of… a Beatles album!  And I loved it.

Its title is Bach Meets the Beatles, and it’s a series of improvisations on Beatles tunes in the style of Johann Sebastian Bach.  Here’s John Bayless, playing Michelle:

Today is Mr. She’s birthday, so in the spirit of sharing, I’m re-gifting something I love, from someone I love.  Enjoy. (Lord, it used to annoy me so much when a rather smug little waitperson would say that to me at a restaurant as I was about to start my meal.  Now, I’d quite like to hear it again, in person, even from a social distance . . . )

Member Post

 

The Flynn matter may not be settled by James Comey in an orange jumpsuit, but Comey isn’t the Big Fish. Others better-informed than I have said the corruption of the FBI, the Department of Justice, and other powerful government agencies under the Obama administration dwarfs Watergate by orders of magnitude. Indeed, the rule of law […]

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Member Post

 

https://therulingclassobserver.com/2020/05/09/stop-the-unconstitutional-illegal-trace-act-hr-6666/ “When human laws contradict or discountenance the means which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws, and so become null and void.” — Alexander Hamilton House proposal HR 6666, “The TRACE Act,” “To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award […]

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Happy Mother’s Day

 

Today, I want to salute all of my sister moms who didn’t throw in the towel when they realized that motherhood wasn’t exactly what they thought and stayed. You see, I left. I could easily make all kinds of excuses for having left. I was young and stupid. I was unequipped for the task of raising three kids having been raised an only child. I let pride get in the way of forgiveness and restoration.

But the main reason I walked out on my kids in August of 1992 was that I was so very, very selfish. As a consequence of my own actions, I had very limited access to my kids for about 15 years and, in a lot of ways, it was a good thing. As much as I hate to admit how bad of an influence I would have been in their lives, I still hate just how very much I missed. There were recitals, proms, school plays and musicals, fundraisers, sporting events, and holidays that I missed and have absolutely no hope of getting the chance to go back and have those memories that I missed out of my own selfishness.

And my children would have every right, and I would completely understand it if they chose to turn me away as that woman they once knew but no more. But instead, they invite me just so lovingly into their lives and I can only thank God for this immeasurable gift of a second chance to become what I could have been all along … Mom. And now, every time my kids call, each time they send me a card extending love and wishes, each time they think of me and smile … I know with all of my heart that I am witnessing yet another miracle that I do not deserve.

Everyone, have an amazing Mother’s Day.

Member Post

 

What was the best advice your mom gave you? I know you’ve all heard some of my mom’s pearls of wisdom before. But too bad! Here they are again: -Today is not “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” It’s Thursday. -Women say, “What would Miss Manners do?” Men say, “What would Curly […]

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Member Post

 

Even though I’m a politician and a policy wonk, I hope it doesn’t disqualify me from getting into the mix. This is a great idea, and if it can’t be discussed rationally and civilly on Ricochet, where can it be? I recently wrote a letter to Governor Pritzker asking him to reconsider his plan to […]

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Member Post

 

Karen and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary today. A quiet celebration, but we did get to see our grandchildren today. Two boys, one is six, and the other is nine. Our daughter-in-law is a Japanese citizen so the boys are bilingual. That means that they have selective hearing in two different languages. We […]

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An Inquisitive Look at Naming Species: ‘Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider’

 

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contains ideas worth reading.

People like order, especially scientists. The naming of living things has even become a science called taxonomy.

“Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels,” by Stephen B. Heard, looks at the naming of things, specifically the hows and why of naming living creatures for individuals.

Heard explains it started with Carl Von Linne, a man known as Carolus Linnaeus. (In the eighteenth century it was customary for scientists to Latinize their names.)  He invented binomial nomenclature and scientific classification of living creatures.

Binomial nomenclature is a fancy term for two-part name. The scientific name for human beings has two parts: homo sapiens (wise man).  Our species is homo (man); our genus sapiens (wise). Sorting creatures into species and genus is scientific classification. The names are Latin, bestowed by discoverers, the individuals who first bring attention to new creatures or plants by publishing a paper about them.

There is plenty to name. While names sometimes describe the characteristics of the item named (sapiens in homo sapiens as a debatable example) often discoverers name them for people. As Heard shows, therein lies a story.

A fascinating story. Heard starts by describing how naming works. The rules lack the force of law but are followed regardless. He then plunges into the bizarre world of eponymous naming: naming things for individuals.

He starts with basics. Forsythia and magnolia were named for individuals. Heard tells us who and why. He next presents more interesting examples of eponymous naming, starting with a chapter on a louse named for cartoonist Gary Larson.

Heard examines different types of names. While many species named to honor an individual (including Gary Larson’ louse), other names are intended to insult the honoree. Heard discusses that. He shows the sometimes whimsical nature of naming, naming things for celebrities, fictional characters, or oneself (a no-no according to tradition). He discusses the practice of selling names, often done to finance research.

“Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider” is weird and wonderful. It examines an important corner of science with a lighthearted look.

“Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels,” by Stephen B. Heard, Yale University Press, 2020, 256 pages, $28.00 (Hardcover)

A Higher Education Apocalypse? I Hope So.

 

Darling Daughter tells me the scuttlebutt among her college friends is that, if the school doesn’t reopen for business as usual in the fall, most of them intend to take a gap semester rather than doing the courses online. I’m sure that would be devastating for a great many of our colleges and universities, with their bloated administrations full of well-paid yet academically superfluous employees.

I’m not one to wish ill on businesses: I want the economy to come roaring back, businesses to reopen yesterday, everyone back at work as soon as possible. I’m pro-market, pro-business, pro-capitalism, pro-employer, pro-worker.

But I won’t mind at all if a bunch of colleges and universities fail, because I think our institutions of higher learning have become, in far too many cases, destructive of young minds and the ideas that made America great.

It’s hard to overstate how foolish and trivial America’s liberal arts programs have become. The obsession with identity, with victimization, and with fanciful sexuality has transformed what were once competent classes about literature and history and art and philosophy into soapboxes from which self-righteous intellectual mediocrities prattle on about imagined oppression and nonexistent genders. The young people who survive this incomprehensibly woke environment emerge debt-ridden and misinformed, unprepared for a world that can bend only so far in accommodation of their newly acquired intellectual confusion.

So, while it almost pains me to hope for the failure of any institution in these troubled times, I’m going to give a little cheer for every one of the nests of censorship and social justice and self-indulgent outrage that closes its doors. We can start with Middlebury and Evergreen.

I do hope STEM programs rebound. We need people who actually know something.

53 Transcripts: The Forrest Gump of Campaigns

 

A few days ago, the House Intelligence Committee finally released transcripts of 53 interviews it conducted in 2017-18 regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. Though the Committee had voted in November 2018 to release the transcripts after national security reviews for classified information were completed, new chairman Adam Schiff refused to do so until now because he had repeatedly lied to the media and public about what was said in those interviews and releasing the transcripts would show he was lying.

Under pressure from Acting DNI Richard Grenell, who publicly announced release was fine from a national security perspective and threatened to release the transcripts himself, Schiff finally relented.

I’ve now read 19 of the 53 interviews and will write at more length when finished but wanted to pass along some fascinating quotes. And, by the way, it’ll come as no surprise there is absolutely no evidence, direct or indirect, in what I’ve read so far of any collusion between the Trump campaign or Trump personally with the Russians.

The first quote is from the February 27, 2018, interview with Hope Hicks, Trump’s press secretary during the campaign and then communications director for the first couple of years of his presidency, given in response to questions about collusion with the Russians by the Trump campaign:

“Not to say that Russia’s interference wasn’t something to be taken seriously, but that our involvement in that was sort of laughable, given that we were like the Forrest Gump of campaigns. We couldn’t spell the address to our Iowa field office right and yet we colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the election. It was sort of a hilarious narrative to us.” (p.155)

In the interviews with Hicks and others, like Corey Lewandowski, the ramshackle, improvised nature of the Trump campaign comes through over and over again. They made amateurish mistakes and were incapable of pulling off a coordinated campaign of collusion. The Democrats on the panel must have been thinking, “how did we lose to these bozos?”.

Earlier in her interview, Hicks was asked about Trump’s private comments about Russia and she responded, “his private comments echo his public comments.” I think we all now know this to be true, for better and for worse. The President talks the same to us as he does with his staff.

On June 22, 2017, Dan Coats, then Director National Intelligence and former Senator, was interviewed by the committee. Coats was not personally close to Trump before or after his nomination to become DNI, but he recounted an extraordinary moment when meeting with the President a couple of days after his inauguration and an upset Trump suddenly started talking about Comey’s briefing on January 6, during which he was informed of the dossier and his alleged romp with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. According to Coats, the President said;

“I want to — I swear to you on the soul of my son, I had nothing to do with the prostitution. And for them to take me aside and raise this issue and then have it leaked, he said, how would you like it if — how do you go home and talk to your wife when it is plastered all over the place that you were using prostitutes in Russia and you are having your family hear that and having your son hear that?”. (p.13)

Given what we know now about the collusion hoax and the frame-up by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Mueller, and the media, you can really understand how Trump must have felt at the time.

Quote of the Day: Dear Mrs. Mattie Forrester

 

Here are the exact words that my grandmother, Mattie Forrester, received in a Western Union Telegram on December 1, 1944.

The Secretary of War
Desires me to express
His deep regret
That your son Walter
Was killed in action.
Letter to follow.

Reading that telegram must have been like a blow to grandma’s heart. A devout woman, Grandma must have prayed at night that her son Walter would survive the war and return to his hometown of Wanette, OK. But not even his remains would return. Walter was buried in a military cemetery in Italy.

My dad, who once rode horses bareback with his brother Walter on the dirt streets of the small town of Wanette, was 53 years old when he tracked down his brother’s gravestone in Italy and wept over it.

Postscript: That is a photo of Walter’s actual Purple Heart, which, along with the telegram mentioned in my post, is framed and hangs in our living room.

Walter was a ball-turret gunner on a B-17 (the Flying Fortress) on a mission to bomb a munitions factory in Austria when his plane was shot down by heavy artillery fire. Curled up in the ball turret attached to the belly of the plane, he must have known he was going to die as he watched a curtain of anti-aircraft shells rise from the ground and explode into flak all about him

I never knew Walter Forrester but I am terribly proud that he was a part of our family. He won’t be forgotten soon. I will pass on to my son Uncle Walter’s Purple Heart and the Western Union telegraph that my grandmother received.

Little Richard, RIP

 

One of the kings of rock-n-roll died Saturday at the age of 87. As a disc jockey in the ’70s, I loved to play his music in the early morning hours to keep my tiny audience of late-night workers sharp. His voice is now silent, but he is one of those singers who will live on in his music. Here’s my favorite:

.

The Bel-Air Circuit

 

“The Bel-Air Circuit” was once among the most inside-y of showbiz insider terms. Technically, it exists in no Hollywood rule book, but it’s one of the most important invisible, little known social networks of the film industry. For a century, the Bel Air Circuit (with or without the dash) has referred informally to envied members of the Los Angeles-based film industry so elite that they have professional projection facilities in their own homes, tiny but fully equipped 35mm movie theaters, to screen their own films as well as those of competitors. This was once incredibly rare.

Even today, these charming, oversized 1920s-to-’50s houses, these fake English manors and Versailles chateaus, keep coming up on the real estate market. They are worth far more because four discreet projection view ports cut high into the living room wall are silent testimony of the long-ago presence of glamour: Barbara Stanwyck, Irving Thalberg, Humphrey Bogart, or Ava Gardner.

It’s hard for us to imagine a time, less than 50 years ago, when no matter who you were, you basically couldn’t have a movie of your choice each night, to see in your home at a time of your choosing. You flat out couldn’t buy a copy of a feature film no matter how much money you offered. Even wealthy people in America’s other great cities and industries—Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, you name it, even haughty New York—didn’t have that privilege. By contrast, in Hollywood, once you were “in”—part of the so-called Bel Air circuit, you just placed a phone call, and a studio delivery man would bring you whatever current film you wanted for home viewing, no charge. This was elite privilege at its most rarefied.

Top actors and directors imitated their bosses and built their own home screening rooms once they had the money, or could bludgeon the studio into it. No matter what branch of show business you were tops in, the elite of five and ten and 15 years before were still clawing for influence, and sometimes regaining it. They’ve all got home screening rooms, too, a status symbol that nobody wants to surrender voluntarily.

On the negative side, it was also a pitiless mark of status, or the lack thereof: the week after you got sacked by Warners, you humbly learned what it was like to wait on the phone line on endless hold—you!—as if you were just some ordinary schmuck!, merely to find out whether or not Disney will still let your kids see Cinderella on Saturday. After all, it takes to become part of the Bel-Air circuit, it was tough, usually socially painful being nudged back out of it.

Let’s say: Harry Cohn at Columbia wants to see Metro’s Singin’ in the Rain Wednesday night. He’s on the list; he gets the movie. (Which, BTW, has a key scene in the home theater of a studio boss in Bel Air, the fictional first screening of a sound film.) Frank Sinatra wants to see The Best Years of Our Lives this weekend. Sam Goldwyn initials an OK and two heavy metal cans of film are dropped off at the kitchen entrance of Sinatra’s house.

No charge for the movie, anyway: actually screening it for family and friends cost a pretty penny. This was extremely expensive, so building home theaters and paying the projectionist who ran the machines was written into executive and star contracts. Few of the big shots complained, because few of the big shots paid for the screening room out of their own pockets. The studio picked up the tab. It was considered work, not fun.

For the top dozen executives at each of seven major studios and the entertainment divisions of each of the (then) three major networks, besides those prestigious evening screenings, it meant a daily hour of catching up on raw footage of yesterday’s filming, usually at 6 a.m. each workday morning. From roughly 1920 through the end of the century, this meant a projectionist had to come out to the house and run the machinery, often in two odd shifts: early morning and evening.

As noted, New York and other cities had plenty of exalted rich people too, but relatively few of them had this particular perk. New York screening rooms tend towards small and utilitarian, not sumptuous and in people’s living rooms. Because extremely few individuals owned 35mm copying or film laboratory equipment, and their work was so easily traceable, studios could operate on a trust system, lending films among themselves freely, with the certainty that bootleg copies would not be made.

Smart Hollywood social climbers like Sammy Davis, Jr., and young TV actors like “Rawhide” star Clint Eastwood learned to fake it a little, creating less formal home theaters in garages or other outbuildings, using 16mm projectors (no union operators, easy to use, reasonably pro-looking on a small enough screen) for an entertainment effect that impressed friends and girlfriends.

The latest films currently in theaters were exclusively in 35mm, but by the late ’50s, studios were making 16mm reduction copies for the armed forces and television. It required fewer and lesser studio connections to borrow these merely semi-pro film copies. Seeing any film at home that was in theaters only months ago was still impressive in an era decades before home video. Watching Never on Sunday in the cabana next to Sammy’s swimming pool might not have had quite the cachet of seeing Gone With the Wind in Clark Gable’s living room, but it still meant you were a member of the insiders club.

In the ’80s and ’90s, my wife worked for Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., and saw both sides of the Bel-Air circuit; the exclusive home theater that his father had built, and Goldwyn’s endless line of show business contacts who exchanged films with each other. Every Christmas, our household was blessed with veritable mountains of gifts from various celebs who appreciated the access my wife granted to Goldwyn films. Robes, gift cards, bottles of champagne, blankets, and other hundred-dollar trinkets, most of them no doubt also showing up in the offices of VIP handlers at every other studio in town. All part of the intangible goodwill that kept the Bel Air circuit going.

Gradually, the mystique of having a home screening room faded as cheaper technology made it available to more people. In the ’70s, audio manufacturer Advent marketed a novel projection TV for the home. (Some of the following history was covered in TV History: HDTV) The idea of a home theater for the masses—i.e., you and me—took hold. But classic TV wasn’t high definition, and without special technical tricks, those video screens didn’t even pretend to match film quality.

The Bel-Air circuit exists today, though vastly less even of elite Hollywood’s life revolves around 35mm film, the gorgeous but aged prima donna of the moving image. It no longer requires a union projectionist entering through the kitchen at 6 a.m. while a maid makes breakfast. On the other hand, there’s a much higher concern about illicit copying than there was in Hollywood’s golden era. In 2020, anybody with wall space and a thousand bucks can enjoy home screenings technically equal to anything a mogul had back in the day. That’s the change wrought by the blessings of better and cheaper technology.

But the ancient Hollywood sense of privilege, of power over the images to shape the emotions and minds of hundreds of millions of people; that hasn’t changed. Studio executives still rise at 5:30 to see all of the previous day’s filming and begin their round of browbeating phone calls.

The final decisions of what you see on screen will always be in the hands of a mere handful of people who guard their exclusive status carefully. And they’ll often be exerting that power at dawn, sitting in their bathrobes, sipping coffee, frowning, and making notes in the flickering light: Who to hire that day. Who to stroke. Who to badger and snipe at threateningly. And who to fire.

How to End Gov. Cuomo’s Tax Grab: Congress Should Enact Income Tax Reciprocity

 

You may have seen the stories over the past couple of days about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo promising to send tax bills to all the temporary workers who volunteered in or were deployed to his state to help their beleaguered hospitals and medical staff with coronavirus rescue and recovery.

There’s a way to fix that, and Congress can do it as part of their phase 4 recovery bill. Here’s how.

One of the issues I worked on a few years ago was preserving Pennsylvania’s and New Jersey’s personal income tax reciprocity agreement from 1977. Then-NJ Governor Chris Christie in 2016 infamously canceled the agreement in a budget dispute with the legislature, before reversing course. He underestimated how many people it adversely affected (some 250,000 in both states) and the political reaction to his antics.
What are reciprocity agreements? They allow citizens who live in one state while working in another to pay income taxes based on their legal residence, not where they work. If you lived, as I do, in Pennsylvania but work, as I did, in New Jersey, I paid PA (lower) income tax. Some 20 states have such agreements, most famously in the Washington, DC area between VA, MD, and DC, much to the chagrin of DC. Pennsylvania has six such agreements, including with Indiana.
So now we have Gov. Cuomo promising to send tax bills to emergency workers deployed to NY to help with coronavirus rescue efforts after he begged for (and received) such assistance. NY has no reciprocity agreements. It is not hard to figure out why.
New York City’s workforce includes tens if not hundreds of thousands of residents from neighboring Connecticut, New Jersey, and even Pennsylvania. All those workers pay New York income taxes (not to mention New York City’s infamous income or wage taxes). That’s a lot of money. A former New Jersey state treasurer once projected that the lack of a reciprocity agreement costs the state some $3 billion per year. Reciprocity agreements make a lot of sense since you’re likely using more public services (police, fire, schools, etc.) where you live than where you work.
So, if you work in NY for more than 14 days, even if you live in Virginia, you’ll get a tax bill from NY. Cuomo could ask his legislature to waive that requirement, but no, he wants your money.
If Congress insists on a phase 4 coronavirus relief/recovery package, they should, at a minimum, include personal income tax reciprocity for any emergency workers volunteering in, or deployed to another state to assist in coronavirus rescue, recovery, or mitigation. I think my friend, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is just the person to champion it. New York and all states who have suffered revenue losses from this are likely to get some form of a taxpayer bailout from Congress, anyway, so this is a no-brainer.
Who are these people Cuomo wants to tax? Essential workers, like doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, ambulance drivers, etc. You know, heroes. I wonder he’ll try to tax the estates of those workers who died from contracting coronavirus while working in New York? It would not surprise me if he did.

Member Post

 

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” …You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red!

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Ricochet COVID Symposium: The Grief of COVID

 

[Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of contributions from our members and friends about the hidden costs of the COVID crisis. You can read more about our symposium and how to contribute here.]

Right now, I am sitting on my sofa, a cup of tea, and my laptop in front of me. There is not much to do on a Saturday night in Milwaukee these days. Bars, restaurants, and movie theaters remain closed under Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” orders, which may or may not expire May 26. We’re waiting on a ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court challenging the authority of Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Human Services to implement and enforce the shelter-in-place orders that have ground the economy, and life as we knew it, to a halt.

I call this “Venezuela lite.” Grocery stores and places like Walmart are also limiting capacity. Shelves are emptier than I have ever seen them, including the meat counter, and we are herded in and out of one fenced-off entrance or exit like cattle. The little things we took for granted – being able to wander freely around a store – are now strongly discouraged, if not outright banned.

If that were not enough, and it is for a lot of people, I am also one of those frontline “heroes” we hear so much about. I hate the term “hero.” I am doing my job. Never in a million years did I think the early years of my career would see a pandemic. It is not something they prepare you for in school. But I can tell you, here, at my smaller community hospital (part of a larger healthcare system), we are not overwhelmed. We have some patients who are positive for COVID, and I have cared for them. Some end up in the ICU. Some have passed away. Yet we are not overrun.

Despite that, all elective procedures were canceled. My unit, and another entire floor, were emptied to increase bed capacity for the surge of cases that has not yet come, and probably never will. My hospital system is hemorrhaging cash. Staff – those frontline heroes – are being furloughed. Layoffs and pay cuts are a real possibility.

A year ago, I was laid off from my first full-time nursing job, when the small long-term acute care hospital I was at closed its doors. It too had been hemorrhaging cash and that was pre-COVID. The anxiety of losing another job, and its benefits, with three boys at home during the worst economy in nearly 100 years is ever-present. The anxiety gets worse when I see fellow medical professionals dancing on TikTok; it shows just how not busy some of us are despite news reports to the contrary, which means the public respect for nursing is going to erode. I know my respect for some of my colleagues has.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the emergency room because I was not feeling well. The wonderfully kind doctor at urgent care ran labs, thinking perhaps I had contracted COVID. She found instead elevated liver enzymes and I was sent to the hospital where I was diagnosed with mono, which had caused some hepatitis and will require another procedure in June to fix a dysfunctional bile duct. If the state allows it. We do not know yet.

So many “elective” procedures are delayed. And so many people think “elective” procedures are all akin to cosmetic surgery – something the patient wants but does not need. That is not true. Elective merely means not emergent, but it covers a slew of things – knee replacements, breast cancer biopsies, heart catheterizations. Even the procedure I need to have to prevent another bout of hepatitis in the future is “elective” but absolutely something I need.

But perhaps the worst of all of this is losing my dad. Today, May 9, marks one month since he passed away. He woke up one morning in late March with another cellulitis infection in his leg. He had had several over the years, so the procedure was almost routine to us: a few days in the hospital, IV antibiotics, and some inpatient rehab to build his strength back up. He was septic and so disoriented he was trying to call someone on his phone and did not realize the phone was not in his hand. We called 911.

The only reason I was able to accompany him to the emergency room is because of his disorientation. I had to wear a mask and was screened before I was allowed in. They started dad on fluids and IV antibiotics and admitted him to the hospital. I could not go with him to the floor, nor could we visit him. He was alone for a few days until I snuck up to see him before my weekend shift started.

Unfortunately, this infection was too much. The IV antibiotics and fluids given to combat the sepsis overloaded his system; he was given a diuretic to get the fluid off and his kidneys were irreparably damaged. Without being able to see dad, or his doctors, in person, we made decisions over the phone. Dad decided he did not want dialysis or what he called “heroic measures”, so we made him a DNR patient and began plans for home hospice. We were determined that, unlike so many people – both COVID and non – my father would not die in the hospital alone. On April 2, dad came home with hospice.

The hospice nurses were amazing, but they too were limited by the virus. When dad was discharged, his doctor said we had two or three weeks, and the hospice nurses said we had maybe a week. Under normal circumstances, they would see someone like my dad daily. They would provide support for the family as we walked through the dying process together. We, instead, had to settle for phone calls. His nurse came out twice in the week he was home. It was on me, and to a lesser extent, my mother and brother, to care for him around the clock. Give him meds, bathe him, make sure he was comfortable. He died on April 9. The hospice nurse who came to pronounce his time of death apologized she couldn’t hug us.

What followed was an absolute travesty that denied my family the opportunity to grieve properly and my father – a Vietnam-era Navy veteran – the funeral he deserved. My dad a social man. If there was a funeral, even for someone dad knew for a week 20 years prior, dad paid his respects. We were unable to return that favor. Dad was also a man of deep faith and wanted a church funeral. He could not have that, either. Even the military honors he had earned were truncated. We had a short visitation at the funeral home. In total, eight people including five immediate family members came to pay respects to a man who had touched so many lives. At the cemetery, his pastor said a few prayers at the graveside and we dispersed. As his pastor read from Scripture, I stood by the casket and sobbed, alone, because we all had to stay ten feet apart. There was no luncheon. There was no opportunity to laugh or cry with loved ones. There were not even any hugs. This was inhuman. We vowed to have a memorial service. Maybe on June 12, dad’s 74th birthday.

And now, yesterday, my governor sat in front of the cameras and told us this isolated hellscape is our new reality, that things going back to normal “is not going to happen,” and we need to suck it up and deal. In 20 seconds, his doom-and-gloom proclamation managed to shatter the last vestige of hope I had had for some semblance of normalcy in all of this: the memorial service for my father. It has shattered me emotionally and mentally, and I have done nothing but cry since I saw the video. This is not a tenable long-term. Like most people, I was willing to give it two weeks to prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed. No one agreed to this lockdown being a way of life.

What we need, desperately, is hope and optimism. We look to our elected officials to provide it. What Governor Evers gave us was a mouthful of bitter hopelessness. He, like so many others, have shown absolutely zero consideration for the long term mental, emotional, social, and economic effects this continued lockdown poses to everyone. They have sown fear, discord, and suspicion while telling us “we’re all in this together.” The suffering of people like me and many others who have lost family to both COVID and non-COVID causes, as well as the millions who have lost work and income and businesses is wholly ignored. Or worse, our concerns and our opinions about maybe loosening restrictions are derided as selfish, politically motivated, or even downright murderous. It is painfully obvious we are not, in fact, all in this together.

Member Post

 

What an extraordinary thing! I encountered my first case of censorship on Facebook this morning, and it involved complaints about the legality of the government response to COVID-19. The Fully Re-Open California FB page contained a post asking how to enforce civil liberties abridged by the lock-down orders. Included in the post was a quotation […]

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Flyover

 

Sometimes you just have to sift through all the bad news and find something that might seem to be a small gesture. A fleeting moment of joy to be sure, but you take what you can get. I have been fortunate enough to have seen both the Blue Angels, and the Thunderbirds fly in airshows. On Friday, the Oregon Air National Guard conducted F-15 flyovers of hospitals in Vancouver, Washington, and the Portland Metro area. This video shows the combined flyover by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds over the City of New York.

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Elections Have Consequences: A Tale in Two Tweets

 

From the local executive and judges to the presidency of the United States, all offices matter. People who have long been complacent, accepting of local officials, have had their eyes opened by public officials’ responses to COVID-19. Those offices and names way down the long ballot are suddenly obviously affecting peoples’ lives. Now, We the People are without excuse this election year and in the off-year elections ahead. Elections have consequences for you and me. Consider the local office of an elected judge.

Local residents can affirm the behavior of Eric Moyé or reject it, making clear that judges are servants, not masters, of the public that elects them. Elections have consequences, and it was the fault of Texas Republicans that Moyé felt so secure in his position. They failed to put up any candidate against him in the last election cycle.

This year, just before the government started ordering people out of work, a serious woman stood up and entered the arena. Jessica Voyce Lewis practices bankruptcy law, which is coming around again as a very steady job with the massive shock to our economy. She started out representing poor tenants against slum lords. No one else had the courage or conviction to enter the race, so she won the primary uncontested for district judge, 14th Civil District. Jessica Voyce Lewis is a serious candidate running a serious race.

We need such good people everywhere, as we should all now be aware. Those blank lines on ballots, where the Republicans turned Republican’ts, invite abuse of office. After all, who is going to hold such office holders to account?

Member Post

 

Metropolis, Illinois mayor Billy McDaniel posted this letter to his constituents on Facebook this past Friday (emphasis mine): Folks- We are 1 week into the modified executive order and a few reminders are in order: 1. Non-essential businesses: Curbside pickup does not include sidewalk sales. Those are prohibited. 2. Non-essential businesses: Customers are not allowed […]

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Mother’s Day: No Laughing Matter

 

I realized something for the first time when my kids were of an age for sleepovers and birthday parties: dads are funnier than moms.

I might have noticed it in my own house if it wasn’t right under my nose. My husband was the one to get on the floor and wrestle, start sock fights, and make jokes when it was time to get serious. That’s not to say I could never be found on the floor with kids crawling all over me, but there’s something different about mommy wrestling as opposed daddy wrestling–a certain lack of abandon and goofiness. My daughter would come home from a party or church event with stories about how Cheri’s dad had made them laugh while driving them to the skating rink, or how Leslie’s dad had played a stupid trick that backfired. It was never the moms. Mothers could certainly be fun (I’d like to think I was. Maybe. Sometimes.), but seldom funny.

Several years ago Jerry Lewis made a controversial statement when asked who his favorite female comedians were.  His answer: None, because women aren’t funny. That raised a stink among women, many of whom seriously protested that they were funny—which kind of proved his point, in a way.  I would say that women aren’t funny in the same way.  They can be witty (as my mother was), clever, sharp, catty, artless, or charming, but there’s a reason male standup comics far outnumber females, and it doesn’t have much if anything to do with discrimination.  Of those few successful female comics, most of them are known for the mordant kind of humor: the biting, even bitter kind.  It’s because women, more than men, have a tragic view of life.  And that’s because of one thing: women have babies.

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. (Gen. 3:16)

The Pain

The obvious interpretation of Genesis 3:16 limits the pain to labor and delivery.  But the pain of bearing a child lasts a lifetime, and it’s a particular pain that fathers, for the most part, do not share.  That’s because of the essential differences between the two:

Fatherhood is by choice; motherhood by necessity.

Fatherhood is dogmatic; motherhood is organic.

Fatherhood is straightforward; motherhood is serpentine and multi-faceted.

Fatherhood is tangential; motherhood is central.

Fathers are distinct; mothers are intimate.

At the back of a mother’s mind lurks a gigantic fear that something could happen to her baby, even if her baby is 45 years old.  The world yawns wide for our children: busy streets and nefarious strangers, fast cars and bad company, drunk drivers, sexual predators, drug dealers, gang leaders.  A good father will experience these same fears, but probably not until there’s some pretext for them (fewer what-if speculations for Dad).

Also, from the day our babies are born, we have to start letting go of them, and sometimes it’s hard to know when. And how.  It isn’t just a matter of teaching them to crawl, walk, run, and drive; it’s teaching ourselves to stop identifying with them.  They were us; how can they stop being us?  When does their behavior stop being our responsibility?  When do their choices no longer reflect on our child-raising skills?

The Gain

And yet, a great irony: The more a mother clings to her child, the smaller motherhood becomes.  The true joy of mothering increases with every step your child takes away from you.  Conceiving, carrying, bearing, and delivering a baby into this world is the beginning of the pain, but also of the gain: a mature human being with his or her own personality, gifts, and vision.  That’s the goal, and I challenge anyone to name me a better one.  No six-figure income or tabloid-worthy career even comes close.  Motherhood is a double investment in life: the opportunity to grow up again by experiencing its primary discoveries through the eyes of a child and the understanding of a grownup, and the chance to pay it forward with a human being who will make the world a slightly better place.

If a grown child causes more grief than joy (and a lot of them do), moms should check their expectations to make sure they are not looking for Mini-me: someone who thinks and acts like mom and agrees with 95% of her political and theological positions.  (If you actually ended up with a kid like that, you’re either very exceptional or your son or daughter got swapped for a Stepford child somewhere down the line.)

But say your expectations were reasonable and your child-raising skills were at least adequate.  What went wrong?  Maybe nothing; maybe it’s time to let disappointing children become themselves, and answer for themselves. Trust God with them.  They are still human beings with immortal souls.  Yours will always be the first warm touch they felt, the first loving voice they heard. You pushed them out and raised them up—this is the great human enterprise, and mothers are right in the middle of it.

That’s not funny.  But it’s phenomenal.

Quote of the Day: Blaming and Finding Fault

 

“Let those who are fond of blaming and finding fault while they sit safely at home ask, ‘Why did you not do thus and so?’ I wish they were on this voyage. I well believe that another voyage of a different kind awaits them, or our faith is naught.” — Christopher Columbus, Lettera Rarissima to the Sovereigns, Fourth Voyage (7 July 1503), quoted in Admiral of the Ocean Sea, by Samuel Morison

Columbus’ choice of language was more genteel and diplomatic than Morison’s paraphrase of his sentiment: in other words, they can go to hell. Teddy Roosevelt echoed the sentiment more than 400 years later in his “man in the arena” speech. Men of great accomplishment have surely been frustrated by their critics throughout the ages. Columbus was well aware of his contemporary critics, but he could not have known how many people would be denouncing him more than 500 years after his death. I find it reassuring that he anticipated all the elite progressives and liberal arts students who protest any recognition of his accomplishments, while enjoying the relative safety and comfort of modern life. And it’s a fitting rejoinder for many people today who write tweets or columns, but never shoulder the burden of taking action.

A Cross Between Albert Einstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger…

 

… the body of Albert Einstein and the mind of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Early in the Wuhan virus outbreak, we had a choice between two distinct paths: we could broadly shut down the country, creating an obvious economic disaster in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus; or we could isolate what we believed to be the most at-risk population, the elderly and sick, and allow the economy to continue functioning.

New York City chose a hybrid approach: shut down the economy and put Wuhan-positive seniors into nursing homes where they could infect the other residents. For whatever reason, the powers that be doomed both the economy and the elderly.

In the meantime, some of us who live a few hundred miles from New York City, in counties where ICU beds are empty and ventilators are unused, would like to get our hair cut. Last I heard, that might be deemed permissible next month.