Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. For What It’s Worth (Pt. 1): Happy Vietnam Veterans Day

 

I’m not sure how many Vietnam veterans might be out there in Ricochet Land. Perhaps a few; perhaps none. Our numbers are dwindling; we’re beginning to die out for one reason or another. Just yesterday, my VFW post provided the Honor Guard for another burial.

With each burial, it’s difficult for me to not think about my own approaching mortality. And, it’s equally difficult for me to not think about the path that took me nearly 9,000 miles from my home.

I graduated from my small rural high school on a Saturday night, 29 May 1965. Two days later, I was on a bus with several other recruits bound for Fort Knox, KY. I had a number of reasons for enlisting at the age of 17. Like a lot of other guys in my graduating class, my parents didn’t have the money to send me to college. As my other choice was to get a job at the local steel mill, I didn’t really agonize over my decision; it was time to put Appalachia in my rearview mirror. I suppose that there might also have been an element of patriotism that went into my thinking. However, I believe that for many of us on that bus, there was also a feeling of “it’s just my turn.” Our grandfathers had fought in World War I and our fathers and uncles, part of the “Greatest Generation,” had fought in World War II. If they hadn’t hesitated to put their lives on the line, why should we be any different?

Nine weeks of boot camp, another 12 weeks of advanced training, followed by an 11-month assignment in Japan. Finally, it was time; in October of 1966, I arrived at my base camp in Bien Hoa, South Vietnam.

In terms of terrain, South Vietnam was not a lot different from many other places that American troops had been in battle. I would compare the area that I was in (the III and IV Corps) to Guadalcanal or parts of the Philippines. (Since I spent my entire 13-month tour in those areas, I can’t speak directly to the topography of I Corps or II Corps. However, they were distinctly different from what I encountered.)

Owing to the use of the helicopter (for troop movement, medical evacuation, and close fire support) there were naturally some changes in tactics. However, once American troops closed with the enemy, fighting was no different than on the battlegrounds I previously mentioned; violent, sometimes confused and always bloody. We didn’t have many named battles; nothing like Anzio or Iwo Jima which would be forever etched in history (Ia Drang and Khe Sanh being two of the exceptions). Instead, we had a long series of operations with forgettable names that have long since disappeared from memory. (I only remember Cedar Falls and Junction City since I was in them.)

When I arrived at my unit (roughly equivalent to the Corps level of World War II) I was assigned to the combined G2/3 (Operations and Intelligence). Upon arrival, I noticed that my duty MOS had been changed to an 11F (Infantry Operations and Intelligence Specialist; an MOS that no longer exists). I was a bit startled at this but I needn’t have been; at the Corps level, it was entirely different from the LRRP snake eaters that went out for weeks at a time. That folks like myself and LRRPs sometimes shared the same MOS was evidently another of the jokes that the Army sometimes played on the enlisted folks. Other than a couple of dicey helicopter rides, an occasional mortaring and a few snipings, my time in Vietnam was much better than that of a Rifleman in the line. (For the Rifleman’s MOS, 11B, it was often suggested that the “B” stood for “Bullet Stopper.”)

When people ask me what I did in Vietnam, almost all of them are taken aback when I tell them that I was a heavily armed bean counter. It sounds strange but that’s what it amounted to. In World War II, success was relatively easy to measure; the amount of territory taken from the enemy, or the number of miles advanced in a particular time period. True, the US had been concerned with “body counts” but it was almost secondary to that of territory seized. Vietnam was entirely different.

In Vietnam, we counted everything. Enemy bodies, weapons, types of weapons, rice captured (yes, rice). You name it, we counted it. Within III and IV Corps there were three infantry divisions, one armored cavalry regiment, and two light infantry brigades. All were expected to report, on an almost daily basis, their “numbers” measuring their success (or lack of it). From rifle companies, to their battalions, then to their divisions and finally, to us at Corps, came the data. Mostly, the data came to us by courier. When it didn’t, it was up to me and a few others to go get it, either by jeep or chopper. Like the mail, the data had to go through. Then, it was up to us to aggregate the data and send it on to US Army Vietnam. From there, it went on to the “Statistician in Chief”, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Strange McNamara.

In 1966, a lot of us didn’t realize it yet but we were in a war that was being managed, not led. More importantly, the reliance on statistics and quantitative analysis made our endeavor seem more like a corporation to be run rather than an Army in which leadership was paramount.

At the Corps level, I certainly had a different view of the war than a rifleman in an infantry division. And, even at the green age of 19, I could see that there were things that didn’t seem to make much sense. On one wall of the G2/3, there was a giant map of the III and IV Corps. At any time, one could look at the map and see where fighting was taking place and the units involved in the action. I thought about that map nearly five years later as I was watching the movie “Patton.. There’s a line in it in which Patton said to one of his British counterparts, “I don’t pay for the same real estate twice, Freddie.” When I heard that line, I snickered to myself. That’s exactly what we did in Vietnam; paying for the same territory time after time.

Yes, yes, I know. That’s the nature of “guerrilla warfare,” or “counterinsurgency” or as we hear today (mostly from “experts” trying to make themselves look smart), “asymmetric warfare.” Still, I had to wonder, why didn’t McNamara seem to care how many times our units had to go back and fight over the same piece of territory?

At times, it seemed to me that we were making up doctrine and tactics on the fly. Some were a remarkable success; others were a dismal failure. It has to be remembered that we were at the height of the Cold War. A large portion of our troops was stationed around the Fulda Gap, waiting for a Soviet invasion that never came. Another large portion was in Korea, stationed there for the same purpose. Years later, I came across a quote from General Omar Bradley which pertained to the Korean War, “The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.” I think that many of us who made the trip probably felt the same way toward Vietnam.

Still, we soldiered on. In 1966, most of us still had the idea that we were there to win. After all, didn’t LBJ himself (on his visit to Cam Ranh Bay) tell us to “put the coonskin on the wall?” In reality, there were two Vietnam wars; the first from 1964 to 1968 and the second from 1969 to the withdrawal. In the first part of the war, troop morale was fairly high; in the second part, not so much. In the first part, drug use was minimal and fraggings were almost non-existent. In the second part, drug use went up and fraggings became more frequent.

For me, the months went by. Inside the G2/3, I became familiar with terms like “Free Fire Zones,” Strategic Hamlets,” and “Chieu Hoi.” Outside the G2/3, I became familiar with the terms “Lifer,” “Ticket Puncher,” “REMF,” and “Short Timer.” (Not to be confused with a “Short Time,” which was more or less a business transaction.) I learned the three classes of officer: ROTC (usually OK), Mustangs (sometimes OK), and West Pointers (aka, “Ring Knockers” to be avoided at all costs). I learned what the phrase “Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror” truly meant.

Finally, I penciled in the last day on my “Short Timer’s Calendar.” It was time to go back to “the real world,” the “land of round-eyed women.” I can still remember walking out to get on the plane and stopping short in my tracks. The fuselage of the Braniff 707 was painted a bright orange (with silver wings). I was thinking to myself that it was going to make a great target when I got to the ramp and looked up at the flight attendants. They were all dressed in these wild Pucci outfits that barely came down to their mid-thigh. All of us waiting in line just stared at them; I don’t remember a single word being passed. Even though the plane was packed, it took less than 15 minutes for us to get seated. As we were taxiing out, the entire plane was deathly quiet; none of us wanted to add to the KIA on our last day.

As the plane lifted off, the silence continued. Finally, after one or two minutes, there was a bit of tentative applause followed by a loud ovation. I think the sentiment of “My God, I’m actually going to survive” was being felt by every GI on board. I glanced over at one of my seatmates. His eyes were shut; his hands were clasped. He was clearly giving thanks that he was still alive, in one piece, and going home.

Because I still had seven months left on my hitch, Uncle Sam was determined to get his money’s worth. So, in its infinite wisdom, the Army assigned me as an instructor (at the ripe old age of 20) to an Army Reserve unit. The reservists looked at me with an air of curiosity and, perhaps, some envy. At that time, the Reserve and Guard were havens for those who wished to avoid Vietnam. In some places, a person had to have “connections” to even get on a waiting list for a unit. I didn’t really have any animosity toward those guys; I just wanted to get my time in. Finally, my time was up and I was, again, a civilian. However, I was to find out that my time in Vietnam hadn’t exactly endeared me to many of my countrymen.

In 1968, Vietnam War protests were a daily occurrence, especially on college campuses. In an attempt to avoid any potential conflicts, I quickly donned the “uniform”; faded jeans, ragged sweatshirt, and an army surplus store fatigue jacket. (My own jacket still had all my rank and unit insignia, so that was out of the question.) I let my hair grow long and cultivated a Fu-Manchu that would have made Joe Namath envious.

I had heard of numerous incidents in which returning veterans had been spat on and harassed. However, during my undergraduate career, I didn’t have all that many problems. Sure, I heard veiled references directed toward us “baby killers” every now and then but my strategy of keeping a low profile kept me from any classroom confrontations. However, for Vietnam veterans, there was one area from which we could not protect ourselves and that was Hollywood and the Mass Media.

I’m not sure when I initially noticed the negative portrayal of Vietnam veterans. I didn’t watch television too much in those first few years after my return to civilian life. Since I was working and going to school, I didn’t have much time; evenings and weekends were largely spent in the library. However, in the little time I spent in front of the TV I began to see a pattern, especially in the cop shows, where the villain in the episode would be some sort of deranged, drugged-up Vietnam veteran. Shootings, stabbings, kidnappings, exploding vehicles and buildings; they were all crimes in the Vietnam veteran’s wheelhouse. In the book, From Hanoi to Hollywood, the point was made that “The Vietnam vet would play a strung-out, criminal psychotic who could go off at the sound of a backfire. During the 1974 TV season, for instance, the vet was seen as a hired killer on Columbo, as a drug-dealing sadistic murderer on Mannix, as a suspected yet innocent murderer on The Streets of San Francisco, as a shakedown artist on Cannon, and as a “returned hero” who “blew up himself, his father and a narcotics lab” on Hawaii Five-0. In each instance, the vet threatens law and order, with a criminality founded on his tour in ‘Nam. These were not isolated instances. Throughout the 1970s, it was difficult to turn on a cop show and not see a Vietnam vet portrayed as the villain.

The movies were even worse. The list of movies that portrayed us as psychotic killers and losers would fill more pages than I have for this posting. Even my hero, Dirty Harry Callahan, had an episode in which the villain was a sadistic Vietnam vet (labeled a “paddy jumper” by one of the characters in the movie). In the finale of the movie, Harry cheerfully obliterates the scoundrel with a shoulder-fired rocket.

Even when he was not portrayed as a killer, the Vietnam vet was still a goofball. As From Hanoi to Hollywood pointed out, “When the early 1970s had depicted him — never her — as a mad threat to law and order, the late 1970s turned him into an always irreverent slightly crazed eccentric who was subject to the occasional flashback.” Not much of an improvement.

Everyone in the United States should have asked themselves, “Why, why are our veterans being portrayed in this manner?” It doesn’t take much in the way of brainpower to realize that E-3s, E-4s, and E-5s do not make policy. So why did the Hollywood fat cats consider us as fair game for their anti-war propaganda?

The net result from this, as the authors of From Hanoi to Hollywood note, “Being a veteran was not something to be proud of, as it had been historically. Rather, it was something to forget or hide.” And, that is exactly what I did. When I graduated from college and entered the job market, I did not list my military service on my resume. In any job interview, if an eagle eye in HR asked me about the three-year gap from my high school to college entrance, I would quietly say that I had been in the military and inwardly hope that I would not be penalized for it. (In his excellent book, Stolen Valor, author D.G. Burkett recounts one of his first job interviews, this one at an Atlanta bank. The executive looked at his resume and abruptly stopped reading. “I’m not hiring any Vietnam vets”, he exclaimed as he ripped up Burkett’s resume. “I’m going to get a cup of coffee and I don’t want you here when I get back.” He then got up and walked out of his office.) It seems that there were different ways of spitting on the troops and this “executive” had found his.

It seemed that the final nail was driven into our coffin by an individual who was purportedly one of our own and that person would be John Forbes Kerry. In testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kerry solemnly swore that American troops had told him that “they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside…”

Supposedly, the source of this grotesque behavior came from a group known as the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Actually, I had attended a meeting of this group shortly after it was formed, more from curiosity than anything else. What I found at the meeting was a group of guys who were throwing around language like “bring down the imperialist American war machine” and things of that nature. Some of them looked a bit “off” and when I would ask them where, in Vietnam, they had been, they became somewhat evasive. That was my first and only encounter with the group.

Later, I found out that the “Executive Secretary” of the VVAW was a creature by the name of Al Hubbard who claimed that he had been a pilot (Captain) in the Air Force and that he had been wounded flying a transport into Da Nang in 1966. After many years of carrying on this charade, it was discovered that he had no record of being in Vietnam; that his highest rank had been as an E-5 and that his only injuries had been sustained playing basketball.

However, Kerry’s testimony, as false (and ludicrous) as it was, tarnished our honor for years to come. To this day, I hate him with a cold passion. In the 2004 Presidential election, I was asked several times why I would vote for a “draft dodger.” My answer was always the same. I didn’t know about Kerry’s “Christmas in Cambodia.” I didn’t care about the circumstances surrounding his receiving the Silver Star. I didn’t even care about his three (dubious) Purple Hearts. What I cared about was the fact that he slandered each and every man and woman that went to Vietnam. He personally trashed the name of every man and woman on that black rock known as the Vietnam Memorial. And, he did it for no other reason than to score cheap political points. He wasn’t just awarded my hatred; he earned it. (Oh, by the way, did I mention that I despise John Kerry?)

But, by 1986, some changes of heart began to emerge and much of that change came with the release of Platoon. On the cover of Newsweek was a picture of the movie cast with the heading of “Vietnam as It Really Was.” Two weeks after the movie opened in Atlanta, a friend at work stopped by my office and said, “You know, I didn’t really know what you guys went through.” I smiled at him. I wanted to tell him that he still didn’t know; he had learned what Oliver Stone had wanted him to know. Still, it was a beginning. (I still haven’t see Platoon although I did buy the soundtrack from the movie. “Adagio for Strings” is one of my favorite pieces of music.)

Suddenly, to be a Veteran veteran was “in.” People at the office that I barely knew seemed eager to strike up a conversation. “Did you get shot at?” (yes) “Did you get hit?” (no) And, of course, my favorite, “Did you kill anyone?” (not that I was aware of) Once in a while, a question would come right out left field, “Did you see Bob Hope?” (No, but I did see Nancy Sinatra. In a white miniskirt with white boots up to her knees; she was magnificent.)

The most bizarre of those who sought to strike up a conversation were guys who generally started out, “Well, I was never in the military, but I know this guy who was in Vietnam and he told me that…” With these guys, I would just inwardly sigh and fold my arms. I knew that I was about to hear some tale of derring-do. Maybe it would be a gory recounting of a firefight; maybe it would be about some interrogation in which a VC would be thrown from a helicopter in flight. These guys always puzzled me. Were they trying to compensate for their lack of military service by calling in their “imaginary friend?”

Still, I wasn’t rude to any of them. It was much better than being called a “baby killer.” Eventually though, the thought struck me; nearly 15 years before, Hollywood portrayed me as a vicious murdering psychotic to these very same people, and they believed it. Now, Hollywood was telling them that maybe I wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and these folks did a complete 180-degree turn in their thinking. What was going on? Did they not have the ability to comprehend anything beyond what Hollywood told them?

Read Part 2 here.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Virgin Experience: Pizza Delivery

 

We’ve never had food delivered to our home. It always seemed so extravagant. So when we’ve had a craving for pizza, ordinarily we’d just eat at our favorite pizza place, LeMay’s. But those plans were not in the offing, given the annoying virus situation.

So we were going to call in a pick-up order, and I would go into the shop to pick it up. But the idea of standing in a crowded pick-up area, handing over a credit card, and wondering how many people had touched my pizza and the box—well, it was just too much for me. We figured there would be much less exposure and touching of pizza-related items if we requested delivery, even for a five-dollar delivery fee plus tip.

Delivery required an hour’s allotment of time. The delivery boy was actually early and very friendly. The pizza was still hot. My husband handled the box gingerly and we removed the pizza with surgical precision onto a large platter. And we promptly threw the box in the trash.

It was the perfect execution of a plan. I guess we’ve graduated from the hoi polloi into the delivery elite!

I could get used to pizza delivery.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Poison Pen

 

I saw the most extraordinary thing.

A friend of mine owns a pizza restaurant and though on limited service – to-go food only, per the health department – is having trouble keeping his place staffed. That sounds odd right now when most of the service industry is clamoring for whatever money can be had, but waiters are paid less than three dollars an hour. That’s fine. After tips, they end up making more than just about anybody in the house if they don’t sneer a lot. Sometimes even if they do.

But now there is no table service, so now there are not as many tips to go around. As a waiter you can, if over the course of a pay period you don’t make more than the federal minimum wage once tips are included, require your employer to make you whole – up to the minimum.

He was willing to pay them the minimum despite the dire financial forecast for his business, but that was asking people who were accustomed to and budgeted for making at least twenty dollars an hour. Seven dollars and 25 cents doesn’t pay the bills. The newest employees went on to the hope of other opportunities and he was left with a core of long time folks. With the dwindling number, he was able to pay them more hourly and people have been surprisingly generous with their take-out order tips. No one is making as much as before, but muddling by is probable.

The other day the anchor of his staff, who is dear to me, lost one of her grandchildren. It wasn’t the Chinese Flu. The poor kid had been in a vegetative state since he was twelve. Earlier this week at age sixteen he passed. I used to have her job some 20 years plus ago and as I mentioned, I was friends with the owner.

I volunteered to fill in if needed. It’s not like I had anything else to do. I didn’t so much work as be there to help out as needed. Basically I watched Jeopardy, some old baseball games that were re-aired, and occasionally tested the draught beer to be sure it wasn’t going bad. Occasionally I answered the phone. Take out can be brisk, but it doesn’t require that many people to run it smoothly.

It was interesting to see how different people were reacting to contact with others.

There were exceptions: one guy was basically in a hazmat suit and another delivered a pretty tight and seemingly well-rehearsed diatribe warning that Covid 19 was caused by cell phone radiation and the governments of the world were conspiring to cover up that fact, but most of the drivers for various delivery apps were indifferent to the possibility of infection.

People who were not employed to pick up food were all over the place. Some had gloves, some mumbled about all the nonsense (few used the word nonsense), and some would go so far as to pay by phone and request that their food be left in front of the building. For the most part, I don’t judge. I don’t know how compromised someone’s immune system is so I won’t fault them for their precautions, but there was this one woman.

She came into the building. There were three others waiting for their orders and then there were the three front-of-house employees. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable being in proximity to so many people.

She helped herself to the Purell by the register and then retreated to an unoccupied area. When her pizza was ready, she gave her credit card to the cashier and then started railing about the fact that she was signing with a pen that had been touched by others. She was pretty rude.

“You are spreading this contagion!” she howled before storming out as best you can storm when the register is eight or so feet from the exit.

The pen was a breaking point.

There was a moment of “Wait…what?” after she left followed by customer and employee laughter.

We all started pointing out the obvious. She handed a credit card to another person and was thus complicit in spreading the contagion. She took back the credit card mixing the cashier’s cooties with her own. She took the pizza box knowing it had been touched by others. There was Purell she was welcome to after she touched the offending pen.

I pointed out that she might have an aneurism when she realizes how many people have touched the push/pull door pad thingamajiggy that she used to exit into the rest of the world post kinda storming.

I always thought that adults understood that writing instruments rarely come in single-use sterilized packages. Immediately after writing that sentence, I thought about the fact that to get to whatever is inside any sterilized package you have to have contact with the unsterilized outside of that package. Who touched the outside of your box of latex gloves?

There lies madness.

What I’m seeing, and I’d like people’s opinion on this, is that people have differing views of the world. I hate to be one of those “There are two types of people” people, but divides are everywhere.

I’ve always been of the opinion that the natural world was out to kill me. If you want a sense of my thoughts, to steal an analogy from Robert Conquest, this essay is just over a thousand words. Statistically, by the end of the day, per the CDC, 2,000 children will have died from contagious diarrhea worldwide. That’s two deaths for every word you have just read and that’s just today. We have contained that disease in most of the western world, but threats are out there. I feel like I’m watching more people than I expected waking up to my point of view.

So many are in complete panic. So many are exasperated. Do we quarantine or resume our lives?

There will be people who say the answer is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never ascribed to that view. If someone wants to kill me and I don’t want to be killed the compromise would be what, a light beating? No thanks. There is a right answer and sometimes it might be an extreme. I’d like to hear what people think.

But for the sake of my sanity, if you are freaking out about the possibility of getting infected, bring your own damn pen.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Update: A New Projection for the US

 

There’s a new COVID-19 projection for the US, released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Our friend Rodin has an excellent post on the subject, earlier today (here). Special thanks to Rodin for all of his work on this, keeping us updated with daily posts for over a month now.

The IHME has an interactive page about its projections here. It has excellent graphs and tabular information, with a drop-down menu allowing you to focus on a particular state. The purpose of this post is to provide you with a state-by-state summary.

Before getting to this, I’m going to comment on one of the IHME graphs posted by Rodin, showing their projection of total deaths in the US:

As you can see, the projection follows the expected S-curve shape, and reaches a total of about 80,000. This is significant, but is pretty close to the total for a bad seasonal flu. The shaded areas show their high and low projections, while the dotted line is their main projection. The low projection is 32,766, and the high projection is 179,726.

For the rest of this post, I’ll use their main projections, but you should realize that these are estimates within a range. You should also realize that this is just a projection, and may be correct or incorrect. The IMHE data can be downloaded, in Excel-compatible format, via a link at the bottom of their page.

Here is a chart of IHME projected deaths by state, in alphabetical order.

This chart shows total counts by state, without adjusting for population, so naturally the big states like California, Texas, and New York have the highest figures. To put it in perspective, here is the same data expressed in projected deaths per million. This chart also shows the nationwide projection at the top.

This chart allows us to see the states projected to suffer the most, with tiny Vermont expected to have the most deaths per capita, followed by New York, Missouri, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan.

In addition to deaths, the IMHE projects the shortfall of available hospital beds and ICU beds. I’ve focused on ICU beds. The IMHE page lists a peak shortfall of 14,601 ICU beds, but this is because they report figures on overall peak utilization day based on total hospital beds needed (which is April 14 in their projection). The ICU bed shortfall actually peaks a few days earlier, on April 9 at a shortfall of 17,380.

Many states are projected to have little or no shortfall in ICU bed needs. Here is a chart of the shortfall, by state.

Most of the states projected to have an unusually high number of deaths, per capita, stand out on this chart — New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Louisiana. Vermont does not stand out, because of its tiny population. But Vermont is worst in this category, having a peak ICU bed shortfall of 466 per million, followed by New York (373), Michigan (273), New Jersey (267), and Louisiana (217).

Note that the state subtotals for the ICU bed shortfall do not add up to the national total. This is because the IHME report include different projections for each state, by day, and the chart above reports the maximum figure for each state. The maximum ICU bed shortfall can occur on different days for different states, while the national total is the sum of all of the state shortfalls for each date.

Let me know if you have any questions about the IHME projections. I do not have answers about methodology, but may have the information to respond on other issues.

ChiCom delenda est.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Founding and Bertie Wooster Versus the US Bishops

 

Here we are again at a moment of clarity and concinnity — or what should be. It may be a happy accident that Hillsdale is presenting its three-week course, A Land of Hope, at the same time the nation is taking part in another great cultural “unsettling,” or it may be intentional. In either case, unless you’re already learned in the American founding, this is an overview worth your “shelter-in-place” time. 

I mention it because I’m feeling small-p protestant sentiments about the American Catholic bishops about now, most eloquently expressed in an article at CRISIS Magazine by Peter Maurice titled, ‘Catholic Democrat’ is an Oxymoron

As he was closing the narthex doors, I asked his take on the corona virus, not yet a “national emergency.” He replied. . . Well, the virus was one thing, but what really worried Father K. were ‘the Democratic Party disease and the Chinese disease.’”

Detractors . . . might misconstrue “Chinese disease” as an ethnic slur. They would err. Father K. has no simple-minded prejudices, but he knows what any adult has no excuse for not knowing. Like all communist states, the Chinese hate and persecute Christianity. The “disease” is godless ideology, not ethnicity.

Just so with the Democratic Party disease: it has its own godless ideology.

Maurice goes on to compare Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s (Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) admiration of China as the nation that best fulfills the Church’s social doctrine to the Catholic diocesan press’s (and, presumably, its bishops) support for the Democratic Party’s social programs. The bishops seem loath to risk the 40 percent of the USCCB’s budget provided by politicians by pointing out that the Party of Death’s social programs immiserate people (see Cuba, Venezuela), steal the dignity of work and family, cause people to live in effluence (East Germany, China) harming the planet, stifle dissenting opinions (“climate deniers”) … not to mention being in conflict with anti-socialist social teachings promulgated by, for instance, Pope Saint John Paul II.

How much safer it is to focus on the party’s concern for the climate and migrants, and not raise a stink about the “preeminent” life issue that is now Trump’s by default. Thus, under the USCCB’s “Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines During Election Season,” we encounter this insufferably high-minded brag: The Church does not and will not engage in partisanship. She will exhibit no bias for or against any party. Thus, even when Agent Orange addresses in person the March for Life, or cuts the allowance of Planned Parenthood, he isn’t accorded the honor of a pun, let alone an approving editorial. This on the one hand/on the other hand balance tips the scales in favor of the party of death.

Maurice shockingly notes that a third of the US Bishops’ conference does not list life as the preeminent issue for Catholics discerning how to vote. One presumes this includes Blase Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Robert McElroy, who “found such language foreign to the ‘magisterium’ of Pope Francis.” They’re wrong about that (Pope Francis says it is the preeminent issue) and they’re wrong to separate Pope Francis’s “magisterium” from continuity with the 2,000-year Magisterium of the Church. Inexcusably, the Faithful Citizenship media doesn’t even mention the Church’s preeminent anti-abortion stance. No wonder about 50 percent of Catholics vote Democrat every election. If “clarity were common, the Catholic vote might be a reality to be feared and courted.”

Maurice finishes:

There are questions that would tax the ability of the subtlest casuist to resolve. This isn’t one of them. Some things are in their nature mutually exclusive. A red card can’t be a king; a vegetarian can’t be a cannibal; oil and water won’t mix. So let’s not complicate it overmuch. You may either describe yourself as a “devout Catholic” or enable the party that promotes abortion, same-sex marriage, gender anarchy, and the descent into paganism of post-Christian America. It’s not a head-scratcher. Only one party has a passion for this degraded ideology. It’s not the stupid party, weak and feckless as it sometimes is.

As Bertie Wooster advised the would-be fascist dictator Sir Roderick Spode, some things remain stubbornly either or. Spode, with his brown shirt and funny mustache, aspires to be a fascist dictator. But his other passion, unbeknownst to his storm troopers, is designing lingerie. No, no, my dear Spode, cautions Bertie every time the strongman snaps his stiff salute, You really must choose. One or the other, not both. We’ve come to a strange pass when we need to look to Bertie rather than our bishops for such clarity.

“The Democrat disease is godless ideology,” or as Klavan describes, the idolatry of “isms,” such as progressivism. It should go without saying that abortion is a graver immoral than restrictive immigration policy or “climate change” concerns. It is self-evident, to quote Thomas Jefferson, that free societies such as the US dramatically improve the environmental conditions under which people live. Compare East and West Germany before unification. Compare China and its unbreathable air and disease breeding wet markets to any city in the US — even LA! Market economies serve the common good. Conflicting ideas can be harnessed to that purpose under our American system of separated, limited powers and enshrined sovereignty of the people in a system of self-rule of, by, and for the people

Yes, many of the founding ideals are universal to humankind, which is what makes the American experiment so profound and exceptional. But, the government instituted to protect our natural and civil rights must be held accountable to the people of this great land — not the entire world. It must serve our interests and protect our rights first and in common with our fellow citizens, not by picking winners and losers — not by favoring some victim group or another. This is the social compact we’ve agreed to.

When Fr. K speaks of the Democrat illness, this is what he means. The sickness that has afflicted the Democrat Party that pits it in a battle to the death with these founding principles. 

I can count the number of times I’ve heard the pro-life message from the pulpit on half of one hand. But, the USCCB and Pope Francis constantly natter on about the need to welcome the stranger and steward the planet. About how “we” (by which they mean free and prosperous peoples) have neglected the poor. 

Well, your excellencies, if we are to believe every person is created by God in His image and likeness, is intended for heaven, and has a role to play in the salvation of the world, it would seem not killing inconvenient, unwanted people would come first. When “climate change” (sneer quotes warranted) and immigration policy have equal moral weight to God-created people — and, honestly, we all know these other concerns are vastly greater to Democrats — how are we to distinguish the bishops from garden variety progressives?

The American founding had a Protestant flavor because it was skeptical of the inherited wisdom of the (primarily Anglo) culture from which it emanated. If Catholics are “protesting” the confused moral message coming from the USCCB, it is because of these chestless and, frankly, brainless bishops who refuse to see the lies told by Democrat ideology and the truth that it was for freedom that Christ set us free.

God bless America, God save the Church from confused and confusing shepherds, and God bless us everyone.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Son, the Ventilator Maker

 

I’ve posted before about my oldest son, a 24-year-old sergeant in the Marine reserves. He had an active duty deployment last year to Latin America, returning home shortly before Christmas. He remained on active duty for another couple of months, through early February (approximately), then returned to his civilian job.

It turns out that he makes ventilator parts. He is a manufacturing tech at a small Tucson company called Alicat Scientific (website here). Alicat makes devices like flow controllers, flow meters, and pressure controllers for dealing with gas flow. Shown is a sample product.

Alicat’s products are used in ventilators, among many other applications. My son’s job is to operate a computer-controlled milling machine that makes the metal portion of the device (the part at the bottom of the picture).

When the COVID-19 crisis hit a couple of weeks ago, Alicat apparently received a great many orders for its products for use in ventilators. My son has been working overtime for the past two weeks as a consequence and expects this to continue for the foreseeable future.

It is a strange coincidence that a little company, located about two miles from my house and at which my son works, is a part of the effort to solve this crisis and save lives. American manufacturing appears to be extremely flexible and adaptable, if Alicat is any indication.

My son is a bit frazzled, as he’s working 60-70 hours a week, and the job does involve significant concentration. On the bright side, in a time when many are unemployed, his income has significantly increased because of the overtime. Plus, just yesterday, the company gave all employees a raise due to the volume of orders that it had received.

From reports from my son, the company seems to be managed by excellent people. Their first concern was the health and safety of their employees. The companywide raises sound like “spreading the wealth around,” but I think that it is motivated not by benevolence, but by rational calculation. This is not to say that the managers aren’t good people, but they are business people who need to make decisions based on economics. When you have a large increase in the volume of your business, and it’s not easy to replace your employees (as there is significant training time), it makes sense to give the employees a raise to keep them working hard.

I have a funny story about this from last weekend. My son called me at about 5 in the afternoon Sunday, the end of his workday, saying that he was a bit burned out. He explained about the overtime. I told him that I was proud of him for doing his part in the pandemic crisis, and asked what I could do to help.

His requests were home-cooked food and laundry. So I made him some spaghetti right away, and made arrangements to do his laundry when he dropped it off (which I did later, on Tuesday). He wanted to come by the house, which is on his way home anyway. He showed up with one of his guns that was jammed (with a shell casing stuck in the barrel and engaged to the extractor, so the entire bolt/carrier assembly wouldn’t slide). It must have been bugging him, so he brought it to his old man.

His middle-aged, kinda-fat, kinda-nerdy, lawyer of an old man. I cleared the jam in about 10 minutes. Did I mention that he’s a Marine Sergeant and works as a manufacturing tech? But I cleared the jam. I felt like a cross between MacGyver and Chesty Puller. Oh, and Michael Corleone, because I was still cooking his spaghetti. I did the little things that I could do, to help keep him at work.

Back to the main point. The manufacturing supply chain for ventilators responded almost immediately. Command-and-control economics was not necessary, as far as I can tell. Private companies are far more efficient in manufacturing ventilators than the government. The important job for government is to place the orders — which they did — and make sure that credit facilities are available to the manufacturers, if necessary, as they expand production — which they seem to be doing.

There are bound to be bottlenecks in the process. I would imagine that a great many parts go into a ventilator, and the companies that do the final assembly may be more specialized and less able to ramp up production rapidly. Further, production of ventilators is not the only potential bottleneck, as the goal is not a bunch of ventilators in a hospital storage room. The goal is a rapid expansion in the ability of hospitals, doctors, and nurses to have fully-functioning ICU (or ICU-type) beds available if needed, with the necessary ventilators and trained medical personnel to operate them.

Our country is full of amazing people. It turns out that my son is one of them, doing his part. I have great confidence in the ability of American manufacturers, hospitals, doctors, and nurses to rapidly respond to this crisis, if it turns out to be necessary.

ChiCom delenda est.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Live Unfree or Die

 

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (RINO) has shut down the Granite State. He has issued a “Stay at Home” order effective March 27, at 11:59 p.m., through May 4. The NH Attorney General has issued a memorandum to law enforcement in the state advising them that they can arrest and charge people for violating the governor’s emergency orders.

I emailed my town’s chief of police to ask him if he was going to arrest me for leaving my house. He said no. But there are also state troopers (one who lives down the road from me) and sheriff’s deputies around as well.

Our state motto is, absurdly, “Live Free or Die.”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Day 68: COVID-19 Comorbidity

 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Education at the University of Washington has published a prediction for the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. They are estimating that the peak demand on the health care system will be on April 14. On that date, they are predicting that the death count will be 31,615 and that eventually 81,114 deaths from the disease will be recorded around August. The website also lets you see predictions by the individual states.

Peak demand for healthcare for New York is projected as being on April 6; for California on April 24; for Florida on May 14.

Whatever the accuracy of these predictions at least they are focusing on the right questions: when does our health system need to be ready for the worst strain? what is that need likely to be? how many people will the disease kill? Death is the “sunk cost” of this epidemic. It is terrible, it is tragic, it needs to be minimized, but it is inevitable. Our national strategy has to involve how to get beyond the deaths that will be recorded. Our personal strategy is to reckon with our own risk. And that leads to the subject of comorbidity — thought of the day. (Because there are so many days and so little thought.)

@brianwatt, had an excellent comment on my post about Day 66:

Where is the data of CV-19 deaths by location – people in their homes…people in nursing homes…people in hospitals…people in ICUs – by age and whether they had other underlying or active medical conditions – like cancer, respiratory conditions, diabetes, heart disease, kidney issues (on dialysis) or other health- or immune-compromising issues?

Unless that specific data starts to become published, then universal numbers that treat all segments equally only serves to propagate a panic narrative.

There is a reason that Italy has been adversely affected and why the virus ran rampant in a nursing home in Seattle – because nearly all of the victims were elderly with other underlying conditions and in a facility where the virus could easily and quickly propagate amongst the staff and introduced by visitors who were relatively resistant to the effects of the virus.

We have heard a lot about “underlying issues” and “underlying conditions” that make getting COVID-19 more severe/deadly. One of the tweeted criticisms that Professor Bergstrom focused on Aaron Ginn’s Evidence Over Hysteria, was:

Disaggregating data is essential to provide context, especially for transmission processes. That the virus can cross national boundaries does nothing to negate the importance of spatial structure and within-country analysis. Aggregating data obscures critical patterns.

And that is what Brian Watt was talking about. And it needs to be done if we are to get the nation back up and running. Slicing and dicing the data so we know who is most at risk and what we can and should do about it.

And it starts with comorbidity. That is, in medical terms, the presence of an existing disease to which the new disease, COVID-19, is added making the person’s condition worse: accelerating the death-dealing nature of the prior morbidity or creating a new condition, e.g., viral pneumonia, that did not exist in the absence of the new disease. And this is why professional diagnosis, care and/or intervention is required.

A lot of people have some form of existing chronic disease, or morbidity. That fact may or may not place them at greater risk of severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19. But the public needs a better picture of what does. For example, take diabetes. 86 million people have what is called “pre-diabetes” for which they may have been prescribed medication to control it. People with pre-diabetes are at risk to progress to Type 2 Diabetes which, in turn, may progress to a need for insulin injections, kidney dialysis, and/or kidney transplant. Type 1 diabetes starts in children as something they were born with and requires insulin and stringent dietary controls to preserve life.

There are about 1.2 million Type 1 diabetics in the US. I could not find a statistic with regard to the number of people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but given the number of pre-diabetics, that number has to be substantially higher than Type 1 diabetics. And then there is “gestational diabetes”. Between 2 percent and 10 percent of pregnant women develop diabetes during their pregnancies. If they do it predisposes them to develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years of their pregnancy. All told one can estimate that about 100 million people in the country have some stage of “diabetes.” We hear the experts say that people with diabetes are at greater risk. What does that mean? Disaggregate the data for us.

The same goes for “heart disease” and for “kidney disease” and whatever other comorbidities that alarm the health community with respect to COVID-19. We live our lives by “rules of thumb.” Are we dealing with Category A, Category B, Category C, etc.? In my professional life, I was sometimes nervous about definitive answers. Lawyers are always issuing so many caveats that sometimes a client doesn’t know what actually is the advice. Doctors are doing it, too. Medicines (and TV commercials about medicines) have a long fine print of “don’t use this drug if” list.

I recognize that there is uncertainty, a confidence level that is reflexively modifying the statements of researchers and physicians. But now is the time that everyone just does their best, gives clear guidance and accepts that there will be bad outcomes when someone falls in the margins between Category A and B. As a public we need to accept it so our politicians and health care professionals can accept it.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Or in this case — what we need to do to get through this.

[Note: Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Novelty of Our Situation

 

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.” — C.S. Lewis

While Lewis wrote this in regard to the then-new threat of atomic warfare, it seems remarkably appropriate to today’s Chinese coronavirus scare. While we may be reacting to the threat in novel ways, the threat itself is as old as mankind. Yet death is inevitable once birth has occurred. Through our panic (as others have noted on Ricochet) some may be hastening their own deaths or the deaths of others.

The solution seems to be to face the crisis without exaggerating its threat or novelty. Is Chinese coronavirus serious? Yes. Is it more serious than influenza? Very likely so. Is it something on the order of the bubonic plague? Get real.

It should be noted that of those that died of Chinese coronavirus in Italy, almost 50 percent had three or more serious underlying medical conditions and, of the remainder, around one-quarter had one serious preexisting condition and another quarter had two. Less than 1 percent of those who died were otherwise healthy. (Note this does not mean 1 percent of otherwise healthy people will die of the disease, it means less one percent of those that die of the disease will be otherwise healthy. And apparently less than three percent of those that contract it die of it.)

The median age of those who died in Italy (here, full report here) was 80.5 with a standard distribution of about 10 years. That means over two-thirds of those who die of it are between 70 and 90. I am 64 and, other than hypertension in good health. I should worry about it, but not excessively. My 89-year-old mother is at serious risk, but has isolated herself. My sons, in their 30s, are at some risk. Those healthy college kids, intent on partying through spring break are behaving rationally.

This is not to minimize the threat Chinese coronavirus poses. It is to suggest that we not implement cures worse than the threat the disease poses.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Pretty Good Cat

 

My siblings are bonkers about cats. I’m used to that. I’ve borne years of anthropomorphic fantasies about a line of household pets that included a sensitive and gorgeous special breed, country cross-varieties vaguely named after T.S. Eliot characters, and a few city “patio cats.” I’ve witnessed naming deliberations for new kitties that drag on for weeks, with “Pockets” being a near winner and a friend begging them not to saddle it with a noun handle for life. They eventually settled on human names for their animals, which pleased everyone: Eleanor, Titus. Titus, nearly two decades old, is still with us, and shows up occasionally in pictures, like the time he was sporting a small wide tie that my brother said made him think of “a night manager at Denny’s.”

What has just dawned on me, however, is that another family member has been something of a dark horse when it comes to passion for felines. I mean, I knew my dad liked cats, but I finally realized the degree of this affinity today when my mom texted us with a charming innovation my dad used to solve a problem with their old cat.

The realization that Dad is a true cat lover crept up on me because my dad is not one to keep things to himself. He is 100% extrovert, outgoing and outspoken. So one would expect that if he loved something, we would hear all about it. But the fact that these sleek and purry animals turn his heart to warm butter went under the radar. It was all in the actions, the quiet asides, and the creativity invested when his cat needs something.

Upon reflection, his connection started when he was a kid in the ’40s and ’50s, doing chores on a farm in New York. We only get the barest patchwork of stories from his youth–non-linear, episodic–but cats seem to crop up frequently, for both good and ill. His favorite cat liked to ride on his shoulders as he went about his work. By his expression, I can see he’s recalling its lovely, soft warmth against the nape of its neck, the contentment of companionship. However, his story ends with the animal’s untimely, most unlovely demise, not surprising on a farm, but certainly bringing the tale to a jolting, unpleasant conclusion. Thanks a lot, Dad! We’ll say. I was having a nice evening until just now.

Perhaps my dad connects with cats because they share a few traits with him–just a few, but enough to bring overlap in significant ways. For example, their nighttime sleeping patterns are similar. My dad doesn’t really retire to bed like most people I know. Well, in a way he does, but he falls asleep for a random period of time, often in a random location, and then he’s up and active around the house–snacking, doing little chores, working on the computer. When he gets sufficiently tired, he again slumbers indefinitely. I remember that on a visit home, I was awakened at 5 a.m. with the smell of toast and coffee wafting under the crack of the bedroom door. No, it wasn’t a tough work regimen summoning him from his bed–he was just awake and decided to have an early breakfast.

And guess whose schedule syncs with that pattern perfectly? Who is alert and ready for anything at 3 a.m.? Any of a series of cats we’ve had. I remember now passing his office during regular hours, seeing on his desk a smooth, erect feline presence that bent its neck and shut its eyes to receive a finger stroking between its ears, while a voice in the higher register reserved for these animals murmured queries about its well-being. Surely with this reinforcement, the animal continued its companionable visits at all hours while my dad, otherwise alone in the glow of the computer screen, typed a letter or worked on a deadline.

And now I’m remembering Sparkles. My brother and sister came up with the glittery name for the long-haired grey and white kitten when they were still living at home, delighted with the hilarious product of their collaboration, I’m sure. He and my dad became attached when my siblings grew up and moved out. Sparkles followed my parents through more than one move, and I distinctly remember him posed like a soft statue next to my dad’s computer, as well as the lilting way my dad said his name. Sparkles developed some kind of problem that he wouldn’t leave alone, so my dad devised a short-term arrangement to keep the cat from messing with the wound, a kind of splint. The cat hated being trussed up in that contrivance. He stared straight ahead miserable, sitting perfectly still. He was still on my dad’s desk, though.

My parents weren’t a whole lot more mature in the naming department than their children had been. Sad at Sparkles’ disappearance, to our surprise, they adopted a pretty white kitty who was in that frantic, wild playful stage. They called her “Princess.” I witnessed Princess jumping into my mom’s suitcase for a revelry of wide-eyed twisting and clawing amongst the clothes, something our cats would never have been allowed to do in the old days. My mom, through her mirth, called my dad: Come look at what Princess is doing! He appeared immediately to enjoy the scene, and they laughed at her together. What was happening to my parents?

Unfortunately, restless Princess tended to dash outside at every opportunity, and when she escaped from an open garage door one day, she never came back. That was years ago, and until recently, my mom and dad lived catless, free of the chores and the odors that are associated with these animals, in spite of their attractions. But now they’ve adopted old Titus, my brother’s cat. He came with some problems, and my mother quickly got fed up with dealing with the litter box, soiled rugs, vet’s bills, and special food. However, it became evident that my dad adores Titus. Oh, he doesn’t say it out loud, not like that. It’s in the little things. He talks to him, gladly buys the food to save Titus’s ailing kidneys and bring him from the brink of death. On vacation, he makes meticulous arrangements for the kennel’s care and feeding of the creature.

The news from my mom is that often Titus likes to be let outside, and when he does, although he’s usually pretty good about responding to calls, he sometimes wanders off. They can’t have their animal lost on the streets during this uncertain time, when moving about is limited. My mom texted today to explain my dad’s solution. A few years ago, I had bought a system for my dad to make sure he could always find important items. Translation projects and such are so engrossing that his passport or wallet might get lost when urgently needed. Today, he attached a “tile” from that system to the cat, which would allow my dad to track its location via his smartphone–problem neatly solved.

If the subject of Titus comes up, my dad might say something offhand, like He’s actually a pretty good cat. But we all know better.

Titus in his early years, resting with my brother. I think they were still calling him “Basil” at this point. As in the saint.
A well-fed, happy animal.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. American Emergency Medicine Works

 

This is both a brief story in itself and preface to another tale, “Strategic Logistics Work.” The point of observation: the Valley of the Sun, Maricopa County, the population center of Arizona. The time: summer 2018 and last weekend, March 21-22, 2020.

Foreshadowing: It was a normal summer Saturday afternoon in 2017. Which is to say, it was a dry heat in the Valley of the Sun. I was out for a 2.5-mile brisk walk when I got the urge to sprint. Nevermind that I had not done a wind sprint over a year, I just had the urge. Pulling up at the end of a 200-yard dash, I noticed something was a bit odd. My heart rate was not slowly dropping. I got indoors, sat down, and drank water. No change. In fact, I was getting increasingly light-headed, even with my head down, so I had someone dial 911.

The fellows in the ambulance were quickly on the scene. I had had a complete cardio workup the summer before, and had been pronounced fit as a fiddle. Now the lead paramedic was coaching me through something called a vagal maneuver.

Worked like a charm. My heart rate immediately dropped, rapidly returning to normal, along with my blood pressure. I was cautioned, between the ambulance crew and the great emergency room team, that this episode would likely not be my last, and that sometime I might need medical intervention.

March 22-23, 2020: That time arrived last Saturday evening. At 6 p.m., I was standing in my kitchen, getting together a bit of supper before going out for the evening to visit friends. I found myself lightheaded. I checked my temperature, low normal. I started drinking water, thinking I might be a bit dehydrated. I got no better.

I drove a few miles to my friends’ house anyway, frankly feeling almost tipsy, without a drop of alcohol to drink. My eyes were fluttering a bit, not losing focus but as if I was about to nod off. Maybe it was low blood sugar, although I have no such history. An energy bar and a couple handfuls of chocolate chips did nothing. Perhaps it was a panic attack. I had never had one before, but I went into some square breathing to calm myself. It did nothing. Finally, I just went home.

But, it got no better. I called the triage nurse line, since it was after urgent care hours and I really was not keen on going to a hospital in the time of coronavirus. The line was slammed, and I was getting lighter headed, so I hung up and dialed 911 for the second time in my life.

When the helpful fellows in the ambulance and fire engine arrived, they noticed my words showed a slight stutter rather than slur. Their assessment: likely not a stroke, likely a panic attack. The ride to the emergency room, only four miles away, was without lights and sirens, a good sign of a sort. My blood pressure and heart rate were still way up.

My temperature was checked repeatedly, along with COVID-19 symptom screening questions between the 911 operator, the EMTs and the first staff in the ER. Great work to keep the disease out of the general ER population at Banner Desert Medical Center. A doctor checked my symptoms after blood had been drawn and an IV line set up in my arm. He sent me for a CT scan in very short order.

The CT scan was clear. And then we get to the part of the story that makes American medicine worth defending and keeping. The same ER doctor said he was not satisfied with the CT scan. He was not happy with my symptoms, and not writing them off to a panic attack. While the clear CT scan was good news, there were finer details to be seen with an MRI, and I needed to have my carotid arteries checked for blockage.

I was wheeled up to another diagnostic room for a relatively low technology, low cost, ultrasound scan of my neck. The medical technician was not allowed to interpret the results, but made generally positive noises when I asked. From thence, the fellow who had wheelchaired me to the ultrasound test steered me to an observation ward for the night. I was admitted, not escaping before morning rounds.

The night shift floor nurse was an Army veteran, happy to talk for a bit while running me through a battery of stroke checks, checking my responses with feet, legs, arms, and face, ending with a series of written phrases designed to test for tell-tale slurring. All was well with that. My blood pressure was continuing to improve without treatment. Meanwhile, lab results told them to feed me two potassium horse pills. Yummy.

The MRI came around 0400, that is, 4 on Sunday morning. The fellow who guided my chariot towards the radiology section commented that he saw few people with my body type in his ward anymore. Patients were getting larger and larger, veins harder and harder to find. It is not a virus that is killing us by the scores every year, unless that virus is advertising and self-indulgence.

I spent the rest of the time until morning rounds listening to the worries of nursing staff, lacking good information and apparently having a hospital leadership that had not figured out logistics, generating worries about drastic shortages of N-95 rated protective masks. Their worries were regularly interrupted by mostly very elderly patients in serious condition, there for stabilization so they could return to a nursing facility or home care.

Each time I got up to download the gallon or more of water I had consumed that evening, I noticed my heart rate up as I laid back down. Just standing still, my heart rate ran up from 70 to 100. That definitely was not normal.

Morning brought the neurologist, who pronounced my brain structurally sound and carotids clear. Yet, my heart rate jumped to 123 when I quickly raised an arm as he did a final test for stroke signs, and there was a blip on the EKG. So, he said I was neurologically cleared but needed cardiology clearance.

Another lab tech showed up after a morning blood draw. He brought his instruments with him and ran an echocardiogram bedside. The cardiologist showed up a bit later in the morning and pronounced my heart structurally good. However, putting the whole picture together, including my prior episode, the most reasonable conclusion was that I have a small short circuit in my heart.

Here, again, is what makes American medicine quite superior to all other countries. The cardiologist recommended that I stay the day, overnighting again in the hospital, so he could permanently fix my heart the very next day. The fix would be to sedate me, numb my groin, insert a cardio-catheter into a large blood vessel, then run a set of wires up into my heart on a search and destroy mission. The instruments would precisely locate the electrical short circuit and then burn it out, “ablating” that spot on the interior of my heart.

In the alternative, I could take a very old pill, with a history of few serious side effects for most people. This cheap and reliable pill limits heart over-speeding and has some blood-pressure-lowering effect. This side effect, for me, is not worrisome, as I was on the high side of healthy blood pressure.

Needless to say, I had no intention of staying another day in a hospital. I opted for the cheap pill, and will discuss a possible summer surgery. I defy you to name another country in the world where I would have received this level of choice and speed in treatment. Where else would I have got more than the physical response tests plus possibly the CT scan? And in what other nation’s system would I have been offered this next day, permanent surgical solution? ‘Merica. Let’s keep it that way.

Oh, the little white pill works just fine. And I’m taking a regular strength over the counter aspirin, as directed by the cardiologist, apparently to address possible future clotting concerns. I have indeed been blessed with basic good health and life in an amazing country.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Chinese Wet Markets

 

A cobra is seen in Yang Hangchang’s snake farm in Huzhou, China.

Years ago, my father in law worked as an engineer in Taiwan installing an automated freight handling and storage system for a US airbase. He took lots of video of his time in the far east, especially of the more unusual Chinese customs.

Over the holidays, he visited Hong Kong. Of all the footage he shared with me, the most unusual was of the Hong Kong wet market at night. One scene (that he surreptitiously filmed) struck me. It was of a reptile booth. The proprietor, at the behest of a customer, snatched a long black snake from a large terrarium by the back of the head, and quickly, expertly, skinned it, gutted it and drained it of fluids, blood or spinal fluid or perhaps both. The snake’s body continued to wriggle even after this ordeal.

I expected that the remains of the snake would be seared in a wok with some onions and oil, but no. There were no woks in this booth. The prize here was the snake’s bile and other bodily fluids, about a quarter cup, collected in a glass container and mixed with some kind of Chinese whiskey. Several Chinese men, the buyer and his friends no doubt, downed shots. My father-in-law later inquired and yes, this was likely a highly venomous species. It was a known fact: the more deadly, the more effective. I wonder if it was as effective as say rhino horn, or perhaps, Cialis. In any case, I found the clip to be disturbing on many levels.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I’m a Woman and Don’t Need a Female President to Empower Me

 

Will that doggone glass ceiling ever break? Will women finally get their champion in The White House?

This was the much-repeated question for many in 2016: Hillary Clinton, the long-awaited heiress to the presidency was ready to make history, giving millions of young girls the role model they deserve, because as she explained at a NYC luncheon in 2017, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Hhhhmmm, this bothered me. Both during the 2016 election and still today. Not just because I didn’t want to see Hilary become president, but because I disagree with this sentiment entirely.

Yes – women have made monumental strides since the early suffragists, and for that I am grateful.

Yes – role models are important and can give life to a deeply seeded dream longing to break through.

And yes – I believe the United States will see a female president in my lifetime (and when Condoleeza Rice decides to run, she will definitely – get my ‘yes’.)

I disagree because I grew up thinking that I could do anything, even become the president of the United States. This confidence was fostered and nurtured as early as I can remember, not because of someone I read about in a book, watched on TV or an elected official.

But because of my dad. That’s right: my male, white, Christian, straight dad. He was my biggest cheerleader – then and now.

“What do you want to be when you grow-up,” he would ask while I sat on his lap or driving in the car. Over the years my riotous mind never ceased with ideas: teacher, writer, athlete, singer, fashion designer, VJ (can you tell where I hit my MTV phase).

No matter what I shouted at him, he made me believe it was possible. He constantly encouraged me along my journey: be it to pursue sports, college, a break from college, become a teacher, travel the world, write, stay-at-home-motherhood. Whatever I tried he pushed me to work harder, taught me limits and his encouragement has never stopped.

The impact a father has on his daughter is far-reaching. As one researcher from Wake Forest University explains, “…well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters…”

Conversely, “research has shown that daughters who are dissatisfied with their communication interactions with their fathers are more likely to be involved with bad peer relationships, have unpleasant romantic endeavors, and make poor or life-threatening decisions,” that includes becoming pregnant as teens and continuing the cycle of fatherless children and poverty.

Imagine with me for a moment, America elects its first woman president; indeed, a landmark milestone once thought impossible. Young girls coast to coast solidify the moment in their minds forever: the moment they saw someone like them become the most powerful person in the country, in the world! The impact would be colossal, I agree.

Now let me give you another scenario. Every little girl in our country, every little girl, grows up in a home with her father. A father that is committed to her, just as he is committed to her mother. A father that loves her, compliments her skills, her achievements, and her beauty. A father who models how a woman should be treated by a man, who supports her goals and dreams, who teaches, motivates, comforts, and guides.

I ask you: which of these two scenarios would have the greatest impact?

Most would argue that the former is more realistic. Seeing as 1 on 4 children in America live without a father in the home, sadly, I have to agree. For more than half a century father absence has become a widespread plague in our nation, and the idea of a society where all fathers are present and active in their children’s lives seems impossible.

I’m not saying we need dads who are perfect, my father is far from that. I can rattle off a list of his shortcomings longer than his Italian schnoz, and he can think of more.

But we need dads who try. Dads who are present. Dads who are committed.

As Hilary Clinton advocated:

“We have to teach every girl that she is valuable…powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity to pursue and achieve her own dreams.”

On a societal whole, I agree that is important. But even more important is that every girl is taught this in her home, day in and day out. How grateful I am that I had that, thanks to a loving father.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Educate yourself on the importance of fathers and ways to be a better dad. These are some wonderful resources:

National Fatherhood Initiative

One Million Dads

Focus on the Family

Brothers Keeper Ministries

  • Speak positively about fatherhood; people need to hear that there are good men trying their best to be good dads.

  • Don’t support shows that portray loser dads. The Homer Simpsons and Ed Bundys of television demean the role of fathers and portrays all men as such losers. Take a stand and refuse to watch.

Crosspost here.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Getting to Herd Immunity

 

In order to get back to normal, we need an actual plan. A plan starts with the following steps:

1: Figure out where you want to get to; the goal.
2: Figure out how you can get there.

Here is my plan.

The Goal is simple enough — we need to get back to normal life, for a huge range of reasons. But in order to get there, we need to achieve what is called “Herd Immunity.” Herd Immunity is achieved when enough people are already immune so that an illness cannot explode in a population. According to the Wall Street Journal Friday, we get to herd immunity with between 40-70% of the population. According to other sources, we might need more than that. Once we have herd immunity, the risks of someone who is “at risk” go down – way down. Normality can be achieved when we have it.

How to Get There: We must find out who is immune. We do not need certainty – this is statistics, after all. If we had a test that showed that a person is 90% certain to be immune, then that is data. It is not perfect data, but it is data we can use, uncertainty and all.

Immunity is known through detection of antibodies. The presence of a certain kind of antibody (IgG) will tell you whether your body has immunity to Coronavirus. (The length of that immunity is not known for sure yet, but according to the same WSJ article, it is between one year and the rest of your life).

In recent days, companies have started offering tests that will tell you whether you have the infection (IgM), and whether you have the antibodies for immunity (IgG). These are fingerprick tests that take 10 minutes and can theoretically be done anywhere. They say they are better than 90% for false results.

Whether from this company or another, everyone – not just medical professionals – should be tested. It is the only way to know whether it is safe to be up and about. It is the only way, for example, for a medical volunteer to know whether they are at risk themselves, or at high risk of infecting others. I strongly urge everyone to ask their doctor or other health care professional to order and use Corona tests. Once we reduce the uncertainty, we reduce the fear. And we increase safety and all the good things that come from a resumption of normal life – the things that come with herd immunity.

Thanks for reading.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Yep, my company just announced that our plant will be closed for the next two weeks. That means that, while I’m on Ricochet, I won’t have to worry about my boss reading over my shoulder. But that also means I’ll be around more, contributing to the slowing down of the site responses. But not until […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Apparently, there is no national news reaching New Orleans that might have alerted this poor mayor… Undercover [email protected] Shutting down all flights from Wuhan a month before you let Mardi Gras go ahead seems like a pretty big red flag but you do youQuote Tweet The Situation [email protected]· 20h“No red flags were given” by the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus Update: Death Rate As of 3-26-2020

 

The big news today is that the US now has more reported COVID-19 cases than any other country. Remain calm. Remember that our rates of infection remain far below those of the two hardest-hit countries, Italy and Spain. The US has about 5.5 times the population of Italy and about 7 times the population of Spain. So it is no surprise that we have the most cases.

I’ve reviewed all of the data for today (March 26) from Johns Hopkins, and there are no significant departures from prior trends.

The US death rate remains quite low, as illustrated by this graph:

You may have trouble finding the trend line for Germany. It is indistinguishable from the line for the US, at this scale, down at the very bottom of the graph.

Italy and Spain remain the countries of greatest concern. Though not apparent from the graph above, the rate of increase in reported deaths has declined in both countries. The daily figures are a bit erratic, so I’ve presented this decline graphically with a data smoothing technique, by using the 4-day moving average:

This graph demonstrates that the increasing death toll in Italy and Spain, though terrible, is not growing exponentially.

ChiCom delenda est.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Quick and The Dead

 

“Power undiluted by fatigue is not heroic; it is professional.” — Pavel, The Quick And The Dead

Pavel, a former Spetsnaz master of fitness, has been an exercise guru in this country for years. He’s been, at least for the past decade, my go-to guy for all things Kettlebell.

The newest offering from Pavel, The Quick And The Dead, is for experienced minimalist exercisers; it is, he says, a great workout for “older model Terminators.” I’m in. One of my goals for this enforced isolation is to find workout techniques that let me circumvent or mitigate my injuries, debilitations, and impingements. This book looks like it is well worth investigating.

I’m not really into the bio-science of a lot of Pavel’s writing, to include this one. Power is blah blah blah Myosin blah blah blah maximal tissue respiration rate blah blah reactive oxygen species blah. But his workouts and technique instruction are all always top-shelf. I’m still in the reading/assessment/testing phase of the workout, but I’m optimistic.

This workout is not for beginners, as stated in the book. You need some time to build the infrastructure and the knowledge base to truly exploit the workout and avoid injury. If you’re looking for a great start point, I recommend Enter The Kettlebell, the workout that started me on my journey, lo those many years ago. Sadly, I can no longer execute a heavy load KB Clean & Press, a cornerstone of Enter. All the medical chicks in my life, super nurse Mrs. Mongo, new nurse Rain, nursing student Prom Queen, and even our own beloved and sage NP @vicrylcontessa, have told me to get over myself and move on. Sigh. Okay. Movin’ on.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

The anxiety level concerning the Corona Virus is one of the side effects of this virus. The other side effect is misinformation. I monitor Radio Free Europe, and the misinformation is not just confined to the United States. One thing that should not be a feature of this website is invective when commenting on a […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Majestyk’s Giant ‘Jeopardy!’ FAQ

 

Everybody already knows that I was going to appear on the biggest, best, longest-running game show in the history of whenever – “Jeopardy!,” of course! – but now I have a conundrum on my hands: How do I handle all of the questions and fan mail?

Never fear, gentle reader: I am here to answer your burning questions about all things J!

Obviously, the need to travel to California meant that I was going to be missing some work, and when you make a pronouncement like this to your boss… well, let’s just say that news travels fast. As it turned out, I also had to send another engineer on a site visit to Iceland in my stead so, even in this felicitous situation, tradeoffs were involved. Then, over the course of the next week, I was pelted with a long and repetitive series of questions from everybody in the organization and people on Facebook.

These questions all seemed to fall into a couple of consistent tracks, so I did what all intelligent people in a similar position might do: Write a Frequently Asked Questions document. Let’s get started!

How do you get on “Jeopardy!?”

You all know this based upon my previous article, but this is by far the most common question I received.

How long have you been trying to get on the show?

I sent a bunch of post cards to Merv Griffin television (it was 1994) to be on the Teen Tournament back when I was about 15, and got invited to LA to take the test. I didn’t get invited to the show. Let me just say here that it actually pays to think carefully about which point in your life when you want to go on Jeopardy! You want to be old enough to have accumulated enough knowledge but young enough to have excellent reflexes.

Did they give you the material beforehand?

This question is fairly common and always baffles me. Why would they do that? The writers prepare six games for each taping day which are selected at random prior to the show. The game boards are selected at random, as are players from the pool of people who arrive at the studio that day. This is a test of knowledge and reaction. Giving you the material beforehand would defeat much of that purpose – and give a massive advantage to the reigning champion.

How did you study for “Jeopardy!?”

I don’t really think you can. But if I had to recommend how a person accomplish this, I would say: begin by traveling back in time to when you first learned to read, (I recommend getting started early, preferably about five) and begin reading books on Paleontology, Archaeology, Geology, History, Biology, et al and then pay careful attention to pop culture – even stuff you sometimes find annoying – and then play a lot of video games in order to work on your reaction time.

As you get older, participate in a lot of high pressure, high impact testing (on purpose) with an eye towards controlling your heart rate and not letting your emotions overwhelm you. Read. Lots.

Get a copy of the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by ED Hirsch (I learned this from Troy Senik.) Make sure you know what every reference in that book means. Study Geography… extensively. This was the lowest-hanging fruit for me and definitely worked out well. There is almost never a Jeopardy board that doesn’t involve at least some questions that are Geography or Geography-adjacent. Know. Your. Shakespeare. Learn about college athletics (which is a twofer as it helps you to learn about colleges!) and make sure you know your basic science. Watch Jeopardy so you know what sort of questions they’re likely to ask! (No Opera, pls…)

You’re ready for “Jeopardy!”

How is Alex?

For a guy who has had stage-4 cancer for over a year and has been pumped full of otherwise deadly toxins, he’s doing pretty well. The staff were extremely strict with us about not shaking Alex’s hand or touching other people in any way. Everything is sanitized and cleaned about every 5 minutes. The camera does a great job of portraying him in an excellent light. Bear in mind that this was the first week where the real COVID-19 lockdown was beginning.

One contestant was even asked to leave and return at a later date because they had been in Thailand a couple of days previous. They were very serious about this, and even took the extraordinary step of preventing normal studio audiences from watching the tapings the day before I was to appear – only guests of contestants and potential contestants were allowed.

When will you be on TV?!

May 21 is the air date.

Were you paid already?

I’m sure that their vendor terms are net 30 and then they are net 30 to you… which implies a 60-day lag after the air date for you to see a dime. Seriously though: We’re told we don’t get paid for 120 days after taping.

What was it really like?

Everything I could have hoped for and more. A once in a lifetime experience, a dream come true, a sense of accomplishment unparalleled since I passed the PE exam? I spent a day with a dozen incredibly intelligent, kind people and it was the most fun I’ve had… probably ever.

The staff of the show are incredibly nice. I cannot emphasize this enough. Whatever you need they will provide (within reason) and their function is to make sure that you are both capable of competing but also have fun. It’s a TV Show… There’s lots of money! It’s exciting – really!

The contestant coordinators are so kind and helpful and each deserves a call-out:

Corina, (who is a sort of human cartoon come to life) guides contestants through the pre-show rituals of legal requirements and preparation for what to expect on stage.

Glenn (he of the extremely dry and droll sense of humor, has been on the production staff for 36 years) talks you through your disclosure documents, prize eligibility and the much-feared interview portion of the show. You provide a bunch of personal vignettes and knickknacks beforehand from which Alex will choose to discuss on the air. If you have a tough-to-pronounce name like mine, you clarify that, phonetically (B-You-ell, fyi.)

Lauri (the very sweet and quietest member of the team) makes sure that you have everything you need from Advil to bottled water, to bathroom breaks to visits from the makeup ladies.

How did you do!?!?

This last and most critical question cannot be answered. I can’t say. I signed an NDA and can’t reveal the outcome of the show.

Obviously, some people may have additional questions that I may be able to answer, so ask away!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. QOTD: Every Instant of Every Life

 

The “Lord’s Prayer” is not to be prayed with resignation: “Father, what will happen will happen,” or “Since it’s an order, I’ll obey”–as though we were being called to attention by a spiritual commander-in-chief. Such an attitude would indicate that “the servant does not know what the master is doing” (John 15:15), which is not at all the case. He who has given up his life guides us along his path, making us acquainted with God’s will so that we do it freely. And the will of God is that each of us contributes to the salvation of mankind. Once we know this, a prodigious perspective opens up before us, affecting both our prayers and daily existence.

….

Whether afflicted or relatively carefree, we are tempted to focus on ourselves in our dialogue with God. So be it. “My Creator and myself,” as Cardinal Newman used to say. It is, of course, true that our singular one-to-one relationship with God is the foundation of our faith. But “my” Creator is also the Creator of “all my brothers and sisters.” Each one of us is included in God’s universal plan, and our respective lives are projected into the context of God’s love for all humanity.

You who are elderly and exhausted may be saying to yourselves, “I’m ready now to go on and be with God.” You who suffer, who have been abandoned, who weep, may be questioning, “Why should I go on living? There’s no one around to listen to me, no one for whom my existence matters.” But it is precisely you, who, by your interior offering, must carry everyone else in your prayers. Unite yourself to Christ, who says with your lips, “Thy will be done.” You share in the power of Christ’s intercession. You must struggle until the end and offer what you are enduring, not only for those whom you know, but for the entire Church and all the world.

Every instant of every life counts in the history of humanity’s salvation.

from The Lord’s Prayer by Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger

Hospitals across the country are debating how to deal with COVID-19-stricken patients who have gone into cardiac arrest or stopped breathing. Normally, when these incidents occur at a hospital, a “code-red” will sound that brings medical personnel running to enact life-saving measures. Most of these measures involve close contact and bodily fluids. With scarce resources and not enough protective equipment, it can be dangerous for doctors and nurses to interact with the sick. Hospitals need to decide how to best protect their workers, who are the most important scarce resource. 

I don’t have any answers for the medical personnel, only a cry to the Lord for people who have to make these horrible decisions of allocation. Lord, bless those who seek to help and heal others. Let them be your hands in this world. Every instant of every life counts. 

 

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Conspiracy theories are inherently unstable. They can be a little paranoid, too. Here’s one which I think in neither unstable nor paranoid. The following will lay out a chain of scientific articles showing that Chinese virologists and other scientists now working in and around Wuhan, while working together in Australia a decade ago, developed the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Death Spasms of a Debt-Driven Economy

 

I intended to post something on this days ago, but every day brings a new outrage that forces me to rewrite it. At this point, I’m simply stunned.

COVID-19 is not the fundamental cause of the stock market crash and the insane response to it of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Government. The fundamental cause is a nation that has not saved for a long time, lives on ever-expanding debt and cheap credit, and expects bailouts anytime something goes wrong. Such a system is extremely fragile, and what otherwise would be an inconvenient but manageable financial problem turns into an existential crisis. We are like the man with half a dozen maxed-out credit cards, living large as long as he can make the minimum payments, but has his life destroyed when he loses his job. Instead of having savings to tide him over until he finds the next job, he’s now homeless.

The financial system was already giving signs of falling apart before COVID-19 hit. The Federal Reserve’s plan to normalize interest rates came to screeching halt in Dec. 2018 after only reaching 2.5%. Since then it’s been slowly dropping them. They were also supposed to run off their balance sheet in a process that would be like “watching paint dry” in the words of Jerome Powell, but abruptly began expanding it again last Fall. Ominously, in September the Fed began intervening in the overnight bank lending market (the “repo market”) as banks suddenly decided lending to each other, even on a very short term basis, was too risky. The Fed has been supporting that market at increasing levels ever since. The virus was just the push that finally brought the house of cards down.

These past few weeks have brought Fed interventions that boggle the mind and snuff out whatever we had left of free-market price discovery. Zero percent interest rates (of course), daily intervention in the repo market to the tune of $1 trillion dollars, and QE Infinity. The latter finally ends the farce that the Fed was doing anything other than monetizing debt with its QE programs. And they are doing it with gusto, adding $586 billion to its balance sheet this past week, the equivalent of 7 months of its old QE3 program. The balance sheet is now $5.24 trillion and going parabolic.

The Fed traditionally manipulates interest rates by buying and selling U.S. Treasuries in the open market. Now they are buying everything in sight in a frenzy: Treasuries, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, stocks whatever, all with money created through a few strokes of the keyboard. Another name for “the Fed buying stocks” is the “nationalization of industry.” All this is 100 proof banana republic stuff. The result? Initial unemployment claims surge by 3.3 million and the stock market goes up! This is corporate socialism. Where is the outrage?

The Federal Government is doing its part with its grotesque $2 trillion “stimulus” package of payouts and bailouts. Do people realize that the Federal Government has no wealth and that any money it gives to anyone must come from either taxation or debt? How is a government $23 trillion in debt able to bailout anyone? We all know, of course, that this only works because the Federal Reserve’s printing press is behind it.

In a more sane world, people would have six months of expenses saved in case they lose their job or some other misfortune occurs. Things happen in this world. Corporations would similarly have cash reserves to fall back on. Instead, they spent their cash, and borrowed more at the Fed’s ridiculously low-interest rates, to buy back their own stock and goose the price to fatten year-end bonuses and stock options. Now, this has caught up to them and they are crying for a bailout. This is what you do in Bailout Nation.

We supposedly had the “greatest economy of all time” these past few years, but somehow it necessitated massive federal deficits and historically low-interest rates. The orthodox Keynesian idea is that the nation goes into debt and lowers interest rates during a recession, then pays down the debt and raises interest rates during the subsequent recovery. Orthodox Keynesianism is bad enough, but we’ve been lowering interest rates and ramping up debt even in the supposed recovery. What do we do now that a crisis has hit?

The only thing we know how to do: Bailout everyone in sight with yet more debt-funded by the printing press. I guess I understand it because we’ve been doing it so long that pulling back now would be too painful to contemplate. Given the absurd size of the interventions and the tepid response to them, it might be that we are finally at the end of the debt extravaganza.

The worst part of this is that it was authored by so-called “conservatives”, who pat themselves on the back because they prevented Nancy Pelosi’s woke priorities from being jammed through on the bill, completely oblivious to the socialist and even fascist aspects of this monstrosity.

The Tea Party is truly dead and buried. Its ghost isn’t even hanging around anymore. I’m simply stunned.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. And the Corona Report from Bavaria

 

@misthiocracy thought I should share some thoughts about the situation here in Germany with folks on FB, but I thought, “Why not Ricochet first?” And here I am with some impressions.

Here in Bayern, on the order of our Governor, Markus Söder, we have, since midnight last Thursday, not been allowed to go on walks with anyone who is not a family member. No picnics or barbeques, either (Germans are nuts about the latter, if you did not know- better than southerners even), and you have to maintain 1.5m distance from other people in line at any of the stores that are still open (drugstores, grocers, chemists, specialty food stores, supermarkets in the Walmart mode and that is about it.). Churches, houses of prayer, schools, bars, cinemas, opera houses, basically any kind of business or establishment where more than 3 people could interact are closed- basically it’s like New York (as I hear). And yet, last I checked, public transportation is still in operation. You know, busses and trams. Mobile disease breeding labs and infection damn-near-assurance zones. That aside, most people are observing this curfew…some with grumbling and most with good humor and many of my associates with even more than usual prayer and worship- which we are steeped in already, being part of a 24/7 prayer movement anyway. 

So, German word of the evening: “Spuckschutz” = lit. “spittle protection” or “spittle shield”. What it is, is a piece of acrylic plexiglass put between the shopkeeper and the customer at your drug store, gas station and so forth to protect from droplet transmission of Corona and other viruses. It is now the main product being produced by a German company that normally makes steel and plexiglass fittings for bars and restaurants and the things are literally flying out of the warehouse. One of the most encouraging things that I have seen here is that the private sector is reacting much more sensibly, flexibly and quickly than the various national and provincial/state governments to real needs. And there’s the gourmet restaurant supplier in Berlin who has taken the product he would ordinarily be sold to the best restaurants in the capital decided to sell them to any who would buy them at an improvised open market, helping himself and giving his new customers foods they otherwise would not be able to afford. There are scores of other such examples here. I am hoping that people notice this here and that it shakes their generally blind and historically incomprehensible trust in the State’s ability to cure all ills.

As to how the country is faring; Germany is coping with the outbreak better than its neighbors. The measures the private and public sector took early on – including closing the border to traffic from Italy-had their intended effect. The responsible decision-makers in politics and business are facing the same kinds of decisions that their counterparts in the States are facing: When do we end the curfew, when do we crank up the engines of business and commerce again and how quickly, when can the borders be fully opened again? And so on. Personally, we are coping well. The sight of shelves emptied of every form of toilet paper (except the pre-moistened kind, no one is buying that) and hand soap is a bit disconcerting, but not really a problem for us. We always buy in advance. Closing schools is not as huge an adjustment for us as for our Bavarian neighbors, either. We had homeschooled for years, so having the schools close was just back to the good old days for us, in a way. I work from home, or where ever my laptop happens to be, all the time anyway, so that is no change at all. It remains to be seen, though, if the recent upturn in business holds.