USA Tops COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Map from Johns Hopkins

The Speech I Wish President Trump Would Have Delivered at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

INTRODUCTION by EshrinkBlog.com Author, Darell J Smith, M.D.

It was not until the death of my parents many years ago that I realized how little I knew about their childhood, and set out to write some vignettes for my grandchildren (and children) about what growing up was like for me.  These stories morphed into one story about a year in my life as a 12-year-old during WWII.  Imagine my surprise when I was presented with a book [link to Reflections for the Future book. Free download. On-demand printing of hard cover book] with my name on it containing a bunch of the stuff I had written.  This was the doings of daughter number four, Maggie, the journalist.  I was so pumped at the sight of my name on a dust jacket that when Maggie signed me up for a blog, I jumped right in, convinced that I was to become the Grandma Moses of essayists.  She has remained involved as my editor, but rarely makes any changes in the copy always insisting that it is good even when it sucks.  

Now you have the opportunity of reading Maggie’s marvelously comprehensive and detailed treatise as to how the COVID-19 pandemic should and could have been handled.  It begs the question as to how many lives might have been saved and how much suffering could have been averted by the exercise of such leadership.  The format, as the speech which should have been made, is a very creative means by which to deliver the message, and is a very typical Maggie approach. 

Although this type of critical thinking should not have surprised me, I still have difficulty at times reconciling myself to the realization of the talents exhibited by this once skinny shy little redhaired girl.  Since we now have less than a month until the election, it is too late to mount a write in campaign to elect Maggie, but I am certain that after reading her speech, you will agree that she should be sitting behind that big desk in the oval office.  


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The speech I wish the President of the United States of America would have given in February. As the leader of the free world, the President of the United States had the opportunity and the responsibility to inform Americans. Time and again throughout history, great leaders have emerged due to their unselfish sacrifice, character, compassion, strength, and communications skills during a time of crisis. Americans don’t panic, as Trump said regarding his rationale for not telling us the real score. I wrote this speech in an hour after hearing the tapes of President Trump being interviewed in early February by Bob Woodward.  This is the speech I wish the President of the United States, Donald Trump, would have given in February. The USA accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population, but has 20% of the world’s cases of COVID-19 and 20% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19.

Words matter. Leadership matters. We, as Americans, deserve more than a president who hides information because he thinks we are a bunch of panic-stricken cowards who can’t handle the truth. We deserve a president who cares more about the country, all Americans, and the future and well-being of our Republic than he does himself, politics, his image, and celebrity status. Please read the following and see if it you think our country would be in a better place today if we had a president who would have been willing to put his ego aside and give us the following information. I’m just a normal American, with a normal job, two children, who loves this country and the opportunity it represents. We’re not perfect. No human is perfect. No government is perfect. No system is perfect, but our founders certainly built an exceptional form of government for the people and by the people. It’s our job to do our best each day to build upon that foundation to learn, improve, and get better. It’s our responsibility to make sure we build upon that foundation and elect people in all branches of government that showcase the best attributes and characteristics we possess as Americans.

THANKS FOR READING:
Maggie Smith

The SPEECH I WISH OUR PRESIDENT WOULD HAVE GIVEN at the ONSET of the CORONAVIRUS

Fellow Americans:

We have a challenge in front of us that is unlike any other we’ve faced in our lifetime. COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is an invisible threat to our health and welfare. Together, we will find the best way forward and we will prevail. We will remain calm but also vigilant.  As Americans, we have overcome crises before and we will use that same dedication to hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity, focus, and teamwork to overcome this crisis.

Today, I will outline what we know, the steps we have taken. What you can expect from this administration, resources you can use, and what you can do to help.

Now, is the time to put politics aside. Now, is the time to put divisiveness aside. Now is the time to rely on the brilliant scientists who are dedicated to learning about this new virus and finding the best ways to treat it with the ultimate goal of developing a safe and effective vaccine.

We must work together as Americans and citizens of the world to navigate this viral threat in order to minimize the damage and stop the spread as quickly as we can. This will require vigilance from all of us. We want to contain this virus and stop the spread in order to save lives.

Here is what we know:

As of today, we know that a new coronavirus has infected Wuhan, China. I have Dr. Faucci, who is one of our nation’s top epidemiologists with me and he will share medical information about the virus when I’m finished, but in broad terms, coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans. They often circulate among camels, cats, and bats, and can sometimes evolve and infect people. You might remember SARS that affected many in Asia back in 2004 and there was MERS, the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, that affected many countries in 2012. Both of these were coronaviruses. The origin of this coronavirus is still being investigated. As I mentioned, we know the first recorded case was in WuHan, China, but again we will learn more as scientific investigators amass information. You’ll also hear the term COVID-19, where the CO stands for corona and the VI stands for Virus, the D stands for Disease and 19 is the year this particular virus was identified when China reported it to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019). The World Health Organization has provided the following information about testing, symptoms from the people infected so far, and how the virus spreads. [LIST ALL THE INFORMATION THAT WE KNOW WITH EACH SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION LISTED. (How many people infected worldwide, how many in the USA- for instance, in early February, we only had 12 cases and they were people who had returned to the US from China but some had not been in the Wuhan province, the CDC’s guidance that was published February that urged all people who had travelled to the US from mainland China since January 19th to self-quarantine and report their status to health officials, etc., just the facts and who is providing the information. Who What When Where and Why. Back to the speech

What the U.S. Government has done so far to prepare:

Here are the steps our administration has taken to combat the pandemic as of today.

We’ve set up a governor’s task force to help each state get the information and resources they need. Each member of the task force has been assigned 5 governors. They start their day with a meeting with each governor and then again at the end of the day to identify progress on action items established during the morning meeting. I am briefed at the end of each day by the task force members. We know that each state will have different needs and different levels of outbreak. The best way to minimize the spread of COVID-19 right now is for us to stay ahead of it and minimize contact with one another.

I have daily meetings with the leadership of both parties in Congress in conjunction with the Surgeon General, CDC director, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, FDA, and FEMA. This is a time for transparency, not politics. This is a time for scientists and epidemiologists, not conspiracy theories or snake oil cures. Please be especially careful of sharing inaccurate information. We know we will learn more each day, each hour about this virus. Therefore, truth and transparency is critical, but an understanding that information may change as doctors, epidemiologists, and scientists learn more about how the virus spreads, what treatments are the most helpful, and how it affects different populations.

The World

That brings us to the world. This pandemic doesn’t know any boundaries of country. We’ve organized a global COVID-19 task force that is comprised of each branch of government here in the United States and key members of my cabinet that will be in constant contact with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and our allies to get key updates. This is a time when it’s helpful to have relationships around the world, especially the 80 years we’ve partnered with NATO. This Global Coronavirus Task Force is working to find the source of this novel coronavirus, COVID-19, to gain as much information as possible about the virus in order for us to understand it so we can combat it effectively. Again, information sharing and coordinated research efforts will help us be more effective to stop the spread of this virus, find the most effective treatments, and to identify the most accurate tests to diagnose coronavirus.

Accurate and reliable tests to know who has been infected with coronavirus is step 1 right now. The World Health Organization has provided testing information. Obviously, since this is a new virus, tests are limited. Therefore, we will work with the private sector and our government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control to find the most efficient way to increase the number of accurate tests. We will need to triage based on real data that shows where contagion is the greatest. Just as manufacturing ramped up during World War II, converting factories of all kinds to make much needed supplies such as tanks, airplanes, etc., that were critical to our success during the early war effort, our brilliant and dedicated scientists and doctors are critical to our success during this early part of the pandemic. Together, they will find the best path forward to get accurate and reliable tests while also working on treatment for this who are sick and also working with the world health community to find a safe and effective vaccine. But you are a critical part of our success to mitigate the spread of this virus, too. We all must do our part and there might be some short-term sacrifice involved, but as Americans, we play the long game and are willing to make sacrifices today to create a better tomorrow.

ACCURATE INFORMATION IS KEY

When crises are unfolding, it’s easy for inaccurate information to be distributed. Sometimes, it’s because the information appears correct but later is proven to be incorrect as we learn more. That’s why I encourage you to be extremely careful about your information sources and be responsible in what information you share. In short, always cite your sources. You should know where you are getting your information and let people know where you read it, heard it, or saw it.

One good source of information is the Johns Hopkins Hospital website. They have created a COVID-19 tracker that the entire world is using to track the virus. Their statistics and data input have been vetted by my administration and those in the scientific and medical community.

IMPORTANCE OF THE MEDIA

In talking to you about information, I must include the media. I know I have talked about FAKE NEWS and ALTERNATIVE FACTS in the past. However, this type of rhetoric is not useful during a time of crisis. Responsible reporting and distribution of the facts by the journalists in the media is imperative. While I’ve continuously called out reporters and news outlets during specific examples of what I think is an inherent bias during my term as president, the majority of reporters are dedicated to truth and responsible reporting. My personal opinions and popularity are not important during a crisis of this scale. Therefore, I implore each American to follow the truth, follow the facts, and I pledge that my administration will lead by example and be transparent with the media and with you. With that said, please know that information and data will most certainly change as WE LEARN MORE. This administration will work very hard to release information that has been properly vetted through reliable sources. All of us must work together to stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of each other.

I pledge that our administration will address the American people each night at 7 pm with the latest information. My team will provide access through every available channel, whether it be online, social media, streaming, network TV, or radio.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

So, what can you do as an American in the face of this crisis. First, remain calm. Secondly, do the normal things to stay as healthy as possible, including good hygiene and hand washing, getting enough sleep, watching for the symptoms we know are part of this virus (especially loss of smell and taste). If you have a fever, please call your doctor. Tests are limited and you want to minimize exposure to other people, but you don’t want to ignore symptoms. Please contact your doctor’s office and have them help you figure out the best option for your situation. Finally, accurate information is important. Please know that we are doing everything possible to find the right answers, minimize the negative impact of this virus, fight this pandemic with all of our resources. You can help by making sure you are responsible and careful with the information you share. This is a time for us to work together as Americans. We have faced challenges before and as a country we have succeeded by working together and bringing out the best in each other. I pledge to make sure I lead by example. I will not allow politics, rhetoric, and conspiracy theories to take center stage during a pandemic. We need everyone right now to be at the top of their game and that means you. Republicans, democrats, independents, and everything in between…party doesn’t matter, politics don’t matter…we are all in this together! All of our energy must be focused on minimizing the impact of coronavirus on the lives and health of Americans.

Please tune in for updates each day. If you have specific questions, you can contact the coronavirus hotline (it is a partnership between the federal government, state governments, and the private sector). You can call 1-800-555-1600, email info@cornonavirus.org, and get information at that website www.coronavirus.org.

Finally, please thank the nurses and doctors and all the healthcare workers. They stand ready to take on this virus. We appreciate their service and sacrifice. Obviously, we hope the protocols and planning we are putting into place now won’t be needed, but we must hope for the best while we prepare for the worst.

Please stay strong. Stay safe. God bless you and God bless the United States of America and the world.”

Final Note from Eshrink Editor and Daughter of Eshrink
When I wrote this speech, I wasn’t trying to Monday morning quarterback as they say…I was trying to illustrate how leadership makes a difference, especially in a crisis. Below are some resources I hope you find interesting and informative.

First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States

What Is Coronavirus from Johns Hopkins University

The World Coronavirus Tracker by Johns Hopkins University

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases – a non-profit founded in 1973 to provide dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan.

Daily Updates for the Month of February to MIT staff regarding COVID-19

List of Deaths Per Capita (the USA is – Click here for the full list

  • Peru
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Spain
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • USA

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A Republic. If You Can Keep It.

Is Our Republic in Jeopardy?

During the recent impeachment hearings, frequent reference was made to the quote by Benjamin Franklin when he was asked when leaving the Continental Congress in 1787 what type of government had been devised: a monarchy or a republic. He is alleged to have answered “A republic if you can keep it.”

We are once again in a time when many feel our ability to “Keep It” is in jeopardy. For over 200 years, such a thought would have seemed ludicrous, but recent events lead many of us to believe that our government is now at risk.

Politicians talk a great deal about public service, but the nature of that service involves the need for power. In a democratic republic such as ours, we elect people to do our bidding, and cede power commensurate with what is needed for them to do the jobs we hired them to do.

Unfortunately, power is intoxicating, and can be addicting. As with all forms of addiction, such a lust for power can overwhelm moral and ethical prohibitions and result in corruption – thus the oft quoted saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


As is commonplace with all addictions, once power is conveyed, it is never enough. A taste merely whets the appetite for more. History is replete with examples of elected heads of governments progressing from employee to ruler, sometimes accomplished by means of violent overthrow, but in more recent times by the subversion of institutions designed to limit power. In order to stay in power, it is necessary to maintain control over those governed, thus information, the most powerful freedom of all, must be controlled. Since secrecy is important, terms such as “national security and executive privilege” are often used to prevent the masses from becoming well informed.


Truth. Facts. Confusion.

With the advent of what has been called the “information age” secrecy has been difficult to sustain leading to the use of misinformation as a tool to keep the masses confused and/or unaware. Unfavorable news can be effectively buried by diverting attention to something more dramatic…either real or imagined. Our news media has become as biased as our political parties, which makes truth ever more elusive. There seems little attempt to separate fact from opinion especially now that we see more people getting their news from TV or online. Trust in our institutions is faltering. Conspiracy theories abound and effectively obliterate truth.


The Rise of the Executive Branch

Presidents have become progressively more powerful since the beginning of our nation. This has culminated in our witness to a President who not only evades oversight, but whose power so completely dominates his party that he has been able to trample long-held traditions and the Constitution itself without a whisper of dissent from a Republican controlled senate. It appears that his failed impeachment has resulted in an extension of his reach for power.

Trump and the RNC Convention

I did suffer through his acceptance speech last night although I cringed at the sight of his continued violation of the Hatch Act while presenting himself as the purveyor of law and order. Mark Meadows when questioned about this responded that: “No one cares about that (the Hatch Act)”, and sadly that seems to be true for many if not for everyone as it is for most of the administration’s other transgressions. Nevertheless, I was sickened by the desecration of that hallowed residence as I watched it being used as a backdrop for a political carnival.


Fact checkers have apparently given up on their usual chore, the distortions partial omissions, half-truths, and downright lies presented in his acceptance speech are well beyond the scope of this little ditty, but the one I found most disconcerting was the realization that during the 70 minutes he was pontificating about how well he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 Americans were dying. In ICUs across the country, wires were removed, tubes were extracted, oxygen valves were closed, bodies were covered, and transferred from beds to gurneys. 47 families would receive the dreaded phone call, denied the option of that final kiss or squeeze of a hand. Yes, over 1,000 people still die of this scourge in our country daily while Nero Trump fiddles and pretends it is “under control.” Whatever happened to the term: negligent homicide?

 

A Brief History of Campaigning and Elections

With Trump’s survival of impeachment, the only recourse left for those of us who are convinced that he is unfit for office is to replace him by voting him out. It didn’t take long after the birth of this republic for people to start looking for ways to game the system. The founders were a bit skittish themselves about who they should trust with the power to hire people to run things. Half the population was eliminated from the start for everyone recognized that women were much too emotional and illogical to be allowed such awesome power. However, it is interesting to note that there were already signs that rebellion was afoot, for Abigail Adams wrote her husband to suggest to him that it was time for women to have their say. John of course realized this was ridiculous (sorry Maggie). Native Americans and slaves were among other groups who were automatically denied voting privileges.


Although there was general agreement among the founders that self-government was the ideal, there was no precedent as to how this could be accomplished as monarchies and theocracies had been the rule for centuries. There was concern as to the ability of the masses to make informed decisions due to their lack of literacy and their perceived naivete leaving them more vulnerable to charismatic leaders. I found it interesting to note that many, John Adams in particular, were also concerned about the formation of political parties which he felt could lead to divisiveness. There was prolonged debate as to how elections could be done, but they finally arrived at the compromise we call the electoral college.

 

Initially it was considered unseemly for one to campaign for the Presidency for it was felt to be an honor to be chosen and not solicited. It was not long however until campaigns, especially for the highest office, became competitive and efforts to cheat began. Buying votes with money, booze, food, or privilege was common. Following the Civil War with masses of former slaves having won the right to vote emphasis shifted to finding ways to prevent voting with poll taxes, literacy tests, vagrancy laws, requirements to own property, or threats of bodily harm, largely initiated by democrats who were a majority in the south. With the civil rights movement headed by a democrat, the south rapidly switched parties and took over the voter suppression business.


In 1965 the voting rights act became law consequently; efforts to suppress voting have become much more sophisticated. There has been gerrymandering, shortened hours to vote, fewer polls in selected districts, increased difficulties in registering, purging of rolls, and more complex ID requirements. Since nationwide, democrats outnumber republicans, and a larger percentage of republicans usually vote, a lower vote total usually favors the republicans. Now we have a unique problem in that we are facing the challenge of conducting a national election in the midst of a serious pandemic.


Voting Today

In the midst of a time when it is advisable to minimize human contact, the most obvious solution would be to enhance voting by mail. Several states have had very favorable experiences with such plans including a significant increase in voter turnout which from the republican point of view may not be such a good thing. Fortunately for Republicans our genius President has implemented a plan. He appointed a buddy to run the postal department with instructions to dismantle or at least disable the entire system in order to prevent a millions of ballots from being counted. He has also promised a backup plan to intimidate disadvantaged voters by dispatching police or armed troops at polling places throughout the country (guess which ones?).

Trump using White House as prop and military saluting at the RNC political event held at the White House. Right: Putin

RED FLAGS Anyone? | Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You! 

For the first time in our country’s history a sitting president has suggested delaying a national election. He has also refused to agree to abide by the results of the upcoming election, and appears to be setting the stage to invalidate it by predicting that there will be lots of fraudulent votes and that it is “rigged.” He characterizes the press as “the enemy” and has set an all time record regarding the number of associates and staff members who have been found guilty of felonies. He meddles in court decisions and constantly finds ways to subvert constitutional oversight. He has congratulated and expressed envy of those world leaders who have been given lifetime terms in office. He alienates our nation’s friends and coddles our enemies. I have written in previous blogs as to how I believe his insatiable ego needs prevent him from experiencing any concern about right, wrong, or the effects his behaviors might have on others. In ordinary circumstances Trump’s braggadocio, bullying, lying, impulsiveness, and impaired judgement would be laughable, and indeed it was before he became president, but now that he has become the most powerful man in the world these qualities make him the most dangerous man in the world.


Trump and I Agree on One Thing

There is one statement made by Trump in which I am in total agreement: this is indeed the most important election in my long memory and perhaps the most important in the entire history of this nation. We must spare no effort to assure this election is not stolen and that every vote is counted. That includes making a lot of noise about this attempt to cripple the postal service.
Meanwhile, be alert, stay healthy and vote early.

No Filter | Straight Talk from Eshrink | Pandemic Unplugged

Updated 9:03 PM to correct COVID-19 Numbers.

Editor’s Note: All pertinent links are at the bottom of this post so they don’t interrupt Eshrink’s Straight Talk. Eshrink confided in me that he was concerned this post might be too sarcastic, it might offend some people, it might be too negative. I reminded him that sarcasm is a powerful literary device that has been used by scores of Pulitzer Prize Winning authors. I reminded him that Eshrinkblog.com is a censorship-free zone. I reminded him that he has earned the right to write whatever he sees fit.  So fasten your seat belt loyal eshrink readers, this retired psychiatrist who dedicated six decades to a career in medicine is unplugged and uncensored.

Pence and White House Task Force on Coronavirus COVID-19

Yesterday, I tuned into the latest White House dog and pony show.  The big dog was absent.  Apparently, keeping him away was the only way to prevent Donald Doofus from screwing up this latest campaign event masquerading as a report by the White House COVID-19 task force.  However, the ass-kisser-in-chief, Mr. Pence, did an admirable job in explaining in great detail what a wonderful job the president has done in managing the pandemic and saving “thousands” of lives.  He outlined in great detail how the administration has provided the leadership responsible for the control of the pandemic.  He touted the marvelous job done by federal agencies in providing needed medical equipment and protective gear.  Even more amazing was the “tremendous” success in providing COVID-19 testing.

All in all, the Veep’s chat was very reassuring (unless you are person who dares to look at the facts).

Johns Hopkins Map illustrates COVID-19 Data Pandemic Worldwide

  • The United States accounts for about 4.3% of the world’s population, but has 25% the worldwide COVID-19 deaths.
  • We are #1 in COVID-19 Confirmed Cases. 2.6 million.
  • #1 in COVID-19 related deaths. 126,493 in the USA out of 507,166 worldwide
  • We are #1 in COVID!

No wonder I didn’t feel reassured.  Having years ago, read a bit about the risk of world-wide pandemics, I likewise was not reassured when Trump early on minimized the seriousness of the “Kung Flu.”  Furthermore, I doubt that those who have survived this illness, lost loved ones to it, or witnessed their last breaths, would see the humor in that term.  It was not until the very end of Pence’s lengthy introductory remarks that he spoke a truth when he said: “We still have more work to do.” Talk about an understatement!

 

Dr. Birx

Next up was Dr. Birx – the lady of the $600 Hermes neck scarves.  She serves as one of the experts on pandemics.  Back in the days before all the world’s information was available on the internet, physicians attended a lot of conferences in order to stay on top of the latest poop in medicine.  We laughingly defined an expert as someone 50 miles from home with slides.  In addition to her scarves, Dr. Birx proved her bonafides as an expert with an array of slides, which were dazzling in their quantity and complexity.  She flipped through them in such rapid succession that even if I were smart enough to understand them, it wouldn’t have helped.

Dr. Fauci at White House Press Conference COVID-19 briefing press conference

Next up, the always sensible and understandable Dr. Fauci, who usually leaves me wondering as to what he thinks about the crap he hears coming from the mouths of Doofus and his sycophants.  Dr. Redfield, the CDC director was next up.  He was all in favor of Motherhood and Apple Pie.  There has been some suggestions that he has been muzzled by the great one, but how could anyone even consider that all these elite scientists who have dedicated their lives to learning about science, infectious diseases, and medicine, could know as much about this stuff as our own very stable genius President.

The Veep’s closing remarks and “question-no-answer” session was blessedly brief, generally following the maxim: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”  The Q & A session ended rather abruptly when the press corps insisted on real answers.  In the absence of the big dog who would have been courageous enough to confront them about their audacity to seek information for the public by asking questions, the only option for the little dog  (Pence) was to walk away.  After watching to the bitter end, I took a few minutes to calm my raging anger, and attempted to make a list of all the distortions, half truths, and misinformation spewed out by Pence to be used in this blog, but I was soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

While watching the performance, this tired old brain did light up with an insight.  It suddenly occurred to me that therein may lie the answer to a question which has bothered me for some time i.e. how in the world did this COVID thing become politicized.  After all, the virus does not belong to a political party and we are all equally susceptible to infection, yet red state and blue state responses seem to be different.   Charades like this “press conference” along with Trump’s insistence that everything is under control and his constant assertion that the “fake news media” is exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic must be factors which lead to the false sense of security which is so often seen in those who proudly wear their red baseball caps.  The message is undoubtedly enhanced by Trump’s own propaganda machine – Fox News (not to mention his own tweets).

Trump at Tulsa Rally during COVID 19 Pandemic

Loyal Trumpers show up by the thousands to watch their hero’s one man shows.  They are absolutely fearless and crowd in shoulder to shoulder.  Their naked faces are a testament to their disdain for all that overblown scientific stuff and they insist, as does VP Pence, that they have a constitutional right to refuse a face mask.  I did not realize the constitution said anything about a right to disseminate disease, but what do I know?  However, the “breaking news” today was that not only was Pence seen wearing a mask, but he announced that everyone should follow his lead and wear face masks.  The pundits made a big deal about this being a break with Trump, but I can’t imagine Pence having the gonads to challenge his highness.

This was the first White House production by the task force in more than a month, but was improved only due to the absence of Trump.  Fauci did provide useful and straightforward information, but I was left wondering how many more lives may be lost as a result of the failure to adequately portray the seriousness of the situation in which we face with this highly infectious serious illness for which we have no effective treatment.  Without a treatment, our only hope is to contain it until a treatment or preventative vaccine is available.

As Fauci pointed out, such strategies require sacrifices on the part of people to which they are unlikely to adhere if they are not appraised of the danger we face.  Self aggrandizement can wait.  For now let’s focus on solutions please.

 

Link to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map

Link to White House Task Coronavirus Task Force Briefing June 26, 2020, with video

Blast from the Past: Editor’s Pick | The Priceless Video of Dr. Birx when Trump wants her to confirm she is looking into injecting disinfectants into the human body and or inserting a powerful light into human beings to fight the pandemic

 

Are You For It or Against It? The Danger of Polarity in America.

Introduction by the Eshrink Editor: I am woefully behind on my blog duties. Eshrink wrote this blog more than two weeks ago. The subject arose from a discussion we were having about the polarity of this country (I think at the time, we were talking about the wearing of masks in that it seemed we had become divided as in “the mask people” and the “no-mask people”) and the idea that people seem to be fervently against something more than being fervently “for” something. He takes you step by step on what’s wrong, but brings us back to hope in the end…see the excerpt below.

In my most recent essay, I defined integrity as the value which incorporates the personal qualities we hold dear, all of which involve caring. The past few months have abruptly and severely tested the integrity of the American people, and with few exceptions they can be proud of their success. We have seen millions venture out with faces covered in order to protect others. We witnessed courage and dedication, of those directly and indirectly involved in caring for the sick. Thousands have volunteered to work in food banks. People of all colors, ethnicities, and genders in the hundreds of thousands have gone forth to demonstrate for racial equality.

 

The Values Series Led Me Here

While ruminating over this stuff about values, it occurred to me that as a society, we seem to be more preoccupied with what we are against than what we are for. Such a position presents a major impediment to negotiation and is likely to provoke anger. This appears to be the case with our two houses of Congress, in which the most recent bill proposed by the house was promised by McConnell to be “dead on arrival” in the senate, hardly an invitation to look for common ground. Of course, what the senate proposes is not likely to be greeted with open arms by the house either. Consequently; the process of negotiation won’t happen. Perhaps John Adams had it right in his assessment of the two-party system. But then I continue to be amazed at the wisdom of those old guys and in particular of their ability to foresee the problems involved in preserving what they had built.

John Adams Quote that warns about the problems with a 2 party system

 

COVID-19

There is little good news to be found today. The death toll from the corona virus has now passed 115,000, yet these numbers do not tell the whole story. Nearly all of these souls died alone, and isolated from family. Traditional measures used to facilitate grieving have been restricted due to the pandemic. Well over 40 million survivors have filed for unemployment with untold numbers standing in line to follow suit. The United States, touted as the most advanced and prosperous nation in the world, has now achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the world leader in such horrific numbers. With only 4.2% of the world’s population, the United States has now registered over 25% of the deaths due to COVID-19, yet our President heaps praises on himself for having done a great job in managing the pandemic. We were warned for decades that such a pandemic was inevitable, yet we were woefully unprepared, and even worse at exercising any control over it.

 

GEORGE FLOYD

If that were not enough, we now find ourselves witnessing the murder of one of our citizens by one sworn to protect us. There was universal outrage and sadness. Peaceful demonstrations protesting police brutality and injustice soon became hate filled with wanton destruction throughout the land. Throughout history, our most successful civilian defenders of human rights have used peaceful protests as their weapons of choice. Ghandhi and Martin Luther King were the most recent initiators of that strategy, but more than 2500 years ago Buddha said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”


Complicit Passivity

It is obvious that we screwed up big time in leaving ourselves so vulnerable, and I emphasize the word “we” for we have been complicit by our passivity in not making ourselves aware of what our elective representatives are doing or neglecting to do. The politicians have protected us from injury from a falling sky by never admitting that they screwed up, but in spite of years of warnings by our scientists, we have been very poor stewards of our environment thereby setting the stage for a catastrophic pandemic. In like fashion, since its beginning, we have suffered from a lack of leadership in dealing with issues of civil rights and equal justice under the law.

 

I’m Against It

Although there is a long history of disagreement between republicans and democrats, in the past, the focus was to a large extent on issues. For example, when a Democratic President pushed through a Civil Rights Bill, the south quickly switched to the party of Lincoln and those in the North who mostly supported the legislation became Democrats. The once solidly democratic south became rabidly republican in less time than it takes to say “back of the bus.”

 

Then came the abortion issue, which proved to be even more divisive, since for many, it involved strongly-held religious beliefs. Both these issues were very personal to large segments of the populace and consequently divisive.


Although not so overt as the abortion rights ruling, civil rights issues continue to smolder, and in the past few days have reared their ugly heads again. Some Christians see abortion as murder and therefore feel obligated to protest. This has led to episodes of intimidation, name calling and even violence. There have been other times in our history when issues have been divisive, e.g. prohibition, women’s suffrage, Vietnam, and worst of all a Civil War, all from which we have largely recovered. The current climate of personal animus continues to deepen with political discourse routinely including personal insults and character assassination.


Follow the Money

It has been said that in order to follow most things in politics one must follow the money, and in our last presidential election there was a lot to follow. According to open secrets.org, 5.6 billion dollars was spent on the presidential and congressional election campaigns of 2016. In addition to that, it is estimated that Mr. Trump received an additional 5 billion dollars of free time on the networks by being TV savvy, thereby proving that outrageousness sells. Ten years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that money equals speech and since then there has been a lot of such speech so that in the coming election it is expected the ante will be increased even more.


The foregoing factors, along with research indicating that negative campaigning is more effective than a focus on issues, resulted in personal attacks becoming the norm. The effectiveness of this strategy is demonstrated by its effect on Hillary Clinton whose approval dived from 71% in 2011 to 43% in 2016. See this link for more info. There was much anecdotal information that many of the votes for Trump were actually due to an intense dislike for Clinton, a modern-day version of the ancient proverb: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”


Such a political orientation can be dangerous, for it may lead to decisions overly influenced by emotions. The current pandemic is the latest example in which political orientation seems to override facts. I have been totally amazed to see the response to this virus, which proposes a threat to all of us to be viewed differently depending on party affiliation. Although the same facts are available to everyone, we face the same enemy, and we are all equally at-risk, responses differ largely along party lines.


Previous Assaults on Our Country

During my lifetime, I have witnessed two previous dramatic assaults on this country, every detail of which I remember in vivid detail. The first was The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which resulted in a resounding and immediate flourish of patriotic fervor with unbounded support for the government. Later, the destruction of the World Trade Center produced a similar reaction. In both these instances, there was indeed a sense that we really were “all in this together.” The focus was on what could be done and how to do it. Who to blame or what could have been done to prevent these disasters were put aside to be debated at a later time.


This pandemic is an equal opportunity threat not only to our country but to the whole world. Granted, there is much to complain about and I have been among the chief complainers. Nevertheless, there is much of which we can be proud. Although there have been instances of profiteering by the usual group of pathetically twisted individuals, they are an insignificant minority. We have witnessed with awe those hundreds of thousands of ordinary people go forth without weapons to courageously battle an unseen foe, while others have risked their lives in order to provide the means which allow the rest of us to remain safely tucked away in our homes.


Hope Springs Eternal…

In 1732, Alexander Pope wrote: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and in spite or perhaps because of, all the potentially catastrophic events confronting us, there are signs that such hope may now be springing forth. Hope is the great motivator. It adds zest. It welcomes challenge and allows big dreams. Without hope, life lacks meaning. Indeed, hopelessness is frequently associated with suicidal ideation, and there has been a well-documented increase in the rates of depression and suicide in the past few years. It is also true that we have not seen a lot of good news or optimism about the future of ourselves or our planet, and as a consequence it appears to me that we have become focused on all those things we are against with little thought as to what we are for.


You may be thinking “what in the world is hopeful about rioting, looting, massive unemployment, climate change, pollution, racism, and thousands of deaths from a worldwide pandemic that is hopeful.” A couple of nights ago, I stayed up very late mesmerized while watching the demonstrations which mostly featured lawlessness fueled by hatred, greed and disrespect. I went to bed feeling very sad and asking myself the age-old question, what is happening to my country, and does anyone give a damn? I only knew that I was against whatever was going on.


The Helpers

The next morning, I awakened to a view of people who had brought their own shovels and brooms to begin cleaning up the broken glass and debris left by the rioters. Since the looters had retired for the day and there was no sensational news available, the TV crew interviewed some of these kind souls who told of how disheartened they were to see their peaceful demonstrations marred by hoodlums, and how they had tried to stop them. Since then, I have been heartened to hear stories of how many of those charged with law enforcement have been able to show respect for the demonstrators and their cause. They learned that in many instances kneeling with them was more effective than pepper spray. It appears to me that the witnessing of an actual murder on nationwide TV has had a significant impact as witnessed by the large number of white folks who join in the demonstrations. It is all enough to give hope that hundreds of years of racial injustice may finally end.


Integrity and Us

In my most recent essay, I defined integrity as the value which incorporates the personal qualities we hold dear, all of which involve caring. The past few months have abruptly and severely tested the integrity of the American people, and with few exceptions they can be proud of their success. We have seen millions venture out with faces covered in order to protect others. We witnessed courage and dedication, of those directly and indirectly involved in caring for the sick. Thousands have volunteered to work in food banks. People of all colors, ethnicities, and genders in the hundreds of thousands have gone forth to demonstrate for racial equality.


Granted, there has been much anger and even hatred demonstrated, but our ideals are not lost. The integrity of the average guy gives me hope that problems can be solved and love will take care of the hatred for as the good book says: THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

The Values Series | HUMILITY

HUMILITY
Since it has become clear that we are currently facing a serious pandemic, my first inclination was to make this an “I told you so” essay and refer to a previous blog in which I quoted epidemiologists who assured us that future pandemics were inevitable. However, my self-righteousness was dimmed with the realization that I belonged in the high-risk category for serious complications from this bug. It also occurred to me that a time of crisis may be an appropriate time to examine our values as such times put them to the test. Thus, I decided to proceed as planned with a look at humility, which Confucius said was “the foundation of all virtues.”


As I mentioned in the first post of this series, the purpose of values is to allow us to get along with each other and thereby accomplish things. Alone we are relatively helpless, together we can and do move mountains. Those with particular expertise in the management of pandemics emphasize the importance of our helping each other since our best weapon for containing the disease lies in quarantining those who are infected, leaving them dependent on others for life’s necessities.


United We Stand. Divided We Fall.

It seems to me that during those major crises which have occurred during my lifetime, there has been a tendency for us to come together as a nation although; there have always been a few looking to exploit any such situation. Most would agree that the country is now more divided than it has been for the past 150 years, and I was struck by the timeliness of the subject of today’s blog when I ran into a quote from Socrates: “Pride divides the men, humility joins them.” I believe it safe to say that few of those faithful fans of our President would suggest that he oozes humility, and indeed his attempts to reassure have left us even farther apart. I can’t help but wonder if that humility deficit contributes in some way to our widening breach. 


Much of my career was spent dealing with patients who suffered from a poor self-image. In some cases their dislike of themselves had resulted in lives of misery and even self-destructive behaviors. Such problems are often confused with the concept of humility. As a matter of fact, some dictionaries list words such as meek, shy, and submissive as synonyms, but humility has nothing to do with wimpiness or poor self-esteem. It is on the contrary a mark of strength. In that regard, Rick Warren’s quote from C.S. Lewis that appears in Warren’s book (The Purpose Driven Life) is most helpful:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself…it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis

Rick Warren is quoted as saying:

“Humility isn’t denying your strengths, it’s being honest about your weaknesses.”


Humility offers a kind of freedom not accessible to the braggart, for humble people have nothing to prove. One person has anonymously defined humility as synonymous with the word “Truth” and the long-held maxim that a good liar must have a good memory still holds true. But the comfort offered by humility is best expressed by Mother Teresa:

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

Humility is after all an expression of concern for one’s fellow man.


Pride: The Opposite of Humility

Pride on the other hand is the opposite of humility, and its symptom is arrogance, which masks insecurity. My Father who was well known for his pithy comments referred to those who he thought were arrogant with the phrase: “He thinks his shit don’t stink.” Ezra Taft Benson, Politician/Mormon leader said “Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right. We read in Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Without humility, one can hardly ever know what others feel, for when empathy is lacking, relationships are apt to be superficial. When we are self-absorbed, the needs of others go largely unnoticed.
It is of course natural to feel pleased with our accomplishments and to be admired for them, but we humans are often prone to toot our own horn too loudly.

There is a Chinese proverb which gives the best advice:

“Be like the bamboo, the higher you grow the deeper you bow”

The Muslim prophet Muhammad said:

“The best of people is the one who humbles himself the more his rank increases”

Although history suggests he did not always follow it, Theodore Roosevelt advised: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” When bragging about ourselves, we will often find ourselves treated with disgust rather than the respect which we are seeking. We are more likely to find respect when we let our deeds do the talking.


To prepare for this blog post, I noted a lot in the literature which associated humility with both leadership and wisdom. As you may have noticed, I am particularly fond of those one-liners which say a lot in a few words. For example Socrates, who most people think was a bright fellow, said:

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”

A few centuries later, Einstein would echo the same sentiment by saying:

“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”

However, some wise quotes also originate from non-genius types such as Mike Tyson who allegedly said: “If you are not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you,” thus seeming to echo the previous mentioned quote from Proverbs. There was also Pauline, part time philosopher and full-time cleaning lady who once informed me: “They ain’t no bird flies so high that he don’t have to come down for a drink.”


The Humility/Wisdom Connection

Initially, I was puzzled by those attempts to link humility with wisdom until it occurred to me that if wisdom is the possession of truth coupled with the ability to interpret it, it follows that pride might get in the way of finding it. Then I discovered that someone had defined humility as “staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know.” So much for those guys/girls who “know it all.”


Leadership

It is in times of crisis that leadership becomes our most valuable asset. Indeed, without it, failure is likely, if not inevitable, and humility has time and again shown itself to be a prerequisite for leadership. Now we are facing a crisis with the potential to create havoc worldwide. Leadership requires the ability to analyze, organize, plan and implement, but of equal importance, is the ability to inspire and empathize. A good leader must adhere to the truth no matter how dire the circumstances. Hollow reassurances or sugar-coating undermine confidence and respect. Our greatest fears are of the unknown, and there is much we don’t know about this pandemic. Unchecked fear without hope leads to panic. A good leader will validate the fear while offering hope.


An oft quoted example in which those criteria were satisfied was in Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech. The country was in the midst of a depression so severe that people were going hungry and the very survival of the country was in question. It began with that most famous line: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It marked a turning point leading the country from the depths of despair to a newfound sense of hopefulness. A second speech heard during my lifetime was Churchill’s never surrender speech in 1940. It also gets high marks by satisfying all the previously mentioned criteria for humility. It succeeded in motivating the entire English citizenry in a time of extreme fear and uncertainty.


In both these addresses you will find few first-person singular pronouns for as is always the case with humility the focus is not on oneself, but concern for others. Its opposite, which we call narcissism, is concern for self only. With that in mind, little wonder that our malignantly narcissistic leader is unlikely to go down in history as the humility President. During the past week, I have spared myself the agony of watching the Donald’s daily briefings on the alleged progress on dealing with the corona virus. In any other context, they would be laughable, but with the seriousness of this pandemic they prompt me with the desire to take my 12 gauge to the TV.


The Poster Child for Failed and Flawed Leadership

Yesterday, I relented and watched one of our dear leader’s ego massages disguised as a news conference. I endured this disgusting production in spite of the nausea produced by watching that pathetic group of ass kissers pay homage to the person who has once again demonstrated his incompetence by doing a Nero impersonation. The group stands shoulder to shoulder, ignoring admonitions from epidemiologists to maintain six feet of separation. The diminutive Dr. Faucci stood with arms folded on his chest, a clear message that he was not receptive to this charade.


Trump began with one of his classic truthful but not wholly truthful statements. He proudly announced that the U.S. had now done more tests for the virus than had South Korea, failing to mention that our population is 5 times larger, which means our per capita rate is much lower. This was followed by a series of self-congratulatory remarks about how he had now brought the situation under control in spite of having inherited a totally dysfunctional CDC, failing to mention that he had recently proposed draconian cuts to their budget. There was the usual litany of blaming for any of the pandemic associated problems. (NOTE: Trump’s budget proposals called for 17% cut to the CDC for Fiscal 2018; a 19.6% cut in Fiscal 2019; $750.6 million cut in Fiscal 2020; and $693.3 million (9%) cut for 2021, which Trump sent to Congress o Feb. 10, after the COVID-19 outbreak began and the first U.S. case was confirmed on Jan. 20. However, these were the President’s proposals to cut the budget. We are fortunate our founders understood the balance of power. Check your Civics lessons. The Congress is in charge of the country’s budget. Fortunately, they rejected these drastic cuts. Here is link where the eshrink editor retrieved that information.

His concerns about the pandemic were mostly about its effect on the stock market, but he was most reassuring, saying he expected the worst to be over in a couple of weeks so that people could go back to work and the economy would bounce back bigger and better than ever. This was followed by a parade of his adoring sycophants, who one by one heaped praise on the great one for having saved thousands of lives through his tireless efforts (must have cut into his golf game big time). Then comes scrawny Dr. Faucci who steps up to the mic to heroically speak truth to the power that towers next to him, by contradicting much of what the Donald has just said. The show ended with the President rudely accusing one of the reporters of being rude for asking a seemingly benign question, then continuing on with a rant about the poor guy’s competence, objectivity and other shortcomings, barely stopping short of a commentary about his mother’s lineage.

Link to Trump’s March 29th Rant on Reporter

Link to Compilation Video of Trump’s Recent Attacks on the Media during COVID-10 Press Conferences (MUST WATCH)

Link to Trump’s March 20th Attack on Reporter at Press Conference


Portraits of Successful Leadership

Today I watched the reports by both the New York Governor and my own governor. In both cases, the governors and their staffs were assembled in chairs with the recommended distance between them.  They were both effusive in their accolades for those involved in dealing with the crisis, but thankfully not for themselves. They acknowledged our distress and fearfulness, but were brutally honest about what lay ahead. There were facts galore (actually more than I needed) and a plan of action was laid out along with what was already being done.  We were given assurances that we were not alone. I was still worried, but more hopeful.  I gained a new respect for my governor who I previously labeled as a doofus (he is a republican after all).  He gained not only my vote, but my confidence in his ability to deal with the threat, and left me feeling as if we really were in this thing together.

Yep, humility definitely works better than bluster.


Next topic in the values series will be respect if I can find some examples.