Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Norms Buzz for Wednesday March 18, 2020

I've been fairly lazy about writing this blog. The problem has been so many
things to write about I can't decide and by the time I do decide the moment has passed. So I will try to do a morning piece on a variety of issues.

Beware the Ides of March (15) - and so it has come to pass. Did you know that March 15 was tax day in ancient Rome? Was Brutus using the assassination as a tax dodge?

And what about bad luck on Friday the 13th?

So we have been sheltering in place - sort of - in Rockaway after we spent a few days in the city last week and even went to a Broadway show last Tuesday night after going to the half price ticket line and finding no line at all for the first time ever. I didn't come back to Rockaway by ferry until Thursday - and I used the subway on Wednesday after going to the Delegate Assembly and taking a stained glass class at the UFT earlier that day. So if I did get contaminated I figure a week more. My brother and sister in law took a ten day cross Atlantic cruise and ended up in Barcelona with a return by air last Saturday morning, a few hours after the ban went into effect but they landed on Saturday and Global Pass got them through the passport check without the big crowds. They had to be checked I think they may have gone to some military base and then were released to go home and hibernate for 14 days.

My wife cancelled Passover which would have put 30 people in our house. Now we will have to live off massive briskets.

We have a tour of Baltic States scheduled for May 31 and are hoping that gets cancelled. We are still stuck for the air fair from Finair and for the costs of the visas to Russia.

The virus has subsumed everything and I see a dismal decade ahead. 20% unemployment will be lucky.

Having a second crisis just a dozen years after the last one - is that a sign of late stage capitalism decay?

A couple of articles in the NYT in Tuesday's (March 17 - St. Patrick Day or so they say) and Politico today struck me as worth commenting on.

Top Court Rules _______ Can Bypass Term Limits -- NYT - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/world/europe/russia-putin-president-for-life.html - Putin until 2036.

I left Putin's name out because I've been saying that if Trump gets re-elected and wants a third term the court may be so stacked that he gets it. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the virus being used to try to mess up the election - and in fact if Trump actually does somethings right will be used to argue for his re-election - don't change horses in mid-stream. (See the Politico article below.)

My fears which I hope to expound upon in the future is that Biden wins and is left with a ruined economy like Obama was and then gets blamed for the ruined economy and a slicker more civil version of Trump demagoguery gets elected in 2024 - think Victor Orban in Hungry - or Charles Lindbergh in 1940 in Roth's must read and watch on HBO - Plot Against America. Trump haters are in for a very real politic experience when he's gone where attempts to rally and demo will be met by troops.

Cuomo Si - the ever abrasive and suddenly apt governor cuomo - was the headline in Tuesday's NYT. On line the headline is:
This is sort of funny because I agree and I used to be a big Cuomo hater, especially due to his backing of charters and attacks on the teacher union - but our union did something right - ran a big campaign against him and for the last election he was more amenable. The union seemed more ambivalent about running against the IDC candidates but I think they did have some effect in eliminating them and had a big effect in winning back the state Senate for the Dems.

Cuomo is a master political operative and the article makes a point I have been thinking of: 
He wins elections by grinding opponents into dust before they can make it to the ballot box. He governs by transaction, not inspiration, as a dispenser of favors and destroyer of insurgents’ dreams, the purest master of the machine since Lyndon Johnson in his prime.
That is no faint praise. My wife and I have been talking about Cuomo in favorable terms since Trump was elected as the only Democrat who could supersede Trump in terms of viciousness - but he's our vicious guy. Trumpism has turned many people to the left but I find myself torn between turning left towards Bernie or right towards Cuomo. For many this current crisis is just the top of the heap that began with the Nov 2016 election. We expected nothing less than Trump fumbling the crisis -- a smart version of Trump would have seen right away how that could be a threat to his election but this guy never sees beyond the next few hours.

We actually thought Cuomo should have run this time but I am sure he is thinking 2024 no matter who wins because I don't see Biden doing a 2nd term. If Trump wins again Cuomo has a better path than if it's Biden, whose VP will have the head start. Also expect Bernie's successor to be a factor.

I will have a lot to say about the Bernie Biden situation later but my instinct is to stop attacking Biden and in essence putting up Trump ads because as I said last week:

I will say this again and again as a still Bernie movement fan - preserve and build on the movement - and a warning - today's young supporters are often tomorrow's centrist Dems or even Republicans. The sharp line at 45 between Biden and Bernie backers is indicative of people who have reached mid-career and with families. The key is if the younger gen actually reaches stability in their 40s. (Something I intend to explore in the future.)

Don't bury Trump yet
As usual the anti-Trumpers are trumpeting his demise over the virus and how he neglected it. Will they try to pin the blame on him for the deaths? Politico says "not so fast."
ADVANTAGE INCUMBENT? — The coronavirus is laying waste to the presidential primary, postponing elections and canceling traditional campaign activities as a fearful nation hunkers down.
And then there's the general election. The conventional wisdom is that President Donald Trump's uneven, and at times chaotic, handling of this crisis is deeply problematic for his reelection chances. But it may not be that simple.
So far, Trump has taken a beating. The economy is tanking, and just 46 percent of Americans believe the federal government is doing enough to confront coronavirus, down from 61 percent last month, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll . Few people trust what Trump is saying about the pandemic, the same poll found.
But Trump has time on his side, with the coronavirus spreading early in the election cycle. This week, the Republican president adopted a more somber tone, and Democrats are beginning to worry that he could mold the narrative to his benefit. A massive stimulus, including direct payments to Americans, could help him in November.
"The initial mishandling of the coronavirus by the government doesn't mean voters will penalize Trump in November," said Michael Ceraso, who worked for Sanders in 2016 and was Pete Buttigieg's New Hampshire director before leaving his campaign last year. "We know we have two candidates who can pivot this generation's largest health crisis to their policy strengths. But history tells us that an incumbent who steers us through a challenging time, a la Bush and 9/11 and Obama and the Great Recession, are rewarded with a second term."
And that's exactly how some in Trump's inner circle view it. People close to the Trump campaign acknowledge to our colleague, Alex Isenstadt, that the president didn't handle the response well in the opening weeks. But if the pandemic abates and the economy stabilizes by the fall, they see a scenario in which Trump comes out of the crisis framing it as an American comeback story and positioning himself as the leader who navigated the country through a crisis.
Adding to Democrats' concerns is that it could be months before they mount a unified offensive against Trump. In a normal year, the presidential primary would be shutting down by now, with Joe Biden extending his delegate lead and little left on the electoral map for Bernie Sanders to look forward to.
Last night was another disaster for Bernie and his fans. I am reading stuff from the left, right and center and some of the pro-Bernie blogs are not living in the real world. Think of the next steps for the Bernie movement and how to grow it, not shrink it. Maybe more later.

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