Reflections on the Pandemic

Back in March when we learned we were in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, most everyone I know panicked. We were stocking up on groceries, frantically searching for masks, ingesting tons of Vitamins C and D, and in general truly frightened about the unknown we were about to experience. My friends who are in my age group discussed how we isolate from our kids and grandkids to keep from getting the virus and those who have elderly parents were very frightened for them as well. In the beginning we got a lot of conflicting messages- wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, the virus can live for days on hard surfaces so we were all disinfecting our canned goods, leaving our clothes in the garage when we got home and washing our hands until they were raw.And watching the news on television to get the latest updates on closings, new cases, deaths and what color zone we were in.We are seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic and what if anything have we learned? One, masks have become a political statement. If you wear one you must be a Democrat. If you savor your personal freedoms and choose not to wear a mask, you must be a conservative or a libertarian. For me a mask is not a political sign, it just makes good sense. Two. Life as we knew it has changed for good I suspect. Education, sports, healthcare and your workplace may be forever changed. Colleges are almost all online now and other than having a place to socialize and hang out with friends, I am not sure traditional teaching in classrooms will survive the pandemic. Healthcare is changed for sure- how easy is it to call your Doc on Zoom and let her look down your throat or check out your rash. Big time sports now have 1/4 of the fans they had last year and you know, it’s pretty nice to watch it on a 65″ TV screen and not have to fight traffic and the crowds. I am concerned for our economy bouncing back with the changes we are seeing with our working from home model. In New York City, I am told downtown Manhattan and Wall Street offices are empty and may not ever come back. Commercial realtors and contractors may suffer immensely if this trend continues. I was already working from home and so it hasn’t affected my bottom line but I do occasionally miss Market Square at lunch and hanging out with my associates and friends. Now we try to get together at a restaurant that has outdoor seating! Not sure what we will do now that colder weather is coming.We...

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It Really Does Matter Who Governs

As we approach the November 3 elections, I want to urge everyone to vote because it really does matter who governs. In Tennessee we have not only the Presidential selection up but also a US Senator, all nine Congressmen, all 99 State House seats and several State Senator seats as well. If we live by the mantra that all politics is local, then you must vote in the local races because they affect your daily life the most.But what about the Presidential race? R or D or I, it’s important this time, maybe more so than at anytime in my lifetime. I know, I know, candidates say this every four years to try to get you to vote for them. But this time, there is a significant difference in the two parties’ platforms. Joe Biden, the D, has said he will raise your taxes on day one. Donald Trump cut individual taxes as well as corporate taxes after he was elected in 2016. And those cuts brought about the most robust economy in our country’s history. That is until the pandemic hit!Biden and Harris in order to secure their party’s nomination, had to move to the far left, to appease the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democrat party. Biden used to be a moderate Democrat but that is no longer true because he has to pander to the special interests groups now. So if he wins and it appears that he’s in the lead as of today prepare for an increase in your individual taxes, and if you own a business, in your corporate taxes as well. They have made that very clear.Regardless of what you think of Trump personally, you must admit that he has nominated Constitutionalists to the Supreme Court and his current nominee Amy Barrett appears to be an outstanding jurist. IF Biden wins and the D’s take the Senate and keep the House then prepare for “court packing” to be one of their first priorities. What does that mean? It means they will pass a law that allows the Supreme Court to increase any number of seats from the current nine to as many as it takes to change the conservative bent of the Court as it is now. It’s happened before and it certainly will this time if they win.President Trump, for all his faults and he certainly has many, has enacted policies that have helped this country prosper- the tax cuts, getting rid of onerous business regulations, standing up to our allies and demanding they pay their fair share in organizations, has pushed “buying American” products and brought companies that had left America back home. He talks too much, his...

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2018 Governor’s Race: Show Me the Money

The race to replace Knoxville’s own Governor Bill Haslam started last year and even before that with one or two of the candidates.  The ads have now begun in earnest and the only folks really happy about that are in the media, particularly in television, because of the mass amounts of money that will be expended on advertising by at least 6 candidates.   Before August of this year, most of us are going to be sick of hearing about which Republican and Democrat can make Tennessee even greater in the future.  I don’t think we will see any of them touting the slogan of “making Tennessee great again.”  By any measure our state is in great shape, especially financially because our Constitution mandates a balanced budget.  If only the Founding Fathers had thought of that for our country, right? What is going to be interesting to watch will be the amount of money each of the six major candidates will pull out of their own pockets or pocketbooks to fund their campaigns.  The latest disclosures showed the following:  Republicans:  Knoxville’s Randy Boyd -$7.4 million but of that he has personally written a check for $4 million; 6th District Congressman Diane Black- $2.75 million of which she put in $1 million; Speaker of the House Beth Harwell “raised” $5 million but of that, she loaned her campaign $3.1 million and transferred $987K from her state House committee; businessman Bill Lee had  $3.5 million, $2 million of his own money.  On the Democrat side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean reported $2.6 million with a paltry $200K coming from his pocket.  Democrat House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh raised $800K with $500K being from him.  That already totals about $23 million “raised” with a tidy $11 million coming from the candidates’ bank accounts or their campaign accounts! What that likely means is Tennessee will see the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in our state’s history.  Does it matter? Does it send the message that only the wealthy and affluent can run for governor? Certainly a candidate has to be able to raise enough money to compete, to buy name identification if he or she doesn’t already have it and to pay for overpriced, out of state consultants who consistently assure their candidates they can’t win without buying more last minute ads and mailers.  And of course enough to pay the consultants a hefty fee.  Gone are the days where a candidate could give “stump” speeches at the courthouses and hope to win.  Even having grassroots organizations in all 95 counties no longer assure victory. It really is about the money and the ability to raise it, transfer it or write a personal check...

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“Democracy Is Not Your Plaything”

This is the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal recently written by Peggy Noonan who I consider to be one of the best and brightest.  She starts with, “Everyone, get serious.”  No kidding Peggy.  The 100 plus days that Donald J. Trump has been President of the United States have been nothing more than turmoil.  Whose fault is that?  It’s certainly both sides of the aisle at this point.  Noonan says “the sheer gravity of the drama will demand the best from all of us. Are we up to it?”  She also writes that “every new blunder, every suggestion of an illegality, gives them pleasure.”  The “they” in this case is the Democrats, the liberals, the media, you name it.  Perhaps everyone but those who voted for President Trump.  And perhaps even some of them are now doubting their votes.  Trump, who we all hoped would become presidential when elected, continues to tweet, boast, criticize, and blunder his way across the nation and now the world. Noonan goes on to pose the question that if Trump were to be removed as in impeachment, what would it say to the tens of millions who voted for him? ” Is democracy a con, the swamp always wins, you nobodies can make your little choice but we’re in control?”  But if he truly is not fit to be President, how much time do we let pass?  As she said, these are gut-wrenching questions and this is no time for blood lust and delight. “Because democracy is not your plaything.”  Indeed it is not.  Trump was legally elected, to the Democrat and liberals dismay.  Yes, the electoral college is the way we elect our presidents and until it’s changed, it will continue to be.  Republicans and Democrats who have represented us in Congress over the past several years can take a good portion of the blame for his victory.  The “forgotten people” who voted in 2016 were fed up with politics as usual and wanted a dramatic change in leadership.  They got it but now what do they do with it?  The hearings that will be held on Russian interference in the elections, Trump’s staff and or his own involvement, etc. will consume us for the next year or so.  In the meantime, what happens with governing the country?  What becomes of healthcare reform, tax reform, immigration policy?  Probably very little or no action.  We must get our focus on the really important issues that confront us but I don’t know how that happens with the current bloodsport going on in D.C.  Either Trump and his staff have to make a dramatic turnaround quickly or the leadership in the Congress...

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Trump Serves Useful Purpose

After watching the second GOP debate last evening I had an epiphany. I am delighted that Donald Trump is running for president as a Republican. Why you may ask? He’s brash, insulting to women, not quite ready for prime time on the issues and so many more phrases that I won’t even bother to list. But oh my gosh has he energized my party or what! Millions of Americans are watching eleven people stand on a stage for three hours talking about each other, how they look, where their families came from, and on occasion about issues that matter to most Americans. Why? Because they are waiting for The Donald to insult, demean or just insert his Gucci loafer into his mouth. This is great, right? It is because it finally has gotten the American people interested in the GOP primary. No more dullards citing statistics about the gold standard or the gross national product. This is entertainment television, made for prime time, voyuerism at its finest. And while I don’t think Trump will stand the test of time, it has certainly shone the spotlight on at least 10 others, one of whom will be our party’s nominee for president. I would also argue that Trump’s entrance has made all of them better candidates than they would have been otherwise. He sucks the energy out of every room he enters, including the debate stage and the others have finally figured out that they have to come ready to compete, stand toe to toe with him if they are going to survive and advance. Jeb!Bush was a much better candidate/debater last evening. Chris Christie may be back in the game. Carly Fiorina was masterful. Thanks to Trump, she had some great “gotcha” moments. Marco was even more energized. Thanks to Trump, the country stopped what they were doing and tuned into CNN. Who knew the conservatives knew how to find CNN! Thanks Donald, we are a better party with you in...

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What’s A Moderate Republican To Do?

I am getting daily calls from my Republican friends asking me who I am supporting for the GOP nomination. I tell them I haven’t decided and it’s still early. Next there’s the inevitable question- what about Trump? My answer? Don’t write him off yet, it’s still early. Has Trump gone from a novelty candidate to a serious candidate? He certainly is the darling of the drive-by media as Rush L. likes to call them. Why not? He’s colorful, quotable, and accessible. What’s not to love, right? But can he get the nomination and can he win in November, 2016? Who knows, it’s still early. I know this. Trump has certainly tapped into the “silent majority,” or the folks that are “mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.” Clearly that 25% and growing are all over Donald Trump and his brash behavior. They love that finally someone is speaking up and out about what they think. Someone who doesn’t care if he’s politically correct and doesn’t mind telling the news media to sit down and shut up. He’s all that and more. But it’s the more that worries me. Can he sustain his momentum? Will the media tire of the novelty and start digging through his closets and if so, what will they find? Can he grasp the serious policy issues, including foreign policy, and make me believe he is capable of serving as president of these United States. The other sixteen or fifteen if Gov Rick Perry is on his way out have to begin proving they can out-trump Trump. Thus far, no one has been able to do that. Bush appears professorial; Rubio-really love his patriotism and energy but short on experience (note, same as Barack Obama when he was elected); Dr. Ben Carson- I would want him for my surgeon, still unsure about my president; Ted Cruz- very bright but too far right for me; John Kasich- maybe-managed as Governor, served in the Congress, moderate; Carly Fiorina-smart, tough, maybe. Still early. Time will tell I suspect. Republican nominees usually are selected by default. Whoever has the money and the organization usually win out while the others disappear. At this stage, that would be Bush. We also tend to pick nominees who have paid their dues, who’ve toiled in the fertile political fields- Bob Dole, George HW Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney. Well wouldn’t it be something if this time we didn’t? What if the man who has never tilled one field except his own were to be sustainable until the end? Can you imagine a Trump v Hillary (or Biden or Sanders) campaign? The media certainly would have fun. Not sure about us moderate...

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