News Update-Day 14

I feel like I’m in “Groundhog Day,” every day is exactly the same. Which is weird. There’s nothing in the schedule, I wake up, read the papers, get on the computer…

I am anxious about sending so many missives about the coronavirus. People unsubscribe when there are too many missives a day. Then again, I write on inspiration, and right now I’m inspired.

I hope you read Jessica Lustig’s piece in the “New York Times”:

“What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick With Coronavirus – Our world became one of isolation, round-the-clock care, panic and uncertainty – even as society carried on around us with all too few changes.”

Actually, I know Jessica, but I haven’t seen her in years. She worked at “Details” after the turn of the century, when I wrote a couple of articles for them. I went to New York, we went for lunch, we talked on the phone a few times and then I followed her from afar, as we all do these days, virtually stalking, staying in touch with people we know but no longer communicate with. I enjoyed her article a few years back about taking her family skiing at Mad River Glen.

This story started making the rounds yesterday, it was all over Twitter, I got a bit of e-mail about it. I clicked through on my phone and saw the illustration but not the author, and then, late in the day, I had time and the inclination to read it and noticed it was written by Jessica. Weird how we’re connected to people with the coronavirus. Expect more and more of this.

But what has got me writing at this very moment, before I’ve eaten breakfast, just after I woke up and checked my phone, is this:

“The Coronavirus May Make Trump Stronger – Gallup finds 60% of voters approve of his handling of the crisis. As usual, the establishment is clueless.”

I now take every poll with a grain of salt, especially after Trump’s 2016 election, but the percentage was so high, I decided to start reading.

Now this is in the “Wall Street Journal” behind a paywall, so many people will not be able to read it. Then again, people forget the other half of Stewart Brand’s famous utterance: “Information also wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable.” I pay in excess of $500 for my print and net subscription to the WSJ. Most people will not pay that, but business people will. These articles are not written for everyday people. Therefore, if you are cheap, or broke, you’re left out. Welcome to the present day. Then again, is it the same as it ever was? And this information is very valuable, so I’ll quote some of it here:

“One reason Mr. Trump’s opponents have had such a hard time damaging his connection with voters is that they still don’t understand why so many Americans want a wrecking-ball presidency. Beyond attributing Mr. Trump’s support to a mix of racism, religious fundamentalism and profound ignorance, the president’s establishment opponents in both parties have yet to grasp the depth and intensity of the populist energy that animates his base and the Bernie Sanders movement.

The sheer number of voters in open political rebellion against centrist politics is remarkable. Adding the Sanders base (36% of the Democratic vote in the latest Real Clear Politics poll average, or roughly 13% of the national vote considering that about 45% of voters lean Democratic) to the core Trump base of roughly 42%, and around 55% of U.S. voters now support politicians who openly despise the central assumptions of the political establishment.

That a majority of the electorate is this deeply alienated from the establishment can’t be dismissed as bigotry and ignorance. There are solid and serious grounds for doubting the competence and wisdom of America’s self-proclaimed expert class. What is so intelligent and enlightened, populists ask, about a foreign-policy establishment that failed to perceive that U.S. trade policies were promoting the rise of a hostile Communist superpower with the ability to disrupt supplies of essential goods in a national emergency? What competence have the military and political establishments shown in almost two decades of tactical success and strategic impotence in Afghanistan? What came of that intervention in Libya? What was the net result of all the fine talk in the Bush and Obama administrations about building democracy in the Middle East?

On domestic policy, the criticism is equally trenchant and deeply felt. Many voters believe that the U.S. establishment has produced a health-care system that is neither affordable nor universal. Higher education saddles students with increasing debt while leaving many graduates woefully unprepared for good jobs in the real world. The centrist establishment has amassed unprecedented deficits without keeping roads, bridges and pipes in good repair. It has weighed down cities and states with unmanageable levels of pension debt.

The culture of social promotion and participation trophies is not, populists feel, confined to U.S. kindergartens and elementary schools. Judging by performance, they conclude that people rise in the American establishment by relentless virtue-signaling; by going along with conventional wisdom, however foolish; and by forgiving the failures of others and having their own overlooked in return…

Attacks on the establishment aren’t always rational or fair. They can be one-sided and fail to do justice to the accomplishments the U.S. has made in the recent past. Populism on both the left and the right always attracts its share of snake-oil salesmen, and America’s current antiestablishment surge is no exception. But the U.S. establishment won’t prosper again until it comes to grip with a central political fact: Populism rises when establishment leadership fails. If conventional U.S. political leaders had been properly doing their jobs, Donald Trump would still be hosting a television show.”

I’m loath to mention Bernie Sanders’s name anymore because of the intense blowback. Democrats lay a litany of events in my inbox, the failure of young people to show up, Bernie and Cuba, they’ve bought the assassination of him and his candidacy by the NYT, WaPo and MSNBC hook, line and sinker and have missed the major issue, which is delineated above. They’re so concerned with beating Trump that they don’t realize…people are pissed about government not working for them and they are the problem.

There, I said it. As you can see from this article, the majority of America wants a revolution, and that may just lead to Biden’s loss in November, assuming he gets out of his bunker alive, with his brain intact. Joe’s got no purchase on the public scene at this time. By waiting a week to weigh in, Biden took himself out of the narrative. Timing is everything in life. If you want an analysis of that, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” A certain behavior may not work in one era, and then be mind-bogglingly successful in another. Today, you fight it out online and people forget what you did today as they follow the narrative into tomorrow. Biden’s handlers do not know this because they are not internet-savvy, and I’m sick of blowhards inured to the system who think it’s politics as usual. I like David Axelrod, but he is not living in this decade.

The first rule of law is know thine enemy. Trump has been President in excess of three years and the movers and shakers still have no idea why he got elected, what his base wants. And it’s funny to me that I had to read a right wing newspaper to get the truth.

And the part about the trophies for losers, the “relentless virtue-signaling; by going along with conventional wisdom, however foolish; and by forgiving the failures of others and having their own overlooked in return.” is so right on. It’s a club, and you’re not in it. But what is even more fascinating is the last three decades have told us institutions can be overturned nearly instantly by disrupters from the outside, it never comes from the inside, but the outside. And then, when it happens, the inside says “who knew”? Obviously the disrupters. What’s unfathomable today is de rigueur tomorrow. Like a black President and legal marijuana.

I won’t overload you at this time, there are a number of other interesting developments, but the above two pieces stand out and I need to make you aware of them.

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