Here we go again

Aaannnnnd, it’s begun. The ritual trashing / defamation of a Democratic woman running for high office. Here’s what I’ve seen so far in Republican talking points about Kamala Harris. And they’re just getting warmed up.

  • She slept her way to the top
  • She’s ambitious and untrustworthy
  • She’s a liar, unlike our Dear Leader Trump
  • She ignored corruption in certain trials while she was AG in CA (this is the one talking point that’s not just sexist or a lie)
  • She’s not really black
  • She’s unlikable
  • She’s a radical liberal
  • She flip-flops on issues

Does this sound a little familiar? It should. This is/was the Republican playbook for Hillary Clinton. Make shit up and attack her reputation with it endlessly. It worked with Hillary, and they expect it to work with Kamala.

In a better world we’d be arguing over issues that matter – climate, the environment, the US economy, jobs, civil rights and justice – but instead we’ll be subjected to three solid months of character assassination by conservatives. I don’t know how to fight this kind of scorched Earth disinformation campaign, so I hope the Biden/Harris team do know how.

I’ll end by saying I’m completely happy with the Biden/Harris ticket. Of course, I would vote for an Ebola/Dog Vomit ticket against Trump. That’s not to diminish Biden/Harris, it’s just to say that Trump is a short term existential threat to civilization (as opposed to a long-term existential threat, like ecological collapse).

It’s going to be an interesting next 83 days.

COVID by the numbers

The world has now counted 20M COVID cases and about 720K COVID-related deaths.

The US registers 5M of those cases and 163K of those deaths. Experts say the actual number of US cases is about 10x the official count. Worldwide, the estimates are less clear.

COVID-19 mortality rate based on official case counts is about 3.5%, both worldwide and in the US. The annual flu has a mortality rate of 0.1%. Mortality rates for ages 60+ are higher for both diseases.

Even if the US case count is the estimated 50M, that’s still only 14% of our population! The virus has a lot of runway left to do damage.

The first official US case was 202 days ago. We started our semi-isolation and public mask-wearing protocol 155 days ago.

Let’s assume that a vaccine will be somewhat available by the end of the year. Using current rates, another 144,000 people will then die from COVID-19 in the US. That will bring our counted COVID deaths to approximately 300,000 people.

The motorcycle event in Sturgis SD this month brings 250K people from all states together for 10 days of drinking and partying, no masks required. Then those people will return to their home states and families. You could not have designed a better infection-spreading process. IMHO, this event dooms the US to a worst case virus outcome for 2020. It’s gonna be a rough ride for the next 5+ months.

 

Four tidbits for Wednesday

OK, this would be one of the worst jobs in America. Trying to translate Trump’s stilted, self-interrupted, nonsensical word salad speech into sign language. I can only imagine the grimaces as a sign interpreter tries to make sense of POTUS’s verbal noise.

But here’s some good great news. Turns out coffee’s antioxidants makes it a superfood, reducing risk of many diseases including cancer. As I drink my Nth cup of coffee this morning, I feel better already.

More great news. It’s OK to read this, but if you do knock on wood, find a four-leaf clover, walk the maze widdershins, nail up a horsehoe or a crucifix…whatever apotropaic gesture you choose to ward off bad luck and evil. The guy who’s predicted every presidential race since 1984 correctly is all-in on Biden. Let’s hope his luck (and ours) hasn’t run out.

Some fun news. SpaceX has launched a giant grain silo called Starship and moved it 150 meters from pad to pad. It’s weird, but it’s a pretty amazing rocketry achievement.

 

 

Hell freezes over

This might be the first thing that Trump has ever done that I agree with. He’s fired the head of the TVA and directed them to hire US workers rather than outsource technology jobs to other countries.

This is extraordinary in a few ways. First, it’s taken three and a half years for him to do something I think is useful and patriotic. And he’s done it in a time when he seems hell bent to do the most damage he can before leaving.

A second way this is extraordinary is that it’s an intelligent, insightful move (I wonder who pushed him to do this?). IT outsourcing has long been the lazy executive’s way to save money, or appear to save it. In my experience – and I’ve seen a lot of them – most outsourcing contracts are damaging and disruptive to the company’s workers and save little or no money. They look good in theory (if your sole focus is reducing cost), but in practice they’re a hot mess. It’s much better to focus on refining your work process, retaining your employees and creating a high-productivity culture than it is to just move work to a country that pays half or less of US wages.

And in this time of record unemployment, it’s just wrong to axe jobs of US residents and send that work elsewhere. Morally wrong, ethically wrong and common-sense wrong. So for whatever reason Trump has taken this stand, I’m grateful. From the article: “TVA’s action could cause more than 200 highly skilled American tech workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to foreign workers hired on temporary work visas, according to the White House.”

Oh yeah, and the CEO of the TVA – a large energy utility with socialist origins in the previous Great Depression – is making $8M per year. The TVA board’s defense of that salary is that it is in line with the salaries of other large company CEOs. There’s some deep irony here – an organization created by the Federal government to create jobs, originally funded by taxpayers, is now a profit-before-everything organization led by a CEO “earning” 100-200 times what their typical employee makes. Again, it’s extraordinary that Trump, of all people, has taken this action.

The sound you just heard is hell freezing over.