Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Controversial (I'm Counting On It) Thoughts On Schools And The Pandemic

One thing I am glad I am not today; a parent of a school age child.


I would be hard pressed to make good decisions about whether to send my kids to school, given all that's going on today, and which seems to change every other week.


A few figures to put all this in perspective:


The world's 3 most populous nations are: China: 1.4 Billion, India 1.3 Billion, and the US at 330 million.


The world's 3  nations with the greatest number of virus cases, per WHO: US-4, 582, 000,  India 1, 804,000, South Africa 511, 500.


Something is sadly wrong here.


The nation which claims the best health system in the world, the best doctors, hospitals, medical research, etc.etc.etc. has the highest number of virus cases. It should not be that way.


And it is affecting all our lives in so many ways; not the least of which is the next generation, getting ready now for fall schools, and their parents.


I'm afraid I would be going to school board meetings and rattling the superintendent's cage asking "what in hell are you doing?" Sending Kids back to school, maybe late, when we have no vaccine, no real understanding of what this virus does to kids, what sanitation methods work and what don't.  I mean, look at pro sports; every time they think they have an answer, they're wrong, and you want to risk our future?


Sorry educators.  Call off the next school year.  That's right, call it off!


Not all kids have the hardware for virtual learning, nor do school systems. It's unfair to educate one part of a class and not all of them. And virtual learning isn't as good as in-person learning. And we just don't know enough to avoid all the risks inherent in in-person learning right now.


Yes, I know this raises a LOT of problems, paying educators for not teaching (can't we find good, socially redeeming work for one year for these great, trained people???)  Family problems will be immense, as I said, I'm glad I'm not a school parent these days, easy for me to say and not have to "do."


But, right now, with the knowledge we have, and the way the national administration is handling the crisis, I say better we not start schools than do so and run risk after risk after risk.


OK, beat up on me.


Put this year behind us.  Just drop it out of our calendar (There's lots of research that kids do better learning when they are older, anyhow.)


I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Random Thoughts And A Plea

Over the weekend I saw a man object to wearing a mask. "I'm not going to wear a mask," he said on a network newscast, "to make some one else comfortable."

Comfortable?
 

How about alive?


And maybe even keeping you alive?


What is this nonsense about wearing a mask violates my Constitutional rights? Where in the Constitution? How? (and sending federal troops to keep down protesters doesn't?) And I mean NON-violent protesters! How in hell setting fire to a courthouse door in Portland aids Black Lives Matter and respects the memory of George Floyd escapes me!


As a journalist I have been worried about this for some time, and as an old college activist, I have worried over the so called "Hong Kong pro-democracy movement." We need a better, more accurate phrase in the media to describe them. Yes they were fighting the good cause, but their tactics were deplorable. Violence, arson, looting, all in a Good Cause.  Meadow Muffins!


And, at times, these bad acts have infected Louisville, Lexington, and other cities. Breonna Taylor's family has  deplored the violence on her behalf, that should be enough.
And all this while John Lewis was being memorialized in Selma and Washington and Atlanta as "a peaceful warrior for Justice."


Let the NON violent protests continue until America lives up to her lofty origins for all, and respect the unbroken line that stretches from John Lewis to Dr. King to Ghandi and so many in history---to Jesus.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 20, 2020

In Memorium: John Lewis

EDMUND PETTUS.....YOU MEMBER HIM SURELY  

 
Well, maybe.  It takes a true Civil War scholar to be sure, but he was "a senior Confederate officer," a slavery advocate, an Alabama US senator for ten years, and the Grand Dragon of the KKK.  So Alabama honored him by naming a bridge for him at Selma.


Fast forward to March 7, 1965.  A totally non-violent protest march for black voting rights, is peacefully heading  to Montgomery for a rally. All went well until they reached Selma. There, on the Edmund Pettus bridge, state and local police violently broke up the march, and in the process clubbed one of its leaders, John Lewis, so badly that he nearly died of a fractured skull.  The true horror of this uncalled for event can be seen in the old black and white TV newsreels which have been playing the last few days.


Fast forward again. John Lewis is now a nationally recognized civil rights leader, a top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, and for 30 years a US Congressman  from Georgia until he died from cancer last week. Dubbed "the conscience of the House," his role was to move America toward fulfilling the promise of our democracy for ALL its citizens. If  Alabama has a shred of decency left, it will rename that bridge the John Lewis bridge.


And it won't have to pull any statues down.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 12, 2020

NO EXCUSES

It's 20 words long: the Constitutional provision giving the President the power to pardon, but oh how many conflicts it has caused.


Mr. Trump's is but the latest - his rule of law threatening clemency for his old, convicted buddy Roger Stone.


His is only the latest--and most likely not the last--in a series of presidential nose-thumbing at the Rule of Law.


Obama did it.
Bush did it
Clinton did it.
Nixon did it.


And yet, in two houses full of lawyers, not one serious move to rein in this most serious challenge to what all the lawyers there (and there are much too many of them) say is one of the foundations of our democracy, the aforementioned Rule of Law. They make speeches on the House & Senate floor, but nothing has changed. No Constitutional amendment passed; if that is what it takes, no law or regulations proposed that might restrict the pardon power use, not even a Joint Resolution expressing our displeasure.


Zip. Zilch.Nada.


I believe Mr. Trump at one time proposed pardoning an old buddy who had been charged, but not even gone to trial; what an absolute mockery that would have made of our Rule of Law, this when the Supreme Court has just ruled no President is above the law in the case of Mr. Trump's taxes.


Truly this is a NON-partisan matter, and ought to be considered as such by the leadership of both houses. Here in Kentucky we can start with our Senate leader. He needs to be on record about possible changes in Presidential pardoning powers, and how to achieve them.  So does our local Congressman-lawyer, Andy Barr.........NOW.


I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 6, 2020

On This The President Is Correct

Mr. Trump several times recently has called for an end to midnight toppling of various public statues, and an end to spray painting them, and other unilateral acts by various groups of "protesters."


I agree for several reasons.


One is: someone's going to get hurt, if they already haven't, by these nighttime acts. I saw several news stories in which giant statues barely missed hitting the toppling crew; someone easily could have been killed. Does that advance the cause?  But the main reason is that there is a way, legal (but quite time consuming) to do this, and it allows for people of opposing views to have their say in a public assembly, not after midnight with grappling hooks and ropes.  Lexington did it, and yes it toook a while (viz America's 'instant gratification" desires,) but it was done. Same in Frankfort where Old Jeff Davis wasn't hung to a sour apple tree, but at a cost to you and me of $225.000 (in a cash strapped state)the monuments law was followed, as in Lexington, and the offending statues were gone.


It can be, and should be, that way elsewhere. Mr. Trump has every right to call for law & order to be followed, whether in Richmond, Va. or Columbus, Ohio, or Washington, D.C.  And, BTW, calls are starting to be heard  for the removal of statues of George Washington (a slave owner) Father of our Country, as well as Adolf Rupp, Father of the BBN.  They would join calls and midnight action against Lincoln, Jefferson, Grant, Columbus, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, Matthew Maury, yes, even old Matthew Maury. But people are of two (or likely many more) minds here. In some cases I am convinced it is the sculpture's presentation, not the lifetime of He Who Has Been Sculpted that has produced the protests (especially in the cases of TR and Old Abe) but still the views of the "protesters"  (I am trying not to use the word "mob") have every right to be heard and so do the views of those opposed, so long as previously  established procedures, rules, laws are followed, or, in some cases, new rules need to be drawn up allowing all sides to be heard before we rewrite history a la 1964 forever.


Lexington & Frankfort did it right, whatever my views, because various sides got to be heard before the final decision.  Mr. Trump has called for the same, and said that those who don't follow the laws should be prosecuted.

The President is correct.

He is also right.

I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, June 27, 2020

THREE DISASTERS - Lexington, Tulsa And America

LEXINGTON--All was NOT well here election day. Walk in voting at our ONE precinct, Kroger Field, was really, really bad.  


First off, just ONE place to vote?  Madison County had 3, little Knox county 2, but somehow, our election board went with one. OK, they got so many mail-in requests they probably thought there wouldn't be so many in person. Wrong. With hindsight, the large number of requests probably showed heightened interest. 


Second problem: the place. That site at Kroger Field was too small, allowing for 4 check in stations, finally six were squeezed in. Since I voted by mail I am not familiar with that site, but in the vastness of the Field, a more spacious site was surely available. I am told the check in site was the real problem and we had enough polling stations. Maybe. Louisville had 350 at its one site.  Then there was the rain - brief but bad.  No provisions made for the line to get covered. No one thought about rain, apparently.  Nor, apparently was bottled water provided, as was done at so many other voting places when lines appeared.  I am surprised because we usually do take care of our neighbors better. Don't know that the totals will be affected, except for those who left, wet & thirsty(!) but all of this adds up to a disaster that should not have happened.


TULSA ---I watched Mr. Trump's speech in Tulsa and when he delivered the lines about how if we slowed down testing we wouldn't have so many virus cases. I decided that would be the topic of this blog.  But then the White House insisted it was all a joke, and a very, very senior Trump official reassured the media that it was all tongue-in-check. So I decided not to write about it. Then, a day or so later, The President, as he has done before, pulled the rug totally out from under his staff and the very senior official by insisting he really meant it.  DUH, Mr. President, duh.


AMERICA.  OK, since no one else will, I will. I hereby proclaim to all of you who have been worrying whether a "second wave" of virus cases would come, stop worrying. They have. They are here. All because too many states and cities jumped the gun; especially when the "word" from the White House was to favor business ('reopening') over health care. Friday, Florida  had NINE THOUSAND new cases. Texas, California, Arizona are not far behind. And the old "first wave" epicenter, New York has fewer new cases than almost anyone because of its more rigorous reopening.


The Second Wave is here and I just hope Dr.'s Birx and Fauci have the guts to say so, and soon. But since they haven't, I will:


A LIFETIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A LIVELIHOOD

I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Viruses Among Us

VIRUS #1


OK, enough of the results are in. We have made a HUGE mistake in reopening so soon, even in Kentucky, which thanks to the governor has been slower than most to jump the gun, but even we are among 17 states where cases have spiked since we have reopened for the sake of profits.


A LIFETIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A LIVELIHOOD.


I wrote that weeks ago and I stand by it. Yes, you and I have been inconvenienced by some closings; some not very sensible, but life, even if unemployed is still better than death, or spreading contagion to your loved ones. So, what to do,...reconsider everything and backtrack where there are indications such openings or relaxation to rules may have contributed to new infections. it's the only sensible thing for Team Kentucky to do, and the way we will all get thru this together.


At the same time, not all the changes were bad, they just need to be reanalyzed in light of recent spikes in virus cases to see which need to be changed and which need to be retained. An example: my bank lobby was closed; we customers were to use their walk-up or drive-in windows only. Meadow Muffins! With several cashiers, a large lobby, and people available to check masks and social distancing, banks should provide lobby service. That's just one of several regs that ought to be studied for possible change.


But, A LIFETIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A LIVELIHOOD, and with that as our mantra, we ought to generally pull back from the rush (slow or fast) to reopen everything.  New York, once the epicenter of cases and deaths, is now the state with the fewest new cases and deaths thanks to judicial reopening rules. Kentucky can, and should, do better.


VIRUS #2


Racism has bubbled to the forefront again, not that it has been long out of the news or much below the surface. Minneapolis may be that epicenter, but Louisville may well be number 2. First it took weeks for the Breonna Taylor case to get the coverage it needed, but thanks to the ineptness of the LMPD it got it. Then came Dave McAtee, where the final report on that tragedy is not yet in. But together they have focused attention on one major aspect of racism; the distinctly different, and unfair, treatment of black citizens by police, for years, everywhere. In her death, Louisville has made major changes, and Lexington needs to do the same, although I must say I am pleased and encouraged by both the way the majority of our local protesters--and police--have handled themselves here.
Still, as a reporter who has covered the police beat in 6 different cities, let me urge the following changes here:



1--end no-knock warrants
2--end "qualified immunity" for police
3--end choke holds and similar measures.
4--expand body cam use
5--increase police sensitivity training, updated periodically with the latest news events and what they mean..and in many cases, how they could have been done differently. (example..was the infamous Staten Island "I can't breathe" case of only a few years ago used in such training in the Twin Cities? Four cops there obviously didn't get it.)
6--set up a civilian review board, subject to appeal to city council.
7--review police salaries  and pensions with an eye to increase and upgrade but also a system of modifying these for cause
8--report and make public cases of violence and similar major proven incidents against individual officers.


This will get us started, and that's all. Lexington needs to examine far more than just the police department here, but that's the current focus of many racism complaints. But as Dr King said; "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere."  Lexington should live by that mantra, and:


A LIFETIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A LIVELIHOOD


I'm just sayin'...