SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY

“You’re gonna choke!  YOU’RE GONNA CHOKE!!  YOU’RE GONNA CHOKE!!!”

When I was a kid, I used to play pinball against a close friend who was considered very skilled, hard to beat.  Mostly this was true.  However, sometimes he would be having an “off day” when I was “on my game,” and so just as I began racking up what might be the game winning points, my opponent would begin chanting, “You’re gonna choke!”  It was a desperate strategy, but it seemed to work a lot of the time.  I rarely beat him.

I recall the big ball game in high school.  We were ahead by forty-eight points at half-time.  We were ahead by fifty six points at the third quarter.  It seemed we were about to spank the other team and put this one away.  But then we relaxed a little too much.  We got a little cocky.  We threw in the towel, and didn’t even realize it.  And in the last few minutes of the game, the opposing team rallied to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  At least, that is how the idiom worked from OUR VANTAGE point.

This week, we just surpassed the number of war dead from the Vietnam War as we fight coronavirus.  In less than two months of quarantine, in a battle in which we have come from behind in a battle where our nation became the epicenter of a worldwide conflict, we have started to win this deadly battle.  And now we are feeling cocky.  We are protesting the victory against the virus in favor of the economy.

(The economy?  I thought it was the virus that killed the economy!  I watched our leaders try very hard to ignore the virus until it crashed our economy!)

We act like the very quarantine which is saving so many lives is choking us.

Hmmm…

Let me just say, even with my very limited intel and very limited ability to analyze the science, I saw this pandemic coming back in January.

JANUARY.

I saw it coming in January and told my wife then to order some face masks THEN which were immediately on back order THEN.

IF I HAD BEEN IN CHARGE THEN, I would have closed down all international travel, put a stop to cruise ships, and I would have warned the NBA and all the other sport gatherings, concert gatherings, and even movie theaters to prepare for emergency shut down!  If I had intel back then about the lack of PPE and medical equipment needed to fight the virus nation wide, I would have asked GM, Ford, and other manufacturers to consider voluntarily producing needed resources BACK IN JANUARY, and would have warned that making it mandatory might be necessary.  If I had been in charge, we might, JUST MIGHT, have sidestepped this quarantine and a stock market crash!

Think of it!  I would have effectively closed our borders and created jobs!  And that’s not my schtick.  But you gotta make adjustments in a pandemic.

I would NOT have waited until the stock market crashed 3 days in a row before moving on this virus.

By the way, THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED day after day DUE TO FEARS OF THE VIRUS!  This means the economy depends on the defeat of this virus.  It is not merely incidental.

I am pleased to see that the pandemic, even coming from behind, has begun to lose its steam.  However, the very battle plan which beat it is the very battle plan we are now relaxing.  How many GIs in Vietnam wished for a little more resolve?  And meanwhile, labs around the world are racing to create a vaccine, and now is projecting one by September.  SEPTEMBER!!!  Wow!  That is fast!  Fast for a cure!

I understand that there will always be risk, and we must face it.  I understand there will be mistakes and missteps, and we must accept that.  But I do not understand the willy-nilly way so many of us are just throwing in the towel in the fight.  There is still one more quarter until the buzzer, but we seem to have walked off the court, there is one last stronghold, and our soldiers have just surrendered.

Why?

Money? Politics?

Why does freedom demand we be stupid so that we can express it?

Why does politics demand we be stupid to be loyal?

Mark my words

Well, this virus’s genius is how it spreads BEFORE the symptoms manifest.  We will see if all this relaxing of the fight pays off or not in about two weeks.  Mid-May.  And the second half of May will tell the tale.

The scientists and doctors are in fairly good agreement that quarantine is warranted.  I trust their intel better than mine, and I would have shut down major industries back in January based on my limited understanding.  If we had done what I would have said back then, we would NOT have shut down worship services.  We never would have shut down restaurants.  We would have ramped up American manufacturing.  It would have been a HUGE financial sacrifice, but that HUGE financial sacrifice would have PALED IN COMPARISON to the one we make by waiting for the stock market to crash and putting 26 million people out of work.

I could have done better than this, and I am no expert.  A monkey would have done better.

Self-interested Politicians

But then I am not running for office.

You know who runs for office?

Politicians.

You know who pushes around politicians?

The Rich.

If you have a person running for office, that person is a politician.  If that person is an incumbent running for re-election, then that person is a politician.  If you have a person who pays for their own campaign, you have a RICH, SELF-INTERESTED POLITICIAN.

(This is a simple definition.)

I thought we hated politicians.  I thought we faulted them for holding their own jobs and self-interest and vanity above the interest of those they are supposed to represent.  I thought THAT was the problem with America – at least according to the popular rhetoric of the last 40 years.

I don’t see that critique working out.  I think we are losing another battle on that front too.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope all the reckless re-opening of commerce and beach tanning somehow sidesteps all the best science and that the economy suddenly no longer hinges on fears of a virus.

But that is not very conservative.  That is not very prudent.

I am very concerned that we might be handing victory to the virus on a silver platter.  We will know a lot more as the second half of May unfolds.  But I want to lay down this marker now.  Because more people died in the last two months from this enemy than died in all of the Vietnam War – another war we handed victory on a silver platter to the enemy (and then regretted for 50 years).

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