Business As Usual: Is That Really The Way To Go?

It’s time to Break It Down!

So, a certain Senator from Kentucky chose to be tested for COVID-19 last week, reportedly March 16th. After testing, Senator Rand Paul opted not to self-quarantine. He chose not to because, as he said:

“I did not quarantine while awaiting a coronavirus test because I did not meet the criteria for quarantine. In fact, I did not meet the current criteria for even being tested, much less quarantined.

I have not had an encounter with anyone that health officials recommended quarantining or testing.

I took the test because my wife and I had traveled extensively during the weeks prior to COVID-19 social distancing practices, and I am at a higher risk for serious complications from the virus due to having part of my lung removed seven months ago.

I did attend Louisville’s Speed Art Museum charity ball on March 7. Unlike the other Kentucky government officials there, I had zero contact or proximity with either of the two individuals who later announced they were positive for COVID-19. The event was a large affair of hundreds of people spread throughout the museum.”

As a consequence, between the time he was tested, and getting his test result, the Senator continued to cast votes on the Senate floor. He made a speech, met and lunched with other GOP senators, worked out in Senate gym and was spotted in the Senate swimming pool. After learning Paul was infected, two senators self-quarantined, a Virginia golf club cleaned and disinfected its facilities, and fellow members of Congress were furious that Paul didn’t act more responsibly.

Given all the caveats the Senator provided to qualify his actions as standard acceptable behavior, it’s a wonder he even chose to be tested. Moreover, given that he did, and as difficult as tests allegedly were to come by for normal, non-celebrity individuals and officials; with all those reasons not to be concerned, it might even beg the question why he was able to get a test in the first place. But, as a couple of my favorite video comedians are fond of saying, “that’s irrelevant.” I digress.

The point is, this situation highlights the fact that, as I told an ardent Trump supporter, and in this case at least, an avid Rand Paul advocate, either the Senator is disbelieving of the scientific evidence regarding the potential impact of catching and sharing the virus, or he didn’t care. Perhaps both. I don’t know whether either or both apply, but if it’s neither, he opted for an exceptionally peculiar way to demonstrate it during these times, which I think most would agree, are by no means normal.

Earlier in the month, Senator Paul distinguished himself by being the only senator to vote against a bipartisan $8.3 billion bill intended to help fight the outbreak, which included money for states and local communities to fight the virus as well as funds for public agencies to invest in vaccines, tests and treatments. Last week, he was one of eight senators to vote against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation expanded paid sick leave, provided for free testing, and enabled recipients to receive additional food and unemployment assistance.

The Senator had been a critic of his fellow Senators for leaning on “spending” to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, as he advocated for alternative plans. Of course, Senator Paul is no stranger to going it alone. He is the scion of Ron Paul, long time Republican, 10-year Libertarian, a former Texas Congressman, who was also known to be dogmatic and unyielding, and who has flatly suggested, and I quote:

“People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus “pandemic” could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic.”

Rand Paul is the first Senator to test positive for the virus. There are those who see irony in this, due to the fact he voted twice against Coronavirus relief bills. Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said after Paul’s announcement, he would be self-quarantining, since he sat next to Paul “for extended periods in recent days.”

When the Senator released a statement Monday afternoon, defending his actions, some believed it carried an even greater sense of irony. In addition to the comments noted earlier, after saying he thought it “was highly unlikely” he would test positive, he went on to add:

“Perhaps it is too much to ask that we simply have compassion for our fellow Americans who are sick or fearful of becoming so. “Thousands of people want testing. Many, like David Newman of The Walking Dead, are sick with flu symptoms and are being denied testing. This makes no sense.”

Given his own actions, that statement sounds somewhat devoid of self-awareness. So much so that perhaps we should wonderBusiness As Usual: Is That Really the Way to GO?”

I’m done; holla back!

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Trump’s 180 Degrees Conversion: And His Total Compulsively Reflexive Denial

It’s time to Break It Down!

Slowly, surely, inexorably! Months ago, I established that three-word sobriquet as my personal working title for the period of history that we will one day deem to have been the Trump era. Yes, it’s a longer title, but it is also inordinately more descriptive. Precisely, of what is it illustrative, you may ask?

I’m glad you inquired. It presents a graphically detailed summation of the stages through which much of the American citizenry must transport itself, before it sees clearly the metaphorical house of cards that is the Trump administration.

According to the Washington Post Fact Checker, by the 1,095th day of Donald Trump’s administration, January 19, 2020, he had uttered 16,241 false or misleading claims. I have previously referenced Mr. Trump’s propensity to deal in non-truths, as cited by a number of fact-checking organizations. Said enterprises explain that they do not simply refer to each and every one of these extraordinary number of falsehoods as lies because they cannot rightfully discern that he intended to mislead, versus he simply doesn’t know any better. Rather than quibble, I’m OK with that. Even if one is described as having uttered false and misleading statements, the bottom line is the statements were other than truthful. I think the point is clear.

Last week I penned a post that I think most would agree was timely, speaking about the serious nature of COVID-19. I characterized it as, among other things, “a serious matter.” The Coronavirus is now in all 50 states.

Since that time, the NBA halted its season, at least temporarily, most D-I athletic conferences scrapped their basketball tournaments, the NCAA cancelled March Madness, the start of Major League Baseball was delayed, along with a host of other sports world cancellations and suspensions. Moreover, a number of state and local governments have issued closures, and the Stock Market lost virtually all the gains made during the 3-plus years of the Trump Administration. But all of that pales in comparison to the tectonic plate shifting news that Donald Trump held a press conference Monday afternoon during which he acknowledged or conceded, with regard to COVID-19:

  • The situation is bad
  • The virus is not under control
  • The country might be heading into a recession
  • America may not get back to normal until mid-summer
  • We need to implement specific guidelines, including social distancing
  • Parents should engage in schooling their children from home when possible
  • We should all avoid discretionary travel & eating in restaurants

In other words, you might say, he characterized the situation as “a serious matter.”

He had never, and I mean n-e-v-e-r, before said any of those things publicly, since the onset of the virus having reached our shores. His most decisive and noteworthy action related to the matter before Monday was the imposing of travel restrictions on China. So, what had he done to convey his lack of conviction that COVID-19 was an issue of critical importance and imminent danger? To tick off a few, from January through last week, he claimed repeatedly:

  • He had the virus under control
  • The number of cases would go down, not up
  • The virus might disappear, through a miracle, or something of the sort
  • The virus might vanish by April, with warmer weather
  • The media and Democrats were overhyping the situation
  • This is their new hoax
  • No, not at all (In response to an inquiry as to whether he was worried about a pandemic)

An old, but wisdom-laden bromide is “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” To wit, I’m happy to report the change in tenor in Trump’s posture. It was late, but it could have been never. Late is hella better than never.

Undoubtedly, there are some, who, at the very least, wonder what on earth could prompt such a fundamental shift in posture and attitude by such a big-brained stable genius of a guy, who knows more than generals, meteorologists, scientists, Popes and Potentates? Combined! Well, through a lot of Trump watching, and a little bit of reading, I have a few ideas. CNN reported that officials and those close to Trump Monday and yesterday pointed to the following:

  1. Plummeting markets
  2. Economic data from China showing a devastating impact on growth
  3. New statistical models showing millions of Americans could die
  4. Private and public urging from his allies to adopt a more serious tone
  5. An about-face and new urgency from Jared Kushner
  6. At least 3 Mar-a-Lago guests having possibly spread the disease
  7. The influence and truth-telling of Dr. Anthony Fauci

On Tuesday Mr. Trump was asked about his change in tone. His response; predictable. He maintained his tone hadn’t changed much at all. In response to a query on the subject, he said:

“I mean, I have seen that, where people actually liked it. But I didn’t feel different. I’ve always known, this is a real — this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do was look at other countries…no, I’ve always viewed it as very serious. It was no difference yesterday from days before. I feel the tone is similar, but some people said it wasn’t.”

OK, now that I’ve stopped LMAOROTFLOL, I can continue. As I remind others all the time, we know who and with what we are dealing. It would be imprudent to expect otherwise. Indeed, this was simply another effort to spin those not paying attention, and, I suppose, to reassure those who’s mantra is, “In Trump We Trust.” Either way, it’s a dense hot mass of bovine excrement. But you already know. “Trump’s 180 Degrees Conversion: And His Total Compulsively Reflexive Denial!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Coronavirus: The Next Big Thing

It’s time to Break It Down!

As I start this post it is with the purest intent to keep it brief. First of all because I am not a doctor, and certainly no expert on this or any other strain of virus. Second, because there is probably very little that I will say that you haven’t heard before. Just maybe, you have not heard or seen it all in one place.

Why then, am I writing about it, you might legitimately inquire? I’m writing about it because I think it’s an important topic, and if I can convey that to even one person, it will have been worth the effort.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is part of a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, the viruses typically result in respiratory tract infections. As a group, the viruses were discovered in the 1960’s, and include SARS and MERS, as examples. COVID-19, the currently active strain, was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, after having been cited as the source of a pneumonia outbreak in the area. To that end, basically, COVID-19 is shorthand for Coronavirus Disease, the 2019 version.

Over the past three months, the Coronavirus, as its commonly called, has been identified in a number of countries outside China, including Japan, Italy, and most notably, for most of us, here in America, the United States. Yesterday, CNN medical experts upgraded the description of the virus to the level of pandemic.

Now, before going any further, take a deep breath. Characterizing the way the disease is spreading as a pandemic, does not mean you should expect to die. At least not from the Coronavirus. It does mean you should take appropriate precautions.

Here is a Wikipedia summary description of pandemic:

pandemic (from Greek πᾶν pan “all” and δῆμος demos “people”) is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or worldwide. A widespread endemicdisease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu. Throughout history, there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death, which killed an estimated 75–200 million people in the 14th century. The only two current pandemics are HIV/AIDS and Coronavirus disease 2019. Other recent pandemics are the 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu) and the 2009 flu pandemic (H1N1).

Note that pandemics have come and gone, and most of us who were alive at the time survived. Coronavirus should be no exception to that trend. At the outset, it’s important to know a few key elements regarding COVID-19. According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force:

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases are a higher risk
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus
  • Wash your hands often
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow
  • Throw used tissues in the trash
  • When washing hands do so for at least 20 seconds, preferably with soap and water
  • If you are sick, wear a face mask
  • You do not need a face mask if you are not sick, unless you are caring for someone who is sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • The principal symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath

There are people who believe, and others who claim to believe, reaction to Coronavirus is overblown. My first thought in reaction to such bravado is prototypical bromide, straight from mother wit; better safe than sorry.

Case in point:

One day Congressman Matt Gaetz is mocking the hoopla over Coronavirus by wearing a gas mask. The next thing I hear is that one of his constituents died from it. That was followed shortly by news of the Congressman self-quarantining himself, because of…you guessed it, COVID-19. It’s not for me to say whether The Honorable Mr. Gaetz was just too cute for his own good; I’ll let karma speak to that. What I will say is, in all you do, think before you do, act responsibly, proceed sensibly, and use restraint and common sense. It may be hard to do, but more often than not, it will inure to your favor.

Governments and business of all ilks, including airlines, sports franchises, conference planners, schools, universities, houses of worship and of course hospitals and medical practices are devising special circumstance behaviors to deal with the fallout from this pandemic. Last week, Wall Street temporarily halted trading. Even Mr. Trump has formed a task force (referenced previously), so you know it’s got to be, for real, for real! We are at the point where nearly all the market gains for the entire year were wiped out in a matter of days. This virus is real, and it is really serious.

The total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide neared 120,000 by this morning, with more than 80K in China, and more than 10K in Italy. In Iran and South Korea around 8K confirmed cases have been reported, and other nations are suggesting they will reach similar levels soon.

Across the United States, there are now more than 1,000 reported cases of the virus. At least 19 states have declared a state of emergency; yesterday these included Colorado, North Carolina and Michigan, the latter reporting its first two cases.

The COVID-19 virus in the U.S. has spread to at least 35 states, according to the latest reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with more deaths in Washington state and California. As of yesterday, 26 Americans had died from the virus.

To place this in context, by contrast last year, 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. The annual death toll from the Flu in the U.S. ranges from 27,000 to 70,000. As you can see, we are not even in the ball park. Our collective challenge is to make sure we are working proactively to keep it that way!

I started this post by conceding that I am by no means an expert in this field, and/or on this subject. I certainly didn’t become one over the course of a thousand words. So, in conclusion, I invite you to seek the counsel of individuals versed on the matter before you stake out a course of action. Whatever you do, just remember I told you right here in this post”Coronavirus: The Next Big Thing!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: Find a new post each Wednesday.

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CIAA Says Good-bye to Charlotte: For Now, At Least

Yesterday was Super Tuesday 2020, Election Day in NC…and in California, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Utah, Maine, Vermont, and American Samoa. By the time you’re reading this, most races will have been called. If you are of age, and an eligible voter, I hope you registered and fulfilled your civic duty.

This however, as the title surely revealed, is not a post about politics. I reversed field, and am writing, albeit briefly, about sports. I noted last week that my city was hosting its 15th and final CIAA Tournament. The Tournament was celebrating its 75th year.

Just as I said I would, I, along with my long-suffering spouse attended games every night, Tuesday through Friday, and the Title Games (Men’s and Women’s) Saturday afternoon. There was lots of basketball played from Tuesday morning to early Saturday evening, much of it very exciting, and some of it quite good. My full disclaimer is, I didn’t see a single day game prior to the Title Tilts. But I didn’t miss any evening games, at least not in their entirety. Translation, I missed the start of a few, especially the 7:00 p.m. games.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to regale you with a play-by-play of the games; not any of them. But as an alum and fan of a CIAA affiliated institution, Fayetteville State University, I am going to take a point of personal privilege and share the shout out to my teams, both of which made to the Finals, that I posted on Facebook earlier this week.

I’m sharing because:

  • It was the end of the Tournament’s 15-year run in Charlotte
  • The Men’s & Women’s team from the same school advancing to the Finals is special
  • Fayetteville State University is “my” HBCU
  • Break It Down is “my” blog
  • I Can

Here’s what I wrote:

“Resolute and resilient! That defined the Broncos Men’s and Women’s hoops teams last week here in CLT @ the 75th and CLT Finale) CIAA Tournament.

The Lady Broncos were on a mission. They went undefeated in the Southern Division, which they won for the 3rd year in a row. They met and conquered all challenges. Job well done; Congratulations ladies.

The Bronco men had a more difficult task, but performed admirably, nevertheless. As a 3rd seed, they opened with 7th seeded Shaw, a team they’d defeated just 4 days earlier, then their work really begun. They played four games in four days, and the last 3 were against higher seeds, Number 2 Virginia Union (North), Number 1 Johnson C. Smith (South), also the host and home standing team, and finally, Number 2, Winston-Salem State University (South) in the Title Game.

In the fell clutch of circumstance, the Broncos did not wince, nor did they cry aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance, they may have been bloodied (figuratively), but their heads remained unbowed. Despite the physical and mental challenges, their grit and determination enabled them to lead until the last 4.6 seconds of the Title game. Alas, Winston-Salem State won; kudos to them.

I extend sincere congratulations to the 2020 CIAA Men’s Basketball Champions, the Winston-Salem State University Rams, and their renown Ramily…and richly deserved mad respect, endless love and congratulations to my forever squads, The Fayetteville State University Broncos, 2020 CIAA Basketball Tournament Men’s Runners-up & Fayetteville State Lady Broncos, 2020 CIAA Basketball Tournament Women’s Champions.

A special shout out to Coaches Luke D’Alessio and Serena King-Coleman, and to my favorite Graduate Assistant Coach in the whole world, C.J. Wiggins, Jr. Love you Cuz!

Attitude Check! Proud To Be; GO BRONCOS!”

As I noted above, 2020 marked the end of the annual CLT CIAA ritual. Next year’s festivities will commence in Baltimore. May the Maryland hosts derive as much pleasure from the event as we did in North Carolina. There are mixed feelings in these parts about the Tourney’s departure. Some folks believed that the tournament grew to be a nuisance. A few of our citizens literally fled the premises during CIAA Week. Others “endured” it grudgingly. And then there were those whom, like me, awaited ticket availability anxiously, and bought tix as soon as they became available. Fans also had mixed experiences. Some faced “CIAA taxes” on meals and beverages at uptown facilities, while others were gouged by hoteliers. And then there was the Conference itself, who moved its headquarters to Charlotte several years ago, after one of the contract extension negotiations. The organization felt entrepreneurs played fast and loose with the CIAA name/brand and fought to get a handle on that matter.

In reflection, through it all, I believe the partnership was mutually beneficial. This year’s event is reported to have garnered more than 150,000 attendees, while last year’s event brought in $43 million. The partnership generated millions of dollars in scholarship money to the member colleges and universities. Still, it was a business arrangement, and few things last forever. The union lasted 15 years, which is longer than the tournament stayed at any other venue. Maryland is a fine state, and Baltimore is a historic city. For the next three years, they will host the CIAA Tournament. To that end, I have no crystal ball, so in bidding the event adieu, I put it this way. “CIAA Says Good-bye to Charlotte: For Now, At least!”

Thank you for allowing me to share. I’m done; holla back!

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