His Name Was Charles

His name was Charles and he was the first born in the family. He was my brother, but I never knew him as I was born two years after Mom and Dad got the MIA (missing in action) certificate from the government. He was on a volunteer mission after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His plane got off course and went down in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Hawaii and Christmas Island.

When he was a teenager, the family lived in a town in the Mississippi Delta. They lived down the street from a Ham Radio Operator (Amateur Radio). Even back then radio was a kind of magic, and my brother got the radio bug. I am pretty sure he learned Morse Code from that Ham Operator. After all, the Ham Radio Community has a tradition and duty of mentoring others into the hobby.

During World War I and World War II, the US Government looked at the Amateur Radio community as a ready trained source of trained Morse Code operators.

Charles, like most young men wanted to grow out of his rural beginnings and see something of the world. His ticket was his skills with the code. Somehow, he became a radio operator in the Civilian Conservation Corps, which apparently had its own communications network.

From there, Charles managed to wrangle an enlistment into the US Army. That does not sound like a tough thing to do, but this was before Pearl Harbor, and Charles first posting was to Hawaii as a radio operator in the shore defense units. This was a prime posting, especially for a newbie.

The communications facility was on Diamond Head. On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 he took a break, stepping out of the radio building to take a smoke. That’s when he saw the Japanese planes. He witnessed the attack from Diamond Head. I’m not sure why the Japanese didn’t go after radio communications towers, but they didn’t.

Charles later wrote a letter to his little brother, Ray, about the event. This letter was published in the Cleveland, Mississippi newspaper as a first-person witness to the attack.

After the attack, liberties were cancelled, most soldiers were confined to base. It was so boring that Charles volunteered for a mission to ferry airplane parts from Hawaii to Christmas Island. He was on board as the radio operator and was undoubtedly the one to send the message that they were going down. They had gotten off course during a storm and ran out of fuel.

It was an emotional time. Losing a child, especially the first born, is a tough thing to handle. The first MIA certificate the government sent my parents had the incorrect date. Dad called Washington, DC and had this corrected, I was told, after a bit of spicy language with whomever was on the other end of the line. He had called for President Truman. Naturally, he was not put through to the President.

As World War II wound to a close and the soldiers started coming home, Dad would go to the train station in Memphis to look for Charles. Since he was missing in action, there was no proof of death. Stories abound of how sailors and soldiers were rescued from certain death at sea, only to be held in Japanese prison camps.

Charles never came home.

It is important to remember those eager, young men. They left the farms, towns and cities before many were even shaving regularly. We honor them for their sacrifice.

 

 

It’s All In The Data, Maybe

As expert in all things data, I have been examining the COVID-19 case data and am ready make the following observations.

1. All categories of data are inherently wrong. There is at least a two-week lag before data gets reported, and even then is composed of reports from a myriad of sources, not all of whom collect the same sets of data for each case. What you see for today’s numbers is not going to be what today’s numbers are finally tallied to be.

2. Data are reported through public health departments, hospitals, and even the emergency management agencies. The recording formats are diverse, and accuracy depends on the ability of workers to record little things like the sex and race of the case. For example, in Georgia the stats show African-American and White race cases, and also a large number of cases labeled as “Missing”, and “Unknown” where the race has not been recorded. The word useless comes to mind.

3. There are Billion$ allocated in the CARES ACT for help to hospitals in handling COVID cases. Certainly an easily foreseen consequence of this bill would be the obvious incentive for hospitals to categorize as many cases as COVID as possible for the premium the government pays them under the new law. We hear reports that heart attack deaths sometimes turn into COVID deaths.

4. Data on the global status is accumulated from all the various nations’ public health departments. Take ALL of this data, especially if it comes through the World Health Organization with a great deal of cynicism. It is like all the other United Nations efforts, it is biased. The individual countries, like China, have reason to lie, and they do.

This is an exciting time for many academic fields including economics, epidemiology, medical science, psychology, and other disciplines that depend on data to formulate and make their conclusions. It will be decades if ever before we get it all sorted. In the meantime, we make life and death decisions on incomplete, and sometimes false data.

Our future comes down to the normal risk-reward decisions we make everyday.

Sometimes we win. Some times we lose.

 

 

Welcome To Interesting Times

There’a a purported Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” These are interesting times. We are living through a pandemic like those we read of in history books. It is not as bad as the bubonic plague when about 40% of the worlds population was killed, or is it as fleeting as the ebola virus which ravaged some of the world, but left parts alone.

Our pandemic has been with us since March, and appears to be heading for the first weeks of summer. Here in Georgia, the governor opted to loosen the pandemic strictures somewhat last week to include salons and tattoo parlors. The outcry around the nation was deafening, assuming that we are willing to send people to their graves just to get a paycheck.

Oh, how wrong they were. The new cases in Georgia have been decreasing significantly the last week. However, we won’t know if we have made a mistake until a couple of weeks have passed. At this point it looks like the governor has made the right call. From the looks of the curves in the south, we will be in relatively safe country in June.

The virus is not disappearing, it is migrating. It is moving from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere for their cold and flu season. As fall approaches in the northern hemisphere, we will see an uptick, or spike in the number of corona virus infections as the virus works its way back north. This is the way viruses propagate. It will be some time before the populations have built up enough immunity to consider it not a danger.

One big hope is a vaccine, even though many people say it is physically impossible to achieve a safe and effective vaccine in less than a year. There are some cases where medical institutions have not been able to synthesize a vaccine to combat certain viruses. HIV is one, and SARS is another.

Until then, our leaders must understand that the American people are not stupid, nor are they inherently careless with their health. We understand the risks of opening the economies, and most people are willing to risk infection to feed their families. This is not a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. It is a case of common sense and Americans have that quality in spades.

What’s Up With The Pandemic?

What’s up? Nothing good. People continue to get the virus, some of whom show no symptoms. It’s a sneaky little devil, that’s for sure.

President Trump is using the Fed’s epidemiology models to speculate on when the epidemic reaches it’s peak, and that is in two weeks, April 13 – 15, or Easter Weekend. Even if this is true the problem is not over. The really big question is, when will President Trump open the nation for business?

Here’s the problem. If President Trump makes his decision too early, the trend of coronavirus infected people will do an about face and start increasing, again. If President Trump waits too long, our economy will be in a depression that some consider will be worse than the Great Depression of the  early twentieth century. He is in a Catch-22 situation, or as they say, damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

The reality of the situation boils down to this: the President has to make a decision that results in the least overall damage to the population and the economy, and he knows that at some point the economy takes precedence. It’s that simple.

The person you want to make this decision is either a genius, or a really good river-boat type gambler. Geniuses make decision based on hard data. Gamblers make decisions based on their observation of chances to win.

President Trump is a proven winner, he’s smart, and would make a great James Garner-like river-boat gambler. I will go with the President on this one, even though I am in the high-risk group for death-by-virus.

Keep America Great!

 

Democrat Primary Season: Is It Really A Horse Race?

So far, the Democrat candidate field has caused a lot of dust, but a real horse race has yet to develop.

The last time I blogged on this subject was over three months ago. Since then, we have all been watching the Democrats eat each other, burn their crops, and pander to man and beast. Promises range from simple things like ending plastic bags to multi-trillion dollar revamps of the nation’s economy and explicitly terminating the US Constitution.

Whatever it  takes seems to be their motto. What is fifteen or thirty trillion dollars to the richest (and most indebted) country in the world? To them it doesn’t matter.

All that matters is their position in the polls. The higher the position, the more money they can raise, and the better chance of getting the nomination. Of course, some may be really running for the VP position.

This is where they stand in the latest Real Clear Politics Averages.

Biden – 28.0%

Sanders – 16.0%

Warren – 15.4%

Harris – 7.4%

Buttigieg – 5.0%

O’Rourke – 3.0%

The most significant difference in the last three months is that Elizabeth Warren has moved up sharply. The top six candidates have about 3/4 of the overall vote potential, and I have not counted the remaining ones.

After several so-called debates, Tulsi Gabbard destroyed Kamala Harris, Warren is gaining ground on Sanders with whom she shares the same appeal, and the Buttigieg and under gang are still on the bottom. I believe it is here that some are running for the Vice President slot.

What is this telling us? We all know that Joe Biden has some real problems with his mental acuity and physical strength. He is also the one candidate that the rank and file Democrats feel can win against Donald Trump.

Right now, the Democrats are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. If they run Biden it is likely that Trump will run circles around him in debates. If they run anyone else the Democrats run a huge risk of showing their real face, socialist dogma and anti-American ideas of trashing the US constitution.

In the next few months anything can happen. Some unanticipated, but extremely popular person could enter the field and seize the nomination.  Lacking that, things don’t look good for the Dems.

 

The Democrat Horse Race Begins

Former Vice President Joe Biden has finally made his official entry into the Democrat presidential primary race. There are nineteen other Democrat luminaries running, and Biden makes number twenty. The interesting thing is that the polls have Biden in a substantial lead over all the other candidates.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls have Biden at 29, Sanders at 23, Harris at 8.3, and Buttigieg at 7.5. Senator Elizabeth Warren is coming in fifth at 6.5, and the rest of the field is lower than that. The race sets Biden and Sanders as the early strong candidates, with Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg running a close third and fourth.

The weird thing about this group is that the Democrat party has declared that anybody white is bad. So, how does that square with two old, fossilized white men being the most popular entrants in the primaries? Oh, yeah, they are of the male gender, too.  The fourth candidate is a white, gay man. Gay doesn’t buy him any points, anymore. Skin color is the most important factor in Democrat politics.

The Democrat’s nod to victims of color are Kamala Harris, Senator from California, and Senator Cory Spartacus Booker from New Jersey. Booker’s campaign is in the ditch, and will probably stay there. It surely looks like there are heaping helpings of hypocrisy in the Democrat Party.

If the Dems stick to their announced values, Kamala should be a shoo-in for the Presidential nomination. I don’t think she has the experience or smarts to get there, but at this point it is hard to count anyone out except for Robert Beto O’Rourke and Senator Elizabeth Pocahantas Warren. I believed they are political zombies at this point even though they are in the top seven in the polls.

The DNC says there will be a total of twelve primary debates, with the first in June of 2019. As of today, seven of the candidates have qualified with both donation support and public poll standing for the debates. Eight candidates have qualified with only one criterion, and five have not made the grade in either to polls or number of donors.

The DNC will make sure all twenty will be in the first debate on two consecutive nights in June. Only after the first two or three debates will the large field of competitors start to sort itself out.

If Pete Buttigieg can make it past the first two debates with increasing support and financing, he may very well pull ahead of Kamala Harris, putting him in third place. At that point he has to hope that one of the first two kills off the other. I feel that Sanders can sink Biden. Buttigieg may have a chance to take it all if he can make a significant move early in the series of debates.

My speculation is that come 2020, the top six candidates will be Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, possibly Elizabeth Warren, with a dark horse coming in sixth place. Maybe Andrew Yang can be that dark horse, but he is Asian and therefore not among the chosen set of victims to lead the party of collective ignorance.

Most of the candidates are not in the running. Their raison d’etre is to establish notoriety for future political positioning.

Who do you think will be around for the home stretch?

Mayor Pete – The Next Democrat Presidential Nominee?

South Bend Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg has entered the race for the Democrat Presidential nomination for the 2020 elections. His name recognition has gone from about zero to great in just a couple of weeks. How did he do it?

Mayor Pete’s only claim to fame is that he is gay. Nobody cares, anymore, if you are gay or living with a same sex partner. Gay is very common.

To get attention, he picked a fight with Vice President Pence over religion.  Pence has never said anything derogatory about Buttigieg, but that doesn’t keep Pete from showing his true Democrat colors. He lied.

That’s a true blue Democrat. When you have nothing to say, tell a lie. Throwing mud at Pence got Buttigieg off to a fast start, and now he is the darling of the Democrat Party. The field of Democrat contestants is mediocre. Mayor Pete has charisma, a magnetic charm that we saw in JFK, and Barack Obama. The only strike against him is that he is white, irrational as that may be.

Charisma is what makes Buttigieg dangerous. He seems to have some common sense, but I will not bet our country on that idea. At the core, I believe Buttigieg is no better than any of the haters in the Democrat Party.

Pete Buttigieg is a hater. His unwarranted and false accusations made against the Vice President presage that fact. He will be a hater with the best, so watch out. Mayor Pete has a great chance of being the next presidential nominee.

What do you think?