Ground Zero for Covid-19. Biden’s Bigger Budget

Do you remember the first time you heard that Covid-19 apparently came from a virology lab in Wuhan, China? For you, it was probably early last spring. For most Americans, it was only last week when their favorite news media acknowledged the Wuhan Lab was likely Ground Zero.

Up until recently, most news media agreed with the World Health Organization (WHO) that the source was a bat sold at a fresh food market in Wuhan. Most networks made fun of anyone who said it might have originated in the Wuhan Lab, even though it was doing “change of function” research on a coronavirus. Facebook banned all posts that suggested it came from the Lab.

The whole world knows the coronavirus came from China, even though we’re not allowed to say so. While the world has suffered 170 million Covid-19 cases and 3.5 million deaths, you might expect that China, with almost 20% of the world’s population, has suffered about a million of those deaths. After all, it infected people in China for about 3 months before being identified elsewhere.

Well, China has not reported a million deaths. Would you believe 4,600? And only 91,000 cases. The Communist Chinese leaders only count ones who were not cremated. We should know by now, we cannot trust the Communists.

You might remember I commented earlier that the federal government would give each child a $3000 tax credit, which I called a salary. Now, you might agree with this generosity. President Biden announced he would start sending out checks this summer, $250 a month for each child.

Suppose you have three teenagers who get wind of this payment. They might say, “Why should we get jobs at McDonald’s or the farm down the road. We’re getting $750 a month and it’s deposited into YOUR bank account. And don’t expect us to do any chores for a tiny allowance. What’s the use of working?”

On Friday President Biden submitted his first budget. He is asking Congress to appropriate $6 Trillion, which is 26% more than what President Trump asked for two years ago. A friend on Facebook applauded Biden’s budget request because it has essentially no increase for the Defense Department, “We have 13 aircraft carriers, China has only 2.”

A foreigner on Facebook asked why the U.S. has a Memorial Day, and honors Veterans on November 11, and has Armed Forces Day for those currently serving. He said we glorify and waste money on Armed Forces that would be better spent on helping humanity.

I think if Will Rogers were still around, he would ask, “Do our allies and friends in Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the World want us to bring home all our troops? And if we’re supposed to balance China on Defense, do you want us to lay low until they build 11 more Aircraft Carriers?”

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The budget is a mythical bean bag. Congress votes mythical beans into it, and then tries to reach in and pull real beans out.” DT #2047, Feb. 24, 1933

“If you want to know when a war is coming just watch the United States and see when they start cutting down on their defense. It’s the surest barometer in the world.” DT #2116, May 16, 1933

Alienating Customers. Joke-telling and Golf Require Skill

Back in the old days, entertainers and businesses usually tried to attract as many friends and customers as possible. That didn’t mean everyone liked you. And a business might ignore or reject a small percentage of the population.

But now it’s common to turn off half or more of potential clients and audiences. Coke, American Airlines, Nike, Major League Baseball, and late-night hosts on TV, for example, are living with the results.

You may remember that the U.S. passed the 18th Amendment prohibiting liquor production and sale in 1920. That did not mean people stopped drinking; bootleggers filled the vacuum. Liquor flowed freely despite the attempts by federal “revenuers” to destroy moonshine stills and stop the rumrunners. After 13 years, the U.S. did something never done before or since: the 21st Amendment was passed to cancel the 18th.

Will Rogers was in his prime as an entertainer and columnist during Prohibition. So, did he “pick a side?” No, he kidded both “wets” and “drys,” as they were called. And both sides laughed. He often joked that people “vote dry but drink wet.”

Here are two of hundreds of his comments:

“The South is dry and will vote dry. That is, everybody that is sober enough to stagger to the polls will.” (DT #66, Oct. 28, 1926)

“Just let the bootleggers alone; they are getting so prosperous they are drinking each other’s wares now, so they will gradually kill each other off.” (WA #42, Sept. 30, 1923)

Will Rogers was a skilled humorist; President Biden is not. You may have seen where he messed up a punchline in his speech at graduation ceremonies for the Coast Guard. I won’t pile on the President because very few people are consistently good at humor. There is one advantage of his jokes falling flat; some of us won’t be irritated as often by the “unusual” laugh of our Vice-President.

I will hit him on his choice of pipelines to approve. Why cancel one that supports the U.S. and Canada because of global warming, but approve one that benefits Russia?

Today, on Kiawah Island in South Carolina, 50-year-old lefty, Phil Michelson, won the PGA golf tournament. You might say he won one for all the old golfers. His win inspires talented young folks too. If you stay in shape or get in shape, physically and mentally, you too can be a winner. Even if you’re left-handed.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“From what I can gather from everyone I talk with, things are definitely picking up. If they just get more folks to working, there is no way to stop this country. Just quit listening to the politicians…. The Constitution will remain as is. The Russians are not going to take us. Everywhere I have been there is a fine feeling. Let folks quit arguing over who did it, or didn’t do it; just join in it.” WA #655, July 14, 1935

“I had heard (golf) called an old man’s game. Every one of (the players) looked big and strong enough to work at something. Now I am not going to make the mistake of the usual fool, just because I don’t play the game, and tell you that there is nothing to it. There is skill in anything. Spitting at a crack don’t get much recognition among the Arts, but you just try to hit one sometime and you will never laugh at another spitter again.” WA #163, Jan. 24, 1926

Mask Tossers, Russian Hackers, and Gasoline Hoarders

We got big news out of Washington. Huge. No, it was not a decision to finish the 30-foot wall on our Mexican border. It was not an announcement to finish the Keystone XL pipeline. And it was not a streamlined Trillion-dollar Infrastructure bill.

It was still huge, even though President Biden did not announce it the way I suggested two weeks ago, “remove mask, hold it high, strike a match, light it on fire, and let it burn.”

But the President finally admitted what most of the country figured out months ago: Get vaccinated, toss the mask. (Unless you choose to wear one.)

And outside, in wide open spaces, they finally admitted it is almost impossible to “catch Covid.” Originally our CDC said, “less than 10%” of patients got Covid from an infected person outside. Last week they admitted it is quite a bit less than 10%. Yes, 0.1%.

And inside, if you have been vaccinated (or recovered from Covid), toss the mask. Maybe Speaker Pelosi will allow our Representatives in Congress to remove their masks. But the way a few have been acting lately, they might want to keep their faces hidden.

Do you remember the warning about touching anything because a person with Covid might have touched it earlier? Wear gloves when pumping gas. Don’t touch the hand rails on stairs. Don’t touch your mask then rub your eyes. It was hard to find hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and bleach because “essential” businesses and schools spent hours cleaning surfaces. Some schools that were open skipped Wednesdays so the janitors could thoroughly disinfect. Disinfecting overnight or on weekends was not enough.

The head of the big teachers’ union finally admitted she might let teachers in her union return to their schools in September. Of course, the majority of other teachers have been in the classroom since LAST September (at least most days).

The Russian hackers shut down a pipeline that supplies half of the gasoline to Southeast states and up to New Jersey. The company paid a ransom of $5 million so the gasoline is flowing again. But the shortage has wreaked havoc. Long lines of vehicles waiting for hours to fill up. And not just “fill up” their tank. Hoarders filled up livestock watering troughs, plastic laundry baskets, and garbage bags. The danger is unbelievable. But if one of those hoarders has a garbage bag burst on the garage floor, they probably have plenty of toilet paper to soak it up.

I saw a “cartoon” of two young guys talking to the clerk at a gas station, “We’d like to return some gas, please. We have it in our pickup. 110 gallons. We paid $419.79 for it. You can have it back for $400.”

Clerk, “So, you have 110 gallons in two 55-gallon barrels?”

“No ma’am, it’s in 11 garbage bags.”

You might wonder, what is the penalty for a Russian hacking and collecting a ransom? So far, none. They just move on to another victim and demand more millions. I heard a good suggestion from a former Congressman: Congress should pass a law making this a federal terrorism crime, punishable by death. Then we can have secret agents sneak into Russia, or anywhere else, and kill ‘em.

Kinda like we did with that Iranian General last year. And we had better do it before they shut down our electric grid. Now, we don’t want to kill anyone. We just want to scare ‘em so they’ll stop hacking our computer systems.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“The difference between good times and bad times is gasoline, and what goes with it.” WA #636, March 3, 1935

President Biden’s Address to Congress

I referred to this last week. President Biden spoke to Congress on April 28, reporting on his first 100 days in office. You might say it was presented with Biden passion and sincerity, and delivered on a Sanders platform. He outlined three major bills that add up to $6 Trillion.

First, the American Rescue Plan. “One of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.”

Second, the American Jobs Plan, which was promoted as the Infrastructure bill, “a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself. The largest jobs plan since World War II.” The jobs are focused primarily on climate change. “Electrical workers installing 500,000 charging stations. Farmers planting cover crops, so they can reduce carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.”

Now, I can report that farmers who already plant crops without plowing, and then plant a cover crop after harvest, are applauding this plan. They know carbon dioxide is removed from the air because it is transformed into organic matter in the soil. Farming continuously without tilling fields will keep storing more carbon. And it will stay stored unless someone shows up with a plow.

Third, the American Families Plan, which “addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families today.” I’ve got to admit when I heard it was a “family plan” with 4 parts, I thought of a comment you have probably read many times. Thinking of teenagers, the recommendation for an “American family” is 4 steps, in this order: Finish your education; get a job; get married; then have children (if you choose).

What the President has in mind includes the first step: adding pre-school for 3- and 4- year-olds, then adding two years of free community college. His second point relates more to jobs; providing free child care for 3-month to 2-yr olds so Moms can get back to work. His third point gives Moms and Dads three months of paid leave to stay home with the baby, then the baby qualifies for the free child care. And fourth, the government will pay each child a salary of $3000 a year until they finish the 2 years of free community college. (Ok, it’s a tax credit.)

How does President Biden plan to pay for the extra $6 trillion in expenses? He started out by assuring 99% of Americans it will not cost them a dime. Rich people and big corporations will pay the entire cost. And they won’t complain about paying their fair share. See, up to now, they have been living off the 99%. Biden said, “We’re going to reward work, not wealth.”

And until September, he also plans to reward not working.

He said, “Look, I’m not out to punish anyone.” Of course not. According to the President, big companies like Walmart, Amazon, Ford, and John Deere won’t even notice a 20% reduction in profits. And any family making over $400,000 won’t see any change in their lifestyle, except they might sell their yacht or vacation home. And the rest of us, the 99%, we will prosper. Paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher, we will prosper until we run out of other people’s money.

President Biden commented on a lot of other topics: Covid vaccine shots; the $1400 stimulus checks; immigration; guns; and elections.

And since he was speaking in the Capitol, he referred to the January 6 insurrection. President Trump failed to adequately protect the Capitol ahead of time, did not call up National Guard reinforcements, and did not command his supporters to stay away. Instead, for about 5 hours, a mass of Trump supporters caroused through the Capitol, yelling threats, breaking windows, stealing Speaker Pelosi’s computer, and injuring officers. There was over a million dollars damage.

President Biden said, “Lives were lost.” Yes, five people died. Four because of health issues, and a protester was shot by police as she tried to break through a door. Trump has paid a price since January 6. He was forced off Twitter.

President Biden ended on an optimistic note, “There is nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”

Now, I have attempted to present the President’s points accurately, as I did last week with the rebuttal by Sen. Scott. If you agree with his spend and tax plan, that’s fine. If you disagree, don’t yell at the messenger.

Updating to May 7… The Jobs Report for April showed people prefer getting $15 an hour from the government instead of working for it. The only way employers can get their workers back is to pay them more than $15. That’s the indirect way for Senator Sanders, who lost the nomination to Biden, to get the minimum wage increased from $10. So, does that make him the winner?

(I’m writing this on Saturday night, so we can celebrate Mothers’ Day without politics. We’ve got enough to worry about with that Chinese rocket dropping out of the sky. If you are reading this on Sunday morning…it landed somewhere else.)

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“These people that you are asked to aid, why they are not asking for charity, they are naturally asking for a job, but if you can’t give them a job why the next best thing you can do is see that they have food and the necessities of life. You know, there’s not a one of us has anything that these people that are without it now haven’t contributed to what we’ve got.  I don’t suppose there is the most unemployed or the hungriest man in America (who has not) contributed in some way to the wealth of every millionaire in America.” Radio, Oct 18, 1931

Race, Masks, and Southwest Airline Snacks

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) raised a ruckus Wednesday night, in his rebuttal to President Biden’s speech to Congress. He stated, “America is not a racist country.”

Immediately folks on Twitter and TV reacted, “Uncle Tim, we ARE a racist country!”

Well, are we racist? Let’s do a few comparisons that have nothing to do with race. Is the air in cities perfectly clean? No, but it’s 99% cleaner than 75 years ago. Is the water flowing in our streams so clear you can see pebbles on the bottom of the Mississippi River? No, but our rivers and lakes are much less polluted than a hundred years ago. Has all soil erosion from rain storms and wind been prevented? No, but keeping farm fields protected with crop residue and cover crops has made a huge improvement. And the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s has never been repeated.

So, have all racists been eliminated? No, they still exist. But we hope and pray we have improved on racism as we have on air, water and soil.

As Sen. Scott said, “I know firsthand our healing is not finished… When America comes together, we’ve made tremendous progress… (but) people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven’t made any progress at all, by doubling down on the divisions we’ve worked so hard to heal.”

Whether you agree or disagree with him politically, Sen. Scott wrote and delivered a great speech.

The Mask Debate. To wear or not to wear, that is the question.

Let’s go back to January: have you been fully vaccinated? “No.”
Then wear a mask. Stay 6 feet apart. Wash hands often.

Today: Have you been vaccinated? “Yes. In February. Two Pfizer shots.”
Then wear a mask. Stay 6 feet apart. Wash hands often.

Are you surprised millions of Americans are in no hurry to get vaccinated?

Who sees himself as the role model for Covid mask wearing? President Biden. Did you know he was fully vaccinated in December? Does he know he was vaccinated? (Sorry, cheap shot.)

He wears a mask all the time, except while speaking at a microphone. He wears a mask alone in a cemetery. He wears a mask walking outside the White House with his wife. She wears a mask. They are alone.

The President wore a mask Wednesday as he entered the House chamber to address Congress. He put it on again after speaking. EVERYONE there wore a mask. EVERYONE there had been vaccinated.

Here’s my suggestion. If they want to get more people vaccinated so they can get back to normal, schedule another televised speech before Congress. Have ALL of them there, plus Cabinet and Supreme Court. And State Governors and Legislators watching on TV. (Like a normal State of the Union).

Picture this: The President enters and walks up to the lectern. He removes his mask and holds it high. He strikes a match (Gasp!), lights the mask on fire (VP Harris and Speaker Pelosi behind him are in shock!). He holds it proudly for three seconds and drops it into a cuspidor. As the mask smolders, he instructs the entire gathering, “On the count of three, remove your mask. One, Two, Three!” Can you hear the resounding roar? Both inside the Capitol and across the country, it’s like the Indy 500 announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!”

I flew to Atlanta last Monday. Returned Thursday. First time on a plane in 18 months. Southwest 737’s were full, both directions. Packed. Everyone masked.

Southwest serves mini-pretzels and a drink. The message on the napkin handed out with the drink gives the instructions: Drink down, mask up. Between bites, mask up.

I got fairly proficient. Pull mask down to chin, insert a couple of mini-pretzels. Raise mask. Chew, swallow, and repeat. Mask down, insert pretzels, mask up. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

By the time I finished (which wasn’t long; how long could it take to eat a dozen mini-pretzels?), I devised a better idea. It was too late for me to ask for another bag of pretzels but maybe you can try it on your next Southwest flight.

Here’s the idea. Lay your mask on the tray. Empty the entire contents of the snack bag onto your mask. Lean your face down close. Carefully raise mask to cover mouth and nose. Secure the elastic straps behind ears.

Voila, you have the entire bag of Southwest pretzels within millimeters of your mouth. This should operate somewhat in the nature of a feed bag on a horse.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“About ten days ago our President delivered his first message to Congress. You know that’s one of the things that his contract calls for, that every once in a while, he delivers a message to Congress to tell them the ‘Condition of the Country.’ This message as I say is to Congress, the rest of the country know the condition of the country, for they live in it and are a part of it…The country must have been in pretty bad shape for it took 12,000 words for Mr. Hoover to tell how bad it was. You see when a thing is in fine shape, it don’t need much explaining, you can then just write, ‘Country. O.K.’” WA #371, Feb. 2, 1930

“Lincoln was great. He freed the slaves and put the Southern whites in bondage for the duration of their natural lives. He furnished General Grant with cigars to smoke and poor [Robert E.] Lee had no gas mask so he had to surrender.   Lincoln tried his best to prevent that war between the Democrats and the Republicans.   Since then, they have been settling their difficulties at the polls, with about the same results.” Radio, June 1, 1930

** Yes, I give presentations. Virtual and in-person. And one-man shows.