Musings from the Bunker 11/24/20
Good morning! IT’S THANKSGIVING WEEK It’s an abbreviated work week! I have a potpourri of thoughts this morning. First, thoughts on Thanksgiving:
We should be thankful for those who are important in our lives, that we are in good health (hopefully), that we live in these times, with the creature comforts that our modern society provides, in the great democratic experiment that is America, which has tried—often successfully and sometimes not—to be a beacon of enlightenment, compassion, and stability in a world of human, biological, climatic, and existential threats.
We should acknowledge the plights of those less fortunate than we—those who fear getting pulled over by a police officer, who may not feel safe in their own homes, who don’t have their own homes, and those who suffer from physical and mental illnesses. We should be thankful that we don’t go to bed hungry, cold, sick, or without clean water, as do so many people around the world. We should be thankful that we have the means to address many of these maladies, not just by waiting for government to act but by acting ourselves. There are plenty of ways we can help, most readily by contributing to important charitable institutions that work to make our society more just, healthy, safe, and caring.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all inter-connected. We have learned—the hard way—that the health of our neighbors affects our own health. The uptick in significant climate events (heat, storms, fires, etc.) shows that climate change no longer is “out there” sometime in the future but is in the here and now. The isolation has reminded us that our collective and individual mental health is prone to ups and downs and not exclusive to those with chronic illnesses. I continue to return to a wonderful quotation (whose provenance I don’t recall), about the similarity of our experiences and yet the differences in our plights:
“While we may not all be in the same boat, we most assuredly are on the same ocean in the same storm.”
IF IT WASN’T CLEAR BEFORE
Is it possible that Joe Biden is “precisely what the doctor ordered”? Several things to note:
Beginning with his measured debate performances, particularly when he looked in the camera and spoke directly to the American people, Biden has struck a pose of a confident, kind, deliberate leader. That he may come off to some as a “grandpa” may be exactly what the nation needs—an old soul with a depth of experience in Washington, principled, yet compromising, intellectually flexible, thoughtful and calming.
A man prone to loquaciousness and verbal stumbles seems to have hit his stride. He now has found that by speaking less, he is communicating more.
He has avoided the fray associated with the Trump attacks on the elections process. In doing so, he is allowing the crazies to run themselves down. By not participating, he is showing what it means to be a statesman.
He has made masterful appointments. Choosing Kamala Harris was smart. And he has followed that up with thoughtful, serious, experienced people without an overt political agenda. These are not toadies and “yes men.” Anthony Blinken at State, Janet Yellin at Treasury, Ali Mayorkas at Homeland Security, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, John Kerry as Climate “czar”—all bespeak the goals of hiring the best and the brightest, inclusiveness, and a desire to get to work.
And above all else, he is demonstrating leadership in highlighting the three great issues we face—the pandemic, the economy and climate change.
THE ALGORITHMS AREN’T PERFECT
Several years ago, I was amused to discover my Facebook newsfeed peppered with suggestions targeting gay men. I imagine this came as a result of searches involving from my love of musical theatre and well-tailored Italian suits…
One would have thought the methodology for cataloguing my interests and spewing out advertisements keyed to my desires would have refined since then. Alas, Facebook provided me links to items being sold “near me.” Here’s the inventory of their suggestions last week:
Five pounds of lead ingots, which apparently have myriad uses, including as sinkers for fishing (I rarely fish)
A fender guitar (I don’t play)
Female dog cotton underpants (our dog is male)
A 1999 Airstream trailer (never have driven, owned, or been a passenger in one before)
A 2001 Porsche
A 20% success rate? That’s right at the Mendoza Line. They’ll have to learn to do better than that. THE PARTY’S OVER The Michigan Canvassing Board performed its largely ministerial duty yesterday of certifying the results of that State’s election. But not before these unelected appointed officials who are charged with a largely ministerial act, questioned such things as whether they could take no action. They were advised that “there are no ties…” Oh my… Jerry Coben notes that “History may well remember the Michigan Canvassing Board as the bulwark of democracy...” And the General Services Administration has cleared the transition process to move forward. Ed Casal offering the following lyric and short commentary: “The party's over It's time to call it a day They've burst your pretty balloon And taken the moon away It's time to wind up the masquerade Just make your mind up the piper must be paid” “Today I finally breathe.” Perhaps our long national nightmare is drawing to a close. Not with a bang, nor a whimper, but a tweet. All the best, Glenn