Musings from the Bunker 10/1/30
WHAT WE MISS
As I got ready for a Zoom meeting that required a coat and tie, I realized how much I miss getting dressed up. It reminds me of Neil Patrick Harris’s character on How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson, and his trademark “suit up!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mU_Kuelsuo. My favorite line, “I wear suits and I’m awesome…”
I started making a short list of things I miss in COVID, most of which are connected with physical contact:
• Hugs (in fact, the last guy I can remember hugging, back in early March was in the hospital two weeks later)
• Walking to Peet’s with someone from the office, just to break up the day, get in a little walk and a cappuccino
• Peet’s (it has been closed for good near our office)
• Sitting in our favorite restaurants for dinner
• Sitting in our favorite restaurant—or anywhere else—next to another couple…!
• The airport and travel (although not that much and not all the time)
• Smiles and reading facial expressions on the street (because folks should be wearing masks)
• Blowing out birthday candles. I can’t resist Sheriff John (who remembers him from 60s kids’ TV?!). Note the production values… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwfIanJ96d8&app=desktop. When will we ever, EVER resume this highly unsanitary ritual, which probably never should have been occurring, until COVID pointed it out…
It isn’t terribly surprising that the choice of stories in journalism is as important as how stories are reported… It is not surprising that we have such divergent views in this country regarding the importance of certain issues when the media no longer identify the issues we face with the same seriousness or importance.
Unless you’ve been completely off the grid over the past 48 hours, you by now have read of the massive New York Times analysis of Mr. Trump’s tax returns. Among the revelations are many years of paying no taxes, a couple of years of $750 tax bills, proof that he has far less net worth and far greater debt than originally known, the parameters of his tax audit (and potential $100MM tax bill) and the prospect that he will have major maturities of debt in the next four years, to people and institutions that haven’t been identified but pose interesting risks.
The President’s answer is a non-answer, again claiming that he can’t disclose anything because an audit is ongoing, that he is being “very poorly treated” by the IRS and it’s “fake news” (more on that Sunday).
One would think this would be the biggest news of the moment. I thought so. But I was wondering about the coverage nationally and what Trump loyalists might make of this news. So I did a bit of research of national and regional media. It was a big story to many leading publications, including the Times, itself, the Washington Post, the it apparently wasn’t very big news to the more conservative news outlets.
Ordinarily, I love the Wall Street Journal, to which I subscribe. While the opinion section has its own slant, the news typically has been presented “straight up,” until recently. This story followed the following headlines (in order) before any mention of this news:
• Judge Blocks Download Ban on TikTok
• Stock Futures Gains…
• Global Virus Death Toll on Cusp of One Million
• Uber Wins Back License to Operate in London…
• What Amy Coney Barrett Could Mean for Future of the Supreme Court
Only the sixth story was about the New York Times’s revelations, and then the headline was not about the disclosure and the depth of the investigative report and its implications. Rather, the headline was about the President’s responses, which are the same as his prior statements (without reference to the report):
“Trump Declines to Say How Much He Has Paid in Federal Income Taxes”
But it’s even worse on the Fox News site. There, you wouldn’t even know it was an issue. The story of the President of the United States essentially paying no taxes, lying and having questionable financial dealings warranted only a distant #23 in importance, after a list that includes:
• EXCLUSIVE: Inside the White House’s plan to defend Amy Coney Barret during confirmation battle
• Biden’s team responds to Trump’s call for screenings before debates
• Trump takes press to task for skipping over Biden son’s scandals
• How to watch Fox News coverage of the first Trump-Biden debate
• Most memorable—and possibly embarrassing—televised debate moments in U.S. political history
• Pennsylvania lawmakers pick risque (sic) way to fix mail-in voting issues
• Chicago violence: Girl, 5, stabbed to death in another bloody weekend
• College football coach leaves “All Lives Matter to Our Lord” message, quits
• NYT report shows Minneapolis City Council members who regret signing pledge to dismantle police department
• California is changing how it houses prisoners
• NFL Week 3 Recap, scores and standings
• Bengals’ Joe Burrow gets leveled by Eagles defensive lineman, briefly leaves game
• 49ers Nick Mullens explains why he fixes the toppled-over pylon
• Prince George and Sir David Attenborough bond over this ancient object
• Hillary Swank… and Number 23…..
• Trump Declines to Say How Much He Has Paid in Federal Income Taxes
We live in different universes…
WE SEND THEM TO COLLEGE AND EXPECT THEM TO BEHAVE
Recently a friend took his daughter off to college and found out that four days later her roommate caught COVID-19 and a day or two later it was passed on to his daughter. Some might say that colleges have irresponsibly encouraged undergrads to show up, rent rooms and expose each other, only to later return to their homes to reinfect others. Somehow, to some it is surprising that college kids are congregating in groups, not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks. This reminds me of the scene in Casablanca, when Inspector Renault turns to Rick and remarks, with wry irony and feigned surprise, “I’m shocked, shocked that there is gambling in this establishment!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME
They are young—they’ve been told symptoms from COVID-19 will not be grave in their age group. Plus they are at a time of life when social interaction is desired and important. And people in this age group simply are willing to take greater risk than do those in their late 20s or 30s. Their brains and their ability to evaluate risk are not fully developed until age 25 or 26. Is it at all surprising that they are prone to ill-advised choices? It seems odd that the K-6 kids, those who still will listen to their elders and can be monitored with greater care, are being withheld from school, yet we let 18 year-olds go to college and go nuts.
This brings up the obvious question of whether young adults are more young than adult. Whether they should vote is an open question. Curiously, even with the vote, their likelihood to vote is lower than older folks. Perhaps their low turnout is yet another indicator of their immaturity and/or lack of personal agency.
Bradley Mindlin addresses this problem nicely:
Elections have consequences. Every vote may be only one but every one counts. Shame on our citizens for abdicating this obligation (not just a right). Sadly, if you went to most colleges/universities in today’s world (of course socially distancing) and asked random students to name 3 or more US Supreme Court Justices (like Jay Leno did on his Jay Walking routine) I would doubt if you would get many that could do that simple task. The majority of the people do not know their congressperson, their state assembly person, etc. But they know each and every Kardashian.
Have a great day,