A Weird Week In America (February 2020 Edition)

This past Monday the 3rd, Democrats gathered for the Iowa caucuses to begin the process of picking their nominee to face President Trump in November—which also resulted in a feverish media quest to hunt down every possible synonym for “disaster” in the English language.  The epic failure of an untested and unreliable phone app to count caucus votes delayed the final tally for many days, and the validity of the final outcome is still the subject of bitter debate among Democratic Presidential candidates and their supporters.  Many cannot help but suspect that the “fix” was in to deny Bernie Sanders a victory that once seemed all but certain, which sounds like a sadly familiar story.  

To say this was most definitely not the roll out to the nomination process that Democrats wanted—and needed—in order to effectively challenge President Trump in November is likely the understatement of the year.

On Tuesday the 4th President Trump gave his State of the Union speech to a Congress that had yet to make a final decision about whether or not to impeach him over accusations related to his dealings with the Ukrainian government.  The decision by Democrats to tie both the House and Senate into knots for months, which distracted all attention from their own Presidential candidates and legislative agenda in pursuit of an impeachment they had no hope at all of ever winning, is still a bit of a head scratcher.

Now that every American now knows more about Hunter Biden than his father, that “highly electable” non-entity who is running for President, and the public image of the Democratic Party has become the sad spectacle of Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff wrestling for access to a microphone so they can castigate America and Americans for the sin of finding their Impeachment Trial evidence unpersuasive, you just have to wonder what the long-term electoral consequences of this fiasco will be.  The exclamation mark to the night—Nancy Pelosi, demonstrating the maturity of a 3rd grader, tearing up her copy of President Trump’s speech at the finale—served to confirm that we are going to see a 2020 Presidential campaign bursting with bile, bitterness, and bizarre behavior.  Brace yourselves!

And Wednesday the 5th?  To absolutely no one’s surprise, President Trump was acquitted in his Senate Impeachment trial, which few watched and even fewer cared about.  

However, given that Democrats in the House have already announced their intention to (re)impeach him, we will likely be treated to yet more acrimony and made-for-TV antics that will serve only to further depress the already dismal approval ratings of our legislative branches of government, thrill no one but the most partisan Democrats, disgust moderate and independent voters going into the 2020 elections, and ensure that President Trump’s campaign coffers are overflowing with donations.  

I realize that many Democrats see this never ending impeachment effort as a matter of high moral principle; if this is the case, it might turn out to be the most principled political suicide in the history of our nation.  The voters will render their final verdict in November, so we will just wait and see.

On Thursday the 6th the flood of misinformation and rumor mongering concerning the Coronavirus epidemic continued to dominate news coverage.  

There now seems no doubt that we have a new virus that will sicken and possibly kill us to add to the already long list of illnesses and diseases that are already determined to eradicate humanity.  The “official” reports of widespread infections and deaths now occurring in China—which could be far more catastrophic than reported—sound terrible, and the human suffering and fear caused by this virus warrants all of our sympathy and concern. We are fortunate that only a handful of cases have so far appeared in America, which is certainly a result of forceful travel restrictions and tough quarantine procedures, but we cannot presume our good fortune will last forever.  Continued vigilance is necessary.  

Oddly enough, given that so much of our world’s economy is underpinned by a supply chain originating in China, the most immediate global impact might turn out to be a broad-based economic disruption, which could lead to a growth slowdown that will impact many businesses and the jobs they generate. This will, of course, lead to social and political strains that are difficult to anticipate, but the net effect of Coronavirus could be a reshuffling of many established alliances and partnerships between nations going forward—perhaps even permanently changing the economic and strategic structure of our world.

Friday rounded out one the stranger weeks in recent memory with the disheartening news that the highly trained and credentialed bureaucrats at the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics apparently don’t know how to add.  Revisions to previously released reports on monthly employment growth shaved 520,000 jobs off the official numbers reported during the Trump presidency.  Annual job growth has still averaged 1.4% over the past three years, and we managed to keep alive a string of 112 months with positive job growth that dates back to the end of the Great Recession, but a miss of this magnitude seems just one more bit of evidence—as if we needed any more—that trusting our government to tell us the whole truth is never a good idea.

On the bright side, however, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow back on Sunday, which supposedly predicts that an early spring is just ahead.  Let’s take this as a sliver of unmitigated (if highly questionable) good news within an otherwise distressing week for America and our world—and try to start afresh on Monday with a smile on our faces.

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