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Post Election Blahs

| November 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

Wednesday, 5:15 pm, Day after the election

So, it looks like Biden’s going to win. The worst outcome didn’t happen. But, as per my previous entry, it’s been emotionally exhausting.

Bottom line, it was not the massive repudiation of Trump that I’d hoped for or that the country needed. The republicans will hold the senate. The democrats will lose seats in the House. Who knows what happened in the state legislatures, but I assume it’s not the wave that’s going to help us from getting screwed again in redistricting. The trench warfare continues.

I was seriously thinking about changing our whole life this morning. I thought about putting all our assets in a mental bucket and do a zero based analysis that asked and answered the question, what kind of life do I want going forward within the constraints of that amount of money. I seriously thought about trying to convince Rita to move to Canada.

So, at least I’m past that. Biden, not Trump, will be president. And Trump will be humiliated, but he’ll never know it. At least not consciously.

I do console myself thinking about the ability of the Biden Administration doing audits of all the atrocities that the Trump Administration has committed, agency by agency. Seeing Trump in jail may be too much to wish for. But I do hope his businesses suffer.

But the country is still a mess. This was not a big turning point. We simply removed a malignant aggressive cancer from a patient with many other maladies.

Election Eve

| November 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

Monday, 8:30 am

Election eve and it’s nerve-wracking. It’s a cliche’ but true. We’re all suffering from PTSD, not just from the election of 2016 but from everything that ensued since. Just like in 2016, Trump winning the election is unimaginable. But it happened then and nobody is prepared to say it couldn’t happen now. The difference is that the last time it was a fluke. This time it will be who we are.

Biden seems intent is aggravating my terrifying flashbacks. He’s finishing the campaign in Cleveland, the scene of my two most traumatic campaign experiences, 2004 and 2016. Let’s hope the third time’s the charm.

The Stakes

| November 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Has there ever been an event – that we know will happen – whose consequences will be so profound? Not just for the U.S., but for the whole world. It is impossible to overstate the stakes in this election. A Trump win would be beyond catastrophic. That’s just a fact. And the fact that 40% of the American public not only doesn’t see that, but is willing to bring it about is the scariest fact that has ever existed in politics. As bad as Trump is, it’s his supporters that are the most dangerous….and inexplicable.

I saw a poll yesterday that had Joni Ernst ahead by a point in Iowa and got depressed. A Biden win with a Republican Senate is only slightly less catastrophic.

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On The Walk with Rozzie…

| November 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Minority Rule

| October 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

One thing the media coverage of the election seems to miss is the actual strategy that Trump and the republicans are trying to execute. There is literally no way Trump can get a majority of the popular vote. He has never – NEVER – had majority support in the country. In not one poll has he exceeded 50% favorability. The only way he can remain president is to – again – lose the popular vote and win in the electoral college.

What will that do to the country if he/they succeed? I think the country will erupt. The tragic part of this is that he doesn’t care. The Republicans don’t care. And, more troubling, the people voting for Trump don’t care. Power is everything.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in 2000, Al Gore conceded quickly, for the good of the country. Some thought he should fight on, but he refused. Even Richard Nixon, in 1960 conceded, even though he believed the election was stolen in Illinois. His decision may have been more practical than high-minded. But can you imagine Trump conceding? Irrespective of what it might do to the country.

Unless there are some definitive signs on election night that he’s going to lose, we’re in for a rough road. A lot of people will be tested. Far too many have failed the test thus far. We can only hope there is SOME line that they won’t cross.

I’m nervous.

What Happens After Election Day

| October 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

Ron Suskind has a story in the New York Times with a large number of anonymous sources describing the high anxiety on the federal government over what Trump might do to hang on to office. It is both chilling and, I guess, somewhat comforting. It is clear that these sources want the country to know that they are fully aware that we have a maniac as president and will be doing what they can to protect the county. However, they also seem to have doubts about what they can actually do to prevent the worst from happening. That’s the chilling part.

Shy Voters

| October 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

One of the theories behind the flawed polls in 2016 that missed Trump’s strength in the electorate was the concept of the “shy Trump voter.” These were voters who were embarrassed by the fact that they supported Trump and, therefore, would not admit it publicly. And, they wouldn’t even admit it to pollsters. As result, Trump’s vote was undercounted by the pollsters.

To be fair, there is a logic to this theory. I know I would be embarrassed to admit that I support a stupid, corrupt, misogynistic, racist for president. But I think the theory is mistaken in that I would expect that most Trump voters live in a Fox News bubble of like-minded people. It’s part of the “great sort” of Americans that has resulted in most people gathering in communities that think like them.

I would also suggest that most Trump voters that I’ve observed are not shy about their support of their Dear Leader. Trump rallies don’t seem to attract shy people.

In fact, I think the opposite is true. I would propose that, in this election, there will be a lot of shy Biden voters. I suspect that many people who don the MAGA paraphernalia are having second thoughts. Particularly those in the “high risk demographic,” if you know what I mean. They may be a little queasy about four more years of an Administration that says “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” Or that leaves its supporters literally in the cold after a rally. A rally, by the way, that is clearly a super spreader event.

These shy Biden voters probably live in MAGA world and it is part of their identity. They can’t admit to their friends that they are contemplating voting for a socialist, even one more likely to protect them from the pandemic.

My theory is supported by a Pew Survey that asked Trump and Biden supporters how many of their friends and acquaintances support the other candidate. It turns out that Trump supporters have many fewer in their circle of friends and family who support Biden than the other way around.

Trump supporters are more likely to be ostracized for switching to Biden

Trump supporters are far more likely to have “a lot” of friends who support Trump than do Biden supporters. Add to that the fact that Trump supporters are, by definition, a little crazy. And Trump is getting crazier by the day. Common sense suggests that there’s a greater likelihood that some of his supporters (very few, I admit) will decide to get off the crazy train, than that Biden supporters will get on at this stage. And I suspect that those who disembark won’t tell their friends. Instead, in the privacy of the voting booth, they will vote like their lives depend on it.

D Day Plus 76 Years

| June 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Seventy-six years ago today, my father was in England, getting ready to drive a truck onto a barge that would take him to Normandy, France the next day, D Day plus one.

He was 25 years old. In a letter he wrote to his sister on July 22nd, 1944, he said, “They have eased up on the censoring enough to so that I can say that we came to France the hard way – landed on the beach. There was no interference. It was quite a thrill tho as we approached the beachhead, to think that we were landing in another foreign country.”

The guilelessness of that description is so very poignant. Here he was, participating in one of the most significant events of the 20th century, and he was excited about entering a foreign country. That’s what stuck with him a month and a half later. I didn’t see that letter until decades after he died and it is one of the regrets of my life that I never really talked to him about his experiences in WW II. He died when I was 17 and I was too absorbed with myself to care.

To honor his memory, I visited the World War II Memorial at sunrise today. It was a remarkable and somewhat melancholy experience. I arrived near the memorial at about 5:15 am and had trouble finding parking, due to various traffic restrictions in response to the major demonstration planned for today. Streets were being blocked and police and military personnel were all over the place.

At the memorial, there was a small group of young soldiers milling around, some strolling through the memorial. They were probably about the same age as my father when he was preparing to cross the English Channel. I have to admit feeling a bit torn about their presence. On the one hand, they are worthy descendants of the men and women memorialized on that site for saving democracy from one of its greatest threats in WW II. On the other hand, they are here in DC at the behest of a man who I believe represents the greatest threat to our democracy since those terrible days. I hope I come to the view in the months and years ahead that my fears were exaggerated. But we shall see. Frankly, it is the demonstration that brought those soldiers here that gives me hope.

As I watched the soldiers walking around the memorial, I desperately wanted to tell them that my father landed at Normandy, but couldn’t find a way to open a conversation.

As I was leaving, one of the soldiers said to me, “Have a good day, sir.”

There was my opening. I turned and walked toward the group and said, “Do you mind if I brag a bit?”

The soldier said, “Sure.”

I said, “My father landed at Normandy, so this is a very special day for me.”

Looking surprised, he said, “Your father?! Why, you don’t look a day over 20!”

I laughed and said, “Thank you.” And thought, “Maybe we’ll be OK.”

Milan Stevanovich

| May 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
A Photo I took of Milan with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao

At the beginning of April I got a video by text message of a group of mostly young Chinese people offering well wishes to Milan Stevanovich. They were all expressing support and the hope that he would get well soon. The video came from Milan and I’m assuming he sent it to his entire list of people with whom he had ever texted.

I quickly responded to him. Here’s the text exchange:

Oh Milan! Sorry to hear but what a beautiful video. Must have given you a lift. Take care of yourself and get well soon. Bill Black

Yes it did Thx

You ok? ….considering….

Time will tell : Two weeks in the hospital the virus is all over my lungs

I need to be on the highest oxygen levels

If no improvement 3-4 days : I’m going to be asked to check into another hospital another protocol

I’m praying for you. Let me know when you’ve recovered.

In reality, I didn’t pray for him. And, while I was shocked that he had the disease. I didn’t give it too much though as the days and weeks passed.

I met Milan years ago while I was still at the PR firm trying to build a practice that supported Chinese companies seeking investment opportunities in the U.S. There was a New York Times story about Chinese companies coming to Detroit to support the automotive industry. The story depicted Detroit as a Chinese inbound investment hot spot. So, after consulting with my boss, I cold-called the Detroit China Business Association that we mentioned in the article. I spoke to Milan and we decided to meet in Detroit.

A short time later, I went to Detroit, hooked up with a colleague from the local office there and set out to meet with Milan. His office was on the second floor of nondescript office building in the suburbs. I don’t remember much about the meeting, but I do remember that Milan was a very gregarious guy with a big personality. I learned later that the members of the DCBA were mostly real estate types trying to sell business and residential real estate to Chinese businesspeople. Milan fit that mold. He was always selling,

Typically, for just about all my China adventures, no money changed hands. But I stayed in touch with Milan. He invited me to his annual golf tournament. I never got back to Detroit, but he came to DC a few times and we got together. I believe his last scheme had something to do with electric buses. He got me into a Chinese New Year reception at the Department of Transportation.

Last week, while search for a particular text on my phone, I came across our text exchange and wondered how he was doing. Here’s how that went:

How are you doing?

Hi Bill, this is Chanel Stevanovich, Milan’s daughter. Unfortunately, Milan passed away on the 17th from Covid

Oh no. I am so so sorry. He was such a vivacious person. So, full of life and optimism. I’m crushed. I worked with him on some China projects. Loved being with him. He’s the only person I know who died due to the disease. You must be devastated. You have my deepest, deepest condolences.

Thank you

He’s the only person I know who has died from COVID. I don’t know what his overall health situation was, but he was certainly not old. Only 56 years old. And I can’t get it out of my mind. It drives home for me the fragility of life and how each day is precious.

Rest In Peace, Friend.

February 2020

| April 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Bill Kristol has a good piece today in The Bulwark, a website for Never Trump conservatives. I agree with it in many ways, but I think it frames a very cosmic issue in ways that are, frankly, self protective of Kristol himself.

He identifies February 2020 as one of those epochal moments in world history that changes everything. He describes it as the end of an era of peace and prosperity that began with the fall of the Soviet Union.

The era that ended in February 2020 marked a 30-year stretch of mostly peace and prosperity, not just for the United States, but for the world. Even if one is now struck, looking back, by this period’s markers of decadence and decline, three decades of peace and prosperity shouldn’t be underrated.

I agree with him that February was a turning point, but I see it as 40 years in the making, not 30. And I see those 40 years as a long detour or decline that Kristol had a role in creating.

I would start the clock in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan, someone I suspect Kristol continues to hold in very high regard. That was the start of the trend that led to Donald Trump. It launched a 40 year project dedicated to undermining respect for government. While Democrats had a majority in the country, Republicans won enough to maintain veto power over almost every Democratic initiative to leverage public policy to improve the lives of average people. Sadly, many of those average people were racists and Republicans used that racism to keep enough power to prevent any action,

The exceptions, of course, were the first two years of the Obama Administration. We passed the ACA, the stimulus bill and financial service reform. But by ginning up the racists, the Republicans reclaimed power and set about to undermine everything Obama had done or would do.

Then came Trump. The reducio ad absurdum of the Republican project. And here we are. Because many voters didn’t think it mattered who was president, they elected a corrupt, ignorant, racist fool. We surged three years without and external crisis, but our luck has run out. We’re faced with the worst possible crisis with the worst possible president.

So, thank you, Bill Kristol for recognizing what you and your ideological soulmates have given us.