Hi, my name is Michael Libbie and here is your invite to grab a cup of Sunday Morning Coffee now serving in our 12th year of commenting on the news stories you may have seen or may have missed all laced with my, usually, acerbic commentary. There is much to share so let's go.
Remember the Vietnam War? Many of you reading Sunday Morning Coffee do and many of you faithfully served your country during the twenty-year war that didn't end so well. The fall of Saigon took place on April 30, 1975. By that time hundreds of thousands of combatants, on both sides of the war, were killed. The United States suffered 58,318 military personnel killed. As of last year 1,587 are still listed as missing.
I share that story with you as a back-story to what we learned this past week. Vietnam is home to 96 million people and, if you remember, the country borders China. According to a report from Reuters, Vietnam reports a total of 270 cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths. Zero deaths. How can that be? In a country that has a GDP of $261 billion and ranks 44th in the world for Gross Domestic Product?
The answer is they did what the U.S. failed at. In late January the first two cases of COVID-19 were discovered and the government went straight to a major national testing program and a lock-down. Public health experts say Vietnam was successful because it made early, decisive moves to restrict travel into the country, put tens of thousands of people into quarantine and quickly scaled up the use of tests and a system to track down people who might have been exposed to the virus.
It seems that we are no closer to learning a lesson...the U.S. now reports over 1.1 million people infected and over 67,000 deaths.
They Protest Too Much
Last week saw about 200 armed militia members storm the Michigan State House complete with American flags and Nazi signs. Let that sink in for just a moment. Beyond the fact that Michigan is home to roughly 9.9 million souls and that this group hardly registers a blip you should know that the group called on to provide "security" for the event is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-government organization. The rally was an effort to get Michigan Republican legislators to pressure Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) to back down from the "Shelter in Place" order that she has now expanded to 15 May.
Perhaps missed in all of this was the call from "45", who has been criticized in the past for condoning extremist views, called the protesters “very good people” and urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “make a deal.”
Let's see...what if...just what if an angry group of African-Americans weary of being pushed to the side when it comes to COVID-19 testing and represent an outsize number of deaths stormed any state house in America brandishing firearms. Anybody wanna guess how that might turn out?
Oh, But Let's Bring It Home
The failed leadership of Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) goes on unabated. Against the advice of scientists she is sticking firm to her idea that 77 of our counties can open or partly open up for business. Never mind that the CDC is now saying rural parts of the United States are weeks away from seeing a spike of COVID-19. And, it is these very rural counties that are ill prepared to deal with hundreds of very sick people.
I didn't come up with this but I like it. Opening up 77 counties for business is sorta like having a designated pee location in a swimming pool. It's gonna circulate but at least in a pool we have chemicals to deal with that. Oh, wait...how about that ingesting of bleach? Now it all makes perfect sense.
Iowa is a Christian State...just ask the governor. It wasn't bad enough that a week ago she called for a "Day of Prayer" invoking only the Christian perspective. Last week she invited members of The Family Leader to join her on the podium. It's all about pandering to her and her presidents's base.
It is kinda cool how she and "45" are working in lock-step. Of course we're all the guinea pigs here. And, no guinea pigs are not kosher.
A reporter asked her if she was going to Sunday Services today. She publically identifies as a United Methodist but attends the Lutheran Church of Hope. The governor, it is said, "demurred". Which is a nice way of saying... "Well, you should go to church and mix it up with the faithful. Me? I think I'll stay home." But...it would have made some great video.
Tired? Me too. It's been pretty non-stop for weeks now. Sure, I'm fortunate that I "get to" work from home and I've done that for 15 years or so. But, it's a significant issue not having personal interaction. Sure I'm on Zoom and Lifestyle and other group meetings much of the day...but still. What is interesting, and I've mentioned this before, conversations with people tend to get longer. Folks, it would seem, still wish to connect.
When it comes to campaigning it's really a struggle. Sure there are phone calls and the delivery of yard signs (thank you!) but keeping focused when there is so much pain is difficult. Each day I hear from folks that are truly struggling and many times they take it out in hateful speech. Last week I wrote my weekly Torah Thoughts for my congregation Adas Israel in Mason City, Iowa. If you have the time (and who doesn't?) you might take a few moments to read. It has to do with how we are commanded to deal with others particularly those who are in want and need. I'll leave it there and here is a link to Torah Thoughts from Adas Israel - The Jewish Congregation of Northern Iowa.
Finally a shout out about the campaign. Look, this effort is about leadership: Experienced leadership. The kind we do not see coming from the governor's office. You don't "just get" to be an experienced leader. It takes time and talent and the desire to make a difference. If you will allow me...I've been doing that for decades. Leadership and action on the progressive side of politics didn't just come to me last month or last year or a couple of years ago. You know me and I've always been there. More detail is here and thank you, in advance.
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!