Saturday, October 31, 2020

‘Victory has many parents’

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” —Harry S Truman

 By Alex P. Vidal

 

ALL of a sudden, so many people are now claiming to be “responsible” or “instrumental” behind the meteoric success of newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo.

Some of these eager beaver characters, in fact, competed with the publicity that ground-swelled in the post-coronation days where Mateo instantly became the toast of the beauty pageant community after her Cinderella-like ascension into the world of celebrity and stardom at the Baguio Country Club on October 25.

Hardly had the moment of ecstasy and state of euphoria during the pageant hours simmered down, some of these publicity freaks were already in the media talking about how they supposedly molded the 23-year-old winner of Miss Iloilo 2020 to become a phenomenal beauty queen.

Why can’t they wait for Mateo to mention their names and give the credit due them if indeed they were part of her smashing success in the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 competition?

Mateo is very much aware of the difficult roads and sacrifices she went through before she amassed the gargantuan achievement that placed Iloilo City in the radar of reverence and respect nationwide.

With her humility and intelligence, Mateo definitely knows how to give credit where credit is due; she will remember the people who delivered the yeoman’s job that helped catapult her to become a national beauty titleholder. 

The more they make a noise and give credit to themselves, the more the people will suspect they are nothing but credit-grabbers and enthusiastic humbugs.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

 

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UP to the eleventh hour, sinking U.S. Presidential Election releectionist President Donald Trump continued stick to his incredible theory that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a hoax.

We suspect the Trump campaign has decided to sustain its stand on the pandemic issue in order to avoid the COVID-19 discussion during their campaign sorties.

The pandemic and its deadly onslaught in America, where more than 230,000 Americans have died and nine million people in the U.S. have been infected, has become a central topic being zeroed in by the Democratic Party.

And it has brought poll wonders for former Vice President Joseph Biden who has been leading in all the pre-election day polls by at least eight percent nationwide as of October 31.

To add misery to the Trump campaign, the stock market has spoken and has predicted a win by Biden. 

The stock market's time-tested "presidential predictor" was penciled to be right about who would win the election: The S&P 500's 2.2 percent decline in the three months leading up to November four years ago signaled that the incumbent party in the White House—the Democrats—would be replaced, even when the polls were wrong in 2016.

“In other words, the stock market predicted Donald Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton despite polls to the contrary,” reported Fortune’s Jen Weiczner. 

 

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Now, Weiczner explained, the same stock market indicator, which is dependent upon S&P 500 performance for the three months from August through the end of October, “has finalized its prediction.” 

With the S&P 500 down slightly (just 0.6 percent) over that period on the last trading day of October, the stock market's presidential predictor, as it's known by market analysts, is reportedly officially signaling that Biden will win the election.

“Though the dip is minor, the negative S&P 500 performance over those three months indicates that the incumbent party—in other words, President Trump—will be voted out of the White House and replaced with a Democrat,” stressed Weiczner.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

    

 

     

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

We must understand the electoral college

“I always lose the election in the polls, and I always win it on election day.” Benjamin Netanyahu

By Alex P. Vidal

 

WE know that when we elect our president in the Philippines every six years, the candidate that garners the higher votes wins the presidency (Rodrigo Duterte secured 16,601,997 votes against Mar Roxas’ 9,978,175 votes in the 2016 general election).      

Also a vice presidential candidate even from another political party can win if he or she collects higher votes than his or her rivals. 

It is important that we must also understand how Americans elect their president and vice president, and why it’s the electoral college—not the popular votes—decides the winner of the U.S. presidential election.  

Unlike the Filipinos who cast their votes for the candidates, the Americans are actually voting for a representative of the candidate’s party known as “elector” when they cast their ballots for the U.S. president.

On behalf of the people in their state, there are 538 electors who then vote for the president. They comprise the electoral college.

Based on the number of congressional districts they have, each state is assigned a certain number of these electoral votes, plus two additional votes representing the state’s Senate seats. 

And despite having no voting representation in Congress, Washington DC is also assigned three electoral votes.

A majority of 270 of these votes is needed to win the presidency.

The process of nominating electors varies by state and by party, but is generally done one of two ways. 

 

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Political parties either choose electors at their national conventions, or they are voted for by the party’s central committee ahead of the election.

The U.S. electoral college nearly always operates with a winner-takes-all system, in which the candidate with the highest number of votes in a state claims all of that state’s electoral votes. 

In 2016, for example, Donald Trump of Republican Party defeated Hillary Clinton of Democratic Party in Florida by a margin of just 2.2 percent, but that meant Trump claimed all 29 of Florida’s crucial electoral votes.

Such small margins in a handful of key swing states meant that, regardless of Clinton’s national vote lead, Trump was able to clinch victory in several swing states and therefore win more electoral college votes.

According to the The Guardian U.S. edition writers Helena Robertson, Ashley Kirk and Frank Hulley-Jones, former Vice President Joseph Biden could face the same hurdle on November 3, meaning he will need to focus his attention on a handful of battleground states to win the presidency.

There seems to have an unequal distribution of electoral votes.

The writers explained that while the number of electoral votes a state is assigned somewhat reflects its population, the minimum of three votes per state means that the relative value of electoral votes varies across America.

“The least populous states like North and South Dakota and the smaller states of New England are overrepresented because of the required minimum of three electoral votes. Meanwhile, the states with the most people – California, Texas and Florida – are underrepresented in the electoral college,” they explained.

“Wyoming has one electoral college vote for every 193,000 people, compared with California’s rate of one electoral vote per 718,000 people. This means that each electoral vote in California represents over three times as many people as one in Wyoming. These disparities are repeated across the country.”

 

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Experts have warned that, after returning two presidents that got fewer votes than their opponents since 2000, the electoral college is flawed.

In 2000, Al Gore won over half a million more votes than George Bush, yet Bush became president after winning Florida by just 537 votes. 

In all, the US reportedly has had five presidents who lost the overall popular vote but won the election.

Professor George Edwards III, at Texas A&M University, said: “The electoral college violates the core tenet of democracy, that all votes count equally and allows the candidate finishing second to win the election. Why hold an election if we do not care who received the most votes?

“At the moment, the electoral college favors Republicans because of the way Republican votes are distributed across the country. They are more likely to occur in states that are closely divided between the parties.”

Under the winner-takes-all system, the margin of victory in a state becomes irrelevant. 

In 2016, Clinton’s substantial margins in states such as California and New York failed to earn her enough electoral votes, while close races in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan took Trump over the 270 majority.

 

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As candidates easily win the electoral votes of their solid states, the election plays out in a handful of key battlegrounds, the writers stressed.

They explained: “In 2016, Trump won six such states—Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—adding 99 electoral votes to his total. The demographics of these states differ from the national average. They are older, have more white voters without college degrees, and often have smaller non-white populations. These characteristics generally favor Republicans, and made up the base of Trump’s votes in 2016.”

They recalled that  67 percent of non-college-educated white people voted for Trump in 2016. 

In all six swing states, this demographic is reportedly “overrepresented by at least six percentage points more than the national average.”

The writers fear that “the current system is also vulnerable to distorted outcomes through actions such as gerrymandering. This practice involves precisely redrawing the borders of districts to concentrate support in favor of a party. The result being abnormally shaped districts that disenfranchise certain groups of voters.”

An amendment that would replace the college with a direct national popular vote is reportedly seen by many today as the fairest electoral system.

According to Professor Edwards III, “There is only one appropriate way to elect the president: add up all the votes and declare the candidate receiving the most votes the winner.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

‘Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo’

“It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance.” — Simone Weil

By Alex P. Vidal

 

NOT even an assurance from no less than President Donald Trump that “the stimulus money from the federal government will continue after the November 3 U.S. Presidential Election” can convince Filipino-American musician Ruben Blancaflor the U.S. Government is sincere to help the Americans wiggle out from dire straits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo (What’s the use of the grass if the horse is dead),” bemoaned Blancaflor, 57, who hails from Sigma, Capiz in the Philippines.

The father of two from Sunnyside, Queens lost his regular job as a maintenance crew in an economy Lower Manhattan hotel during the pandemic-induced lockdown in March.

Blancaflor dabbles in gigs in the bars for a sideline and was among the more than 20 million unemployed Americans who availed of the stimulus funds from the federal government from April to July, receiving $600 a week plus $182 from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) of the Department of Labor.

Blancaflor also received a one-time stimulus check worth $1,200 in April. 

The weekly unemployment subsidy, however, ended in July.  

 

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Mr. Trump temporarily infused a six-week “stimulus” money worth $300 a week in August through an executive order when congress failed to pass a second economic relief package. 

The funds from the April-July assistance came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. 

This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserve jobs for our American industries.

Blancaflor said he and other unemployed Americans “were running out of money” as they could not go back to work yet.

There’s an uptick of COVID-19 cases in New York and other states over the week with 71,000 cases recorded daily as of this writing.

Many employers couldn’t hire back workers they laid off in March or during the lockdown period. 

 

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As hopes that lawmakers in Washington could reach agreement on a fresh round of COVID-19 relief before the presidential election are all but extinguished, Blancaflor and other unemployed Americans are losing hopes.

Iba sana kung natuloy and second round of stimulus assistance kasi wala pang kasiguradohan kung talagang matapos na ang pandemic sa first quarter of 2021 (I wished there was a second stimulus assistance because nobody knows if the pandemic will continue to exist in the first quarter of 2021),” lamented Blancaflor. 

Senators reportedly adjourned on October 26 and are not scheduled to return until November 9, impeding progress on a new stimulus bill. 

As this developed, the U.S. media reported that “shares fell Monday as Congress failed to find a breakthrough and as investors fretted over an ongoing surge in coronavirus cases around the United States.” 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week had offered a more positive outlook, saying she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were "just about there," according to Bloomberg News.

“Our people should get it—the stimulus," President Trump said October 27 at a press briefing before hitting the campaign trail. "After the election, we'll get the best stimulus package you've ever seen," he said, predicting a sweeping Republican victory in the House of Representatives and Senate, and his own win over Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Margie Moran can’t even congratulate Rabiya Mateo

“No one knows what to say in the loser's locker room.”— Muhammad Ali

 By Alex P. Vidal


WHEN the big names in the world of beauty pageant speak, fans normally lend credence to their messages. 

Thus it is important they don’t pander in ambiguity and should be straightforward and truthful when they dabble in a general conversation. 

But no one should begrudge Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran when she recently shared on Instagram a photo of Ysabella Roxas Ysmael Martinez, her niece, who lost in the finals to Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo of Iloilo City at the Baguio Country Club on October 25.

MISS RABIYA MATEO

Moran, 67, president of Ballet Philippines (BP) and chair of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), thinks her niece, the first runner-up in this year’s national Miss Universe Philippine pageant, is the deserving title winner.

“The first runner up is my Champion,” Moran wrote in the photo’s caption.

Stately accolades normally are bestowed on the winner instead of finding their way to the runner-up’s court; thus the Instagram message speaks volumes of Auntie Margie’s chagrin and exasperation for her niece’s defeat.

 

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The Philippine press reported that Moran has been vocal of her support for the aspiring pageant queen from ParaƱaque.

Moran wrote: “You were a stand out but the purpose designed for you is greater than you can imagine.”

She added: “A star does not compete with other stars around it. It just shines.”

Any aunt or relative would have done the same in their social media accounts and otherwise.

Patronize your own product. Charity begins at home. Blood is thicker than water.

Moran, who must be very excited, was entitled to her own opinion; her sentiments were an exercise of her freedom of speech and expression. 

Moran must also be probably frustrated and, to some extent, bitter that an Ilongga beauty from Balasan, Iloilo dashed to pieces the dreams of her niece to emulate her feat when she became the second Filipina to win the global beauty competition in 1973 after Gloria Diaz in 1969.  

 

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So disheartened was Auntie Margie that she forgot one fundamental courtesy expected of a famous name in the world of beauty pageant like her: congratulate the winner.

It’s a simple moral obligation for “those who have been there before.” 

Auntie Margie’s high-mindedness and magnanimity would have been the perfect vaccines to eviscerate the pandemic of envy, jealousy, and unsportsmanlike behavior that has gobbled up the sore losers’ GMRC.      

With her stature, Auntie Margie can easily put off the flame of intrigues and chicanery tossed and marshaled by the cry babies and sore losers in the social media if she congratulated Rabiya Mateo right away with no prejudice to Auntie Margie’s personal felicitations for a vanquished niece. 

Her failure to congratulate Rabiya Mateo on Instagram and other platforms and at least acknowledge the 23-year-old national beauty titlist even after paying homage to her niece, betrayed Moran’s personal bias, sugar-coated acridity, and unchivalrous-like attitude.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Beauties with no values

“Show me a good loser and I'll show you an idiot.”

Leo Durocher

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

WE are saddened that some candidates in the just concluded Miss Universe Philippines 2020 contest turned out to be sore losers and cry babies.

Judging from the way they reacted and sowed intrigues in the social media and other platforms after the amazing Iloilo City bet Rabiya Mateo, 23, was crowned as the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 at the Baguio Country Club on October 25, it appears they lacked fundamental values and can’t be considered in any stretch of the imagination as role models of the young generation.

Although their egregious behaviors and terrible display of unsportsmanship conduct slightly tainted the prestigious pageant, they never inflicted any dent in the honor and prestige of Ms. Mateo’s scintillating victory.

The Ilongga beauty’s exceptional performance was witnessed by millions of people from all over the Philippines and in other parts of the world.

There was no doubt Ms Mateo was the most outstanding performer and heavily admired by members of the board of judges in the competition.

 

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Like a hard-working Olympic medalist, Ms. Mateo won the competition fair and square through her intellectual prowess, humility, gracefulness, and natural beauty. 

She bested the 45 other equally magnificent candidates through her skills and excellence, not because she cheated as some of her bitter and envious rivals were trying to maliciously insinuate.

The post-pageant negative reactions of some losing candidates were uncalled for and appalling, to say the least.

Their parents, if they aren’t avaricious and sore losers themselves, must be very ashamed of the way their daughters, who cast aspersions on Ms. Mateo’s victory, behaved.

We congratulate Ms. Mateo for bringing pride and honor to Iloilo City.

We also laud the people who helped her during the pre-pageant preparation level.

It was a smashing victory that lifted the spirits of all Ilonggos amid the anxiety and economic doldrums brought by the pandemic.

 

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Why are some brains programmed to hate losing? 

Well even if you've never considered yourself competitive, it turns out that psychologists have identified a phenomenon called the loss aversion, which explains that even if the outcome of a situation is the same, we feel worse when we lose something than when we gain something, explained labroots writer Kathryn DeMuth Sullivan.

Sullivan explained: “For example, take the hypothetical situation where you are given the responsibility to choose a plan to save 600 human lives from an epidemic and you are given two choices: Plan A will 100% guarantee saving 200 lives while Plan B is 33.3% likely to save everyone but 66.6% likely to save no one.”

She added: “When the situation is proposed with this wording, of gaining something, most people will choose Plan A. But when the wording is reconfigured into something that you will lose, saying that Plan A will 100% guarantee losing 400 lives and Plan B has a 33.3% chance of losing no one with a 66.6% chance of losing everyone, most people will choose Plan B.” 

Sullivan said this psychological effect is called the risky choice framing effect and combined with the loss aversion effect makes our brains make choices that may otherwise seem illogical. 

There is some evidence that our aversion to losing comes from a heightened reaction in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, she explained further.

“Knowing that emotions are so integral in our decision-making despite logical mathematics is not only interesting but can also help you out if you're ever in the role of choosing who gets to live out an epidemic!” Sullivan pointed out.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

   

 

 

  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Lucky to be tested negative for third time

“Care and diligence bring luck.”

Thomas Fuller

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I GOT lucky to be tested negative for the third time in as many COVID-19 tests in three months here in the United States: On July 31 at MidExpress Clinic in New Jersey; on October 2 at CityMD Urgent Care in Jackson Heights, New York City; and finally on October 21 at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York City.

ALEX P. VIDAL

The last coronavirus test was mandatory for all patients in the emergency room (ER) now that there’s a reported uptick of new COVID-19 cases not only in New York but also across the American heartland starting on October 22 with 79,000 new cases in a single day.

I landed in the ER on October 21 after suffering from a difficulty of breathing after inhaling a large amount of suspected Clorox and other disinfectants while cleaning a closed bathroom in the Upper West Manhattan on October 20.

Obstruction to airflow can occur anywhere along the passageway that the air we breathe takes from entering the nose and mouth, through the trachea (windpipe in our throats), through the bronchial tubes and tiny airways in the lungs. 

Sudden blockage of airways is a medical emergency and can be caused by inhaling objects, food particles or fluids.

My condition actually had nothing to do with the pandemic, but the hospital medical staff nonetheless required me to “isolate for at least 10 days” after the test pending the result.

 

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There seemed to be a creeping paranoia among medical professionals who didn’t want anymore a repeat of the nightmarish moments in March, April, and May when the pandemic wreaked its deadliest havoc in this community.

When the result came out last October 23, I thought there was no need for me anymore to proceed with the “isolation” period; but I shouldn’t let my guards down. 

Like most New Yorkers, I must continue to strictly observe the social distancing and wearing of mask in public while the coronavirus vaccine is still being perfected.

While I went through a hellish moment over the week, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

"To give you an idea of the progress we've made with New York's micro-clusters, the positivity rates in Brooklyn, Rockland and Orange Counties are all down this week,” the governor announced. 

“That is great news. It says the focus works, and it says we can get the positivity under control. As we saw with Queens this past week, we get the numbers down and we then open up the areas.”

He added: "Context is everything here. We're seeing a real national surge, and we are battling that national surge, that national high tide. We're fighting it because although we like to think we control our own destiny, we still have people coming from around the country into New York. The numbers nationwide are really high and getting higher, so we have to be extra vigilant here in New York and continue being smart." 

The governor noted that the positive testing rate in all focus areas under the state's Micro-Cluster strategy is 3.18 percent, and outside the focus zone areas is 1.06 percent. 

Within the focus areas, 16,614 test results were reported yesterday, yielding 528 positives. In the remainder of the state, not counting these focus areas, 104,215 test results were reported, yielding 1,104 positives.

 

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WE BADLY NEED THESE PRAYERS: Father, I pray for (myself) and others in my circle of family and friends who are carrying heavy loads... Your Word says an anxious heart weighs a person down, and this is how I think they must feel—as if they're carrying heavy loads, more than they can bear. When they feel upset and beside themselves, calm them down and comfort them with the assurance of Your love. 

Help them not be overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. (Proverbs 12:25a; Psalm 94:19) Our hearts are not supposed to be troubled; but that's their struggle—help them trust.

You and the Lord Jesus, as I know they must. Help them understand that You are the One who makes a way when things seem impossible; nothing is too hard for You! (John 14:27; Isaiah 43:19; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37) Help them be faithful to You and to the way You want them to live, for You guard the lives of those who are faithful; You protect them and never turn away from them. 

Help them know You as their fortress, as the rock in whom they take refuge, as One who is good, whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 2:8; Psalm 37:28; 94:22; 100:5)

In Jesus' name, amen.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

 

Friday, October 23, 2020

‘Second wave’ lashes across the American heartland

“Without equity, pandemic battles will fail. Viruses will simply recirculate, and perhaps undergo mutations or changes that render vaccines useless, passing through the unprotected populations of the planet.”

—Laurie Garrett

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

THE feared “second wave” of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may have beckoned in the United States in the so-called “flu season” of fall.

On October 23, the United States set a daily record of over 85,000 new cases even as hospitalizations were up 40 percent, reports obtained from multiple sources, including the New York Times, said.

According to a report from the New York Times, “deaths are creeping up in several states and Poland has come close to a national lockdown.”

The latest coronavirus surge was raging across the American heartland, most acutely in the Midwest and Mountain West.

This harrowing third surge, which led to a U.S. single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases Friday, is happening less than two weeks from Election Day, which will mark the end of a campaign dominated by the pandemic and President Trump’s much-criticized response to it.

NYT said as of Friday evening, 15 states have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic: Wisconsin, a battleground in the presidential election, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and North Dakota. 

And four states have added more deaths this week than in previous weeks: Wisconsin, Kentucky, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

 

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North Dakota leads the nation in coronavirus cases per capita. Illinois is averaging more than 4,100 new cases per day, up 85 percent from the average two weeks ago. 

And Pennsylvania, another battleground state, on Friday reported a record of 2,258 cases, according to the NYT.

The virus will reportedly be front of mind for voters in several key states: in Ohio, where more people are hospitalized than at any other time during the pandemic, and especially Wisconsin, home to seven of the country’s 10 metro areas with the highest numbers of recent cases. On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order restricting the size of indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity on Friday.

Experts reportedly worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount, especially in rural areas where medical facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

Citing a rise in hospitalizations across the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a strengthening of coronavirus restrictions in certain counties, capping gatherings at 10 people from no more than two separate households. For the third straight day, Colorado announced a new single-day cases record on Friday.

 

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Here are other developments, as reported by the NYT:

—Overnight, nearly 2,500 people were hospitalized in Illinois, the state’s top public health official, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said in a news conference Friday afternoon. The mayor of Chicago, Lori E. Lightfoot, announced a curfew on nonessential businesses beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday.

—In the latest presidential debate on Thursday night, President Trump asserted that the virus was “going away” as he defended his management of the pandemic. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, attacked Mr. Trump’s handling, calling for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead.

—President Trump and many supporters blame restrictions on business activity, often imposed by Democratic governors and mayors, for prolonging the economic crisis initially caused by the virus. 

But the experience of states like Iowa, which recently set a record for patients hospitalized with Covid-19, shows the economy is far from back to normal even in Republican-led states that have imposed few business restrictions.

—Iowa was one of only a handful of states that never imposed a full stay-at-home order. 

—Restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons and bars were allowed to reopen starting in May, earlier than in most states. 

—Many businesses worry they won’t be able to make it through the winter without more help from Congress. Others have already failed.

—Defying the guidance of infectious disease experts, who say that universal masking and social distancing are essential to limiting the virus’s spread, has eroded support for both Mr. Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds in Iowa, especially among voters over 65, normally a solid Republican constituency, according to public and private polls. Mr. Trump and Senator Joni Ernst—whose seat could play a decisive role in determining control of the Senate—are both in tight races in a state that the president easily won four years ago.

—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, again stressed the importance of wearing masks, socially distancing, avoiding crowds and regular hand washing Friday evening in an appearance on CNN.

“It’s not going to spontaneously turn around unless we do something about it,” he said, adding “I plead with the American public to please take these things seriously.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)

 

 

 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

I thought Trump won the last debate

“He who frames the question wins the debate.”

—Randall Terry

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I STILL maintain that if former Vice President Joseph Biden were 20 years younger, he would be the best debater on October 22 night when he and President Donald Trump clashed for the second and last time in a presidential debate 13 days before the U.S. Presidential Election.

Like in their raucous first debate, observers were divided on who won the 90-minute forum in Nashville, Tennessee.

I like the frankness and the substance of Mr. Biden’s arguments, but I thought Mr. Trump was slightly ahead in that fiery debate as the Republican reelectionist posted a sharper and calmer performance. 

It was unclear though if Mr. Trump’s better showing was enough to alter the shape of the race in its closing days.

I also frankly doubt if Mr. Trump can still eke out the same miracle he pulled off in 2016 when he shockingly upended Mrs. Hillary Clinton in the eleventh hour.

As of this writing, I picked the poll made by the New York Post as it was among the first detailed polls available an hour after the debate which started at nine o’clock in the evening Eastern Time.

Experts commissioned by the New York Post examined the last debate, which featured sharp exchanges over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left more than 220,000 Americans dead, the environment, immigration and foreign policy.

 

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“Mr. Trump was more methodical, but it wasn’t enough: he needed a game-changer but didn’t get one. Biden had no significant gaffes that will hurt him over the remaining 12 days,” said David Birdsell, the dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College as quoted by the New York Post.

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist, offered a similar take that highlighted Mr. Trump’s dramatic change in tone from his much-criticized first debate, during which the president frequently interrupted both the moderator and Mr. Biden. 

But he thought Mr. Trump’s change in style may still have had a benefit.

“Trump was sharper and far more disciplined tonight,” said Mackowiak, who believes the performance could provide some late momentum that could help the Republican Party hang onto its slender majority in the U.S. Senate.

“Five or six states will decide this thing and they are all within the margin of error,” Mackowiak added. “Biden is ahead but Trump can still win.”

President Trump won the White House in 2016 against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanks to slender victories in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

 

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Meanwhile, Fox News’ latest polls from those states, released Wednesday (October 21), showed that Mr. Biden had opened leads of at least five percentage points among likely voters in all three before the debate.

And, so, staunching the bleeding and winning over independents is critical to reversing those trends and a third panelist, former Staten Island GOP chairwoman Leticia Remauro, thought Mr. Trump got the job done.

“This was Trump’s best debate ever,” the 2021 Staten Island borough president hopeful wrote. “He was thoughtful and kept to his theme that Biden couldn’t get it done.”

But longtime Democratic strategist Eric Soufer argued that Mr. Trump’s improved performance from his damaging first showing wouldn’t be enough to shift the race and that Trump’s answers on health care and coronavirus would come back to haunt in the closing days.

“Biden came better prepared and demonstrated a refreshing contrast of empathy, compassion, and decency that will keep the race hurtling toward an overwhelming Biden victory,”  wrote the veteran of the Obama and Edwards campaigns, who is now a top advisor at Tusk Strategies.

 

-o0o-

 

Here’s how the New York Post panelists graded each round of the debate:

Fighting COVID-19:

Birdsell: The President repeated clearly false assertions about the end of the virus during a third-wave peak, which is still building. Biden talked about practical solutions to balance economic needs and public safety. — Biden: A- / Trump: D

Mackowiak: More of the same from Trump on COVID. I think voters wanted to hear him take some responsibility, which he eventually did. He was strong on the creation of the vaccine. Biden was very negative not just on Trump’s record, but on the pathway forward — Biden: B / Trump: B-

Soufer: Trump kept his cool this time, but Biden clearly and effectively walked every voter through the president’s catastrophic record of failure in protecting Americans. — Biden: A- / Trump: B-

Remauro: Trump excelled in this round clearly laying out his successes and reminding voters that he wants to get the economy back on track — an area where voters feel he is strong. Biden saying he didn’t consider red or blue states then stating that the red states were spiking was one of many inconsistent answers — Biden: C / Trump: A

American Families: 

Birdsell: The President pushed the socialized medicine argument, giving the former VP his best line of the night: he’s running “against Joe Biden, Joe Biden.” This is also the point in the debate that the president began to abandon his unaccustomed calm. — Biden: A- / Trump: C-

Mackowiak: Trump was very effective messaging against Medicare for All and the threat it poses to 180 million private health plans. Trump also was very effective reminding the audience that Biden is making promises on health care now that he did not deliver on while in office. — Biden: B / Trump: B+

Soufer: You can’t beat Biden’s direct to camera, empathetic appeal to American families — and Trump only helped him by clumsily mocking Biden for demonstrating that empathy. — Biden: A+ / Trump: D

Remauro: This was a tie. Both men played to their base though Trump got Biden to admit that the Biden healthcare plan would be costly — Biden: B / Trump: B

Race in America:  

Birdsell: The President pushed his “best since Lincoln” line; Mr. Biden acknowledged pain.  — Biden: B/ Trump: C

Mackowiak: Excellent answer from Biden. Empathetic, substantive. Trump was effective reminding of Biden’s crime bill. Trump also smartly pointed to his record on criminal justice reform, opportunity zones and HBCUs. — Biden: A- / Trump: B+

Soufer: Trump almost comically still thinks calling himself the “least racist” resonates with voters who care about racial equality. Meanwhile, Biden connected by acknowledging the advantages his white family enjoys but that communities of color are denied everyday in America. — Biden: B+ / Trump: C

Remauro: Trump deftly ticked off his successes with the black community from permanently funding black colleges to fixing the crime bill which Biden admitted was a mistake. Biden wasn’t able to get out from under the hammering that he had decades as Senator and then as VP to Obama to correct but couldn’t get it done — Biden: C / Trump: A

Climate Change: 

Birdsell: The president’s claims of wanting the cleanest air and water while systematically eviscerating the nation’s most successful environmental policy was an affront to anyone who reads. Mr. Biden was factual but disjointed; he didn’t have time to adequately frame a post-fossil fuel energy economy. — Biden: B- / Trump: F

Mackowiak: Trump stood up to the left-wing environmental agenda, which will be popular in the midwest. His recitation of record-low carbon emissions and attack on the Green New Deal was effective. Surprised he didn’t bring up fracking earlier in his answer. Biden’s environmental message was consistent and will play well with young voters and progressives. — Biden: B / Trump: A-

Soufer: Biden stuck to his plan that would transform the energy economy through job creation, while Trump did nothing but try to dismiss the realities of renewable energy and try to force Biden into a misstep about oil– something Biden was prepared for and deflected effectively — Biden: A- / Trump: C-

Remauro: Biden still weak on this issue because he can’t find a strong enough position for his base ie fracking – whereas Trump has shown that he can marry climate with the economy — Biden: C / Trump: B+

Immigration:

Birdsell: The president misrepresented his administration’s record on a host of immigration issues; Mr. Biden went to the most appealing immigration issue — Dreamers — and walked away with that segment. — Biden: A- / Trump: D

Mackowiak: This section was forgettable. President Trump made his points on the border wall and ending catch and release. Biden was effective on the 500+ children who have not been reunited with their parents. — Biden: B / Trump: B

Soufer: Trump inexplicably defended the most despicable exercise of executive power in a half-century by callously dismissing the suffering of over 500 children who can’t see their parents because of his immoral and incompetent child separation policy. — Biden: A- / Trump: F

Remauro: Trump continued the theme of “you couldn’t get it done Joe,” causing an uncomfortable moment for Biden when he used the “I wasn’t the President” defense in response to Obama’s immigration failures — Biden: C- / Trump: B+

National Security: 

Birdsell: The president wanted to turn this segment into the Biden Family Chronicles; he didn’t directly address actual security questions. Biden was more successful talking about actual security issues. — Biden: B+ / Trump: C-

Mackowiak: I don’t even recall any discussion about national security, which is a disgrace. Amazingly, Biden brought up the Hunter Biden accusations first. Trump pushed the issue and Biden said he’s never taken overseas money, which now has to be true. — Biden: B- / Trump: B

Soufer: Biden delivered stinging takedowns on China, North Korea and Russia, while Trump retreated to his usual unsubstantiated and rhetorical claims of toughness — Biden: A / Trump: C-

Remauro: Trump put Biden off his game as he pressed the former vice president about his son’s business deal at a Ukrainian natural gas company and possible ties to a Russian politician — and contrasted that nicely with the aid he’s provided farmers funded by tariffs on imported Chinese goods — Biden: C / Trump: A

Overall: 

Birdsell — Biden: B+ / Trump: C- 

Mackowiak — Biden: B- / Trump: A-

Soufer — Biden: A / Trump: C-

Remauro — Biden: C / Trump: A+         

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two dailies in Iloilo)