Leaders Manage the Unknown

The New York Times is hopelessly old fashioned, still practicing fact-based investigative reporting and all.

Today’s lead article, He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus, was the work of six people.

Unfortunately, we live in an age when only the liberal “choir” will read it, which is too bad, because it’s incredibly restrained.

For example, this is not politicizing the pandemic.

“There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.”

“Ask deeper questions,” when has Trump done that?

I listened to Scott Galloway interview Tim Armstrong on his podcast this week. Galloway asked him about leadership during crises. Armstrong talked about interviewing many top executives during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. He summarized their insights this way, “Managers manage the known and leaders manage the unknown.”

The President has not managed the known well and has shown no aptitude for the unknown. Governors, mayors, business leaders, epidemiologists, selfless healthcare workers, and other “essential” people have filled the void brilliantly, managing the known extremely well against all odds.

Armstrong was talking about commercial enterprises, but what about noncommercial ones? What about the common good? Who will manage 21st century unknowns related to public health, environmental degradation, and global poverty?

 

“There’s a Disconnect”

Jason Gay in the Wall Street Journal:

“Francesa’s March 30 rant about the president had gone viral, in part because it had surprised people, given Francesa’s known affection for Trump, but also because it sounded close to home, New Yorker to New Yorker, like he was yelling from a cab. Back in the day, a young Francesa had parked Fred Trump’s limousine at the Atlantic Beach Club, and he still had admiration for Fred’s son. “The President is brilliant at branding…brilliant at marketing,” Francesa told me. But he didn’t back down from his critiques: ‘I steadfastly stand by that. I think the federal government has not done a great job because I feel like they haven’t connected with the people.'”

Slow and Painful

Websites and stores are springing up selling products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. The US Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to be cautious of fraudulent schemes since there are no FDA-approved products to prevent COVID-19.

What would be appropriate punishments for the people behind these websites and stores?

Whatever punishments you propose, make sure they are exceedingly slow and painful.

When The President Has a “Feeling”

There’s a premium on medical advice during pandemics. Which begs a very difficult question everyone will answer differently, turn to a reality t.v. host for his specialized knowledge or medical professionals?

People in Ohio are torn. As Ohio goes, we go?

From the Columbus Dispatch, via big brother, Don Byrnes. Feds, Yost will prosecute doctors who abuse power with personal coronavirus prescriptions.

“Federal authorities and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday they will prosecute any doctors who abused their power to prescribe themselves or family members experimental drugs to try to preventively treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Ohio’s pharmacy board, in an emergency meeting Sunday, issued strict guidelines for the prescribing of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine after pharmacists across Ohio said they were seeing hoarding by doctors of the pills for themselves or their families and friends.

The prescriptions started, pharmacists said, after President Donald Trump said during a news conference that the drugs could be effective in treating the disease. Doctors have refuted that assertion and have reiterated that there is no established cure or treatment for COVID-19 other than to support patients with breathing, pain and headache relief.”

This, it turns out, is a double negative:

“The drugs being prescribed are used to treat lupus and arthritis. Pharmacists said the rapid jump in prescriptions has created a shortage for patients who need the drugs to treat their pre-existing conditions.”

Our Pandemic Progress Report. Failing history, science, and math, and we’re utterly lacking critical thinking skills. Beyond that, our future is bright.

Denial Is Not a River In Egypt

Except when it comes to the Seattle Mariners, I’m not normally a “glass half empty” guy, but I’m worn down by the President’s, Michael Medved’s, and some of my friends’ continuing, knee-jerk insistence that we’re the “greatest country in the world”, which increasingly sounds like Stuart Smiley trying to convince himself that “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Some facts from Nicholas Kristof’s current piece in the New York times “The Best-Case Outcome for the Coronavirus, and the Worst”.

  • The United States has still done only a bit more than 10 percent as many tests per capita as Canada, Austria and Denmark.
  • . . . one can argue that the U.S. is not only on the same path as Italy but is also less prepared, for America has fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita than Italy does — and a shorter life expectancy even in the best of times.
  • . . . the C.D.C. has posted official guidance advising that doctors and nurses ‘might use homemade masks (e.g., bandanna, scarf) for care of patients with Covid-19 as a last resort.’
  • the United States is in a weaker position than some other countries to confront the virus because it is the only advanced country that doesn’t have universal health coverage, and the only one that does not guarantee paid sick leave. With chronic diseases, the burden of these gaps is felt primarily by the poor; with infectious diseases, the burden will be shared by all Americans.

The True Believers will not only refute these facts, they will never change their view that the (dis)United States is the greatest country in the world. That notion is essential to their sense of self. And yet, their myopia will not do anything to reverse our steady slide. Their self-congratulatory insistence that we’re the greatest country in the world will only grow more delusional over time.