Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Once Again History Rhymes

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” – Mark Twain

In 1870, Germany ended the Franco-Prussian War by decisively defeating the French army in a Battle of Annihilation at Sedan. Germany’s overly greedy and needlessly cruel terms of surrender were excruciating for France and included the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, a move against which the prescient Bismarck had advised. It became a constant, festering wound in the heart of every French man and woman. From that point on both countries, each of whom knew they would meet again on the battlefield, prepared for the rematch that would become World War I.

Looking at the behavior of one of the two belligerents, Germany, over the next 45 years illuminates and instructs what is happening now more than a century later, as Vladimir Putin, who has been planning the conquest of Ukraine for nearly 20 years, is following the same unsuccessful, potholed road. We can learn a lot from the mistakes of the past. We can, but we don’t.

In the interval between Sedan and 1914, Germany’s Chief of the General Staff, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, devoted his entire tenure (1891 to 1906) to creating what would become the German Plan of Attack. The plan called for a huge, lightning-like strike through Belgium, which would result in the capture of Paris in nearly six weeks, 40 days. But there was a problem: Belgium neutrality, which had been created in 1831 at an international conference in London that recognized Belgium as an independent, neutral state, its neutrality to be guaranteed by the European powers. Forty years later, shortly after the Franco-Prussian War, British Prime Minister Gladstone secured a treaty from France and Germany that if either violated Belgium neutrality England would work with the other defending Belgium, although without engaging in “the general operations of the war.”

Regardless of Belgian neutrality, Schlieffen’s plan devotedly followed the bible of Germany’s war oracle Baron Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote in the time of Waterloo. Clausewitz had ordained a quick victory by “decisive battle” as the primary object of an offensive war, the only kind Germany understood. He advocated the fast capture of the opponent’s capital above all else. Consequently, to conquer France quickly by taking Paris required ignoring Belgium neutrality.

Schlieffen edited and re-edited his plan over the course of his term, and in 1906, when he retired, the plan was complete.  It was exact in every detail, a model of precision, and it factored in every possible contingency.

The only thing it lacked was flexibility. That is, what to do if something went wrong. And many things did. As that great American philosopher Mike Tyson put it, “All your plans go out the window the first time someone punches you in the mouth.”

The Germans invaded Belgium on their way to Paris on 4 August 1914. In addition to misjudging the determination of the French to defend themselves and believing Britain would either stay out completely or join the battle late, Kaiser Wilhelm was certain the puny Belgians would simply roll over and play dead. However, Belgium’s King Albert, the Kaiser’s cousin, had other ideas and refused to follow the plan. In an act of heroic patriotism, he mobilized the Belgium army, primitive though it was, and fought. Belgium resistance disrupted Schlieffen’s precise timetable, and the Germans never did get to Paris. Instead, Germany was forced to settle for four years of trench warfare, attrition and ultimate surrender in November 1918. The terms of surrender forced on Germany were as bad as it had forced on France after Sedan and led to Hitler’s rise and World War II. We never learn.

The German defeat in the first World War can be directly linked to the arrogance and hubris of its leaders in their certainty that King Albert would not object to the invasion of his country by an army an order of magnitude larger and more accomplished than his own. They did not take into consideration the hatred taking Alsace-Lorraine had spawned in the French, or that the British would do the honorable thing and come in on the side of France following the violation of Belgian neutrality. Neither did they appreciate that Russia, a signatory to the treaty for defending Belgium, would mobilize, join the war, and engage the German army weeks before Schlieffen’s plan anticipated.  Schlieffen and the Kaiser, with their myopic tunnel vision, had never believed any of this would happen. They had refused to even contemplate that their perfect plan could be inadequate in any way.

Schlieffen died in January, 1913, and never saw any of the debacle that was to follow. On 9 November 1918, the German high command, two days before the country’s surrender, forced Kaiser Wilhelm to abdicate. He retired to  neutral Netherlands where he lived in isolation for the rest of his life.

In yet another example of history rhyming, even repeating, we are now witnessing a new instance of military and dictatorial myopia. This time in Ukraine where Vladimir Putin, who seems to fancy himself the second coming of Peter the Great, has wildly miscalculated both the tenacity and determination of Ukrainian patriotism and the commitment and unity of NATO members who, like Gladstone’s Britain, are committed to defending Ukraine, although without engaging in “the general operations of the war.”

Here in 2022, we watch King Albert come to life in the actions of President Zelenskyy.

As what happened to Schlieffen’s perfect plan, Putin’s hubris-driven quick victory was not to be. Like the Germans of August 1914, he failed to capture the Ukrainian capital in the early days of the war. Now, he is now facing a long, slow slog as victory ineluctably slips farther away. The recent Ukrainian counterattacks in the South and East are living proof of this.

Thinking about all this stupidity, I can only conclude that Schlieffen, the Kaiser, Putin and others who yearn for conquest always fail to appreciate, and seriously undervalue, the love of homeland coursing through the veins of all of us. History is full of examples that continue to be ignored. America, itself, has fallen victim to this many times, most recently in Afghanistan.

It would be less than fitting, but still desirable, if Putin’s generals would do to him what the German generals did to the Kaiser. But that, I fear, is where history will neither repeat nor rhyme.

 

 

 

Two Stories – Only One Of Them Good

Thursday, August 11th, 2022


Photo credit – The Economist, 2018

There are two major stories roiling America this week in August 2022. One concerns the major accomplishments of the Biden administration, and the other is the political cyclone that is anything having to do with Donald Trump.

By any basic measure, Joe Biden’s presidency is off to a rip-roaring start. Not even halfway through his term, Congress has passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and devoted hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrading American infrastructure. It’s approved the first major piece of gun reform in decades and expanded health care benefits to millions of veterans. And once the House returns from its recess tomorrow, Congress will have authorized hundreds of billions of dollars in green energy and health care subsidies. While the first and last measures were enacted entirely along party lines, the others passed with large, bipartisan majorities.

And this week President Biden signed another bi-partisan major piece of legislation into law, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, a stroke of the pen we desperately needed to compete globally with the Chinese. Following the signing, the Micron company announced a $40 billion investment in new chip-manufacturing facilities in the United States through the end of the decade, and Global Foundries and Qualcomm announced a $4 billion partnership to produce chips in the U.S. that would otherwise have gone overseas.

Also this week, we learned the price of gasoline has dropped below $4.00 per gallon and inflation has decreased from 9.1% to 8.5%.

I defy anyone to prove any administration in the last fifty years has done more in such short a time (I know, it feels like forever, but it’s only the first one and a half years of a four year term).

But while that story of accomplishment should be celebrated around the country, such is not the case. It’s the other story, the Trump crazyness, that continues to suck all the available oxygen out of everywhere. And it doesn’t help when Republican congressional legislators hypocritically put on the mantle of persecuted victimhood and defend their cult leader like Davy Crocket at the Alamo.

I won’t go into all the nausea-inducing idiocy delivered with intergalactic significance by those “patriots,” but I will point out that in a time crying out for calm, patience and legislative leadership, we are given nothing but disingenuous histrionics with all the honesty of a Potemkin Village.

Here is what we know: Donald Trump is being investigated by two agencies, the New York Attorney General and the Justice Department. We know the particulars of the first, but not the second. We know a federal judge authorized the FBI to execute a search warrant at Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago (After firing James Comey, Trump appointed the current FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Republican). To do that, the FBI would have had to persuade the Judge it had probable cause that a crime had been committed. Second, we know the former President testified in New York on Wednesday of this week in the New York Attorney General’s long-running civil investigation into his business dealings. We know his testimony consisted entirely of his invoking his Fifth Amendment rights (we also know Trump has said in the past, “You see, the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”).*

That is all we know for sure. Everything else has been speculation and a hair-on-fire, Hellzapoppin horror show in which Republicans see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping over the nearest hill to bring fire and destruction to them and their Dear Leader. They have also pledged massive vengeance if (they say “when”) they retake control of the House in November’s election.

While there is some excellent reporting happening, especially in long form, I blame the Washington media for much of this. Yes, it has to cover the swill that comes out of Trump’s mouth and the chaos that comes next, but it has given, and continues to give, every bombastic bloviator a national soapbox from which to spill their screed. There is a rampant and profound false equivalency going on, and, reporters covering this for the national and cable networks should know better. As someone I respect said, “They should be investigative reporters, not stenographers.”

Maybe at some point in the future Americans will stand back and take a hard look at all of this. Maybe they will come to appreciate the monumental legislation that’s come out of the Biden administration. Maybe they will realize the good it will do for our country and our neighbors. Maybe Republican leadership will instruct congressional members to stand down and let things play out. Maybe Joe Biden’s approval rating will rise. Maybe pigs will begin flying past my second floor window. Maybe…

We can be certain of one thing. The Trump drama will resolve eventually. The question is, will it right the ship of Democracy, or sink it?

 

*It is not the first time that Mr. Trump has taken the fifth in a civil case. During his divorce proceedings against Ivana Trump in 1990, he invoked his right against self-incrimination close to 100 times according to Wayne Barrett’s book “Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth.” Most of the questions he was avoiding concerned his infidelity. In Mr. Barrett’s words, “mostly in response to questions about ‘other women.’”

Gavin Newsome And Insulin: An Example Of What Leadership Looks Like

Monday, July 11th, 2022

Having just returned from a wonderful and pretty much off the grid trip to America’s southwest, I discover some pennies have dropped.

Roe is now in Wooly Mammoth land; New Yorkers, and soon many others, will now find it easier to pack a bit of heat; the EPA (and, presumably a lot of other governmental agencies) is no longer going to be able to regulate what its been regulating for the last 50 years; the January 6 Select Committee continues to unearth the sewer-living sludge of the Trump Big Lie; another mass shooting happened, the 309th of 2022, at a July 4th parade no less (only in America); the charlatan Boris Johnson is officially on the way out; and, this past Friday morning, a 41-year-old Shinzo Abe hater, assassinated the former prime minister of Japan at a campaign stop.  Abe’s killer made the gun himself, because it’s nearly impossible to procure a gun in Japan—Japan, the country with the lowest rate of handgun violence in the developed world.

With all of that, I’m thinking Chicken Little was right, and the sky is about to fall any minute now and land on my bucolic, Berkshire back deck.

Nonetheless, today’s Letter is not about any of that sky is falling stuff. We’ll get to all of it later. No, today’s Letter is about a momentous, and non-COVID, medical development that happened while I was gone, when California’s Governor Gavin Newsome announced the state would commit $100 million to making its own insulin for California’s diabetics.

Diabetes kills one American every three minutes. It affects children and adults, both genders, every race and ethnic group and leaves a vicious imprint on those who suffer from it and on those who love them. It is a leading cause of blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and non-traumatic amputations.

According to a nationwide survey by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, 75 percent of Americans do not know how deadly the disease is, and 38 percent believe that either insulin cures diabetes, makes it harmless, or they don’t know what effect it has.

In 2017, the nation’s total direct medical cost due to diabetes was $237 billion. Average medical expenses for diabetics were 2.3 times higher than for non-diabetics.

Based on information found on death certificates, diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and 252,806 listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death. However, diabetes is underreported as a cause of death; studies have found that only about 35% to 40% of people with diabetes who died had diabetes listed anywhere on their death certificates and only 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death. An example of best practice would be, “Death caused by infection contracted from hemodialysis due to kidney failure, a complication of the patient’s diabetes.”

At 10.2%, California ranks 31st among US states in the percent of adults with diabetes*. There are more than 3.2 million of them in California, the great preponderance being Type 2 diabetics.

There are close to 35 million Type 2 diabetics in the nation. T2Ds still make some insulin, just not enough. For most, lifestyle changes will improve their health, sometimes to the point where they will no longer have to inject insulin. Some will become insulin dependent, and without it, those people will face life-changing complications.

There is a rarer, but much worse, kind of diabetes. That would be Type 1, also known as Juvenile Diabetes. There are 1.6 million T1Ds in the country. According to the CDC, of all the states, California has the lowest rate of juvenile, Type 1 diabetes. T1Ds make no insulin and will die quickly if they don’t get it. Type 1 diabetes can happen at any time in life, but is vastly more prevalent in young people. My daughter came down with Type 1 diabetes at 21 years of age; my late wife Marilyn, at 12. You wouldn’t be wrong to think I’m invested in this topic.

I have argued strenuously in the past (here and here) that the country should guarantee insulin to T1Ds, regardless of their ability to pay for it. It is quite literally a matter of life and death. I can think of no other disease in which, if a patient is deprived of their medicine, death will result within a couple of weeks. But that’s the world T1Ds inhabit.

Government has been kicking the diabetes can down the road for generations. It’s been playing patty-cake with it since then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made it a core cause of his 25 years ago, in 1997. This has resulted in two things: government investing more money in looking for a cure—unsuccessfully, and skyrocketing insulin costs for patients. As President Biden noted correctly in his State of the Union address, insulin costs its manufacturers less than $10 per vial to make. Yet, depending on their circumstances, patients are paying anywhere from $300 to $800 for that same vial.  Reprehensible doesn’t begin to describe this situation.

While it is true that most of the ~50% of Americans who have employer sponsored insurance (ESI) only pay co-pays of $30 to $50 for a month’s supply of insulin, nearly all of them pay the full, painful cost until they meet their pharmacy deductible requirements. And one thing more to keep in mind: before Congress Passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the 1.9 million diabetics without ESI found their diabetes treated as a pre-existing condition. They paid full freight every time. Fast forwarding to now, some T1Ds are dying, because they either ration, or even go without, their insulin. Why? Because they can’t afford the price.

In my 2018 series on this topic, What Price Life?, I concluded:

So, here’s a question: Should anyone in the United States who requires a daily drug just to stay alive be forced to come up with the money to pay for it? Or, should that be a government-sponsored, health care right, as in the Declaration Of Independence’s “self-evident…unalienable right…to life.”

Gavin Newsome has answered that question. He has had enough. In taking matters into his own hands, he is extending a lifeline to California’s diabetics who struggle with the cost of staying alive. His move will both help those diabetics and provide good paying jobs to the people hired to build the manufacturing process and supply chain. He promises to provide California’s insulin to its diabetic citizens at “a little above cost.”

I don’t know what you think of Gavin Newsome. He certainly has his critics. But on this critical, life and death issue, he is showing a brand of leadership seldom, if ever, seen in that bought-and-paid-for vacuum of mediocrity we call the United States Senate.

_______________________

*It may not surprise you to learn the states with the highest incidence of diabetes, primarily Type 2, are the states whose citizens have the worst health care problems in the country. They are Red states, and are led by Senator Joe Manchin’s West Virginia at 15.7%, followed by Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Mississippi. Always Mississippi. Pounded so low it has to look up to tie its shoes.

From Watergate To Tonight’s Public Hearing: A Stark Contrast

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

On 17 June 1972, in what White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler would later call, “a third-rate burglary,” five men, all former CIA operatives, broke into the Watergate Hotel headquarters of the Democratic National Committee to steal information relating to the upcoming presidential election.

Four months later, in a blockbuster story for the Washington Post on 10 October, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reported,

“The Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon’s re-election and directed by officials of the White House, as a basic strategy of the Nixon re-election effort.”

Five months after that, in early March, 1973, the US Senate, by a vote of 77 – 0, voted to convene the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. Four Democrats and three Republicans comprised the Committee, which was chaired by Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC) with Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) as his Vice Chair. The Committee began its public hearings on 17 May, 13 months after the break-in. They would go on every day for two weeks, and were carried live on all television networks. During his opening statement, Howard Baker said the job of the Committee was to answer the question, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Watergate would prove the undoing of President Richard Nixon, who just one year earlier had won re-election in a massive landslide. Forty people would be indicted. Seven individuals associated with carrying out the actual burglary and five presidential advisors were convicted of various crimes, although the conviction of one of the advisors, Robert Mardian, was overturned on appeal.

Watergate produced heroes.

  1. First, there were the 77 patriotic senators who voted unanimously to form the Select Committee, many knowing their votes would come back to hurt them in future elections.
  2. Then there were Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus who, in what later came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s venal order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Solicitor General Robert Bork, subsequently nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan, did agree to carry out the order to get rid of Cox and wanted to resign immediately after, but was persuaded by Richardson and Ruckelshaus to stay for the good of the Justice Department.
  3. Senators Ervin and Baker and the other members of the Select Committee did their duty, all the while aware of the risks to their careers and the personal safety of themselves and their families.
  4. Following Watergate, investigators and journalists, layer by layer, unveiled the enormous corruption that was the Nixon presidency. Congress did what Congress should. The American people had an overwhelmingly favorable opinion of how the Senate, the House of Representatives, federal investigators and journalists did their jobs.

So, which was worse? The corruption riddled Nixon presidency with its utter disregard for the truth, the law, and basic morality, or the Trump presidency, with:

  1. Its four-year litany of lies;
  2. Its parade of misinformation about the Covid pandemic;
  3. Its asking  a state election official to “find” nearly 80,000 votes in order to “win” the state of Georgia;
  4. Its withholding of congressionally approved funding for Ukraine in an attempt to extort cooperation from its President as it sought to undermine the campaign of Joe Biden by targeting his son;
  5. Its presidential genuflection to Vladimir Putin;
  6. Its throwing log after log on the inferno that is white nationalism;
  7. And, biggest of all, its January 6th attack on the United States, which Donald Trump and his minions organized and directed and during which he stood idly by, smiling, as he watched it unfold on television while his troops tried to find Vice President Pence, screaming, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Following the Insurrection, we discovered there are some heroes, but very few, on the Republican side of the aisle.

First, the ten Representatives who voted in favor of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, most of whom have announced they will not run for re-election; they’ve been driven from office by the Cult of Trump.

Second, Representatives Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, the only two Republicans who defied party leadership to serve on the Select Committee. Kinzinger will not run for re-election, and Cheney has been stripped of her leadership role in the Party.

That’s it, folks. There aren’t any others. No Elliot Richardsons here

Tonight, eight days away from the third-rate burglary’s 50th anniversary, public hearings conducted by the Select Committee will begin. They bear about as much similarity to the Watergate Hearings as my tennis game does to that of Raphael Nadal’s. But they will be tremendously important. Those Americans who care to watch will witness the evil Genie emerge from his bottle. Even though, unlike the Watergate investigation, many officials have refused Committee subpoenas to testify, much will be revealed. What will happen afterwards is anybody’s guess. The Republicans seem to be playing a waiting game until after the midterm elections. If, as expected, they take control of the House, they will then be able to disband the Select Committee and act like the Insurrection never happened.

But who will tune in tonight? All the major networks, cable and otherwise, will broadcast the Hearing live, as they happen. All except one. That would be Fox, which will have its usual “all star lineup” of Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham commenting contemporaneously as tonight’s Hearing progresses. Wonderful.

One cannot help wondering if tonight’s Hearing will be a mostly preaching-to-the-choir exercise. If it’s true that nearly 70% of Republicans continue to believe the Biden presidency illegitimate and the 2020 election “stolen” from Donald Trump (apparently, some people really will believe anything), tonight’s event might well be nothing more than a lonely voice crying out in an empty desert.

There is one other thing that separates Watergate from the present Committee’s work. No one refused to testify, defying a subpoena, in the Watergate investigation. Chairman Ervin said loud and clear if anyone did that he would have them arrested. They all came to the Committee like lambs to the slaughter. In the present investigation, people, important witnesses, have blithely considered their subpoenas mere recommendations they can justifiably ignore.

What I have been forced to conclude is that January 6th, and what has happened since, are not the main event. They are symptoms of a disease that is cracking our democracy at its core. Unless the present Committee examines the disease, as well as its symptoms, they’ll miss their one chance to show America the deepening fissure.

Looking back, it almost seems as if Watergate happened on a different planet. How far we have fallen.

 

Zelenskyy’s Heroism, Women’s Long March To Equality, And Then There’s Ron DeSantis

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” — William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Ukraine update

Last night, Ukriane’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posted a nine-minute video from the Presidential Office Building on Bankova Street in central Kyiv.

Zelenskyy opened from a window looking out over Kyiv at night (a nice way to show everyone he was really there), and then selfied his way down corridors to his office where he sat at his desk to address the world, as well as the people of Ukraine. His fierce determination not only to defend Ukraine, but, more than that, prevail against a barbaric enemy was on full display. Speaking for all Ukrainians, he said, “I’m here, it’s mine, and I won’t give it away. My city, my community, my Ukraine.”

He closed his address by letting the nation know he had earlier in the day bestowed medals for bravery on 96 “heroes.” He then singled out five and described what they had done to earn the medals. Brilliant stuff.

Zelenskyy continues to unite his country and keep its spine stiff. His leadership, his rhetoric, his example are sharp enough to slice bread. He must be setting Putin’s hair on fire.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, and The Economst has released it’s annual glass-ceiling index, which measures the role and influence of women in the workforce across the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and  Development (OECD).

According to The Economist:

A country’s performance on the index is measured along ten metrics, including the gender pay gap, parental leave, the cost of childcare, educational attainment and representation in senior management and political jobs.

We give more weight to the indicators which affect all women (such as labour-force participation) and less to those which affect only some (such as maternity pay). Paternity pay is also included. Studies show that where fathers take parental leave, mothers tend to return to the labour market (emphasis added), female employment is higher and the earnings gap between men and women is lower.

That “return to the labour market” point is important, given the tremendous difficulty American women are having right now in returning to the labor market due to the ridiculous cost of child care.

It is unfortunate that, in this year’s glass-ceiling index, the United States continues to rank lower in how it treats its women than the OECD average, 20th out of 29 countries.

You may notice the top four countries in the rankings, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway, are Nordic countries so often ridiculed by conservatives as prime examples of “totalitarian socialism.” Actually, these countries have combined successful capitalism with, yes, welfare state benefits that allow their citizens to have a high standard of living, universal health care, and life expectancies higher than most other countries, certainly higher than the U.S.

But all is not Panglossian with the Nordic Model. These countries have large challenges, most notably what to do about an aging population and an influx of immigrants. Time will tell whether they’ll be able to marshal the political will to deal successfully with these significant headwinds.

That said, on International Women’s Day it seems fitting to suggest that, due to the collective culture the Nordics have fostered, their women are much better positioned for success than their peers in America. It pains me to write that.

DeSantis continues to be…well, DeSantis

Yesterday, at the conclusion of a 90-minute virtual video forum (make that show) in West Palm Beach, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and his Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced a new state policy that will recommend against giving a coronavirus vaccine to healthy children, regardless of their age.

Sitting in front of what could have been mistaken for an IMAX screen where hundreds of forum participants were pictured, Ladapo enthusiastically proclaimed, “Florida is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the covid-19 vaccination for healthy children.”

Let’s hope it’s the last one, too. National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than 40 Florida children, from birth to age 17, have died from COVID-19. Nationally, the number is nearly1,600.

In an interview reported in today’s Washington Post, Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine and a leading expert on the virus, said, “To be at such distinct variance from the hundreds of physicians and scientists at the CDC and the FDA is reckless at best and dangerous at worst.”

Look, we get it that Governor DeSantis features himself as the next president of the United States and that he’ll say or do just about anything to get there. This is the man who just last week bullied a group of high school students for wearing masks at an event at the University of South Florida. “You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. This is ridiculous,” he told the teens just before slamming his folder on a lectern.

These folks are playing with kids’ lives, all for their own opportunistic and hypocritical ends. I can only hope there’s a special place in hell reserved for such people.

I’ll leave you today with this question: How do you think DeSantis would do in Zelenskyy’s chair on Bankova Street? Or, would he have skedaddled to safety before the fun began?

Just a thought.

 

 

And The Nominee Is?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

More than 20 years ago, C-SPAN and its academic advisors decided to create a survey instrument, by which “historians, professors and other professional observers of the presidency” would be asked to rate all presidents in ten areas from best to worst. They conducted the first survey in 2000 and, using the same criteria, have repeated it since then every time administrations changed.

This year, 142 scholarly elites completed the survey that asked participants for evaluations in the following ten categories:

  • Public Persuasion
  • Crisis Leadership
  • Economic Management
  • Moral Authority
  • International Relations
  • Administrative Skills
  • Relations with Congress
  • Vision/Setting an Agenda
  • Pursuit of Equal Justice for All
  • Performance Within the Context of the Times

Abraham Lincoln has finished on top in every one of the surveys, including the fifth one just conducted following the change to the Biden administration.

It will come as no surprise to many that Donald Trump finished fourth from the bottom in this year’s survey, his first. He finished ahead of Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan, and behind all the others. Even Warren Harding got more respect from the raters.

However, the historians, et al, were not asked to rate Presidents in terms of how consequential they were. And it is here I suggest Trump would finish in the top ten, perhaps even the top five. I base this on one thing and one thing only: His fundamental change of the American Judiciary, principally at the Supreme Court level. Trump succeeded in locking in a deeply conservative bench for decades to come. That was the result of the grifter and reality show star’s Faustian Bargain with Mitch McConnell, senate Majority Leader during the Trump years. Trump craved power and being adored by people who were in need of someone to adore, and McConnell wanted his legacy to be the establishment of a profoundly conservative court. They each got what they bargained for.

Trump had two other monumental accomplishments, of course. The first was passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was a Christmas present of the first order for the nation’s wealthy, a knife in the back for everyone else, and a means to a significant widening of the ever-growing divide between the haves and have nots. Trump’s second accomplishment was to give the Republican Party an opportunity to exercise noble leadership in the face of his insane narcissistic nationalism and autocratic desires culminating in the January 6th insurrection. Unfortunately, only two Republican leaders, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger, answered the call. The rest of them, every one of them, became profiles in cowardice.

However, these other two Trumpian achievements can be changed. Congress can change tax laws, and Republicans can grow spines. But that Supreme Court thing? That is here to stay.

Which brings us to the imminent Supreme Court vacancy caused by the announced retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.

When he was campaigning for President, Joe Biden promised if he had the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, he would nominate a highly-qualified black woman. With Justice Breyer’s announcement, Biden has reaffirmed that pledge. He will submit his nomination to the Senate in the very near future. It will be a black woman.

How will Republican Senators react to the nominee, whoever she is? How will they approach the hearings to be held by the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Illinois senator Dick Durbin? Will they be able to restrain the natural gravitational urges of their more ambitious and inflammatory members to grandstand opportunistically? Will they be able to keep Trump out of it?

Nominations to the Supreme Court are highly political. History is replete with examples, and this one will be no different. But from here, deep in the winter of the Berkshire mountains, my guess is that with a few unavoidable histrionics from the grandstanding children, Biden’s nominee will sail through like a battleship through fog, with Republicans, trying to appear as honorable adults, saying they refuse to do to Biden’s nominee what the Democrats did to Bret Kavanaugh.

Not that it will make a bit of difference to the future rulings of the Supreme Court.

The Past As Prologue

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Today is a seminal day in American history. The one-year anniversary of a serious attempt by violent insurrectionists to stage a coup d’état in our nation’s Capitol. This is a day for remembering how close we came to losing our American soul. In the year since the attack, the attack has continued, albeit peacefully. I ask you to bear with me for a moment, for I am struck by the frightening similarities between what is happening in our nation today and what happened long ago in another country going through rough times. That country turned to a devil in disguise, a master manipulator who persuaded its citizens to follow him willingly straight through the gates of hell.

Then: 1918 – 1933

In November, 1918, high-school dropout and failed artist Adolph Hitler was recuperating in hospital from a Mustard Gas attack suffered the previous month on a battlefield of World War I. He’d been a Corporal in the German Army and had distinguished himself as a messenger, running between units to deliver orders and bring replies, sometimes under heavy fire.

While he was in hospital, the war ended and the warring armies signed the Treaty of Versailles, which levied tremendous reparations on Germany and caused rampant inflation that wiped out savings overnight. Hitler wrote later that at that moment he realized his purpose in life was “to save Germany.”

Before the war, Hitler had lived in Munich, the capital of Bavaria in southern Germany, and after recovering he returned there. He was hired by the police as a spy and told to infiltrate a small group called the German Workers’ Party. However, rather than spying on the group he fell in love with its nationalistic and anti-Semitic ideology. He joined the Party in 1919, and two years later became its leader.

With mentoring by the group’s co-founder Dietrich Eckart, Hitler became an unparalleled public speaker, addressing thousands in local beer halls. In 1921 he changed the name of the German Workers’ Party to the National German Socialist Workers’ Party, or the Nazi Party, and the Party’s members elected him leader in July of that year.

In the following two years the Nazi Party grew as Germans responded to Hitler’s rants about how the Treaty of Versailles had emasculated the country, bringing shame and humiliation that had to be avenged. In Hitler’s mind the Weimar Republic had failed its duty to its citizens and had to be replaced. So, on 8 November 1923, Hitler and hundreds of Nazi Party members surrounded the Bürgerbräukeller, one of the biggest beer halls in Munich, where Gustav von Kahr, state commissioner of Bavaria, was speaking. Hitler burst in, fired a shot into the ceiling, commandeered the podium, and declared a “national revolution.” Thus, the Beer Hall Putsch began.

The rest of the night went downhill for Hitler. He had wanted to lead a march on Berlin, as Benito Mussolini had done a year earlier in Rome. This was not to be. His followers tried to take over government buildings, but were foiled by the police. Early the next morning, Hitler and World War I General Erich Ludendorff, whom Hitler had persuaded to join the Nazi Party and help in the Putsch, led 3,000 of their followers to the city center in an attempt to salvage the coup. They were met by state police. Shots were fired. Four police officers were killed, along with 16 Nazis, whom Hitler would later describe as martyrs and entomb in two “temples of honor” in downtown Munich. Two days later, Hitler was captured. He was tried for treason, convicted and sentenced to five years in Landsberg prison. He served one year and was pardoned on 20 December 1924. During that one year, he wrote the first volume of “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”), dictating the work to his fellow prisoner and sycophant Rudolph Hess.

Hitler had done a lot of serious thinking in prison and realized a violent takeover of Germany would be tremendously difficult. He concluded that the way to power was through legal means, but that the legal and political means had to be manipulated by the Nazis for the effort to succeed. The way to rule Germany was to win elections. The Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s subsequent trial, during which his defense speeches were printed in all the newspapers, grew the Nazi Party exponentially and brought him and the Party to national prominence.

In 1933, nine years after walking out of Landsberg prison a free man, Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

Now: 2021 – 2022 and beyond

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Insurrection of 6 January 2021, America’s version of the Beer Hall Putsch.

Last month, in a long essay in The Atlantic, Barton Gellman persuasively and scarily argued that 6 January was a dress rehearsal.

He began his essay this way:

Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect. The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.

Gellman is no “Chicken Little.” He has a distinguished and long career. His awards include the Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy for documentary filmmaking, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. When Gelmann writes, smart people read.

As he lays out what is happening in America right now, one cannot help but think how eerily similar the Republican Party’s current actions are to Hitler’s battle plan for taking over Germany. Hitler realized violence would not result in victory. Winning elections and manipulating the election process would allow him to rise to total power, and the rest of the world would welcome him as the new leader of the German people, achieving that distinction by apparently (but not really) fair means.

Will someone please tell me how that differs from today’s Republican legislators, who, understanding that another violent insurrection would not achieve their aims, cottoned on to the idea that changing the election rules in 19 states would set themselves up to win the 2022 mid-terms, the 2024 presidential election, and elections into the future, thereby “legally” allowing a minority to rule a majority in what purports to be a democracy?

As Gelmann writes,

As we near the anniversary of January 6, investigators are still unearthing the roots of the insurrection that sacked the Capitol and sent members of Congress fleeing for their lives. What we know already, and could not have known then, is that the chaos wrought on that day was integral to a coherent plan. In retrospect, the insurrection takes on the aspect of rehearsal.

Right now, many Republican Party wannabe leaders make the pilgrimage to Mar-A-Lago to genuflect at the knee of Donald Trump. Amazingly, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll finds 58% of Republican voters still believe the Big Lie, despite a plethora of audits and investigations, many led by Republican election officials, finding exactly the opposite. These voters continue to believe with biblical certainty that Joe Biden is an illegitimate occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How can this be?

Today, the very few GOP dissenters to the Lie are being cast out into political oblivion. “2 down, 8 to go!” Trump gloated at the retirement announcement of Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his second impeachment.

After the Insurrection of a year ago, I, like so many others, believed the insurrectionists were on the far right fringe, out of work unhappy folks angry at the world. Life’s dissatisfied customers. But in the year since we have learned that this is not the case. Most insurrectionists were not members of any far right groups like the Proud Boys or OathKeepers. No, they were the guys next door. Managers, even CEOs of middle of America companies. When this came to light, for the first time I began to think as Gelmann thinks. Now, I’m wondering if there is any way to change what appears to be an inevitable arc of history.

There are currently two voting rights bills languishing in the U.S. Senate, the For the People Act of 2021 and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021.  In order to pass either of these bills requires a carveout to the filibuster, which would allow a simple majority to determine the vote. West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin calls this “a heavy lift.” He, one senator out of a hundred, will not allow this. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have such qualms when he engineered exactly the same kind of carveout to insure Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court would be confirmed by simple majority. He did, and they were.

Today, 6 January 2022, there will be events and reports all over the country marking the occasion. You won’t see Republican legislators in any of the videos or photos. They maintain it’s just a distraction from the important work of governing, that is, obstructing anything and everything the Biden administration is trying to do.

Their plan is infuriating. And it’s working with a little help from the Coal guy on the Houseboat. Manchin seems to enjoy the spotlight, a one man wrecking ball of American democracy.

Getting From Here To There Politically

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

Unless you’ve been living under a very big rock at the bottom of a very deep hole at the base of a very large crater on the planet Mars, you probably know there is a very wide chasm separating the Republican and Democratic Parties with respect to domestic policy.

The Democratic Party believes the middle and lower classes have had it tucked to them since the era of Ronald Reagan and the emergence and eventual marketplace triumph of trickle down politics. They point to more than 40 years of stagnant Real Wages, the constant and dispiriting race to keep up with the cost of living in which every step means falling farther behind, and the ever-widening and maddening gulf between the haves and the have nots, the one-percenters and everyone else. Party leadership and President Biden believe something has to be done and now is the time to do it. Ergo, the Build Back Better bill (BBB) currently ricocheting around the halls of Congress.

The Republican Party and its leadership disagree. In a nutshell, they say the whole thing costs too much and will bankrupt the country.

They took a somewhat different stance when they were in power and, with no Democratic support, passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which many consider the quintessential example of trickle down economics in American history. Under this legislation the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that individuals and pass-through entities like partnerships and S corporations would receive about $1.125 trillion in net benefits (i.e. net tax cuts offset by reduced healthcare subsidies) over 10 years, while corporations would receive around $320 billion in benefits. The CBO estimated that implementing the Act would add an estimated $2.289 trillion to the national debt over ten years (emphasis added)( “CBO-Appendix B: The Effects of the 2017 Tax Act on CBO’s Economic and Budget Projections, page 129)

Republicans, said the CBO report was hogwash. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin went so far as to say the Act would pay for itself in ten years and lower the national debt.

Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out that way. Almost every major analysis correctly predicted revenues would fall and debt would increase. Analysis of first-year results released by the Congressional Research Service (the best research service you perhaps have never heard of) in May 2019 found:

  • “a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy”
  • “a feedback effect of 0.3% of GDP or less,” such that the tax cut did not pay for itself
  • “pretax profits and economic depreciation (the price of capital) grew faster than wages,” meaning shareholders benefited more than workers
  • inflation-adjusted wage growth “is smaller than overall growth in labor compensation and indicates that ordinary workers had very little growth in wage rates”
  • “the evidence does not suggest a surge in investment from abroad in 2018” as proponents of the Act had asserted it would
  • “While evidence does indicate significant repurchases of shares, either from tax cuts or repatriated revenues, relatively little was directed to paying worker bonuses”

So, with that kind of batting average it seems a bit precious for Republicans to summarily dismiss the BBB bill and line up the firing squad to kill it. On the other hand, they proclaim agreement with the “goals” of the BBB, while offering no practical applications to achieve the desired results. Just goes to show that since the founding of the country parties in the minority, no matter who they are,  have demonstrated a terrific ability to denigrate what the majority proposes without any responsibility for proposing and implementing their own solutions.

But pity the poor Democrats within the Biden Administration. They’re having to fight the war on three fronts. First, there is the inevitable and total Republican opposition; then they have to appease the Progressive wing of their own party; and they have to do all this while at the same time dealing with a certain Senator from West Virginia. Let us not forget that this is the man who fathered the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., who, with Gordon Gekko enthusiasm, in 2016 raised the price of life saving EpiPens from $100 to $600 for a two-pack. Why? Because she could. I only mention this because of the old adage about the apple and the tree.

Given Senator Manchin’s knife-through-the-heart death blow to BBB this past Sunday on Fox News, one might be forgiven for thinking that if democrats keep bringing up the bill they’ll be fulfilling Einstein’s definition of insanity.

But, hold on a minute. I suggest the erstwhile coal magnate has gone a bridge too far and given the Democrats a magnificent opportunity. After his announcement, he was almost universally excoriated for it. Even the Coal Mining Union called him out on it. Obviously, this affected him, because the next day he seemed to back off a bit. Therefore, if the democratic muck-a-mucks are magnanimous and warm-hearted and forgive him publicly for this unfortunate error in judgement―sort of welcome him home as the Prodigal Son―he may be grateful enough to work with the President and, with a couple of face-saving tweaks, produce a bill all democrats can support, maybe even a few Republicans when they see the writing on the wall.

I’ve always thought the key to success is the ability to outlast the opposition. Elihu Root said it better. He was Secretary of State and Secretary of War in the Roosevelt Administrations, Theodore’s not Franklin’s. He said, “Men do not fail; they give up trying. Failure is a necessary step toward success.” Mr. Root also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.

Democrats would do well to remember Root’s words.

What do you think?

News You Might Have Missed

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Immunity Passports and Herd Immunity

As time passes, we are learning more and more about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. One of the things we are learning is how much we have yet to learn.

For example, a current and pervasive meme involves antibodies an infected person’s immune system makes to combat COVID-19.

Following his bout with the virus in October, 2020, during which he was given an “antibody cocktail,” Donald Trump famously said, “Now you have a president who doesn’t have to hide in a basement like his opponent. You have a president who is immune. Which is a very important thing, frankly.” Although the disgraced former president also said he wasn’t sure how long his “immunity” would last, the cult-of-Trump within the American public heard his “now I’m immune” message loud and clear.

Even before Trump’s “I’m immune” message, six months before, actually, his White House Rasputin, Scott Atlas, from Stanford’s Hoover Institute, told Fox’s Tucker Carlson it was “good news that the virus spreads widely and without risk to the vast majority of people. That’s good news, because we have a better chance of developing population immunity.” He went on to say this “would allow people to develop their own antibodies, and eventually enough people would develop their own antibodies to block the network of contagion.”

Herd immunity from having had the disease is a belief that won’t die. Two months ago “Health Coach” Christian Elliot published a mega-viral blog post entitled Eighteen Reasons I Won’t Be Getting A Covid Vaccine. One of the reasons? “I already had Covid.”

Reputable journals, newspapers and website have published fact-based research debunking this “I’m immune because I had it” drivel. As far back as 24 April 2020, around the same time Scott Atlas was mythologizing with Tucker Carlson, The World Health Organization (WHO) tried to put the matter to rest when it published Immunity Passports in the context of COVID-19. From the beginning of the article:

Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection. There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

For the article, the WHO reported on 17 studies investigating whether having had COVID-19 produces antibodies (it does) that prevent recurrence of the disease (unknown). Seventeen studies, and not one reporting having had COVID-19 prevents short or long term reinfection.

To make it even clearer, further on the WHO said:

As of 24 April 2020, no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.

But none of this stopped Donald Trump from perpetuating the medical myth the following October after his recovery.

This Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole thinking just confirms once again there has never been a fact that Trumped a deeply held belief.

Fifty-three percent, eh?

The Gallup organization made news this week with its latest poll in which it reported 53% of Republicans believe Donald Trump was cheated out of the presidency. This has been confirmed over and over again in the six months since the election—an election Joe Biden won by more than seven-million votes. Makes it seem as if a big swath of the country thinks a fraudster sits in the Oval Office.

But does it really? Let’s look a little deeper.

For decades, Gallup has surveyed the party affiliation of Americans, that is, U.S. adults identifying with the Democratic Party or who said they are independents leaning toward the Democratic Party; and, U.S. adults identifying with the Republican Party or who said they are independents who lean toward the Republican Party. In recent years, the gap between the two, a Democratic advantage, has been between four and six percentage points. In the first quarter, 2021, that gap grew to nine percentage points.

In Gallup’s Q1 survey, 25% of U.S. adults identified as Republicans and 15% as Republican-leaning Independents, for a total of 40%. This compares with 30% identifying as Democrats and 19% as Democratic-leaning Independents, totaling 49%. Thus, the nine point gap.

Now, back to the 53% of Republicans who believe Trump was cheated. Fifty-three percent of 25% is 13.25%. Fifty-three percent of 40% is 21.2%. Presuming not every, single Republican-leaning Independent believes Biden stole the election, we can say somewhere between 13.25% and 21.2% of U.S. adults believe the stolen election Big Lie. I’m betting it’s closer to the bottom number.

And that, my friends, is Donald Trump’s true base.

Who needs an independent commission?

The last time a violent mob invaded Washington, D.C. was 24 August 1814 during the War of 1812 when the British set fire to the White House and the U.S. Capitol, destroying the Senate Chamber and the Library of Congress. They burned most everything to the ground. Only torrential rains stopped the blaze. President James Madison wasn’t at the White House when this occurred, but his wife Dolly was. She took command and rescued everything she could. After that, with American soldiers escorting her, she was able to make her escape.

Two-hundred-seven years later, on 6 January 2021, a weaponized and organized mob of our fellow citizens stormed the Capitol in a violent insurrection. Five people died and the mob trashed the place to the tune of $30 million, according to the Architect of the Capitol. President Donald Trump wasn’t in the Capitol when the mob arrived, but his Vice President Mike Pence was. With the mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence,” the Secret Service, like the soldiers who helped Dolly Madison, spirited Pence and his retinue out of the building to safety.

Thus far, 494 people have been arrested and charged for participating in the insurrection. They are from all parts of America and from all levels of society. Knowing the who, what, how, and why of this national obscenity seems to me to be a not too radical idea, the responsible thing to do. However, Republicans in Congress maintain that, because congressional committees are looking into the matter, an independent commission is unjustified and a waste of time and taxpayer money. They say the country needs to look forward, not back.

Being kind about this type of argument, I have to say it is full of what makes the grass grow green and tall. Perhaps the summit of Republican silliness was reached last night when Mitch McConnell, calling the whole thing a “purely political exercise,” told reporters that democrats, “would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past,” as if investigating an assault on Democracy during which a violent mob was trying to find the Vice President of the United States in order to kill him was something akin to investigating how a new city parking lot strangely came to be on the corner of 6th and 7th. McConnell couldn’t even call the insurrection what it was; for him, it’s now just a “thing in the past.”

It is a tremendously sad commentary on our current society that the U.S. Senate, because of Republican opposition, will most likely not  approve an investigation by an independent commission into the 6 January insurrection. People, what have we come to?

History will not be kind to us in this moment. It will give us what we deserve.

A Day For Gloating!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

In early 2003, I was honored to be part of a group that wanted to bring better health care to some of the neediest citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dr. Bob Master, former Commissioner of the state’s Medicaid program, had the idea that if a number of us put our collective heads together we could actually do that. With him leading the effort, we created Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), an HMO dedicated to serving people who were dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These were the Commonwealth’s sickest of the sick and poorest of the poor. Paradoxically, their health care was woebegone, but the cost of providing it was astronomical.

CCA was a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan, known in the business as a D-SNP. D-SNPs were created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), and are overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The potential afforded by the MMA was what intrigued Bob Master. He realized that if correctly harnessed, the power of the MMA could do a world of good for people at the lower end of the health care totem pole. And he was right.

Over the years, CCA took on the persona of The Perils Of Pauline, going from crisis to crisis. Our Board, comprised mostly of academics and clinicians, constantly fought above its weight. But, thanks to health care leaders in Massachusetts who saw the value of what we were trying to do, we were always rescued from our own folly. With their help, we grew and thrived—precariously.

In November, 2015, after Bob Master retired as CEO, the Board made the best decision in its history, hiring Chris Palmieri to take over the reins. Chris was a health care executive possessed of zeal, deep dedication to the cause and profound intelligence. Under his leadership CCA  for three years running was ranked number one in its class of health care providers nationally. I chaired the Board during this time and had a ring-side seat to the growth and respect CCA achieved.

During this time, the Board was deeply concerned about the diversity of our employees. We wanted them to look like the thousands of members we served. Great effort went into making that happen. It wasn’t easy, but management established protocols and stuck to them.

My term as Board Member and Chair ended 31 December 2019, but, as you can imagine, I have avidly followed the organization, especially as it navigated the terrible 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. During the last year, under Chris’s leadership, CCA has continued to perform at a superior level. I never doubted that it would.

Today, though, is special. Today, the Boston Globe published its rankings for diversity in hiring of all Massachusetts firms. When I saw that CCA ranked Number One in the Commonwealth!, I thought my chest would burst with pride. This is a remarkable achievement, brought about by the entire organization taking to heart the idea that all of us, working together, are better than some of us, working in ethnic, gender, racial and demographic silos.

Slowly, America is moving to a more inclusive society. After the darkness of the last four years, we are coming into the light. Although much work remains, diversity accomplishments and the recognition that comes with them, as demonstrated by Commonwealth Care Alliance, will propel us toward becoming all that we can be, not what we have been.