FOUNDED BY GENIUSES, RUN BY POWER-MAD MORONS

Abraham Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Trying times reveal character. We’ve had massive revelations into the hearts, minds and souls of the nation’s governors. President Trump could have increased and centralized executive power, but he devolved it to the states instead, because governors know their states best. States are separate governmental entities not always beholden to the federal government. In encouraging governors to handle the crisis in their own way, Trump is operating in the American tradition of Federalism.

Democrat governors gleefully grabbed power and promptly oppressed their people. Governor Phil Murphy (NJ) admitted he did not think about the Bill of Rights when he seized power. Later, Murphy sent the police to shutter a fitness center, but that wasn’t enough; he had police lock its doors. One Texas judge demanded that a beauty salon owner apologize for making a living for herself and her employees by opening her salon. The judge actually called her selfish. Governor Cuomo (NY) declared a state of emergency in New York, which gave him the authority to assume the power of the legislature and judiciary. He issued absurdly lengthy and convoluted guidelines on allowing people to return to work. Governors in other states have threatened to arrest people and revoke their licenses for trying to make a living.

Democrat governors (NY, NJ, MI, VA, IL) happily embraced the opportunity to take and use emergency powers. These states are run by progressives who believe in centralized authority. Woodrow Wilson, a founder of the progressive movement, jailed socialist and antiwar activist Eugene V. Debbs for opposing America’s entry into WWI. Soon after his election, Republican President Warren G. Harding freed Debbs.

The Founders studied the successes and failures of governments and human nature.

Washington: “We must take human nature as we find it; perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”

James Madison: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition…It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government.”

The Founders devised the separation of powers to prevent one person from having all the awesome powers of government. The progressive governing philosophy, which basically rejects the Constitution, led to the abuses of power by Democrat governors.

The Founders were right. Some people crave power and can’t be trusted with it. To protect our rights and prevent abuse, power must be divided.

Red state governors like Florida’s Desantis, Georgia’s Kemp and South Dakota’s Noem managed the corona crisis without stomping on people’s rights. The difference in governing philosophy could not be more clear: crushing regulation and dictates from on high, versus restrained government that puts people’s rights first. People will flee blue states in even greater numbers for freer and more prosperous Red states.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

POWER; HE’S ROLLING IN IT

James Madison, Federalist Papers #51:

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Mr. Madison, like many of the Founding Fathers, knew that combining human frailty with government power usually has bad results. Exhibit A: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Covid 19 was Cuomo’s opening. He declared a State Disaster Emergency on March 7th which he recently extended to June 6th. This gave Cuomo the authority to temporarily suspend or change ANY New York State law. He already had executive power; he then seized legislative and judiciary authority, making him a dictator. Please find the link below.

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2026-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency

Any honest observation of Cuomo’s daily briefings reveals a man who loves power, is not shy in welding it, and loves the attention of a fawning media.

Cuomo’s playbook is on full display. He claims everything he does is rooted in “science” and “metrics.” Any opposition is branded as emotional, political or just plain mean. Next, he loses people in a blizzard of verbiage, charts and numbers. And of course, he always satisfies his political base. Cuomo never deviates from this.

In 2014, Cuomo ordered the DEC to ban hydrofracking. He used “dangers to health” as an excuse, citing dubious studies focusing on potential future health risks. With one move, he solidified support from his base and short-circuited any serious political opposition by making sure Upstate stays poor and economically weak. Cuomo is not to be trifled with. This is one ruthless dude.

The economic effect of Cuomo’s shutdown order has devastated Upstate’s already weak economy. We are always first into recession and last out of it. Businesses don’t easily start in New York State. And before the shutdown, census data pointed to further population losses in upstate counties.

Now Cuomo has a plan to re-open the economy, with “essential” businesses first in line – he decides what’s essential, of course. Cuomo promises to shut it all down again if his benchmarks (which he claims are based in “science” and “metrics”) are not met. That uncertainty is a job killer. Add to this the concentration of power in one man’s hands and his dislike of the private economy and you have a recipe for a long recession in upstate New York.

Cuomo decreed that nursing homes accept Covid-positive patients, which exposed vulnerable seniors to the virus. Everyone knew the elderly were the most likely to die from Covid, but Cuomo didn’t care. He didn’t even require increased testing for nursing home staff. The result: 5,000 seniors died. Tragically, this is what results from one-man rule.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.

REMEMBERING THE 70’S—AND NOT FONDLY

I’m old enough to remember the woebegotten decade of the 1970’s: bad hair, bad clothes and a stagnant economy. Nixon took Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a massive expansion of government, and made it even bigger. On top of that, both Johnson and Nixon funded the war in Vietnam, while pushing the Fed to slash interest rates and loosen the money supply. Nixon is billed as a conservative, but he was really a big-government Republican, a RINO (Republican in name only). The result of Johnson-Nixon policies in the 60’s and early 70’s was a nagging inflation that lasted until the early 80’s. It ate into buying power and drove up interest rates for mortgages and car loans to unimaginable levels; 15% mortgages were common.

The 2020 Federal budget is $4.7 trillion. Now add to that the bipartisan spending free-for-all of $2.2 trillion dollars in Covid-19 “stimulus,” and an additional $4.4 billion for small businesses. This brings the total to $2.64 trillion. We don’t have the money. The Fed is increasing the money supply, meaning that we’re printing money. There is a ton of money out there and zero goods and services being produced.

I have problems with the so-called stimulus. One, the economy doesn’t need stimulating; it needs to be reopened. People need to get back to work. The economy was in great shape before the government shut it down; growth was steady, inflation and unemployment were low, the stock market was humming along and wages were rising. The $2.64 trillion is really meant to help people get by until the economy reopens and we can get back to work. I agree with the concept, but disagree with the size and the terminology. From the point of view of branding, calling this a stimulus is caving to a Democrat narrative and a tacit endorsement of failed Democrat economic policies. FDR, and Obama after him, borrowed and spent and piled up debt with little benefit to the economy.

There is an old economic nostrum that inflation is caused by too many dollars chasing too few goods. There’s a lot of cash out there, and few goods being produced. It is said that history repeats itself. Are we going to repeat the inflation and economic doldrums of the 70’s? I hope not, but all the ingredients are in place.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.

THE ANIMAL WITHIN: C-19 AND STRESS

Beneath the trappings of civilization, despite our technology, laws, religion and mores, we’re animals. As such, we come with a phylogenetic inheritance from our distant ancestors.

All higher animals have an alarm response when danger appears. Just watch your cat’s tail bush out or your dog bare his teeth in response to a threat. It’s called the “fight or flight”response. It’s a good thing, and keeps us alive. It becomes a problem when the alarm sounds and there is no immediate threat.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll use the words “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably because physiologically, stress and anxiety are the same. And they feel the same: pretty bad.

Let’s deal with physiology first. When we perceive threat, our hypothalamus (a region of the brain) sets off an alarm releasing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline revs up your heart rate and blood pressure and increases energy supplies. Cortisol increases blood sugar in the bloodstream, boosts your brain’s use of glucose and helps with tissue repair. Both hormones are highly functional for a real threat. But what if the alarm doesn’t turn off? The negative effects are many, including high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, weight gain, anxiety and/or depression.

Our brains and therefore our minds act upon our physiology and are acted upon by it. What often happens in the attic when the kitchen is on fire is what I call “Oh, no thinking.” For example, “Oh, no, this is going to be awful, horrible, really bad and then we’re all going to die!”

Anxiety is a complex interactive phenomenon between body, brain and mind. It’s unlikely that that you can lessen anxiety without addressing both the physiology and psychology of it. Some tools for anxiety reduction follow. Don’t expect perfection. Aim for a reduction in stress. Not all things work for all people. Find what works for you by adapting and modifying. The aim is to calm your body.

1. Take a hot bath, or use a hot tub or whirlpool bath if you can. The heat tends to slacken the muscles, which is where we carry a lot of tension.

2. Take a massage. A good massage will rub the stress out of you. You can also massage your own feet.

3. Pet your cat or dog. This will reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.

4. Do something fun. Watch a movie, especially a comedy.

5. Start paying attention to your breath. Whenever you think of it, take a deep breath and breathe slowly and deeply for awhile.

6. Get some exercise. It’s a proven stress-reliever.

On the psychology side, be aware of your thoughts and feelings in a given moment. Writing them down helps increase awareness. Challenge your catastrophic thinking (projecting that some future event over which you have absolutely no control will be awful.) For a clue as to how you’re feeling, monitor your physiology. If you’re distracted and your heart rate is up, it’s a signal to check out how you’re feeling.

Prayer is a huge help. People with religious faith tend to worry less and are generally happier. Give your worries to God. You may not know what to do with them, but he does. If you’re not a believer, try meditation.

We’re going to get through this, and when it’s all over we’ll be better and stronger for it.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.

 

ACE: STAY HEALTHY, GET CONNECTED

The saying “May you live in interesting times” is, ironically enough, an old Chinese curse. These times challenge our mental health. Being forced to isolate, threatened by an unseen enemy that might harm or kill us, is enough to raise anyone’s stress level. I offer some tips derived from 30 years as a private practice psychologist. If you are under treatment for anxiety or depression, please continue to take your medications and stay in contact with your physican and therapist.

1. Limit your TV news intake to 15 minutes a day. The radio news bulletin announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor lasted 30 seconds, followed by an immediate resumption of regular programming. Today, we’re bombarded with breaking news, developing stories and alerts, all designed to amp you up and keep you glued to the TV. Turn it off and go do something.

2. Practice reframing. Instead of complaining, “Dang it, I’m stuck at home because of this social-distancing nonsense,” look on this as a time to read a book, connect with family or start a project you’ve have had on the way-back burner. It’s not a limitation. It’s an opportunity.

3. Be happy with the next best thing, if you can’t do the top thing on your list.

4. Get outside. Breathe fresh air. Get some sun. Do something physical. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Dig a garden. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression.

5. Connect with people by whatever means you have: phone, Facetime, Skype, email. We can also safely talk to people outdoors: arrange a meeting, just keep a prudent distance. We’re social animals who are built to connect with our fellow humans.

6. Adopt a proactive attitude. View stress as a signal that you need to do something. Don’t think of your mood as unchangeable; you can do things to change it.

7. Remember that moods change from day to day and even hour to hour. If you feel badly now, you may feel better tomorrow.

8. Keep your mind active. Binge-watching Netflix is fine for awhile, but our brains were not built to passively absorb hours of TV or video games. Get mentally active. Put your brain in gear by playing a board game that demands thought, or playing cards, doing a home improvement project, or doing something creative. You can learn new skills online.

Try to remember the acronym ACE. It stands for:

ACTIVE, physically

COGNITIVE, put your brain in gear.

ENGAGE, connect with people by whatever means.

We will get through this. Let’s get out of it healthier, smarter and more connected with each other.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.

A TALE OF TWO SECRETARIES OF STATE

Remember Condoleeza Rice? She is a Republican who was appointed Secretary of State by President George W. Bush. Dr. Rice served from 2005 to 2009, and was the first black woman to hold the post. Brilliant, highly educated and erudite, she is widely admired and a role model for young women. You might think this would be cause for jubilation: America making progress, conquering racism and sexism. A story like this might even spawn a TV show about a black woman Secretary of State. But no, that project would have to wait for Hillary to occupy that post and then resign from it to run for President. The show Madam Secretary aired for the first time in 2014, a celebration of a white woman Secretary of State. Dr. Rice’s accomplishment was ignored, as was President Bush’s blow against racism and sexism. A highly accomplished black woman’s achievement passed unnoticed like a stealth ship passing in the night because she’s Republican. But the mandarins in the entertainment industry gave Hillary a weekly campaign ad in the form of a fictional TV show starring Tea Leoni, about an honest, courageous woman as the nation’s top diplomat. This in-kind donation was worth millions. Would a Republican woman get this kind of treatment? Only when pigs sprout wings and fly.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.