LISTENING VERY CAREFULLY TO THE EXPERTS ON COVID19

KELLEY KIDD MARCH 30, 2020 This posting is a response to a friend who told me last night that a true expert, a former director of the CDC, had written an article in USA TODAY that said testing for the virus is a waste of time. My friend went on to argue that the expert showed that critics of the government’s alleged failures on that matter were absurd, that testing does not treat the virus, that people who have the virus just need to stay home until they get well. He added that half the cases of COVID19 in his home town of Augusta, Georgia were concentrated at the state operated medical research and treatment center where he works, and that half of the other people who worked there are Chinese.

I noted that the lack of testing equipment in Augusta made it unsurprising that the cases discovered so far were disproportionately located in that facility. But I also promised to look into the views of the former director of the CDC. I have done that. After viewing an extensive interview with that expert published by USA TODAY, I found my friend had been partially correct. I also found that my friend had completely misunderstood that expert’s views.

The interview took place on March 25 and the expert’s name was Tom Frieden. He said early in he interview that he was personally located in New York City at that time. He expressed concerns that the medical facilities and their staffs IN THAT CITY AT THAT TIME were in danger of becoming overwhelmed by the sick people they had to attend in that specific situation. Dr. Frieden urged people who had only mild symptoms to stay home rather than come to the New York City hospitals for testing. His expressed reason for that request was the need to avoid overwhelming the staffs of those hospitals by forcing those staffs to spend a lot of time in testing people with mild symptoms. He stressed that this kind of testing right now would be done AT THE EXPENSE OF THE TIME NEEDED TO HELP CRITICALLY ILL PATIENTS. On the other hand, the doctor urged people who were having trouble breathing to come to the hospitals (for needed testing and treatment).

Dr. Frieden in the same interview talked about the uneven patterns of people getting sick in various locations, and he expressed support for the use of testing. At one point he even said that “drive through testing may have an important role.” He bragged about the response of the CDC with developing and delivering testing in other previous outbreaks of communicable diseases. He mentioned the gratitude that had come from other nations for the leadership of the United States during previous pandemics. And he indicated support for an inquiry into why the U.S. has not developed testing for COVID19 earlier. He also stated clearly that this particular crisis is of unprecedented scope and seriousness.

Listening to the experts is extremely important in this crisis. But that requires careful listening and remaining open minded. First impressions which come from initial reading or listening may be far from gathering good information.

SAVING THE CORPORATE EXECUTIVE/PUBLIC SERVANT IN THE TIME OF COVID19

March 2020 Some political shenanigans are so smelly that even Covid19 cannot keep them out of the pundit chats and otherwise endless palaver over how brave or scared we should be. Our newest U.S. Senator from Georgia has managed to get herself featured in a more than a few televised snippets regarding an alleged misdeed, one which can only be committed by a person connected in both the high echelons of corporate finance and national government. My Senator Kelly Loeffler is such a person. She left her corporate executive job in a firm she and her CEO husband controlled, but she left him to manage a finance enterprise so vast that being Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange was only one of its percs. Her first opportunity to be a public servant came when the Governor surprised no one by giving her the job of being one of the two people who will represent us ten million or so Georgia boys and girls.

I do realize that Mrs. Loeffler has taken quite a pay cut to become a public servant. Although I have not seen her tax returns, I do realize she just might be like our president, a person whose incomes and assets may be too great to be scrutinized by ordinary mortals like myself. Whatever her paycheck and bond coupons and dividend returns might be, I can be sure the total amount has been far greater than the paltry amount she is currently being compensated as a Senator, less than a quarter of a million. Still she surprised no one by accepting the Governor’s invitation to replace the ailing senior Senator Johnny Isakson

She got to the Senate in time to vote on whether to call witnesses, and became a crucial vote for not doing that. The vote was 51 to 49. If she had voted to hear from John Bolton or some of the other key witnesses, the deadlock created would have been unprecedented. Not all of the Republicans concurred, and newly installed Kelly Loeffler had words for at least one of them. She said the Senator from Utah had voted for calling witnesses “to appease the left”, a motive which has not been in visible supply in statewide Utah politics for many decades.

Then came the virus. As a Senator she was given a closed door briefing about the virus and its likely future in January although the public, including the stock investing portions of that public, did not receive such information until weeks later. As an investor she promptly dumped much stock, thereby saving herself the huge losses that other investors suffered weeks later when the economic threats of the pandemic became apparent. Now it turns out that using corporate insider information to manipulate stock sales can be a crime. But that is not the aspect of this tale of hide and seek that disturbs me. My Senator did not warn me of pending difficulties she knew about precisely because she was representing me and millions like me.

An old adage in the army holds that “Rank has its privileges,” and another that “Rank has its responsibilities.” In this situation I don’t mind her learning about our common peril first. But I do mind her not warning those of us she is supposed to represent. And I mind her impugning the motives of an experienced public servant she scarcely knows and whose political courage deserves respect. I don’t want her to go to jail, but I do want her to stop pretending she represents me.

FLANNERY O'CONNER AND THE CHRISTMAS DONKEY PART ONE

March 19, 2020 Several months ago I made a little talk at the Flannery O’Conner Childhood Home in Savannah Georgia. About 25 people were assembled to hear my talk on a Sunday afternoon of a mild winter day. At aged 77 my one great asset for these people was undoubtedly that I had actually known the great writer. So my presentation was going to be primarily a story or two about her.

I opened my talk by advising my hearers that my Flannery stories would not be just the telling of experiences in which I picked up information about her. Also I warned that I am not a bit an expert on literature or even a very insightful reader of Flannery O’Conner’s fiction. From my view these stories are nevertheless possibly the bearers of worthwhile meaning about dimensions beyond either literary criticism or yarns about a famous eccentric. My stories are about encounters between two people–a very young Kelley Kidd and an older adult. I was a male protestant with fuzzy conceptions of Catholics and the very biased view of Southern white males towards women, especially towards any notion that women can be smarter or more assertive than men. But I was also a seeker after wisdom and insight, a fledgling in the awesome adventure of trying to encounter God. She was Flannery O’Conner, who I suspect is one of the least understood probers of the spiritual struggles within each of us, and she too was consumed by her search for nearness to God. Sometimes those struggles take place in the encounters between people, and so I believe it was when I was given the mission of borrowing Mrs. Flannery O’Conner’s donkey for use in a Methodist Christmas pageant.

We both lived in Milledgeville Georgia, the home for several generations of her Mother’s family and my Father’s. I was a high school student at the local military school which was housed on the grounds of the building that had formerly housed the state legislature for nearly 70 years stretching from the turn of the 18th century until after the Civil War. My home was a block away and across the street from the Catholic church in which Mrs. O’Conner and her widowed Mother attended mass daily. When the capital building was dedicated on a double block lot in 1802 space had also been alloted to the four principle protestant denominations, all of which had subsequently become open only to white congregants. The Catholics were not invited to camp on state property, but the tiny Catholic church had been there for quite a while. The First Methodist church in which I was christened had long ago moved to a location directly facing the principle buildings of the state women’s college, the school where she had attended college more than a decade prior to the late 1950s when this story takes place.

By the time of the story Mrs. O’Conner had become a well known author of a single novel and many short stories. I had read none and shared the opinions I had heard around town. These opinions were unanimously to the effect that the novel was more strange than admirable.

So I was out of school for the Christmas holidays. My stepmother informed me that the christmas pageant at the Methodist Church this year was going to feature a live donkey. And since the only live donkey in the area was at Andalusia, the O’Conner farm, that was the one we would have to borrow. And the strange writer had been emphatic that she would not lend the donkey to an institution like the church. Nor would she entrust the donkey to anyone but me?

My first reaction was Why me? I had been going to the Presbyterian Church on the same grounds as the military school in which I was an eleventh grade student. But my stepmother was clear about the need for me to go with two young adult Methodists to get that donkey. Mrs. Flannery O’Conner had insisted that should would not lend the donkey to the Methodists, but would allow the donkey to be used if I would come and get it and be responsible for it. My stepmother was also a Presbyterian, but being my Father’s wife meant attending and participating in the the Methodist church. She was in no doubt that my duty was to go with the guys with the flat bed truck, get that donkey and take responsibility for seeing to it that the donkey performed and got back to Andalusia afterwards.

Nobody ever gave me any explanation for why Mrs. O’Conner wanted me for the job. My guesses later in life include the following: My English teacher showed her a little essay I wrote on the beauty of the old episcople church or she read another essay I wrote for the military school newspaper or she saw me wandering near the Cline home mooning over a young cousin or hers or she had a fellow feeling for the three year old Kelley who had worn leg braces. Who knows. The fact was that she specifically conditioned the donkey on my coming for the animal and bringing it back. My stepmother said many years later that she was in love with me, an unlikely matter. But I dutifully went motivated as much by curiosity as by duty. The clincher was that I did not want the stepmother mad at me.

On the way to the farm one of the others asked why me. I had to admit I did not know. The best guesses I could come up with had to do with the fact Flannery O’Conner and I had exchanged a few pleasantries a few times as she and her Mother had parked in front of my home on trips to mass. But I really did not know why she would want me to be the custodian of the donkey.

The asker was brawny and in his early 20s, a fraternity man back from college. He volunteered that his Mother was the director of the pageant. He told me about the plan to mount the girl playing Mary on the back of the donkey while as Joseph he led the donkey from the door to the left of the alter around the semicircular alter to the door on the other side. The doll in the virgin’s arms would be wrapped in a long garment his mother believed was similar to the swaddling clothes mentioned in the Bible. From the balcony behind the congregation the director would read about Herod’s threat to all the babies in Bethlehem, Joseph’s warning from the angel and the trip to Egypt. While the Reverend sang a beautiful song–Oh Holy Night I believe–the congregation would be amazed to see a real donkey plodding quietly around the decorated alter. It would be the last and climactic scene of the pageant. I had heard it all before from my stepmother and from the director who had assured her son that Flannery’s Mother vouched for the docility and good behavior of the donkey.

The whole venture seemed silly to me. Aside from the amusement of seeing a live donkey in the church, there was no apparent value to be obtained from such an elaborate effort at theatrics. But there were worse things that could happen. I supposed it would do not harm. Anyway I was rather curious about why the writer expected so much of me. No one had ever entrusted me with an animal, although I doubted that such an entrusting happened very often.

My companion parked the truck twenty feet from the door to a small barn that sat to the rear of the house at he end of the driveway. Mrs. O”Conner came out by crossing a screen porch. She was a slender, rather tall and not especially attractive woman in her 30s. She wore glasses similar to mine with rims that were encased in a little plastic jacket on top. Her clothes were feminine but not memoraly attractive. I met her polite smile with one of my own. The most striking aspect of the writer was her direct manner. She talked and acted with the manner of a man who knew me personally, and who wanted to trust that my judgement would be as good as hers.

THIS STORY WILL CONTINUE SOON

A JOURNAL OF PUBLIC LAW

February 23, 2020. KELLEY KIDD The Name Of The Blog. Several years ago I had a blog by the same name. It perished when my IT expert refused to give me the information needed to renew it; he had put the blog in his own name. then neglected to maintain a stable address or enough income to keep the blog up and running. So here we are again. It seems worth noting that I was a happy member of the staff of a previous institution by the name of Journal of Public Law. That institution also perished when the Emory University Law School replaced it with the perhaps more conventionally entitled Emory Law Journal. My years with that law journal were 1965 through 1967. So my connections with the name of the blog have history and personal experience.

The Scope Of The Blog. It is my intention that this blog will publish absolutely anything that may help the reader to think clearly about any issue of concern to my fellow Americans. We are a people so diverse and varied that our shared concerns are often invisible among the very many concerns of the tribes, factions, divisions and interests of our hundreds of millions of people. We are a huge culture with many subcultures, a politic with many subpolitics, a faith with many very different faiths, an economy with a host of different and often conflicting smaller but important economies, a society in which there are important differences in law that varies form state to state and often even city to surrounding county within the same state. Our so called “private” institutions often have tremendous impact on the legal and social public institutions. So the scope of this blog will be open to any subject which has the potential to affect the actual life we live in this great country.

The Point of View of the Blog. I am a lawyer who has been a teacher, school administrator, fire fighter, office worker, alcoholism and drug counselor, political campaign worker, community organizer and caterer. My status has varied from single to married to divorced. I am a lover of dogs, cats, children and drunks. I have worked variously for one of America’s most illustrious conservatives, Senator Richard Russell, and two of America’s most lovable liberals, Maynard Jackson and Julian Bond. I am a fanatical baseball fan nd passionate reader of the Hebrew Bible. My religious affiliations have varied from Southern Baptist to Reform Jewish. My best friend is a hospice nurse and my employer a Public Defender. I adore this country and grieve sadly on its foibles as well as I rejoice for its amazing strengths. I will be looking for any would-be contributor who can add to the dialogue.