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I ended March’s column stating “The months ahead will be ‘interesting times’”. But, seeing that the “October surprises” expected for all elections, including the upcoming 2020 election, have been coming nonstop since 2016, that was not a wild guess.

Donald Trump replaced James Comey in 2017 and CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, began pummeling viewers relentlessly with “breaking news” bulletins, announcing: “a bombshell turning point” that would lead to President Trump’s impeachment and resignation. Self-described ”far to the left socialist” newscaster Lawrence O’Donnell, presidential hopeful (and now convicted) porn lawyer Avenetti and other pundits announced breathlessly that President Trump would surely be forced to resign: “The beginning of the end for the Trump Presidency”; “the walls closing in”; “It’s over”.

Typically, all the “independent experts” repeated the same phrases, as though reciting biblical verses from the pulpit. Were they just following the lead of liberal print journals like the Sulzberger family’s New York Times and Bezos’ Washington Post? In any event, a large portion of big-city, big state populations believed every word.

The Mueller probe kept the nation in anxiety for two years, finally collapsing in March of 2019. Then came Russia hoax II – the phone call that mentioned oil genius Hunter Biden’s big corporate board job in Russia. That one flopped in late January.

However, I had not expected the sights I saw while shopping mid-March. I had to forage the Sam’s parking lot to even find a cart. Patrons were following people leaving the store to their cars and waiting patiently, thankfully, as they unloaded their carts. Families were rolling two and three carts through the store. Some aisles were stripped almost bare. The paper aisle, usually stacked as high as a forklift can reach, was bereft of toilet tissue. No pasta, no sauce could be found. A few random cans of soup sat strewn about. I had come in to get a case of lemonade iced tea in cans, and wheeled that around to the checkouts; only to discover the line began on the far side of the store. I just abandoned the cart there and headed home.

I did notice that shelves in the liquor section were still well stocked, and phoned my patient wife, Dorothy, joking that it showed the situation was not so desperate. She quipped right back: “Wait ‘til they realize the kids will be home from school all day the next two weeks”. But it far from humorous this afternoon when Pritzker announced that all bars and restaurants will be closed, except for takeout orders, until the end of the month. Our daughter’s wedding reception, one week away, was cancelled! As of writing, we’re trying to work out something to save the situation.

There are, unfortunately, many who relish the thought of a market crash and recession. A health crisis offers a great opportunity to push universal single-payer government health care and destroy President Trump’s soaring economy at the same time. Happy, prosperous populations aren’t in favor of revolution; misery and discontent are necessary ingredients. Bill Maher proposed this as a Trump tonic and a way to get America solidly on the dependency path 2 years ago when he declared on his show: “I feel like the bottom has to fall out sometime. And, by the way, I’m hoping for it because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So, please: bring on the recession. Sorry if that hurts people, but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.”

Because of coronavirus fears, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 10 percent, on Thursday despite the Federal Reserve’s highly unusual step of injecting more cash into the bond market. Then, Friday, March 13, during President Trump’s address to the nation, the market roared back 9.36%, nearly 2000 pts!

 Predictably, the Washington Post headline yesterday, March 14, preached gloom and doom: “With unprecedented force and speed, a global recession is likely taking hold”. The paper likened it to the 2008 global financial crisis and warned that “some veterans of that tailspin- the worst since the Great Depression- say today’s epidemic is hammering the economy in complex ways that could prove even more difficult to combat.”  

As I write this, the situation seesaws. President Trump and Vice President Pence appeared in another White House address to the nation. The President announced that the Federal Reserve is taking aggressive action to stimulate the economy, cutting benchmark interest rates to near zero while launching a “$700 billion quantitative easing program” to start tomorrow morning. He urges Americans to just: “Take it easy. Relax.” Still, despite the central bank moves Dow futures dropped, triggering the Mercantile Exchange’s 5% “limit down” to prevent panic selling.

The Archdiocese has canceled Masses and limited gatherings to 250 people. I call St. Luke’s rectory to ask about the wedding ceremony. No answer at the office. I want to know whether we can have the reception in the hall below the school. I drive over to there, but no one answers the door.

My good friend, Len, well-connected with another (non-Catholic) church offers to check if their meeting hall and kitchen is available, but that pastor regrets to say that his synod has also suspended all services and meetings until the corona crisis passes. The latest from my daughter and her groom is that their reception venue has offered to host a July 4 event. The actual wedding is still in limbo, as are the plans of many invited guests.

But it dawns on me that things could be lots worse, and that life will go on. I am reminded of Sophie, a girl I once knew. She showed me a black and white photo of her mom and dad standing outside in a yard or field, somewhere in World War Two Poland. Mom wore a long, white wedding gown that seemed incongruous, considering the time and place. They were not well-to-do; nor was the gown a family heirloom. Rather, it had been expertly cut and sewn together from a parachute discarded by a trooper who had landed nearby.

© 2020 Michael P Morley
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