Fast, Welcome Medicine but No Cure: $4 Billion from Feds to MA Citiznes

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The feds have opened the money spigot and literally billions of dollars have flowed directly to  citizens of Massachusetts.

How much money are we talking?  Four billion -- as in $4,000,000,000!

That's the number the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service put out earlier this month in a joint announcement.

To be precise, there were 2,503,206 individual federal economic stimulus/ pandemic relief checks sent to Massachusetts, as of Friday, May 8, those agencies reported...and all those checks added up to $4,008,005,049.

The average payment to Massachusetts individuals was $1,200.

According to the IRS, during the first four weeks of the stimulus program, roughly 130 million persons nationwide  received federal checks with a cumulative value of $200 billion.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said, "We are working hard to continue delivering these payments to Americans who need them.  The vast majority of payments have been delivered in record time, and millions more are on the way every week."

Four billion dollars suddenly finding its way into the pockets of two-and-a-half million Bay Staters is a big deal. Obviously, it is helping us weather the COVID-19 economic depression, especially the million or so who have lost their jobs.

But it is no panacea.  It cannot make everyone whole.  It cannot begin to banish every fear about money and the future.  One reason why is the enormity and complexity of the Massachusetts economy.

According to a 24/7 Wall Street analysis, our state's gross domestic product in 2019 approached $500 billion!

The precise Massachusetts GDP for that year was $490,200,000,000.

Our annual economic output was about the same as that of the country of Norway, the 24/7 Wall Street analysis indicated.  On the stage of the world economy, we'd be considered a little giant, pre-pandemic.

Now, the little giant's in the ICU with multiple, compound fractures.

It's going to take many months for it just to walk, and maybe years before it can run again.


New Bill Would Revolutionize Absentee Voting as a COVID-19 Work-Around

Sunday, May 10, 2020

With wary eyes on the pandemic, more than a third of the members of the legislature have signed on to a newly-filed bill that would  allow anyone and everyone who wanted to vote by absentee ballot this fall do so.

There's a lot to like about, House Docket #5075,  An Act Ensuring Safe and Participatory 2020 State Elections in Response to COVID-19.

But one of the big questions it raises is: Are we ready to wait 10 days after the election this November to know all of the results?

Before getting to that issue, let me describe three aspects of HD5075:

  • It proposes to create a new definition of who'd be eligible for an absentee ballot by reason of  disability. For the purposes of the law, you'd be considered disabled if you did not want to go to a polling place for fear of catching the coronavirus.  Section 2 of the bill says "that all voters who are ill, are confined to their homes to avoid transmission of illness, or wish to avoid polling places as a precautionary measure related to COVID-19, are unable by reason of physical disability to cast their votes in person at the polling places [underlining added]."  
  • Nineteen days before both the September 1, 2020, state primaries and the November 3, 2020, biennial state election, it would require Secretary of State William Galvin to mail to every registered voter "an absent voting ballot and accompanying papers."  Every voter this fall would get an absentee ballot without applying for one!  The choice to vote that way would then be up to them.
  • As a COVID-19-centric measure, it applies only to the September 1, 2020, and November 3, 2020, elections.  This bill would have to be amended, or another bill would have to enacted by a subsequent legislature, to institute permanent universal access to absentee voting.

As for vote-counting, Section 6 of HD5075 stipulates that, if a voter mailed in his/her absentee ballot "not later than November 3," and if that mailed-in ballot were received by the city or town clerk in that voter's community "not later than November 13," the clerk would have to count it.

That's quite a change from the existing situation in Massachusetts.

Currently, for an absentee ballot to be counted, it must be received by the voter's local election office no later than the time the polls close on election day.  That vote is then added to, and counted among, all the ballots cast that day.

The bill was filed only five days ago, on May 5.  The lead bill sponsors in the House are Rep. John J. Lawn, Jr., D-Watertown, and Rep. Michael J. Moran, D-Boston.  The lead in the Senate is Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow. There are 60 co-sponsors of the bill in the House and 7 co-sponsors in the Senate.

An Act Ensuring Safe and Participatory 2020 State Elections in Response to COVID-19 is so new it doesn't yet have a bill number.  It has not yet been assigned to a committee or scheduled for a hearing.

That is not to say the bill is so late as to have no chance.  The COVID-19 pandemic has entirely upended our lives and changed so many of our behaviors and attitudes.  When the fall elections heave into view, voters could begin clamoring for universal access to absentee balloting.

I only hope that the legislature, if it embraces this bill, will set earlier deadlines for submission of absentee ballots so that we'll have the traditional satisfaction of knowing who's won or lost on the night of an election, or before breakfast on the morning after.

 

Ideal Stimulus Would Lift Economy While Addressing Global Warming

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Yes, the coronavirus is bad for the entire world, but there's something equally bad, if not much worse, waiting for us behind the pandemic, and we have to deal with it, similarly, on a planetary scale: climate change.  I've been reading and hearing that fairly often in the media.

Scientists, public health experts, elected officials and pundits-for-hire are arguing that the first real pandemic in a century -- and humanity's response to it -- should serve as a reminder of how seriously we are threatened by global warming and as an example of how our species, when it has no choice, is capable of confronting and slowly overcoming a horribly large and deadly threat.

We've had no choice but to turn our lives inside-out to defeat the coronavirus, they are saying, and we have no choice now but to do the same against climate change.  Our future and our grandchildren's future depend upon that choice.  Everyone's children.  Everyone's grandchildren.  Everywhere.

Today, the boldest voices on this subject make a connection between the engineering of an economic recovery, post-pandemic, and the construction of the massive infrastructure projects needed to reduce warming and cope with its effects.

I went searching for information on the scope of our infrastructure needs and came across an excellent article in the MIT Technology Review, "Climate change means the US must start building big things again."  It was written by James Temple, the Review's senior editor for energy, and published Jan. 15, 2020, well before COVID-19 took over our lives.  Here are two key excerpts from the article:

1.

"Major portions of the nation's highways, bridges, water pipes, ports, railways, and electric transmission lines were constructed more than half a century ago, and in many cases they are falling apart.  The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated a $1.4 trillion gap between the funding available and the amount needed to maintain, rebuild, or develop US infrastructure between 2016 and 2025.  That figure swells to $5 trillion through 2040.

"That all bodes terribly for our ability to grapple with the coming dangers of climate change, because it is fundamentally an infrastructure problem. [Bold facing added] Reducing US greenhouse-gas emissions in line with global efforts to prevent 2 degrees Celsius of warming will require annual investments in clean technologies like renewables and a modern grid to increase tenfold by 2030, from $100 billion to $1 trillion, according to a 2015 study by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project.

"To prepare for the climate dangers we now can't avoid, we'll also need to bolster coastal protections, reengineer waste and water systems, reinforce our transportation infrastructure, and relocate homes and businesses away from expanding flood and fire zones.  Depending on how rapidly or slowly the world cuts emissions, climate adaptation costs could run tens or hundreds of billions of dollars per year by midcentury, according to the latest National Climate Assessment."

2.

"When I asked Costa Samaras, director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation, what parts of our infrastructure we need to renovate or rebuild for coming climate dangers, he recited a list: 'Water systems, power systems, stormwater systems, reservoirs, dams, pipelines, airports, train tracks.  It's everything.' "


Metropolitan Boston is the economic driver of Massachusetts and much of New England.  That is why, pre-pandemic, the highways into the city were always congested and officials from Worcester, Springfield and New Bedford were always focused on getting high-speed passenger rail service from their cities to Boston.  Boston was where the jobs were.  That's where they'll be again.

Yet Boston, with its 46-plus miles of shoreline and marvelous economy, is exceptionally vulnerable to ocean flooding caused by global warming.  Boston has more filled-in land than most major cities in the U.S.  And that land is lying barely above sea level in many spots, such as the Seaport District and parts of the North End, East Boston and Charlestown.

According to the World Bank, there are only four cities in the U.S. that would sustain higher damages from rising sea levels than Boston, as measured in dollars.  They are Miami, New York City, New Orleans and Tampa.  That's not a list you want to be on.

According to climate scientists, over the last one hundred years, the level of the water in Boston Harbor has risen by about 11 inches.  Conservative estimates hold that the harbor will be 6 inches higher by 2030, 13 inches higher by 2050, and 59 inches higher by 2050.

The coronavirus pandemic and the warming of our planet are separate and distinct phenomena. Now, however, we need nothing so much as the imagination to see them as a single monstrosity and the will to take them on simultaneously.



Blogster's Miscellany: Insulted Mitt, Hurt Newspapers, Vanished Jobs & More...

Sunday, April 19, 2020

TRUMP STICKS IT TO ROMNEY: Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and current U.S. senator from Utah, was the only one of 53 Senate Republicans not invited by President Trump to join a congressional task force that will be studying the pros and cons of re-opening different parts of the country amidst the ongoing pandemic.  Will one of Romney's colleagues in the Republican caucus ever speak up against Trump's shabby treatment of him?  I'm thinking of you, Lamar Alexander. You're not running for re-election and have nothing to lose. A man of decency and integrity is being mistreated by a bully. Come on.

BIG NEWSPAPERS RETRENCHING: Newspapers have been shrinking or disappearing altogether for 20 years because of the shift of paid advertising to the Internet.  Despite the wonders and obvious benefits of the worldwide web, this trend has been nothing but bad for communities long dependent on their newspapers for local information and for keeping local governments open and honest. Now, the sudden  pandemic depression is making things even worse for this industry.  This week, two venerable Massachusetts dailies announced significant cutbacks. The Lawrence-based Eagle-Tribune will no longer publish print editions on Tuesdays and Saturdays, starting this week. And the owner of the Springfield Republican/MassLive informed employees that furloughs and pay cuts are coming.

HARD-TO-FATHOM JOB LOSSES: More than half a million citizens of Massachusetts have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting the state.  This past week saw another big jump in claims, with 102,828 more filing for benefits.

CASINOS SUPPORTING WORKERS: The state's slots parlor and its two casinos were ordered closed on March 15 because of the pandemic.  That order will remain in effect at least until May 4.  Meantime, the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett is committed to paying employees through the middle of May and Springfield's MGM casino gave employees two weeks of furlough pay and is keeping up their health insurance coverage through June.

EX-TREASURER IN JAM WITH ETHICS COMMISSION: Former Peabody City Treasurer Jean Carnevale has admitted using her position to help set up sales of three tax-delinquent properties to family members and associates.  For that civil offense, she has paid a $50,000 penalty to the Massachusetts Ethics Commission.  Carnevale, who served as treasurer from 2012 to 2017, is a daughter of the late Peter Torigian, the longest serving mayor (1979-2002) in Peabody history.  The unfortunate details of her case may be found in the Ethics Commission section of the state website, www.mass.gov; in that section, click on "News" and up will come a press release headlined, "Former Peabody City Treasurer Jeanne Carnevale Pays $50,000 Civil Penalty for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law."

HYDE PARK EQUALS LONGEVITY: Former Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo is a strong contender in the burgeoning race to succeed retiring state representative Angelo Scaccia, the longest serving member of the lower branch of the legislature and thus entitled to be called Dean of the House.  Scaccia's district, the 14th Suffolk, consists mainly of the Hyde Park section of Boston.  Consalvo represented Hyde Park on the Council from 2002 to 2014 and is currently employed as an aide to Boston School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius  Also in the race (so far) is Gretchen Van Ness, who ran unsuccessfully against Scaccia in 2018.  If the past is a reliable guide, whoever wins the 14th Suffolk race is likely to hold the job a long time.  Scaccia has been in the House for 46 years, with only a two-year interruption (1979-80).  The man Scaccia succeeded, way back in 1973, Michael Paul Feeney, was in the House for 41 years.  And don't forget that other remarkably successful politician from Hyde Park, the late Tom Menino, who was elected to five consecutive  four-year terms as mayor of Boston, making him the longest-serving Boston mayor in history.

AIRLINE MUST HOLD THE FORT IN CENTRAL MA: This past Thursday, the U.S Department of Transportation denied a request by JetBlue to suspend service to and from the Worcester Regional Airport during the pandemic.  The denial was based on the airline having accepted financial assistance under the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which gave the department the leverage to compel JetBlue to keep serving the region.  After Boston, Worcester is the largest city in New England, followed by Providence, RI; Springfield, MA; and Bridgeport, CT.

HOARDERS BEWARE: Rep. Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, has a newly filed bill aimed at discouraging hoarding during the pandemic.  An Act Relative to Anti-Hoarding and Return of Bulk-Purchased Items During the COVID-19 Outbreak states that "No person or retail food store shall accept the bulk return of any groceries and other household goods purchased by a consumer during, and for 30 days following, a declared state of emergency resulting from a pandemic or other public health emergency."  In a press release, Silvia said, "While we see people come together in a profound spirit of generosity and community spirit during this time of crisis, shortages of certain products have still been reported...this bill would discourage those who may try to make money off a vulnerable population's need for basic necessities by hoarding and/or selling them at exorbitant prices."  Before being elected to the legislature in 2012, Silvia had a 21-year career as an officer and detective on the Fall River police force.  The bill has three co-sponsors: Rep. RoseLee Vincent, D-Revere; Rep. Peter Capano, D-Lynn; and Rep. Paul A. Schmid, III, D-Westport.

OUR $60-BILLION HEALTH CARE TAB: The day of Wednesday, March 11, seems like the distant past because of the enormous changes that have taken place in our lives since then on account of COVID-19, but it is worth revisiting that date if only because of what the legislature's Joint Committee on Health Care Financing heard then from the state's Health Policy Commission.  As reported by the State House News Service in an articled headlined, "Fewer Hospital Stays Not Leading to Overall Cost Savings," total health care spending in Massachusetts increased in 2018 at a rate of 3.1 percent to a total sum of $60.9 billion.  Health Policy Commission Research Director David Auerbach noted that, between 2013 and 2018, spending on inpatient hospital care grew at a rate of 11 percent even though the number of hospital stays declined by 14 percent during that period.  "We have not reaped the savings from moving people out of the hospital or (from) fewer hospital stays," he said.








Digital Geo-Tracking Might Have Been Silver Bullet Against COVID-19

Saturday, April 11, 2020

March 12 was a Thursday and the last day I was in the office, 60 State Street, 11th floor, Boston.  There was a luncheon meeting for Preti Strategies staff I attended that day.

Before the meeting, I went to the rest room, a facility shared by all males who work on the floor. In the corridor, I encountered someone I know only by sight, a man leaving another office. I said hello as we passed each other.

He said, "They're shutting us down.  The office is closing."

"Really?" I said.

"Yeah. Someone who visited our office earlier in the week tested positive for the virus."

That's when it hit: the coronavirus is more than a theoretical danger to me and my family.

Working remotely was the main topic of our staff meeting.  As the discussion went on, an unspoken understanding that we would not be coming into the office for a while took hold, but no specific directive to that effect was issued.  Over the weekend, however, we all received an email from Preti HQ in Portland announcing that normal operations within the Boston office would cease until further notice.

In an alternative world, a place where the president took the threat of a pandemic seriously at an early stage and where the U.S. had established -- through duly enacted federal laws and regulations -- an option to use digital geo-tracking in dire emergencies, an alert could have been sent on the afternoon of March 12 to the cell phones of everyone working at 60 State Street and to everyone who had visited the building on the same day the person with coronavirus did.  The alert would have informed recipients of their potential exposure to a carrier of the disease, and -- continuing in that alternative world I am conjuring -- it would have encouraged them to be tested for the disease as soon as possible and to isolate themselves while awaiting the results. (Here, we may assume the widespread availability of testing services and of laboratories capable of producing test results in 12 hours or less.)

Next time there's a pandemic, maybe we'll have in place in the U.S. a digital geo-tracking system to throw at it.  Unlikely.  But possible.  Let us hope.

Although it would be as simple for the U.S. as adopting a system like the one South Korea used to significant effect against the coronavirus just a few weeks ago, digital geo-tracking is bound to be a hard sell in the USA, even though our nation is tottering on the edge of an economic chasm as wide and deep as existed in the Great Depression.  [Update: As of April 14, the corona virus mortality rate in the U.S. was 80 deaths per million residents, whereas the mortality rate in Korea was 4 deaths per million.]

Americans seem to have an inherent distrust of central authority and governmental power. And no one ever talks of weakening the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which proclaims, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

We love our smartphones even as we worry that their smartness could be turned against us by corporations, marketing gurus, law enforcement agencies, prying bureaucrats, et al. The worriers can be found everywhere, including in the highest elective offices.

On April 7, for example, our state's junior U.S. Senator, Edward J. Markey, and a Senate colleague from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, sent a letter to the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, expressing concerns about the company's new COVID-19 Mobility Reports.

These reports, as Google states, aim "to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combatting COVID-19."  It's referring here to changes in travel patterns recorded by location-tracking features on smartphones, shared voluntarily by smartphone users with Google, and agglomerated in company mobility reports.

In their letter to Sundar Pichai, Senators Markey and Blumenthal said,  "The potential consequences of misusing or inappropriately accessing individuals' personal information are particularly serious when location data is involved.  An individual's location data can reveal other sensitive information, such as place of employment, religious affiliation, or political preferences.  Access to this type of information can pose risks to both individuals' civil liberties and their physical safety. No one should fear that their phone is monitoring their every step...we caution you against steps that risk undermining your users' privacy."

I wonder what kind of letter Markey and Blumenthal may write in response to the news yesterday that Google and Apple are teaming up to "contact trace" the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, ("Apple and Google Are Building a Virus Tracking Tool for Phones," New York Times, 4-10-20).  Yes, they'll actually be incorporating some kind of contact tracing tool in new iPhones and Android devices!

Technology is value-neutral.  Its use or abuse is entirely within the control of rational human beings.  If we decided that digital geo-tracking is a tool needed to protect ourselves from deadly plagues, save our economy, and preserve our way of life, we could create laws governing its use and guarding against its misuse.  We could, for example, require that digital geo-tracking could be used only under the authorization and guidance of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies may never gain access to data generated by such tracking.  Further, we could require that all data be anonymized and automatically destroyed (erased) after two weeks.   And we could take the simple step of regularly reminding smartphone users that they are able to turn off and turn on locator-tracking features on their devices at any time of their choosing.

No doubt, there are hundreds of things we could do to ensure the proper use of digital geo-tracking -- and we should begin moving down that road now, starting by enlisting the best engineers, physicians, lawyers and judges to serve on a commission drafting digital geo-tracking guidelines and procedures consistent with Fourth Amendment protections.

Now, let's return to that alternative world, a warming world, a place where, only several years from now, a viral agent is released from Alaska's thawing permafrost and makes its way to nearby rivers and streams, from which caribou drink. The virus has barely noticeable effects on the animals. One day a party of seven hunters arrives on scene, taken there by local guides who charge handsomely for their services.  The hunters are friends: each holds a good-paying managerial or executive position at a large, Chicago-based corporation.  In the first volley of shots, two caribou are killed and the rest scatter. The hunters return to their wilderness camp and that night feast on caribou steaks.  The next morning they start for home.  Two weeks later, all seven are seriously ill and two die from respiratory failure within a few days of entering hospitals. Unfortunately, during the 10-plus days the returned hunters were asymptomatic, they passed the infection to their family members, friends, co-workers and countless strangers on sidewalks, subways, elevators, coffee shops and restaurants.  One month after the hunters have returned to Chicago, an epidemic of the new arctic virus is gathering steam in the upper Midwest and pockets of the virus are erupting in almost every city in the U.S. and abroad with flight connections to Chicago.  Everywhere the disease has taken hold, roughly 10 percent of the afflicted die.  One-by-one, every state imposes self-quarantine measures on its citizens.  The economy slows to a crawl.  Fear tightens its grip daily on the American people.

If something like this happened, I believe the president, exercising her emergency powers, would mandate the expedited use of digital geo-tracking to contact-trace every person possibly infected with the Arctic virus in order to get the disease under control.  Any objections based on invasion of privacy concerns would be given short shrift by the president, the congress and the courts.  Overnight polls would reveal that 83% of the population strongly favors digital geo-tracking.












Things Could Be Worse. State's Rainy Day Fund Could Be Puny.

Monday, April 6, 2020

This is the rainy day that Massachusetts has, for years, been saving for.

But to call this pandemic-induced economic crash a rainy day doesn't do justice to the scale of the looming disaster.  It's like calling World War II a bit of unpleasantness.

Another name for the state's Rainy Day Fund may have to be devised.  How does Flood of Biblical Proportions Account sound?

Today, the fund holds $3.47 billion dollars.  We will need every penny to mitigate the effects on state services and operations of a downturn that could soon rival the Great Depression.

Up until a few weeks ago, the Massachusetts economy was humming like a new BMW.

The economy was going so well that Governor Charlie Baker was ready to add another $310 million to the Rainy Day Fund and State Treasurer Deb Goldberg was urging legislators to commit to large and predictable Rainy Day Fund deposits to boost the state's credit rating and thereby reduce the costs of state borrowing.

In January, when addressing members of the House Ways & Means Committee, Goldberg noted that the agencies that rate bonds sold by the state to raise money for various projects had reduced the Commonwealth's bond rating three years ago because the state had spent money from the Rainy Day Fund at a time when the economy was expanding.  She also said the rating agencies "continue to express concern about our debt and pension liabilities."

Imagine how low state bond ratings will fall across the country in the coming months and how long they'll stay low.

Tomorrow, the legislature's Joint Committee on Ways & Means will be holding a "virtual roundtable" with economic experts to elicit opinions on what the pandemic is going to do to the state budget.  In keeping with the social distancing requirements of the day, the experts will be phoning it in. I don't think that will make it any easier to take what they'll be telling us.

UPDATE: The Joint Committee on Ways & Means was forced on the morning of April 7 to postpone the virtual roundtable due to technical difficulties: it could not get the webcast to livestream from the room at the State House where committee members had gathered.  The event has been rescheduled and will now be held on the morning of Tuesday, April 14.





If This Man Was a Stooge, We Need Not Three but 300 More Like Him

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld suspended his little noticed campaign for the Republican nomination for president one week ago today.

He had pursued the prize for over year and, at the end, had only one committed delegate to show for all that time and effort.

Donald Trump made it a policy to ignore Weld's candidacy, never bothering even to slur him on Twitter with one of the nasty-but-catchy nicknames he likes to deploy, like "Low Energy Jeb," "Little Marco" and "Sleepy Joe."

The closest Weld, 74, got to eliciting Trump's contumely was to be lumped by the Tweeter-in-Chief together with the other Republican primary challengers, Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh, as "The Three Stooges."  Sanford and Walsh both left the race before Weld did.

Weld seemed to be paying Trump back with the same coin of indifference by not mentioning the president by name in his written withdrawal (or suspension) statement.  At the outset of the Weld campaign, things were much different.  The old Brahmin laced hard into Trump then.

When announcing his candidacy, Weld said Trump "has difficulty conforming his conduct to the requirements of the law.  That's a serious matter in the oval office." He added:

"...we have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.  He may have great energy and considerable raw talent, but he does not use them in ways that promote democracy, truth, justice and equal opportunity for all.  To compound matters, our president is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office -- which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed -- in a competent and professional manner.  He is simply in the wrong place."

Weld ran a serious campaign based on the propositions that (a) Trump had flouted the Constitution and undermined the rule of law, (b) the U.S. needed to strengthen relationships with traditional allies, (c) climate change had to be arrested by putting a price on carbon emissions, and (d) federal budget deficits of more than a trillion dollars a year are irresponsible in the extreme and must be stopped.

After no Republicans voted to impeach Trump, and only one Republican (former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney) voted guilty on one article of impeachment during Trump's trial in the Senate, we did not need further proof that Trump has taken over the GOP like Sherman took over Georgia.  But that's what we got when Weld had one delegate in hand after 13 months of campaigning.

Bringing down the curtain, Weld said, "Thousands of supporters and donors from across the country joined our cause, working day and night to promote strong, experienced, decent leadership for the United States.  They were determined and indefatigable in their efforts to give Americans a better choice in the 2020 presidential election.  Leading this movement has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I will be forever indebted to all who have played a part."

You can laugh at Bill Weld for thinking he could be president.

You can dismiss him as a relic of a far different political era.

You can ignore that he dared to dream greatly of undoing Trumpism.

But how can you not, at least for a moment, stop and admire a person of principle who, with no one truly powerful backing him and with a slim-to-zero chance of victory, undertakes a campaign to wrest the leadership of his ancestral party from a Republican-come-lately incumbent he believes has besmirched it, and brings that campaign, in painful slow motion, ultimately to a condition of nothingness, and yet afterwards declares it "one of the greatest honors" of his long life to have led that effort?