Opinion | Meet the New C.D.C. Director: Walmart – By Bill Saporito – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Saporito is a contributor to the editorial board.

Credit…Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened branch offices in Bentonville, Ark., and Seattle this month. Not officially. But with the president trying to distance himself from responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, and Southern governors amplifying the damage with their flawed reopening strategies, the nation’s retailers have become the first line of defense against the pandemic.

From the headquarters of Walmart (which includes Sam’s Club) and Starbucks came the directive that all customers must wear masks. The conservative Southeasterner and liberal Northwesterner were followed by other national retailers, including Kohl’s, CVS, Walgreens, Publix and Target. Wearing a mask is a “simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” said Dacona Smith and Lance de la Rosa, the chief operating officers of Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, on the corporate website.”

” . . . Rather than use policy to help corporations get a better handle on Covid-19 safety, the Trump administration is instead focused on absolving them of liability if they don’t act to keep employees and customers safe. Perversely, when the airline industry begged the Federal Aviation Administration to impose a mandatory mask rule for passengers, it got shot down. The F.A.A.’s intransigence is now threatening thousands of airline jobs, if not the carriers themselves, because consumers don’t have enough confidence that flying is safe.

If there are no customers, indemnity from liability is not of much use. It is this vacuum of responsibility that is compelling the businesses that are expert at selling coffee, underwear and groceries to manage the pandemic across their swath of the economy. That they are doing a better job than the Trump administration is beyond pathetic.”  -30-

Bill Saporito is a contributor to the editorial board.

Opinion | The Difficulties and Delights of a Pandemic Wedding – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Jes Martinez

“NASHVILLE — When our oldest son got engaged last year at sunset on a beach in Spain, my husband and I cheered from half a world away. I write these words without hyperbole: We were truly as happy about this pending marriage as two human beings could possibly be.

The parents of three sons, my husband and I would have a daughter at last, and we already loved this amazing young woman. We loved how happy she and our son make each other. We loved the way they support and challenge and admire each other, the way they are always laughing together. They are the kind of people who would rather save up for a grand backpacking adventure than a grand engagement ring, and we loved how a ring made from my great-grandmother’s tiny diamond made its way to Spain in a special wooden box that my son carried in his pocket, waiting for just the right moment to drop to one knee.

What was there not to love? There was nothing not to love.

The months that unspooled between the storybook engagement and the pandemic wedding, on the other hand, produced much that was not to love.

It was always going to be a small, do-it-yourself event: just family and their very dearest friends at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, in a historic lodge that seats only 75 people. A newly minted college graduate would be the photographer. A fellow nurse at the hospital where my daughter-in-law works would bake the cake. I would grow the wedding flowers, and the bride’s mother would make the tablecloths for the reception. But no matter how simple it looks or how homey it feels, a D.I.Y. wedding requires a lot of planning.”

Opinion | If We Had a Real Leader – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

“This week I had a conversation that left a mark. It was with Mary Louise Kelly and E.J. Dionne on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and it was about how past presidents had handled moments of national mourning — Lincoln after Gettysburg, Reagan after the Challenger explosion and Obama after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

The conversation left me wondering what America’s experience of the pandemic would be like if we had a real leader in the White House.

If we had a real leader, he would have realized that tragedies like 100,000 Covid-19 deaths touch something deeper than politics: They touch our shared vulnerability and our profound and natural sympathy for one another.

In such moments, a real leader steps outside of his political role and reveals himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers.

If we had a real leader, she would speak of the dead not as a faceless mass but as individual persons, each seen in unique dignity. Such a leader would draw on the common sources of our civilization, the stores of wisdom that bring collective strength in hard times.

Lincoln went back to the old biblical cadences to comfort a nation. After the church shooting in Charleston, Barack Obama went to “Amazing Grace,” the old abolitionist anthem that has wafted down through the long history of African-American suffering and redemption.

In his impromptu remarks right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy recalled the slaying of his own brother and quoted Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

If we had a real leader, he would be bracingly honest about how bad things are, like Churchill after the fall of Europe. He would have stored in his upbringing the understanding that hard times are the making of character, a revelation of character and a test of character. He would offer up the reality that to be an American is both a gift and a task. Every generation faces its own apocalypse, and, of course, we will live up to our moment just as our ancestors did theirs.”

Opinion | Hating the Word ‘Hate’ – by Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

“When Rosen asked, “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?” Pelosi wagged her finger and retorted, “I don’t hate anybody.”

With more to say, she strode back to the microphones: “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president.” Before walking off, she delivered the coup de grâce to a chastened Rosen: “So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Within the hour, the president had predictably tweet-trashed her, saying she had “a nervous fit,” returning to the threadbare canard of women as hysterics. He said he did not believe that Pelosi prayed for him.

But she does. I talked to her about it in August, when she was still keeping impeachment at bay, after we visited the chapel at Trinity, where she went to college.

She said that she prays for the president at night in her apartment in Georgetown and in church on Sunday. “The prayer,” she said, “is that God will open his heart to meet the needs of the American people.”

She said that she even complained to her pastor that her prayers were not working.

“Maybe you’re not praying hard enough,” the priest replied.”

Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

“There has been an emperor in Japan for more than 15 centuries, making the Chrysanthemum Throne the world’s oldest continuous monarchy. On Tuesday, the emperor stepped down, yielding to his eldest son in the first abdication in 200 years. This is the family’s story.

We know him as Akihito, the emperor of Japan, a gentle figure who championed peace in a nation devastated by war. But she called him Jimmy.

It was the autumn of 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War, and he was a 12-year-old boy, the crown prince of a defeated land, sitting in an unheated classroom on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, a new American teacher insisted on a more prosaic name for his highness. His father, the wartime emperor, Hirohito, had been revered as a god, but she made clear he never would be.

“In this class, your name is Jimmy,” declared the teacher, Elizabeth Gray Vining, a 44-year-old librarian and children’s book author from Philadelphia.

“No,” Akihito swiftly replied. “I am Prince.””

Source: Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor, but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – The New York Times