We have risen to meet twin crises and victory is in sight on both fronts.
I waited for the CDC to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, after the FDA approved it yesterday for use here in the USA. That’s done now, and by next week (a few days away) the first doses will start being delivered, the first people will start getting vaccinated, and the plague will slowly begin to abate. By March we should see case and death counts start to drop. By spring we should be back to where we were this past summer. By summer, if the citizenry don’t behave like complete fools, we might be able to declare the siege over. I believe those conditions will all be met, those modest goals achieved, because scientists already brought us the vaccine.
The FDA approval came yesterday, an hour or so after the US Supreme Court told The Republic of Texas, as Donald Trump’s surrogate, that the lawsuit that dynamic duo had brought directly to the highest court in the land, had no standing and would not be heard, and further that no such action by any state would be entertained by the Supreme Court. The attempt by a failed businessman and failed politician to pull a coup d’etat and overthrow the democracy this country has relied upon to maintain our peculiar social experiment for the past 244 years, warts and all, was thwarted.
The good guys are winning.
True enough, even a best case vaccine scenario won’t bring back the nearly 300,000 who have died in the US of the novel coronavirus in the past 10 months, many of them wrongfully (because of failed leadership or, worse, leadership intended to cause death, doom and destruction), nor will it save the idiot fringe from itself. Those must be left to Heaven. But more of us won’t get sick, and far fewer will die, and the freedom to walk upon the face of the Earth without fear of an invisible assassin will be restored. When that time comes we might consider how dangerous life on the planet is anyway, and how much less dangerous it will once again become owing to science and heroic healthcare workers. We might consider living life a little different from the way we did before this black swan fell on us.
It’s also true that the lunatic fringe which allowed and encouraged and enabled the attempted coup are now, some of it, so inflamed as to suggest they might be better off seceding from the USA and becoming a third world country. Even worse, there are those of us who have fought so hard for our lives and our sanity over the past four years that we might be inclined to agree with that notion.
Believe me, we’ll both get over it.
There are reasons, good reasons, to believe life will not only return to the former “normal,” which was something of an underachiever anyway, but will be better than before.
How can that be? We’ve been so slow to make good on our promise as a great nation and society up till now. How will we make it better when we just elected a vastly-lesser-of-two-evils, a neoliberal kind of guy who at the moment seems refreshingly neoliberal as opposed to being a blatant fascist? First of all, you gotta start somewhere. Second, his vice-president is much younger and remarkably competent. No, they’re not perfect. Neither were FDR and Garner/Wallace/Truman. They’re certainly not Bernie Sanders and whomever he would have picked as a running mate. But part of the promise for the future lies in the fact that there even is a Bernie Sanders, alive and well and in the Senate where he can do lots of good.
There’s more to Joe Biden, though. He’s not the hide-bound glad-handing old school politician he’s been for the past half century. He’s evolving rather nicely for a guy his age. He’s no Barack Obama, and that’s probably a good thing too. He kind of comes off feeling like Obama, because he has the simple good sense and polish to rise to meet multiple crises with cool, calm detachment, inshallah. He’ll do. After what we’ve been through for the past four years he’ll do just fine. We were knocked off our tricycle by Donald J. Trump, and we’re just now getting ready to try and ride it again. And we will, and we may even graduate to the two-wheeled version before long.
But first we have to get well. And Joe is going to help us get well, with big assistance from Kamala Harris, our very competent Vice President, who will likely take the reins when Biden hits the term limit or decides to hand the whole thing off early.
And we will be getting well. By summer. Feeling better by spring, well by summer. And yes, more people will die of this damned virus, but not at the rate they’ve been dying. In fact, as a front line healthcare worker who spends at least 40 hours each week in the belly of the beast, I’ve noticed that while we had blunted the thing by last summer, it’s back, and Thanksgiving has us back to looking at the same kind of numbers we had last spring. Not there yet, but we fully expect to be, because of Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years, after which we should be fully up to our eyes in this as we were in April and may of 2020. What’s already different, though, at least at my hospital, is that people aren’t dying on the daily like they were a few months ago. We’re learning a lot about this virus and how to treat patients who have it, and it’s a lot less tense than it was during the first wave. More patients are getting well and going home.
No, I don’t work in South Dakota. People who take some interest in their own well being tend to do better. It’s not a thrill, seeing people be so sick, but it’s not as hellish as it was before, either.
So we’ll get better, we’ll get well, we’ll come out from under the shadow of a mutant virus that was well into its killing spree before our now lame duck president caught it and acknowledged it even existed. And then he continued to minimize it and mismanage it. But he will be happy to take complete credit for the vaccine that scientists, researchers, doctors and technicians worked day and night to create. Because that’s the kind of guy he is.
“Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines because the vaccines were me and I pushed people harder than they’ve ever been pushed before.”
What kind of person says something like that? Oh yeah, the same kind who would attempt to have an entire national election thrown out because he didn’t win it. Sure, he still says he won it, but it’s all in his head, and now even the Supreme Court has said so, in so many words.
So science and our cherished institutions have both survived the viral coup and the political coup, and it’s all over but the wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC.
Yes, science and the law have pulled us back from the brink, because dedicated humans who believed in science and the law pursued things according to natural and man-made laws, and forged a very good vaccine and a historically secure election.
Speaking of that election, which was historical in other ways as well, our Black brothers and sisters brought that thing home. Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, those voters put it over the top for Biden/Harris, and ultimately for themselves and for all the People.
No wonder Donald Trump, undoubtedly the most egregious bigot to serve as President in modern times (his hero, Andrew Jackson, was no amateur, but I think Trump would run him an even race) is so upset. He lost in great part because Black America turned out the vote, and my God, the vote surely did get turned out, making this election historic in at least one other way: the greatest number of votes cast in our history, the largest number of voters for the winner (81 million and change) and even for the loser (some 74 million) which, need I point out, makes for a seven million vote margin of victory for Biden/Harris.
And now that election is absolutely secure, because the Supreme Court of the land, having processed it by means of established law, has said it is secure, and no lunatics nor devils will prevail against it. It is finished.
The fact that the Supreme Court, packed as it was with conservative justices by Donald Trump (who foolishly believed that a Supreme Court appointment would result in mutual back-scratching) chose the law over politics. And this means everything, because what they reasoned was that while their ideologies might influence how they argue for or against a given matter, they could only continue to argue for or against anything by upholding the system by which they gained their seats on that august court. While they may be, in the main (by a 6–3 margin) conservative, and while that may well influence how they decide future issues that come before them, there is a basis for the law (our Constitution) that cannot be abrogated for the sake of the ego of any one individual.
I am reminded of the 1942 George Stevens directed screwball comedy “The Talk of the Town,” in which a local ne’er-do-well anarchist (Leopold Dilg, as played brilliantly by Cary Grant) and a stodgy conservative originalist professor of law (played convincingly by Ronald Coleman) are thrown into an improbable relationship that slowly grows, due to mutual respect, into a deep bond of friendship (and for one, an appointment to the Supreme Court) and climaxes in a near-breakdown of the local social contract, resulting in a strange alliance between the far left and right in those two characters (who both wind up vying for the hand of the woman who winds up housing the both of them — in the person of Jean Arthur). The climactic courtroom scene is unnerving for a screwball comedy, one that features a brief, impassioned speech by the improved conservative professor and Supreme Court nominee to a bloodthirsty crowd. It goes like this:
“This is your law and your finest possession — it makes you free men in a free country. Why have you come here to destroy it? If you know what’s good for you, take those weapons home and burn them! And then think… think of this country and of the law that makes it what it is. Think of a world crying for this very law! And maybe you’ll understand why you ought to guard it. Why the law has got to be the personal concern of every citizen. To uphold it for your neighbor as well as yourself. Violence against it is one mistake. Another mistake is for any man to look upon the law as just a set of principles. And just so much language printed on fine, heavy paper. Something he recites and then leans back and takes it for granted that justice is automatically being done. Both kinds of men are equally wrong! The law must be engraved in our hearts and practiced every minute to the letter and spirit. It can’t even exist unless we’re willing to go down into the dust and blood and fight a battle every day of our lives to preserve it. For our neighbor as well as yourself !”
That speech, delivered by Ronald Coleman in the role of professor Michael Lightcap, who in that moment knows he may well be throwing away his chance at a seat on the Supreme Court, is my reason to believe in this entire system of ours, upheld by the rule of law and by people “willing to go down in the dust and blood and fight a battle every day of our lives to preserve it.”
Pretty heavy stuff for a screwball comedy, huh?
There is another speech, delivered by the scientist Archimedes in about 230 BC, when he discovered (for lack of a better word) the law of physics which states that a body totally or partially immersed in a fluid is subject to an upward force equal in magnitude to the weight of fluid it displaces. Why did this even matter? Because Archimedes had been directed by King Helero to determine scientifically whether or not a goldsmith had adulterated the gold in a crown made for Helero, with silver. Archimedes was pondering how to determine this, and it came to him while taking his bath, when he noted that his stepping into the tub displaced a certain amount of water, which then spilled onto the floor. Trust me, this all works. And at that moment, Archimedes was so excited by his discovery that he leaped from the tub and ran naked into the street shouting “Eureka!” (Greek for “I have found it!”).
I’m not saying anybody working for Pfizer ran into the street naked when it was determined they had an effective vaccine for the novel coronavirus (“corona” — “crown.” See what happened there?) but I feel certain some of us felt like doing just that.
There is one more arcane term that applies to both the events of the past 24 hours, and that is the very thing in which we must believe:
Deus ex machina.
Now, on to Georgia.