Archive for the ‘Coronavirus/COVID-19’ Category

COVID-19, Vaccinations, Moral Responsibility, and Mutuality   3 comments

WEAR FACE MASKS!  GET FULLY VACCINATED!

I admit without reluctance that my theological and spiritual frame of reference comes from Judaism and Christianity.  I am a Christian–a left-of-center Episcopalian, to be precise.  I, as a Christian, stand on the spiritual shoulders of Jews, my elder siblings in faith, to borrow a term from Pope John Paul II.  Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament teach the ethics of mutuality.  Whatever one person does affects others.  When people live together in community and society, they are responsible to and for each other.  They have a moral mandate to look out for each other.

As I write these words, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives.  All of the deaths attributable to the virus to this point have been preventable.  Likewise, all the deaths attributable to this virus from this moment forward also (will) fall into the category “preventable.”  I suspect that the official death count is low, compared to reality.  The actual death count may remain unknown.  Regardless of what the actual death count will be and whether it turns out to be relatively low, relatively high, or accurate, it will be too high and entirely preventable.

The bad news continues.  The Delta Variant accounts for most new diagnosed cases in the United States of America.  The Lambda Variant, from Peru, is now in Canada.  The absurdity of vaccine hesitancy in the United States of America is obvious in the context of desperation for effective vaccines in most of the rest of the world.  Few or no vaccines are available in many countries, and many delusional Americans remain hesitant.  The current surge in Delta Variant cases in the United States is almost entirely among the unvaccinated.  Many Americans can easily get vaccinated, at no cost to themselves, and do not do so.  They endanger the rest of us, as well as themselves.

Whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.  This is a law of the universe.

My version of mutuality is openly Theistic.  It exists in the context of complete human dependence on God.  Nevertheless, even an intellectually honest atheist can grasp that whatever he or she does affects others, and vice versa.  Mutuality, divorced from Theism, makes sense, from the perspective of enlightened self-interest.  Sin and human psychology, however, predispose people to act against their self-interest and the common good.

I really dislike needles.  Nevertheless, I dislike preventable diseases more.  I can, from time to time, sit in a pharmacy or a health clinic, turn my head, close my eyes, and endure injections of life-saving vaccines.  I have done so.  I intend to do so again, as necessary.

I really dislike wearing face masks.  Yet I carry one with me whenever I go out in public.  I also wear a mask inside any store.  I do so without complaint, for I understand the importance of the common good, especially during a pandemic.  I yearn for the day that wearing face masks in public will not be necessary.

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is a delusional and morally irresponsible position.  (For that matter, vaccine hesitancy any time it endangers anyone is morally irresponsible.)  I refer not to those who are too young for vaccination, lack access to an effective vaccine, and must forgo vaccination due to medical issues.  I refer to those who can get vaccinated and choose not to do so.  They are candidates for the Darwin Awards.  They also endanger the rest of us, including the fully-vaccinated.

I am one of the fully-vaccinated.  I have a record of my two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  I assume that a booster shot will eventually be necessary.  So be it.  Why would a booster shot not be necessary eventually?  I recall having to get revaccinated against various diseases.  Anyhow, my status as a fully-vaccinated person means that I carry much protection against COVID-19 within my body.  No protection is 100 percent, though.  Just as my decision to get fully vaccinated protects others, the decisions of many other people to get fully vaccinated protects me.  Likewise, the decisions of many other people not to get vaccinated or to get partially vaccinated endangers me.

I have strong opinions about such people.  The unfiltered version of those opinions is not fit for repetition on this weblog.

My message to all people regarding face masks is:  Wear masks when doing so is necessary and proper.

My message to all people who are fully-vaccinated is:  Thank you!  Thank you very much!

My message to all who people who can get fully vaccinated yet refuse to do so is:  What the hell is your damage?  Certain politicians and medical professionals have to be diplomatic in this matter.  I do not, and am not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 21, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted July 21, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Coronavirus/COVID-19

Tagged with , ,

The Present, the Past, the Future, Truth, and Reconciliation   Leave a comment

Yesterday was July 1–Canada Day.

Today is July 2, the actual anniversary of the declaration of the independence of thirteen rebellious colonies from the British Empire in 1776.  The Second Continental Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence two days later.  On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote enthusiastically to his wife Abigail that July 2 would become a great holiday.

During the last year or so, Canada has been confronting proverbial demons from its past that affect its present and future.  Canada has been wrestling with its shameful record of cultural and physical genocide of the First Nations, at residential schools, in particular.  The reputation of the already-troublesome (and corrupt) Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), one of the founders of Canada, the first Prime Minister of Canada, and one of the founders of the system of residential schools–has come under critical scrutiny, to state reality mildly.  Some portion of Canadian society, especially on the Right, has not taken this well.

Down here, in the United States of America, we, as a population, have been experiencing similar turmoil in relation to institutionalized racism, police brutality, and other negative marks on our past and present.  Some portion of our populace, especially on the Right, has not taken this well, hence hostility to Critical Race Theory (CRT), for example.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Canada Day Address from yesterday struck a chord with me:

Today, we celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home. We also reflect on everything we have accomplished, and look forward to what more we have to do.

The pandemic has changed our daily lives, taught us hard lessons, and kept us apart. But through this challenge and crisis, Canadians were there for each other. We all – young and old – made personal sacrifices to help keep our communities safe and healthy. We put signs in our windows and banged pots and pans for our front-line health care workers. We ordered takeout and shopped at our local small businesses. And once vaccines became available, we got our shots as soon as possible, so our communities could return to normal.

Hope, hard work, kindness, resilience, and respect. These are the values that Canadians have shown in the face of the pandemic, and today we should celebrate those values and what we’ve overcome. But while we acknowledge our successes, we must also recognize that, for some, Canada Day is not yet a day of celebration.

The horrific findings of the remains of hundreds of children at the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan have rightfully pressed us to reflect on our country’s historical failures, and the injustices that still exist for Indigenous peoples and many others in Canada. We as Canadians must be honest with ourselves about our past. And we must recognize that here in Canada there are still people who don’t feel safe walking the streets of their communities, who still don’t have the same opportunities as others, and who still face discrimination or systemic racism in their daily lives.

While we can’t change the past, we must be resolute in confronting these truths in order to chart a new and better path forward. Together, we have a long way to go to make things right with Indigenous peoples. But if we all pledge to do the work – and if we lead with those core values of hard work, kindness, resilience, and respect – we can achieve reconciliation and build a better Canada for everyone.

What makes Canada special is not the belief that this is the best country in the world, but the knowledge that we could be. And whether it’s finishing the fight against COVID-19, tackling the climate crisis, or walking the path of reconciliation, I know there is no challenge too great, if we face it together. Because the progress we’ve made as a country didn’t happen by accident, and it won’t continue without effort.

This Canada Day, let’s recommit to learning from and listening to each other so we can break down the barriers that divide us, rectify the injustices of our past, and build a more fair and equitable society for everyone. Together, we will roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that is necessary to build a better Canada.

From my family to yours, happy Canada Day.

I am from the Deep South, the heart of the former Confederate States of America.  The lie of the Lost Cause thrives, sometimes under official protection of state governments.  Quoting pro-slavery documents, such as the inaugural address of Jefferson Davis, the Cornerstone Speech of Alexander Hamilton Stephens, and the secession declarations of states does not change the minds of many people, committed to the lie of the Lost Cause.  My family tree includes at least on Confederate Army veteran from Virginia and at least one Confederate state senator from Georgia.

The state senator from Fort Gaines, Georgia, was also a deacon in the Fort Gaines Baptist Church, and a slaveholder.  During the Civil War, the State of Georgia conscripted slave labor to build up and maintain fortifications.  The state also promised to pay the slaveholders for the slaves’ work.  (Nobody paid the slaves, of course.)  The state senator was one of the affected slaveholders.  A letter he wrote to Governor Joseph Brown has survived.  In this correspondence, the state senator complained that the state was delinquent in paying him for his slaves’ labor.  I read the text of the letter in a book about the Civil War in southwest Georgia and southeast Alabama.

I sympathize with the slaves, not the state senator.

Most opposition to facing the past honestly stems from discomfort with the implications of doing so.  If many of our ancestors were total bastards, what does that make us?  We like to think ourselves as good people.  We also like to think our ancestors as good people.  Many of them were good people.  Many of them were also vile racists, imperialists, slaveholders, and other types of sinners.  If any nation or society is to move forward, toward a more just nation or society, it must acknowledge its past–positive and negative–honestly.  It must stand on the ground of objective reality and admit to the better angels and the demons of the past and present.  Only then can the nation or society move forward into a better, more just future.

Happy belated Canada Day!  Happy birthday, U.S.A.!  May we admit that recognition of the truth must precede reconciliation and progress toward justice.  May we recognize the truth, reconcile, and progress toward justice.  That will work toward the common good.  That will be patriotic and moral.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Human Depravity   6 comments

Human depravity is not an article of faith for me.  No, it is a matter of proven fact.  I do not need faith with regard to any matter I can prove or disprove, objectively.

I come from a particular theological context.  I am a Christian–a Western Christian, not an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  (Original sin is not a doctrine in Eastern Orthodoxy.)  I am, to be precise, a left-of-center Episcopalian.  I am an Anglican in the inclusive, collegial sense of that word, not the recent, Donatistic, homophobic sense of “Anglican.”  I am a fan of the Enlightenment, without being uncritical of its excesses.  I am Neo-Orthodox.   I stand at the conjunction of Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism.  I am too Roman Catholic to consider myself a Protestant and too Protestant to “cross the Tiber.”  I hold that sacred music in Western Christianity achieved its pinnacle in Roman Catholicism during the Counter-Reformation.  I take the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “seamless cloth” to its logical, most inclusive conclusion; hence I support equal protection under the law for anyone with a pulse.  I do not know how best to enact that principle, and suspect that the effectiveness of certain government actions with regard to abortion is extremely limited.  I am, without apology, an intellectual who accepts science.  I consider Evangelicalism and all varieties of fundamentalism too narrow, and universalism too broad.  I describe myself as a liberal, despite the Right Wing’s demonization of that word.  Politically, I stand generally to the left, but sometimes lean to the right.  The Left Wing is, in most respects, consistent with my Judeo-Christian values.  Elements of both the Left and the Right alarm and appall me.  In 2021, in the United States of America, the Right Wing terrifies me, especially with its increasing embrace of authoritarianism and unfounded conspiracy theories.

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the dark side of human nature.  I belong to that throng which looks on in horror and disbelief as widespread denial of objective reality continues to manifest in people.  Enlightenment ideas about human rationality and nobility meet their match in this context.  More than a quarter of the Republican Party accepts aspects of the QAnon movement, according to a recent poll. I do not know how anyone could have continued to deny the reality of the pandemic well into the pandemic last year, or to do so today.  Yet many people have, and do.  Many people and certain governments have shunned–and continue to shun–basic human consideration in public health policy, somehow politicized.

Why do innocent and good people suffer?  Usually, they do so because of their malicious and/or oblivious neighbors and governments.

Evidence for human depravity abounds.  I do not need to have faith to accept the reality of human depravity.  No, I need merely to pay attention.  What else am I supposed to think when members of the United States Congress refer to insurrectionists from January 6, 2021, as tourists and block a bipartisan commission?  What else am I supposed to think when certain state governments, embracing lies, restrict voting rights and, in Orwellian terms, speak of enhancing the security of elections?

May God save us from ourselves and each other.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Vaccines and Face Masks   10 comments

As an old saying goes, there is good news and there is bad news.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate much of the world.  The United States of America is faring better than most nation-states, but a portion of our population eligible for vaccination refuses to get vaccinated.  I do not understand these people.  I do not want to understand these people.  The Biden Administration deserves high praise for taking the pandemic as seriously as is necessary and proper.  Leadership matters.

Given the recent changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding face masks, I have altered my habits slightly.  I, fully vaccinated, do not wear masks outdoors as often as I used to do.  If nobody else is around outdoors, for example, I wear no face masks.  I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes, though.  And I still wear two face masks inside stores.  Children younger than twelve years old are not eligible for vaccination yet.  Many people who are at least twelve years old have medical conditions that mean they should not get vaccinated yet.  Mutuality guides my thinking.  We are all responsible to and for each other.  My rights stop at someone else’s nose, so to speak, just as the other person’s rights stop at my nose.  I accept my responsibility to protect not only myself but others.

The sooner more people accept their responsibility and act accordingly, the sooner this pandemic will end.  Then we can put away our face masks while obeying the demands of moral accountability to each other and God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted May 17, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Coronavirus/COVID-19

Tagged with ,

Face Masks   Leave a comment

MUTUALITY, PUBLIC SAFETY, TUCKER CARLSON, AND THE FOX NOISE CHANNEL

As circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed, so has official guidance.  For example, now that vaccines for people aged 16 years or older have become more widely available in the United States of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks in public.  This pandemic has presented many challenges.  Public health professionals, whose sole agenda is to save lives, have had to study a proverbial moving target.  Hence, official guidelines have changed over time.

The target continues to move.  Therefore, data remains incomplete.  We need to remember that as we focus on what we can know in real time.  We can know much.  Whether the situation improves or worsens and how quickly it does that depends greatly on how we behave as individuals, societies, institutions, and governments.  May we not squander blessed progress.

Tucker Carlson, of the FOX Noise Channel, has encouraged people who think as he does to confront those still wearing face masks outdoors.  I have learned to expect especially potent and rich organic fertilizer from the FOX Noise Channel and from Carlson, in particular.  They have long presented themselves as champions of freedom, of a sort–freedom from, not freedom to.  During the last four or so years, in particular, the FOX Noise Channel has actually embraced a Nativistic, White nationalistic, and fascistic agenda as part of Donald Trump’s fascistic death cult of personality.  Even certain prominent Republicans (principled conservatives, I call them), former office holders, have noticed this with great alarm.

Fascism is not freedom.  No, it is a form of tyranny.

I am fully vaccinated.  Therefore, according to the most recent official guidance, I may safely and responsibly forgo wearing face masks outdoors under certain circumstances.  Sometimes I do forgo wearing face masks outdoors.  If, for example, nobody else is around, I do not wear face masks outdoors.  Yet I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes.  For example, I wear them when walking on sidewalks.  I try to maintain a social distance from other people, but that is not always possible.  Besides, assuming that someone is at least 16 years old, I cannot look at him or her and tell if he or she is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or fully vaccinated.  By wearing two face masks, I am not endangering anyone, corrupting anyone’s morals, or behaving indecently.  Therefore, nobody has the moral right to confront me for wearing two face masks outdoors.

I leave Carlson and company at the FOX Noise Channel to their fascistic death cult of personality.  If they want to compete for the Darwin Awards, that is their choice.  It is a bad one, but it is still their option.  I have the moral right to object when thew spew organic fertilizer that needlessly endangers human lives.

Perhaps I really do not have to wear two face masks when walking on sidewalks..  If I err, I hope to do so on the side of caution and mutuality.  This is part of my applied interpretation of the Golden Rule.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fully Vaccinated   10 comments

As of today, I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Today marks two weeks since I received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  Until such time as I may need a booster dose, I am 95% protected.

I thank God that effective vaccines against COVID-19 exist.  I also thank God that all those who helped to make this possible did do.  And I thank God that all of we mere ordinary citizens who have become vaccinated have done so.  Public health experts consistently say that getting as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible is crucial to ending the pandemic.

Yet some people stick their proverbial heads into equally proverbial holes in the sand.  Some deny that the pandemic is real.  I recall an unpleasant encounter I had in August 2020, while working for the Census Bureau.

I was wearing a face mask, in accordance with Census Bureau policy.  It was a nondescript face mask.  I knocked on a door.  The man who opened the door was a far-right-wing conspiracy nut who told me that the face mask I wore “represented Satan.”  Neither did he want to answer any Census questions.

Some stick their proverbial heads into equally proverbial holes in the sand.  Some do this on the basis of misplaced distrust of expertise.  Experts in a field know more about that field than those who have not done what is necessary to become experts in that field.  Expertise deserves respect, not emotional and anti-intellectual misplaced populism.  The informed opinion of an expert should matter more than the uninformed opinion of a man or woman “on the street.”

Yes, I know that some vaccines carry temporary side effects.  The shingles vaccine, I hear, really does.  Yet the disease in question is worse than any side effects.  And many side effects are exceedingly rare.  Statistics should matter more than isolated anecdotes.  I report that I had soreness at the injection site for about 24 hours following my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  I also report my side effects after the second dose.  I report that I had soreness at the injection site for about 48 hours, and that, on the day following that dose, I had to take an unplanned nap.

In an age of anti-intellectual, anti-science populism, anecdotes and half-baked memes cloud the thinking of many people.  This is extremely perilous during a pandemic.  Objective reality remains objective reality, even though many people do not believe in it.  The COVID-19 virus continues to mutate, as viruses do.  Speeding up the rate of vaccinations is crucial.  That is not all that is crucial.  We–governments, corporations, small businesses, communities, congregations, individuals, et cetera–all need to behave responsibly.  Policies need to be morally responsible and grounded in science.  I practice social distancing and wear two masks in public.  I may even wear two masks in public when doing so is not necessary.  If I err on the side of safety in this matter, so be it.  That is better than erring on the side of danger.

We all belong to God and each other.  Mutuality, built into the Law of Moses, informs my morality.  We are all responsible to and for each other.  And we are all accountable to God.  Wearing two face masks in public at this time is consistent with my interpretation of the Golden Rule.  And, during this pandemic, I accept temporary upper arm soreness and an unplanned nap as small prices to pay for acting according to the Golden Rule.  I refuse to be a selfish cry-baby.  Besides, COVID-19 is far worse than any temporary side effect of a vaccine.

Many people cannot get vaccinated yet.  Some have a medical reason.  Others are too young.  Others seek and cannot get an appointment.  Many people have difficulty getting to a vaccination site.  And other people live in places where no vaccine is available.  Those fortunate enough to be able to get an appointment, are old enough, have no medical reason not to get vaccinated, are legally eligible, and have yet to get vaccinated have a moral obligation to get vaccinated as soon as possible.  This is for the common good.

Despite being one of the fully-vaccinated people, I remain more comfortable worshiping in front of a computer screen, at least for a while.  My parish now offers two in-person worship services on Sunday mornings.  There are strict rules.  For example, attendees must register, masks are mandatory, and people are spaced apart.  Also, there is a limit on attendance at each service.  I feel less stress sitting alone in front of a computer monitor at home.  I can also say the Prayer of Spiritual Communion.  For a while yet, I will maintain a different type of social distancing while worshiping.

Yet knowing that have 95% protection reduces my pandemic stress load.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Act Responsibly (Especially During a Pandemic)   Leave a comment

I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR FOOLS WHO ENDANGER THE LIVES OF OTHERS NEEDLESSLY.

One of the most counterproductive and socially irresponsible aspects of human psychology is the tendency to protect one’s ego at the expense of being objectively correct.  When admitting error may endanger one’s self-image, one may double down on the objectively false idea.  This tendency, reinforced the declining number of common media outlets, increases the number of opportunities for indulging confirmation bias.

I am glad to report that, so far, I have avoided contracting COVID-19.  I have worn masks in public.  I have been wearing two masks since the day I read that advice online.  I have received my first Pfizer vaccine.  I have been waiting for the scheduled date of my second shot to arrive.  

Many people make me angry during this pandemic.  Damn fools who defy the advice of public health experts and do not practice social distancing raise my ire.  Politicians who behave irresponsibly–by easing restrictions or not imposing them, in defiance of the best public health advice–are paving their roads to Hell, I am convinced.  People who mistake not wearing masks, at least not properly, for taking a principled stand on civil liberties endanger themselves and other people.  Those who, in the name of politics, refuse to take a crucial vaccine when it is available are competing for the Darwin Awards, too.  And those who, citing immoral medical experiments of the past, refuse to take a necessary vaccine when it is available are like generals fighting an earlier war and misapplying lessons from the previous war to the current one.

Whatever I do affects others.  Whatever you, O reader, do affects others.  Mutuality is a societal reality and a pillar of the Law of Moses.  Those who compete for the Darwin Awards act irresponsibly.  They endanger themselves, bearers of the image of God, needlessly.  They also put other people at risk needlessly.  In this case, acting for the common good entails wearing a mask or masks in public, maintaining social distancing, and getting vaccinated when possible, unless one has already become fully vaccinated.  Depending on circumstances, acting for the common good during this pandemic may entail other actions, too, of course.  

I am tired of this pandemic.  I do not enjoy wearing masks.  I dislike needles.  Yet I wear two masks in public.  Yet I, having gotten jabbed once already, have a scheduled date to get jabbed again.  This is not about what I want to do.  No, this is about what I have a moral imperative to do.

So, to those who insist on denying the reality of the virus and/or not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated, I ask:

What is your damage?

I ask the same question to politicians with the power to enact responsible policy yet choose not to do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Neanderthal Thinking” and “Reptilian Bastards”   Leave a comment

I vaguely recall a news story from decades ago.  Certain legislative Republicans were cutting the budget for Public Defenders.  One critic–an attorney–described these legislators as “reptilian bastards.”  He received criticism from offended Republicans.  I thought that the attorney had severely insulted reptiles of dubious parentage by comparing them to people who wanted to gut the budget for Public Defenders.

This week, the Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced that they were about to lift their states’ mask mandate.  President Biden described these decisions as “Neanderthal thinking.”  In so doing, he offended many Republicans and, no doubt, Creationists.  The objective reality of human evolution aside, “Neanderthal thinking” may have insulted Neanderthals by comparing them to the Governors of Texas and Mississippi.  

The President’s criticism is legitimate, though.  Human lives are at stake.  These governors have blood on their hands.  They will have more blood on their hands.  On this side of Heaven, may voters render their damning verdicts on them.  I would call these governors “reptilian bastards,” except for the risk of insulting lizards.

Regarding language, if this is about as intemperate as off-the-cuff presidential remarks get during the Biden years, I can live with that.  “Neanderthal thinking” is a far cry from inciting violence, stoking racism, and encouraging conspiracy theories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Worst and Most Dangerous President of the United States of America   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of the President

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Donald Trump was the worst and the most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Before I elaborate on that statement, I offer some preliminary thoughts.  My training is in historical methodology.  My operational bias is, in almost all circumstances, to let time pass before I make historical conclusions.  The main difference between journalism and history is temporal perspective.  History is the interpretation of the past, based on documentary evidence.  (Writing is the difference between prehistory and history.)  I suspect that the United States is in the process of political realignment and the creation of the Eighth Party System.  I cannot assert that argument yet, for I need to let a sufficient amount of time pass first.  I need to see the results of a few elections, spread out over at least a decade.  I need to see if the Republican Party will split and what it will become, too.

I have long been a student of the American Presidency.  I can recite the Presidents in order, with dates and party affiliations.  I have also taught myself the names and sequence of Vice Presidents.  

I rank a few Presidents (mostly from the 1800s) at the bottom of the barrel.  These are, in chronological order:

  1. John Tyler (1841-1845),
  2. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853),
  3. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857),
  4. James Buchanan (1857-1861),
  5. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), and
  6. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923).

Harding had enough self-awareness to admit in private, in the White House, that he was not fit for the Presidency.  He had more self-awareness than Donald Trump.

Richard Nixon (1969-1974) had many great accomplishments on his record.  Yet he engaged in criminal activities, had a dirty tricks squad, and prompted a constitutional crisis.  His attitude that whatever the President did was legal was antithetical to republican government, but not to Republican government.  (The same theory was prominent in the George W. Bush Administration.)  Nevertheless, Nixon had enough self-awareness to resign on August 9, 1974.

Despite my preference for letting time pass before arriving at certain historical conclusions, I have enough evidence to state confidently that Donald Trump was the worst and most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump committed many varieties of official perfidy.  He sought to destroy democratic institutions.  He stirred up white supremacist violence.  He violated federal election tampering laws.  He violated election tampering laws in Georgia, my state.  He gutted essential expertise in the federal government.  He spread lies and debunked conspiracy theories daily.  He bungled the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, costing many thousands of lives.  He cozied up to dictators and alienated democratic allies.  He ignored Russian bounties on the lives of U.S. servicemen in combat overseas.  Oh, and Trump launched an insurrection against the federal government on January 6, 2021.  If that is not an offense worthy of impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate, I do not know what is.

Even though the new Biden Administration has been exhibiting competence, as well as respect for democratic norms, we, as a nation-state, are not out of the woods yet.  Trump is properly vulnerable to criminal prosecution in multiple jurisdictions.  Nobody should be above the law, after all.  Trump is beginning to face his reckoning.  Yet Trump cultists continue to endanger the republic.  Trump is mortal, but his movement will outlive him.

President Biden wants to be an agent of national reconciliation.  I hope he can be.  The desire to be an empathetic reconciler is a necessary and laudable first step.  Biden has the grief and the empathy to function as an agent of national reconciliation during a time of national trauma.  He has buried a wife and two children.  And Biden is a decent man.  We, as a nation-state, need a Reconciler-in-Chief.  But Biden can be only as effective in this role as other people permit him to be.  And many people are not ready for reconciliation.

President Biden has a very difficult job; he has to be the shovel brigade for the ultimate elephant.  I pray for him and do not envy him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Perilous Times (II)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Cover of a Germane Novel

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We live in perilous times.  The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming worse.  Yes, vaccination has begun, but human irresponsibility has continued.  Donald Trump has been fanning the flames of discredited conspiracy theories about alleged theft of the presidential election of 2020.  According to public opinion polls, the vast majority of self-identified Republicans has drunk that Kool-Aid.  And, two days ago, in the Oval Office, criminal and retired General Michael Flynn, standing in the Oval Office, proposed the use of martial law to overturn the allegedly stolen election.

All of this makes the plots of the British and American versions of House of Cards seem tame by comparison.

Father Sollace “Mike” Freeman, a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, has written a novel, published at the end of summer.  I started reading this story shortly after the press counted electoral votes and declared Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., the President-Elect.  In the novel, the unnamed President of the United States (presumably Trump) has narrowly lost his bid for a second term to Governor Jennifer England.  The President spends most of the novel undermining the election results and engaging in criminal activities for the purpose of securing a second term.  The President-Elect must resort to drastic measures to maintain the constitutional system.

Father Mike’s narrative does not seem unrealistic, given current events. 

We live in perilous times.  I will feel much better at 12:01 p.m. next January 20.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++