Archive for the ‘Joe Biden’ Tag

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

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

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Historical Reality, Collective Denial, Political Inconvenience, and Truth-Telling   3 comments

THE SINS OF THE FATHERS

Today, on the calendar of The Episcopal Church, is Genocide Remembrance.

Today, President Biden called the Armenian Genocide a genocide.  It was a genocide, objectively.  Turkish denial, as old as that genocide, has continued.  Furthermore, the authoritarian government of Turkey has issued its predictable objection of President Biden’s simple act of telling the truth.

Admitting unpleasant truths about national and regional sins can be extremely difficult.  I know.  Witness my country, the United States of America.  We are a country founded partially on slave labor and on the racism that enabled slavery.  Anyone who thinks that the legacy of slavery ended in 1865 is a fool.  And anyone who imagines that racism is dead in the United States of America is willfully oblivious.  Yet much of the U.S. Right Wing seeks to minimize or deny these truths.  

I am also a Southerner, although one may be hard-pressed to detect that, based on my accent.  The Lost Cause of the Confederacy–that slavery was incidental to secession and the Civil War–is, to borrow a term from Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), a “damn lie.”  Documentary evidence from 1860-1861 indicates this.  One may read, for example, the “Cornerstone Speech” of Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens (March 1861), which indicates that race-based slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederate States of America.  One may also notice a change in writings and statements after Confederate defeat, when leading former Confederates minimized the role of slavery.  Yet the Lost Cause of the Confederacy persists.

What is going on in all three cases?  We human beings like to think of ourselves as good people.  We also like to think of our ancestors as good people.  But admitting that our ancestors committed genocide, condoned slavery, or were vile racists and segregationists seems to call our character into question.  God does not visit the sins of the fathers upon members of subsequent generations.  (Ezekiel 18 contradicts Exodus 20:5-6).  We do that ourselves, by not admitting what members of previous generations did, and how those sins have benefited us.  Telling the truth is cleansing.  It sets us free.  First, however, we need to get over our discomfort with the truth.  Only then can reconciliation become possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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“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

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Donald Trump, Criminal Liability, and Invertebrate Republican Senators   Leave a comment

Above:  An Illustration of the Human Spinal Column

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARACTER IS DESTINY.

Wikipedia is a notoriously unreliable source of information.  It is especially vulnerable to creative editing for politically partisan purposes, for example.  And I recall catching Wikipedia being objectively inaccurate.  Ironically, especially regarding Babylon 5 and saints, Wikipedia cites me now.  Oh well.  

Anyhow, a few years ago, someone went on Wikipedia and classified then-Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan as an invertebrate.  That was funny and metaphorically accurate.  

Many Republican United States Senators are either political cultists or political invertebrates.  This is why the verdict in Donald Trump’s second–count it–SECOND–Senate trial is a fait accompli, unfortunately.  Somebody should edit the Wikipedia articles of the 44 Senators who voted that the second Senate trial is unconstitutional and classify them as invertebrates.  If doing what Trump did on January 6, 2021, does not call for conviction in a trial in the Senate, nothing does.  Certain Republican Senators need to grow spines and/or cease to drink the Kool-Aid.  

Aside:  I know, Jim Jones was too cheap to purchase Kool-Aid.  He actually bought Flavor Aid.  Yet the idiom is “to drink the Kool-Aid.”

Trump has caused his own political undoing.  He has also placed himself in legal jeopardy in multiple jurisdictions.  In my state, Georgia, for example, the Office of the Secretary of State and the District Attorney of Fulton County are conducting criminal investigations of Trump.  One may also think of the federal Southern District of New York and the Attorney General of New York, who have Trump in their crosshairs.  Furthermore, given how many governors and other state officials in various states Trump called in his attempts to subvert democracy and steal an election he lost, he may have violated election laws in more than one state.  

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, huh?

Meanwhile, I think about the stories I do not hear about President Joseph Biden.  Biden does not issue incendiary tweets.  He does not retweet conspiracy theories.  Biden apparently keeps a fairly rigorous schedule, unlike the lackadaisical Trump.  Trump has set the bar so low that I find myself praising a President of the United States for not retweeting conspiracy theories.  

I have vague memories of Jimmy Carter as President.  I have clear memories of Carter’s six immediate successors as Presidents–Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump–and now, for not quite a month, Joseph Biden..  I disapprove of and disagree profoundly with most of those six immediate successors.  I consider all of them, except to Trump, to be patriots, though.  I think of five of those six immediate successors–Trump excluded–as sober-minded men who took the office of the Presidency seriously and knew that it was about the country, not them. 

That said, Clinton should have resigned.  I voted for the man twice, but I write here that he should have resigned.  Doing so may have spared this country the George W. Bush Administration, with its warmongering.  The tragedy (in the Greek sense of tragedy) of Bill Clinton is that he wasted his potential and squandered the opportunity for greatness by being undisciplined.  But he never threatened to undermine the republic and to steal a presidential election, at least.  Clinton, despite his faults, many of them personal, never sent an armed mob to invade the United States Capitol and to endanger the lives of the Capitol Police, members of the United States Congress, staffers, and children.  

As I have written at this weblog, I eschew political cults of personality.  I stand for principles, not particular individuals, at all costs.  For the record, I stand to the left of Clinton, Obama, and Biden.  I am not a political absolutist, though.  

Finis origine pendet.

(The end depends upon the beginning.)

That is a Latin expression applicable to Trump’s current predicament.  Here is another germane expression:

Character is destiny.

–Heraclitis

Donald Trump is the sole author of his political and legal fate.  No amount of blame-shifting and conspiracy-mongering can alter that fact.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 10, 2021 COMMON ERA

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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

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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

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Perilous Times (II)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Cover of a Germane Novel

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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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

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Political Statement–November 8, 2020   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the United States of America

Image in the Public Domain

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I, as one trained in historical methodology, prefer to think, speak, and write in the past tenses.  This tendency spills over into the rest of my life.  Therefore, when thinking, speaking, and writing of an episode of a completed series, for example, I do so from the perspective of one looking at the past.  I also place that episode in context of that series, for context is key to interpretation.  I know this from my historical training.  This is how I think, speak, and write.  To expect me to do otherwise is to expect me to be someone other than myself.

Many people have attempted to transform me into someone other than myself.  All of them have failed.  They have not transformed me into a fundamentalist, a social-cultural historian, or anything else I find repugnant.  I have maintained my integrity as myself, sometimes at a high cost.  I have decided to accept the advice (ironic within the context of Hamlet),

This above all:  to thine own self be true

And it must follow, as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I have long been reluctant to issue statements about unfolding events.  I have wanted to watch them play out before commenting on them.  I have had opinions, of course.  I have “cussed and discussed” in private.  And I have kept almost all of that between God and myself.

Today, however, I am ready to make the following statements, in no particular order:

  1. I continue to reject debunked conspiracy theories and those who peddle them.  I reject the vast majority of conspiracy theories anyway.  I prefer Ockham’s Razor and have a healthy respect for objective reality.
  2. I reject politicians and pundits (especially Donald Trump and cultists thereof) who lie at least every other time they speak or tweet.
  3. Donald Trump and cultists thereof are menaces to the republic.
  4. Counting votes cast within the scope of the law is crucial to the democratic system.  Doing so is not a threat to that system.  If counting votes in a state in which one’s preferred candidate is winning is okay, so should counting votes in a state in which one’s preferred candidate is losing.
  5. Presidents of the United States of America come and go.  The United States of America persists.
  6. Nobody who uses totalitarian language and tactics (certainly not routinely) is worthy to be the President of the United States of America.
  7. Remember that members of the United States military swear loyalty to the Constitution, not the President, of the United States of America.
  8. As many leading Republicans lament, voter suppression has become a major tactic within that party.  Whenever a political party’s base keeps shrinking, that party’s responsible path forward, for the sake of the country, is to broaden its base, not seek to decrease the number of voters.
  9. The United States of America will be stronger when both major parties accept objective reality, including science, such as that of climate change and COVID-19.
  10. People are entitled to their own opinions, but never to their own facts.  Objective reality is what it is.
  11. The United States of America should have a finely-honed election infrastructure.
  12. Given the Electoral College and the state (Georgia) in which I reside, my vote may count this year–for the only time since 1992, my first Presidential election.
  13. I support the abolition of the Electoral College.  Every vote should count.  I grant that this is easy for me to write, given that the Democratic Presidential nominee has won the popular vote in every election from 1992 to 2020, except for 2004.  I also note that the Democratic Presidential nominee lost the election in 2000 and 2016.  Furthermore, I acknowledge that John Kerry would have become President, despite coming in second place in the popular vote count, in 2005 if he had carried Ohio in 2004.  I try to avoid hypocrisy.  “Every vote should count” is a mater of principle for me.
  14. Bigotry should have no place in electoral politics.  It does, unfortunately.
  15. I have spent most of the last four years tuning out the news most of the time.  My refuges have included cat videos, Bible studies, hagiographies, and science fiction.  I have tuned out most of the news to preserve my spiritual and emotional health.  I may pay more attention to the news on a regular basis soon, if the political atmosphere becomes less toxic.
  16. I stand by every statement I have made about Donald Trump on this and other weblogs I maintain.
  17. I anticipate the administration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.  I do not envy them, however.  They have their work cut out for them.
  18. This country and the world will suffer from the effects of the Trump Administration for a very long time.
  19. Whenever a political party becomes indistinguishable from a religious cult, something has gone terribly wrong.
  20. I, as a matter of principle, refrain from participating in a political cult.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Political Empathy and Wisdom (and the Absence Thereof)   2 comments

On the Duty of a President of the United States to Be the Consoler-in-Chief

May we praise those elected officials and candidates for elective office who act wisely and with empathy as we condemn those who act to the contrary.  And, when the time to decide for whom to vote arrives, may we reckon wisdom and empathy as credit to those who possess them, just as we properly lambaste and vote against those who lack them.

I realize that empathy is not a constitutional requirement for Presidents of the United States, but I also argue that voters the right to insist upon it.  Presidents with whom I have generally agreed with with whom I have generally disagreed have mastered the role of Consoler-in-Chief.  In the wake of a hurricane in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lyndon Baines Johnson carried a flash light one night and knocked on doors, to greet his fellow citizens in distress.  Ronald Reagan consoled the nation after the explosion of the Challenger.  He used Peggy Noonan’s words, of course, but he had empathy.  Besides, Presidents have had speech writers for a long time.  Bill Clinton was a fine Consoler-in-Chief after the terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Barack Obama led the congregation in “Amazing Grace” at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, after the racist shooting there.  Excelling as Consoler-in-Chief used to be a standard part of being the President of the United States.

Donald Trump is a self-absorbed and immature little man.  He should think about the country and the world first, not about himself.  The contrast between he and Joseph Biden is stark.  Biden, who has buried his first wife and some of this children, understands grief.  When he says he knows grief, he speaks accurately.  He also speaks with empathy.  Biden looks presidential.  He is already the Consoler-in-Chief.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Realism in Politics and Policy   2 comments

I am, like most of my fellow Democrats, contemplating which candidate to prefer during the upcoming primary season next year.  The number of fine candidates is numerous.  Even the not-so-fine candidates are better on their worst days than Donald Trump is on his best days.

I have been reading about some of the candidates.  I have been reading at websites for which experts in domestic and foreign policy write.  A recurring theme, especially regarding Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, has been realism.  Warren, according to a longtime friend quoted in an article, has manifested a

data-driven worldview,

and changed her mind to fit the facts.  Biden, according to foreign policy writer James Traub, has demonstrated a realistic, not ideological, foreign policy.

I do not expect responsible policy-makers to remain consistent if consistency requires them to ignore date.  No, to ignore data would be to decide irresponsibly.  Actually, I seek a mature (in the highest sense of that word) President of the United States.  The more mature (in the highest sense of that word) he or she is, the better.  Particular policy matters may take a back seat to maturity as I ponder for whom to vote.  Besides, certain matters are ones best left to societal changes affected as people change their minds–what the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., called

a radical revolution of values

–than to court rulings and other acts of government.  Passing laws is necessary sometimes, but one should never imagine that doing so ends the offending actions.  (I wrote about this matter, with its subleties, here.)

I have seen a bumper sticker that reads,

ANY FUNCTIONING ADULT 2020.

I have not arrived at that point of political desperation, but have concluded that I may get there eventually.  Trump has lowered the bar so far that is has fallen to the floor.

The United States of America and the world deserve much better.  May we all have it on January 20, 2021.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA