NOTES, 11 JANUARY 2021
Greetings, blog reader, on this Monday, 11 January 2021. We have nine days to go in President Trump's term. Let us hope and pray the country survives what will probably be the longest nine days in history. It is Monday and that means time to check in on the crises of the hour. Today, two are predominate, the pandemic and the political.
PANDEMIC. The COVID-19 plague continues to race at a quickening pace. We are in the ever worsening winter spike in the pandemic. We have only to look at this morning's figures in Worldometer, our usual source, to verify our worst fears.
In the world, there were nearly 5m new cases (4,832,559) of covid for a total of some 90m. In just the last two weeks, this number has jumped by 10%. Deaths are also spiraling out of control. Last week (Jan. 4-11), there were some 87k deaths from the coronavirus. That means nearly 2m (1,944,711) people in the world have died from the plague. This is a rising rate of 5% a week. A half a million people have died of covid in just the last month.
The United States continues to be the world's epicenter of the pandemic as it has been all along. Last week (Jan. 4-11), the U.S. reported 1,614,027 new cases for a total of 22,917,334. This number climbed by a third in just the last month. As for deaths, the U.S. listed 21,959 last week for a total of 383,275. This is a rising rate of 6% a week. The U.S. is now averaging over 3,000 deaths a day, four times what it was in the summer. As we know from the media, many hospitals and morgues are overflowing with the dead and dying. It is horrifying.
The rates in our southeastern states are even worse. Last week South Carolina reported 39,053 new cases for a total of 364,525. This is a rising rate of 12%, well up from the 10% of the previous week. In the last two weeks, there has been a 44% jump in new cases in SC. As for deaths, there were 327 last week in the state, a steadily rising rate of 6%. As of now, nearly 6k South Carolinians (5,811) have died of COVID-19. Deaths and hospitalizations are soaring in SC.
Charleston County continues to see rising numbers too. Last week, it reported 1,926 cases, up 8%, for a total of 26,967. In the last month, cases jumped by a third. As for deaths, there were 12 in the county last week for a total of 335.
Numbers in Alabama are even worse. There the state reported 26,805 new cases for a total of 401,900. This means that one in ten people in the state have contracted the coronavirus. It is clearly racing out of control. Hospitals have been overrun. As for deaths in AL, the state reported a staggering number of 456 last week. This was double the week before. As of now, 5,334 Alabamians have died of the plague. It clear that COVID-19 plague is racing out of control in our local states.
While all the data can only horrify us, we have to remember that the vaccine has arrived. Vaccinations are being handled by the local authorities. That means it is different by state and county. And, this means it is rather chaotic.
I will relate to you my experience for what it may be worth to you. When the vaccine first arrived in my county (Calhoun, AL), it was offered to the most vulnerable, as it should have been: hospital personnel, EMTs, police, nursing home residents and the like. Then, it was opened to residents over 75 (that means me). So, last week, the local major hospital set up shop to administer the vaccine in the local convention center. It is rather small and holds less than a thousand people. They announced first come, first served for the week. Well, you can imagine pandemonium on the first day. On Monday, thousands of county residents (all over 75) descended on the place to line up in the dark and cold for hours before the doors would open at 7:00 a.m. It was a nightmare. My wife and I decided to bide our time. On Wednesday, friends of ours went and reported still impossible lines. They stood for three hours before getting to the front just in time before the vaccine supply of the day was exhausted. Remember this was for people over 75, so the average age was probably 85 and half the people were in wheelchairs, with walkers, or hobbling on canes. My wife and I decided to go at opening time on Thursday. When we arrived at 7:00, the traffic was backed up for blocks away. The convention hall was already full and closed. Fortunately, the authorities had learned a lesson and were handing out appointment cards to the overflow. We got one to return at 11:15 a.m. So, we went back at that time and had to stand in line for only an hour. We got the Moderna vaccine. The nurses made everyone wait 15 minutes afterwards to be sure there were no bad reactions. I saw none.
The nurse told me my arm would be sore and I would be tired for a day or two. She was right. My arm was quite sore for two days. And, the day after the shot, I took several naps. I was indeed fatigued. But, those were the only side effects I had and I count myself very fortunate to have had the vaccine and to have had virtually no bad after effects. We go back for our second vaccination in a month. Hopefully, the authorities will be a bit better organized by then.
My advice to you is, if you have not had a vaccination yet, call your county health department or your family doctor's office and find out the plan for the local administration of the vaccine. Make you plans according to the local schedule and get your vaccinations as soon as possible. Bear in mind the plague is racing our of control everywhere, even with more contagious strains.
POLITICAL. Parallel to the worst public health crisis in a century, we are in the midst of the worst political crisis in America in the last century and a half. The president of the United States incited a mob to overthrow the constituted government. This is the very definition of sedition (inciting people to overthrow a government). The people in the mob and the people who incited them must be held accountable. If they are not, this will lead to more and worse mob actions. As a student of the French Revolution, I can guarantee you that if one mob actions succeeds, there will be a parade of intensifying mob uprisings. Political chaos will ensue. Stable government will be impossible.
As for the people who incited the mob, President Trump certainly did. Everyone recognizes this fact. But, he was not alone. Don Jr. and Rudy Giuliani did as well. Then, there is the embarrassment of Alabama, Mo Brooks, member of the House of Representatives from Huntsville. He harangued the mob, before their march, for ten minutes with the theme "time for fighting." He yelled at the crowd that the Democrats were stealing the election, helped by treacherous Republicans. "Will you fight for America?" he shouted to the mob. He ended with the blast,"The fight begins today." If inciting mob action is a federal crime, Mo Brooks should be treated under the law. At the very least he should be expelled by vote of the House of Representatives. Failing that he must be censured. No member of Congress should be allowed to get away with inciting a mob to overthrow the government. Mo Brooks' behavior was so off base, even the very conservative Republican governor of Alabama issued a disclaimer. Then, there is the other embarrassment of Alabama, the new senator, Tommy Tuberville, who in his campaign could not name the three branches of the government, was one of only five senators (of the 100) who voted to overturn the legal and legitimate elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania. The vote came AFTER the mob attack on the Capitol demanding just that. He and the other four senators should be censured by the Senate. The ring leaders of the five, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, should be expelled from the Senate, or at the very least censured. They must not be allowed to get by with this scot-free.
So, what now? It seems that Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, is giving an ultimatum to Mike Pence, the Vice President, that if he does not invoke the 25th Amendment within a day, she will proceed with impeachment in the House. If so, the House is likely to vote to send an article of impeachment (incitement of insurrection) to the Senate by mid-week. If that is not impeachable, nothing is. The last word from Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Senate was that he would not reconvene the Senate until Jan. 19, the last whole day of Trump's term. This would kill any chance of removing Trump as president. There is talk that the Senate would take up the impeachment sometime later in the Biden administration. As of now, everything is fluid. Events should become clearer today as the hours pass.
The bottom line is that President Trump must be held accountable for what he has done. He incited a mob to attack the Capitol in order to force the Congress to overturn the constitutional democracy. This is absolutely intolerable if our democratic republic is to survive. Such behavior must be punished. Trump must be held accountable for his misdeeds even if the Vice President and the Congresspeople do not have the courage and strength to remove him from office. The other people who incited the mob, as well as the participants in the mob, must also be held accountable for this political crime. The future of our country depends on it.
So, get ready for a momentous couple of weeks. God only knows what is going to happen. I think we are still in a sort of shell shock at last week's events. As for me, I am getting over my initial disbelief and shock and am turning to anger. I am angry at the people who did this to my country, the greatest nation-state in the history of the world. I know, I know, we are supposed to be the people of the Jesus way, the way of love. Our presiding bishop tells us this at every turn, as he should. That is his job and he is doing it well. However, there is such a thing as tough love. It is necessary sometimes, even if we had rather not. Everyone who has ever been a parent knows what tough love is. Your 16-year-old comes in an hour after curfew with alcohol on his breath and his clothes reeking of weed. What to do? Time for tough love to keep him from following a path of self-destruction. You ground him for a month, or worse for him, take away his cell phone and computer(s) for two weeks. He may rant and rave and seethe, but deep down, you and he both know it is for his own good. Sometimes we have to practice tough love even when it hurts.
Now is the time for tough love for those of us who love this country. Deep down we know we have to do this for our own good. Let us hope and pray our political leaders have the wisdom and courage to do what is right in this perilous hour.
Remember friend, we are all in this together and we are all here for the living of this hour, as stressful as it may be. Peace.