Politics Monday: Florida is on the Rise, and That’s Not a Good Thing

Florida hides COVID data

Florida recorded more coronavirus cases last week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. But you won’t hear about it from Governor Ron DeSantis. The state no longer reports daily illness, vaccinations, and deaths.

We’re blind. The governor has made it more difficult for people to be informed.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss

Out of sight, out of mind.

The media is keeping tabs

The New York Times shows that Florida is experiencing full-fledged outbreak, with cases up nearly 200 percent in the past two weeks.

New York Times July 19, 2021 COVID data chart for Florida (data source: CDC)
New York Times July 19, 2021 COVID data chart for Florida (data source: CDC)

The statewide coronavirus positivity in Florida is running at fifteen percent, three times the safe level of viral transmission. And Florida boasts one out of five new US cases, Newsweek reported.

Vaccinations low

The constant denigrating of science-based precautions — which started out with mask regulations and then shifted to vaccines — is proving to be deadly.

As the more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we will likely continue to experience an increase in COVID cases in the weeks ahead, with these cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates.

Jeff Zeints, White House coronavirus response coordinator, quoted in Newsweek.

What’s driving the new infections are unvaccinated 18-to-44-years-olds that are partying, going to gatherings and they’re coming down with the infections.

Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County Health Department

Choosing freedom over life

… getting his own vaccine in private without fanfare, outlawing mask requirements from local governments, promoting fringe medical opinions… and ordering cruise ships to accept unvaccinated Florida passengers… All to promote a disingenuous freedom argument for an airborne spread illness that can be fatal.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

The governor wants to give the impression that there is nothing wrong in Florida, but we’re actually leading the country now in COVID.

US Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach

Republican lawmakers must … realize that their voters will at some point resent the anti-vaccine advice that is singling them out for death.

Heather Cox Richardson

Yup, out of sight, DeSantis is out of his mind.

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon
Clay Bennett editorial cartoon, Chattanooga Times Free Press

This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

Family Friday: What Makes Me a Third Culture Kid?

There was a letter to the editor in my newspaper this week from a Palm Beach County neighbor who was born in the United States but grew up in Asia as the result of her parents’ missionary work.

Like the children of military members, diplomats, and, in my case, missionaries, I became what is called a TCK, a Third Culture Kid. Our backgrounds are different from that of our parents’ home country and from the country where we grew up.

Angela Grant, The Palm Beach Post, 7/15/21

I’m a TCK, too. I was born in the USA to Midwesterners, but we flew into the Foreign Service when I was just six months old, and my sister (born in Caracas) and I grew up mostly in Europe and Latin America. We were professional Americans overseas, but our international experiences made us an odd fit when we moved to the States. I’ve been trying to bridge the gap my entire adult life.

Cross-cultural expert Tanya Crossman

TCK’s deal with some unique challenges in integrating that experience into what we’ve done with the rest of our lives. It’s the subject of research being conducted by Tanya Crossman, an Australian who lived in China for over a decade.

Tanya is a noted cross-cultural consultant and TCK/Cross Culture Kid advocate, and the author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. She writes that the term Third Culture Kid was coined by in the 1950’s by Dr. Ruth Hill Useem while studying children of American families living in India.

These children were not Indian, though they lived in India. They were American – though they weren’t experiencing that country. This childhood experience was neither that of an Indian child nor that of an American child. It was somewhere in between – in a Third Culture.

Tanya Crossman, July 2016 blog post

Legal, geographic, and relational culture

Tanya writes that culture can be defined in three ways:

  • Legal: the place in which you have a passport or permanent residency
  • Geographic: the place(s) in which you live.
  • Relational: the experiences woven together from life lived in between cultures.

Legal representative of America overseas

I had an American diplomatic passport, and, as an embassy kid, understood that I represented the USA. Sarah Mansfield Taber, whose overseas childhood as the daughter of a CIA officer is an almost exact match with mine, writes this about having a diplomatic passport:

Only representatives of foreign governments were issued these, my father told us. I could feel an American flag waving inside me.

Sarah Mansfield Taber, Born Under An Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter

But not a geographic American

I was an official American when I lived in Venezuela, Italy, Colombia, and Spain. But my identity morphed when we moved to the States.

Though I looked American, I was not; I was a sort of clandestine foreigner.

Sarah Mansfield Taber, Born Under An Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter

I am from the Third Culture

The connection I feel with Sarah Mansfield Taber is the TCK’s relational cultural identity.

The Third Culture is the childhood home of those who did not experience comprehensive connection to a single place as children.

Tanya Crossman, July 2016 blog post

My memoir, Embassy Kid (being assessed for publication by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training), looks back at where I am from. I have shared the Preface and will be sharing chapters in the coming weeks.

I cannot imagine being a citizen of any other nation. We are the freest, the most fortunate people on earth. Whether our people arrived on a recent flight or a wooden boat, and whether we choose to wear hijab or a yarmulke or spray paint our hair with the colors of the rainbow, we are all from somewhere else, and we are all here now.

Angela Grant, letter to The Palm Beach Post

Politics Monday: Denial and Door-Knocking and Covid-19

DeSantis tries to minimize the pandemic

Last week, I wrote about GOP-led Florida becoming the only large state to stop reporting daily coronavirus statistics. The data are now rolled into a weekly report that no longer includes the number of hospitalized COVID patients and the number of tests. The Palm Beach Post has continued to perform a critical public service by using multiple sources to keep the public informed on our continuing public health crisis.

Florida’s COVID-19 caseload is growing faster than most states, CDC figures published Friday show. Over the past week, 110 state residents for every 100,000 became infected, compared to 34 per 100,000 nationwide. [As] the number of new COVID-19 infections swells to levels not seen since early May, the pace of vaccinations across Florida has slowed to a crawl.

Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, July 10, 2021

It’s tricky to parse the numbers, playing right into the denials’ game, but I have begun a weekly chart, waiting for trends to emerge. Luckily, the people in charge of our country are not lying back but, rather, leaning in to bring the vaccine right to our doors through community efforts.

The White House pushes vaccines

In his recent article for the Associated Press, Zeke Miller writes about the White House’s renewed focus on the grassroots vaccination campaign as the vaccination rate plateaus across the country, including in Florida.

We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, door to door to get help to the remaining people.

President Biden, quoted in Zeke Miller’s AP article

The GOP pushes disinformation

The GOP has taken the political opportunity to play to their small-government and libertarian base.

The Biden administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated. What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?

Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, quoted in Zeke Miller’s AP article

Disinformation campaign is unAmerican

it’s really a disservice to the country and to the doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, and others who are working to get people vaccinated.  This is about saving lives and ending this pandemic. 

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

Door-to-door is working for vaccines, but cases continue to rise

Despite Republican governors’ efforts, Americans are being helped.

In Florida, the adult vaccination rate increased by 4.4 percent.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

However, the state rate of infection continues to be in the top three nationwide.

With 211 new coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, Florida’s infection rate is higher than that of 47 other states reported by the CDC.

Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, July 17, 2021
Editorial cartoon by Mike Thompson, USA Today
Editorial cartoon by Mike Thompson, USA Today

Politics Monday: How to Celebrate America’s Birthday

In a recent God Squad column, Rabbi Marc Gelman writes about the spiritual meaning of America.

America is a place but more, than that, America is an idea.

Rabbi Marc Gelman, The God Squad

America was an idea

This rings true for me, in part because of my Foreign Service childhood. Although I was born in the States, my parents and I flew to Caracas when I was six months old. For the next 12 years, home was Venezuela, Italy, and Colombia, while America was the idea we represented. While Dad touted the democratic principles of free elections, free press, free assembly, and free speech in his work for the US Information Agency, my sister and I understood that our behavior also reflected back on this mystical place. Chewing gum while out on the street was out. Shaking hands and speaking in the language of the country were in.

A foreigner at home

We moved to the United States when I was entering my teens. I had assumed that it would be the easiest transition yet: after all, we were professional Americans. However, I never felt more foreign. Shaking hands and any language other than English were out, blending was in. Our family split into four unconnected pieces: Dad in the State Department, Mom in the suburbs, my sister and I in our independent orbits. When we returned overseas five years later, we clicked back into place, and America became, once again, the idea.

Patriot throughout

Raised by hard-working midwesterners and informed by their Macalester College liberal arts education, they were partners in representing the best of American values throughout Dad’s Foreign Service career. In retirement, Mom was freed to pursue volunteering in community initiatives in Boston and Cape Cod, and Dad expanded his creative realm to include a memoir of his South Dakota youth and a book on the 1958 Venezuelan revolution.

I’ve now lived in the United States for all but those initial 12 years, and I modeled my adult life on my parents’ values with a government career of my own and community service commitments while I lived in New York, and completing a Foreign Service memoir, Embassy KId, which is being considered for publication.

When he died in 2006, my sister wrote that Dad, who lived the American dream, embodied many of our country’s ideals.

He cared deeply about this country, valued informed civil discourse and believed that our best institutions and values — from the freedom of our press to the idea of a public library — were the thing that would win the hearts and minds of those who may not understand us. Cultural exchange and understanding was Dad’s life work. May this continue.

Susan Robb Amerson Hartnett

Amen, sister. Amen.

Bunting and palm trees mark the Fourth of July in South Florida
Bunting and palm trees mark the Fourth of July in my South Florida neighborhood.

Politics Monday: Why Voting Rights Is A Foreign Policy Issue

We cannot escape the fact that our civil rights record has been an issue in world politics. The world’s press and radio are full of it. A lynching in a rural American community is not a challenge to that community’s conscience alone. The repercussions of such a crime are heard not only in the locality, or indeed only in our own nation. They echo from one end of the globe to the other.

President Harry Truman’s 1947 Committee on Civil Rights (quoted by EJ Dionne, Jr.)

This was the state of America’s image abroad when Truman’s successor, President Eisenhower, created the United States Information Agency, in which my father, Robert C. Amerson, spent his Foreign Service career. Our Cold War foe, the Soviet Union, used images of racial turmoil in the US to court non-aligned nations. Indeed, the key civil rights legislation gained support in part because of foreign policy pressure.

The need to support civil rights as a way to strengthen the image of the U.S. all over the globe in the fight against communism was pivotal to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Julian E. Zelizer, a Princeton historian and the author of ‘The Fierce Urgency of Now‘ (quoted by EJ Dionne, Jr.)

In his recent opinion column for The Washington Post, EJ Dionne,Jr. posits that advancing democracy abroad continues to require defending civil rights at home.

Imagine how democracy’s foes will use it against us that many of these provisions are tailored to make it harder for Black Americans to cast ballots.

EJ Dionne,Jr, The Washington Post

In advance of President Biden’s first meeting with our European allies, his national security adviser spoke to reporters:

I would say the basic notion of democratic reform and voting rights in the United States is a national security issue. We are in a competition of models with autocracies, and we are trying to show the world that American democracy and democracy writ large can work.

Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser (quoted by EJ Dionne, Jr.)

With President Biden in Europe to meet with allies in England and with Putin in Geneva, his new Attorney General, Merrick Garland, announced his intent to double the staff of the DOJ Civil Rights Division to challenge each and every new law limiting voting rights.

There are many things that are open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow. We will use all existing provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a June 11, 2021 speech to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice

[America] has unique window of opportunity as well as a historic responsibility to work with its natural partner, the European Union, and other like-minded countries, in defense of democracy, multilateralism and the rule of law. It will only have the credibility and influence to do that to the extent that it continues to defend those values at home.’

Bobby McDonagh, one of Ireland’s top diplomats until he retired in 2018(quoted by EJ Dionne,Jr.)
“We The People” being inscribed by hands of different skin colors, editorial cartoon by Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune
“We The People” being inscribed by hands of different skin colors, editorial cartoon by Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Travel Tuesday: When the King of Fools Foils His Own Plans

We discovered cruising

One of the delights about living in South Florida that we discovered when we relocated from upstate New York is the easy access to cruising. Barely an hour’s drive door-to-ship is all we’ve had to do to gain access to multiple Caribbean cruises and the delicious world of warm turquoise waters in Aruba, stunning caves in Curaçao, Mayan ruins in Cozumel, a walk through Old San Juan, colonial history in Colombia, a day on the Panama Canal, and lunch at a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. We even crossed the Atlantic on out last cruise.

Stopped by my illness and the pandemic

My close call with a serious illness during our trans-Atlantic cruise put a damper on our passion for travel far out to sea, and then came the pandemic. The world watched as the infected Diamond Princess was turned away from port after port, and the notion of climbing back aboard a confined space with thousands of people simply doesn’t seem like fun anymore.

Vaccines allowing cruise resumption

However, the vaccine has begun to change the landscape, and cruising will commence slowly this summer. Not for us — though maybe a river trip at some point — but the industry that has made Florida its headquarters is on the comeback.

Thanks in large part to the successful rollout of vaccines, the world of adventure is beginning to open up, and we are all excited to start delivering great vacations to our guests.

Royal Caribbean International President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bayley

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandates that at least 95% of crew members and 95% of passengers be vaccinated, but two leading cruise lines are taking it a step further. Carnival and Norwegian will require all passengers to vaccinated when they commence sailing in a few months.

Governor makes vaccine passport illegal

However, a Florida law signed on May 3 by Governor Ron DeSantis makes it illegal for any company to ask for proof of vaccinations, the so-called vaccine passport.

Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz
Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz

The notion that producing proof of immunization is to submit to some sort of oppression is lunatic enough, considering the life-and-death stakes. But the cruise industry is one of the most important in this state. And having long fought the stigma of noroviruses and then the COVID horror of the Diamond Princess, no other industry could be more anxious to keep itself virus-free.

The Editors, The Palm Beach Post

Governor DeSantis has both sued the CDC for preventing the cruise industry from sailing, and made safe sailing impossible under the law. Like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first sees him —with one hand pointing one way and the other in the opposite direction — he has made himself a prisoner of his own arms.

Cruise to nowhere solution

My favorite snarky newspaper columnist has an equally insane solution.

I say, if we’re going to do this, let’s do this right. The cruise ships should embark the unvaccinated Floridians, and then immediately quarantine them on the ship. Then, once the ship leaves port and reaches international waters 3 miles offshore, the unvaccinated could be rounded up on deck and sent by helicopters or motorboats back to Florida.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

Governor DeSantis acts as if, Cerabino concludes, there’s no harm he is unwilling to impose on Floridians if it helps him carve out a niche for himself as the King of Fools.

If he only had a brain, as the song goes.

Politics Monday: Why Every True Patriot Must Be “Woke”

I completed my elementary school years in Bogotá, Colombia when my father served at the Embassy as Public Affairs Officer in the United States Information Service. The American-curriculum school, Colegio Nuevo Granada, didn’t have room for both a second-grader (my sister) and a fourth-grader (me) when we arrived in 1963, so we were enrolled at The English School. It followed the British curriculum, including end-of-year essay examinations that I imagined were graded by stern women in tweed suits hunched over our papers like Andean vultures on a dead cow.

Along with acquiring slight British accents, my sister and I were schooled in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and, as I announced at dinner one night, “how we lost the colonies.” My mother could only shake her head. “Honey, we are the colonies.”

When we moved to one of those original colonies, Maryland, a few years later, I traded my posh accent for a Southern twang and learned the Pledge of Allegiance. Children are resilient. Eventually, we develop our own filters through which to see the world.

But, what if we are simply never exposed to an idea at all? That is the case with the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. The official denial of the horror by the city’s white government, and the danger Black Tulsans would have put themselves in by daring to speak the truth, kept this awful story under wraps for nearly a century.

Although it is perhaps the most dramatic criminally racist event to be so hidden, it is but one shameful story among our country’s undeniable atrocities perpetrated upon Black Americans, the descendants of men and women transported from Africa against their will and force into slavery. As Tom Hanks wrote in his June 6 essay in The New York Times:

The truth about Tulsa, and the repeated violence by some white Americans against Black Americans, was systematically ignored, perhaps because it was regarded as too honest, too painful a lesson for our young white ears. So, our predominantly white schools didn’t teach it, our mass appeal works of historical fiction didn’t enlighten us, and my chosen industry didn’t take on the subject in films and shows until recently.

Tom Hanks, opinion piece in the June 6, 2021 New York Times

Closer to my home, the Palm Beach Public Schools Board attempted to address systemic racism in its draft equity statement, which proclaimed the county’s public school system “is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage.” Parents forced the removal of “white advantage.” In a June 2 opinion piece in The Palm Beach Post, Jan Tuckwood, a former reporter who touring historic homes of the South for an upcoming project, objected to sanitizing the difficult message.

Discussing ‘white advantage’ creates discomfort. Arguing over the words ‘serve’ and ‘slave’ is unpleasant. It’s easier to shut up and shut down when words upset us — but if we do, we miss the whole truth. We must keep talking through the hard stuff, or we’ll never be cured.

Jan Tuckwood, The Palm Beach Post

One of my favorite expressions about true love is that we love not because we don’t know the truth about one another, but that we know the truth and still choose to love.

If being ‘woke’ means knowing the full story of your community and country, including the systemic racism that still shapes them, then every thinking adult should be. How can you love a place while knowing the crimes that helped produce it? By relentlessly confronting hypocrisy and remaining ‘woke’ to the transformational power of American ideals

Michael Gerson, The Washington Post
Op-ed cartoon by Mark Murphy, USA Today Network
Op-ed cartoon by Marc Murphy, USA Today Network

Family Friday: What My Mother Did During My Father’s Foreign Service Career

Robert and Nancy Amerson, Cape Cod
Robert and Nancy Amerson, Cape Cod

So, Nancy, what did you do while you were overseas?

A question posed to my mother, Nancy Robb Amerson, at a Cape Cod dinner party of accomplished retirees

Here’s what she wrote in 2004 about that encounter.

Nothing

Feeling wicked, I found myself answering, “Nothing.” I don’t usually consider myself capable of irony, but this answer could only have been understood by another Foreign Service wife. To soften my rather abrupt response, I continued with the usual recounting that no Embassy wife could work in a foreign post without the ambassador’s approval, and that the only jobs we could accept were as a teacher or nurse.

My answer seemed to satisfy the casual curiosity about how I could have spent 20 years overseas, unoccupied.

Since that night, I have tossed over in my mind just how I could have responded to the women who were years younger than I. In their generation, almost all women have held some paying job and that is, as it has always been for men, the peg that identifies their place in the larger community. So DOING equals BEING PAID.

Homemaker

The women of the early 50s, when we were first married, still were mostly, for want of a better term, homemakers. Some had a taste of earning a salary during a few years of teaching after college, as I did, though few in later years have ever identified themselves as teachers, as I think would be the case now.

Ten moves, four countries, two languages

So, during our 20 odd years overseas, I continued in my homemaker role in an ever expanding way. I was responsible for resettling our family during our 10 moves. For learning to shop in four foreign countries using two new languages. For seeing that our girls were settled in the many different schools.

Hostess, guide, ambassador support

For running large and small parties in our home to fulfill our obligation to promote our country. For being an unofficial guide for visiting official visitors, be they pleasant or unbearable. And for being available to the ambassador’s wife when she required help.

Having a ball

Of course, I was not paid, nor would I have ever even considered such to be a thing. The truth is, I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to be having all of these new experiences. I was having a ball.

State Department “Pink Paper” changed it all

A new generation of wives joined our ranks, women who were wary about “being taken advantage of for no pay.“ The old idea of a foreign service team of husband and wife just was not in their vocabulary. No need to go into detail here, it changed the community feeling we felt within the embassies. The state department geared up to produce what was called within the ranks The Pink Paper, delineating rules on the roles of wife overseas.

A killer of fun times was what it amounted to.

Robert and Nancy Amerson served in the United States Information Agency from 1955 to 1979, representing our country through public diplomacy in Venezuela, Italy, Colombia, and Spain.

Robert and Nancy Amerson, Jane and Susan, 1962, Rome
Robert and Nancy Amerson, Jane and Susan 1962, Rome

Politics Monday: How Denial Whitewashes America’s History

Even as we commemorate the grim anniversaries of the oppression, to the point of death, of Black Americans, our country continues to whitewash the past, keeping us all prisoners.

The Tulsa Massacre

It is the centennial of the Tulsa Massacre, the criminal event that resulted in the death of 300 Black Americans and the displacement thousands more and was forcefully covered up for most of the past 100 years by the government authority. Shameful.

Rather than remember and atone for this atrocity, Tulsa began efforts to erase it from history.

Charles Blow, CBS Sunday Morning

George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

It is the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the unprecedented civil rights protests around the world. His white killer, a police officer, has been found guilty. Black Lives Matter has become engrained in our national consciousness. President Biden himself acknowledges systemic racism.

Perhaps we are making headway in acknowledging that the enslavement of Blacks has left a legacy to be reckoned with. But two news stories this week reveal that we are a long, long way from addressing our country’s racial fault lines.

Limiting the Conversation

In his recent article for the Associated Press, State GOP lawmakers try to limit teaching about race, reporter Bryan Anderson writes that the country’s racial reckoning is having a boomerang effect as Republican-controlled states are legislating limits into the teaching curricula.

We’re basically silencing the voices of those who already feel oppressed.

Lakeisha Patterson, third grade teacher in Texas

And Andrew Marra’s May 27 article the reveals another step backward. The Palm Beach Public Schools Board attempted to address systemic racism in its draft equity statement, which proclaimed the county’s public school system “is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage.” Parents forced the removal of “white advantage.”

Whites Own “The Conversation”

Unless we can admit to the reality of Black disadvantage/white advantage, we cannot begin to address it.

Some weeks ago, I wrote about America lifting a page from Germany’s playbook when it comes to national accountability. How Germany Guarantees Remembrance of the Holocaust. Let me repeat the final portion of that post, as it pertains exactly to the challenge that white Americans — including the white parents of Palm Beach County Schools children — are facing.

In an article entitled In a nation founded on whiteness, how to really discuss it AP reporter Deepti Hajela explores the challenge.

This mess has been from the founding of this country. This mess has been in our soil. It’s in our soul. It’s everywhere, and we’ve never really completely decided that we will look at it.

The Rev. Susan Chorley, First Parish of Norwell

Are white people willing to confront and have a conversation about the extent to which white racial prejudice and white racism, and the desire to maintain white power in the United States, is part of our political process?

Asheley Jardina, Duke University

Our Country Can Withstand Self-Scrutiny

I will always be the daughter of American diplomats who believed in the democratic ideals they represented abroad, even as our country did not live up to them. In retirement, free of the constraints of political office and government bureaucracy, they would have concurred with Biden. They believed that our country is strong enough to withstand self-scrutiny.

I still do. And so does President Biden, the first sitting president to visit the Tulsa community of Greenwood, the site of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre.

We must find the courage to change. We’re facing an inflection point as a nation; what people refused to see cannot be ignored anymore.

President Joe Biden

Politics Monday: How vaccinations might restore America’s place in the world

American Leadership

He is the kind of liberal that emerged after World War II: confident in America’s greatness, confident in the state, having little interest in the culture wars that emerged since the 1960s, fierce about civil rights, deeply rooted in the working and middle classes.

David Brooks, The New York Times

David Brooks recently interviewed President Joe Biden to look at the direction he is promoting in his very big pieces of legislation. He could have been describing my parents, too. They devoted their working years to advocating for America’s ideals abroad during the Cold War, when our country was the undisputed leader of the free world.

China’s Challenge


Today, it’s not Russia but China who threatens. How ironic that the country which birthed the COVID pandemic is poised to reap the rewards of America’s leadership failures under Trump.

We’re kind of at a place where the rest of the world is beginning to look to China. We’re at a genuine inflection point in history.

President Joe Biden

Shoulder-to-shoulder solidarity

The president who is leading our nation out of the pandemic is positioned to deliver the world as well. In the next month, the U.S. could start a process of global COVID-19 vaccine distribution that saves millions of lives, asserts its stature as a beacon for the world and makes the nation itself safer, write USA Today reporters Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub whose article includes these inspiring quotes.

It’s an important moment for the world when the U.S. leans back in.

Orin Levine, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

U.S. involvement could be the tipping point.

Dr. Tom Kenyon, Project HOPE

It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the strong thing to do.

President Joe Biden

The Bombas Strategy

I would love to see a U.S. government proposal that they’re going to donate a dose of a vaccine for every person under 18 vaccinated in the United States. You could pitch that to adolescents – that if they get vaccinated they can help another person.

William Moss, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Moss calls this a Bombas approach. The sock company Bombas has a nifty sales gimmick.

For every item you purchase for yourself, we donate an item to someone affected by homelessness.

Bombas

The background is compelling.

We heard that the number one most-requested item at homeless shelters was socks. It may seem like a small thing, but having clean, dry socks provides a very basic level of comfort to an underserved community that deserves to have a little more comfort in their lives.

Bombas

And it’s good business.

We’ve donated more than 40 million items that specifically meet the needs of the homeless community, including entire bundles of new clothes. That’s 40 million acts of kindness, all thanks to you.

Bombas

So, how about engaging Americans in vaccinating arms around the world? In my parents’ post-WWII time, internationalists called it “hands across the water.” Maybe it’s time for shoulders across the water.