Wellness Wednesday: How Getting the Vaccine Has Opened Up Our Life

A PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll released Thursday found that 41 percent of Republicans – and 49% of GOP men – said they wouldn’t get vaccinated. One such person in Virginia‘s Shenandoah Valley was quoted by AP national political reporter Jill Colvin and her St. Louis AP colleague Heather Hollingsworth for their recent article on how GOP worries threaten the vaccine rollout.

I just don’t believe we need vaccinations. I don’t think it is the way God intended for us to be. The majority of my friends and the people that I associated with, the people that we go to church with, we don’t wear masks, we don’t get the shots. I don’t know why people are so terrified of this. It is nothing worse than a flu.

75-year-old Republican, Ron Holloway, quoted in article by Jill Colvin and Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press

How “God intended for us to be.” Hmm. Makes me think of an old joke. The river has flooded and water surrounds a house. It climbs past the first floor, then the second floor, and then approaches the roof, to where the home’s sole inhabitant has fled. A rescue crew comes by in a rowboat and offers to take the man to safety. No, he says, God will save me. An hour later, the water is lapping at the man’s feet when a second rescue boat comes by. Once again, the man refuses to leave his perch. God will save me, he repeats, as the water closes in on him. He drowns and goes to heaven, where he asks God why He didn’t save him.

Who do you think sent the boats?

God

Vaccines are a miracle

The fact that we have three vaccines — and more being developed — just a year into this catastrophic pandemic is nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s science, maybe it’s divine intervention, and maybe it’s both.

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Immunization is freeing

My husband and I are now among the more than 110 million Americans immunized against the coronavirus and able to resume interacting with the populated world after living apart from others for twelve months. And that was on top of being hospitalized for three months overseas and frail for much of the previous year. I’ve never been so happy to make doctors’ appointments.

And it was a very big deal to go for a drive to one of our favorite towns, Delray Beach, on Sunday, a beautiful day with no agenda. What fun to wander down shop-lined streets together for the first time since our 2018 trip Amsterdam, although we were shocked by the number of maskless pedestrians, and not just college students on Spring Break. The beach was packed. We wore our masks the whole time. Although 56 percent of Palm Beach County voters went for Biden last November, it clearly isn’t only Republicans who are ambivalent about the coronavirus.

Picture-perfect Delray Beach, other than too many packed people. Photo: Jane Kelly Amerson López

Mask and vaccines save us

…if we get stuck at 60 or 65% vaccinated, we are going to continue to see significant outbreaks and real challenges in our country, and it’s going to be much, much harder to get back to what we think is normal unless we can get that number higher.

Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, quoted in article by Jill Colvin and Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press

Although we are beginning to see the light at the end of this very long tunnel, it will have been just a mirage unless we all work harder at doing the right thing. President Biden pleaded with us to wear a mask and get a vaccine. Listen to the man. And that light at the end of the tunnel might just turn out to be July 4 fireworks.

I need you.

President Joe Biden
President Biden during his March 11 televised address

Everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten

I think this is a good time for us all to be calm and think through the process of how we wear masks, how we wash our hands, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Trini Mathew, Beaumont Health

Quoted in a recent article by Detroit Free Press reporter Kristen Jordan Shamus, epidemiologist Trini Mathew sounds like a preschool teacher laying out the basic rules of classroom society for a group of three-year-olds. That’s the age I was in the painting of my sister and me, copied from a black and white photograph by the artist Esther Garcia Eder, a dear Amerson family friend from our overseas years.

Epidemiologist Trini Mathew was not addressing toddlers but rather speaking to us all in the context of Donald Trump’s COVID illness for which he was hospitalized over the weekend at Walter Reed Medical Center. Speaking to entitled Americans — The rules don’t apply to us! — is exactly like speaking to children. Epidemiologists from Mathew to Anthony Fauci have repeated the same instructions for seven months now.

  • Wear a mask.
  • Follow social distancing.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

How they have managed to not simply explode in frustration is a testament of their character and professionalism.

When our daughter was little, she had little understanding of the difference between knowing something and truly mastering it. One lesson — tennis, ice skating — was enough to convince her that “I know how to play tennis.”

Hey, when I watch the golfers on TV, I know everything they are doing. Sometimes, I even convince myself that, with a little media attention and that wonderful camera tracking of the ball, I could produce the same shot. In my mind, “I know that.”

Trump is spinning the same logic.

It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID. I get it, I understand it.

President Donald Trump, from Walter Reed Hospital, professing knowledge about COVID-19

For a minute, we hoped this was true. That he’d been humbled by the virus, brought to his knees by the apolitical facts. Then, he said this.

I feel I could go out and do a rally.

President Donald Trump speaking from his hospital bed at Walter Reed

And he did this.

Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential drive by just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity. The irresponsibility is astounding.

Dr. James Phillps, Walter Reed Hospital

And then Trump said this.

Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.

Donald Trump, as he returned to the White House from Walter Reed Hospital

Tell that to the families of more than 207,000 Americans who have died of the Coronavirus, 2,000 of them while he was at Walter Reed. Tell that to the White House staff administrative staff who are infected, and all the rest who are in quarantine. Tell that to the men and women who are tending to him at the White House, butlers and maids wearing PPE. We hope.

If we’re trying to lend a hint of superhero qualities to a president who tells us to live with the virus while he receives care unavailable to ordinary losers I’d go with this: PRESIDENT DONALD J TRUMP, SUPERSPREADER.

Dana Milbank

No, Trump has not learned a thing. But, after all, as Tom Lehrer said in his satirical song, “New Math:”

It’s so simple, so very simple, that only a child can do it.

Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer: In new math,
“It’s more important to understand what you’re doing instead of getting the right answer.”

How to Beat Trump: Laugh Him Out

Every joke is a tiny revolution.

George Orwell

Critics of President Trump can learn something from pro-democracy movements in other countries. Just as pointing and laughing deflates flashers, wit deflates dictators. Making the leader a laughing stock wins people over. In his recent column for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof labels the power of mockery as “laughtism.”

We know it works against Trump. Who can forget the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner when Seth Meyers rolled out his Trump jokes as a grim-faced Donald glared back.

Donald Trump says he would run for president as a Republican, which is odd because I just assumed he was running as a joke.

Seth Meyers, 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

The Kristof notes that the Committee for the Protection of Journalists — which I looked at in a recent post about the Voice of America — has intervened this year to defend seven cartoonists around the world who were arrested, threatened with prosecution, or threatened with death.

It was a cartoon of a the prophet Muhammad in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that led to the 2015 attack that killed 11 of its staff. The New York Times’ Norimitsu Onishi reported that the magazine reprinted the cartoon last month as the trial began.

The editorial cartoons that run in my newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, have hit the nail on the head, lampooning the White House’s coronavirus containment claims and strident electioneering. Cartoonists David Horsey and Clay Bennett are among the cartoonists that I’ve featured in my recent posts.

The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

Kristof closes with a final quote of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo that seems particularly well-timed. In the international embarrassment that was the first presidential debate, Vice President Biden called Trump a liar, but we have come to understand this as a fact, along with his cheating and other corruptions. Trump has been discredited so frequently, most recently in the NYT tax expose, that cartoonist Andy Marlette was ready with this within hours of the debate.

What did make the headlines was Biden calling Trump a clown.

Kristof quotes Liu Xiaobo in assuring us that a clown is much easier to dispose of.

A clown needs less revenge than a monster does.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

… satirizing an authoritarian is good for the nation because it makes the eventual downfall and transition softer and less violent.

Nikolas Kristof, The New York Times

Practice laughtism. With apologies to Stephen Sondheim, send out the clown.

America Pitied By Allies, Trump Embraced By Far-Right

The world has loved, hated, and envied the US. Now, for the first time, we pity it.

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times

The United States’ response to the Coronavirus has been marked by leadership failure, science denial, and political manipulation, such that, seven months into the pandemic, our country has had 6.5 million cases of the virus, and we are closing on 200,000 American deaths. According to the Republican National Convention, all of this is in the rear view mirror. According to reality, the virus continues to spread. As students go back to school this month — with the courts reviewing Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order to open brick-and-mortar schools — health directors and epidemiologists forecast renewed ignition.

The journal Foreign Policy released a report gauging the performance of 36 nations in responding to COVID-19. The United States ranked 31st, ahead only of Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Iran, and China.

Senegal, a country of 60 million people ranking near the top of Foreign Policy’s list, has had only 14,000 cases and 284 deaths to date in this pandemic. The state of Florida, with about twice as many people, has nearly 50 times the number of cases. An American living in Senegal says that her Senegalese friends are flabbergasted that Americans are arguing over whether to wear masks and questioning the severity of the virus.

There hasn’t been a moment where my family was thinking that we should have evacuated. We always felt being here was the better choice.

Shannon Underwood, American living in Senegal, quoted by Deirdre Shesgreen, USA Today

America, for the first time in its history, is pitied and viewed with disdainful condescension. And the person at the helm — who the conservative commentator George Will calls “the most frivolous person ever to hold any great nation’s highest office” — has his hands off the wheel while our nation is on a downward spiral.

No, that’s putting it too passively. The nation’s floundering government is now administered by a gangster regime, and that’s not just America’s problem. Trump is emerging as a far-right cult figure in other countries, writes Katrin Bennhold, The New York Times’ Germany correspondent.

His message of disruption — his unvarnished nationalism and tolerance of white supremacists coupled with his skepticism of the pandemic dangers — is spilling well beyond American shores.

Katrin Bennhold, The New York Times

This really sticks in my craw. An “America first” tin-pot dictator modeling fascist behavior for a far-right German audience is the antithesis of the role of American president. It begs the contrast with another American president who spoke to a German audience. In his 1963 rock-star tour of Europe, President John F. Kennedy affirmed America’s solidarity with West Germany in resisting the Russians. “I am a Berliner.” Pro-democracy. Pro-NATO. Pro-allies.

My father represented our country in the US Foreign Service. In 1963, he was posted at the American Embassy in Rome, Italy, where he handled the press when President Kennedy visited a few weeks after being in Germany.

The plans went off without a hitch. Kennedy emerged alone from Air Force One, glamorous and handsome, waving to the small knot of observers. His open-air limousine was escorted by the handsome Carabinieri on horseback. He made his protocol visit to the Quirinale Palace, the seat of the national government. Kennedy’s call on Pope Paul VI came just days after his installation upon the death of John XXIII. The media noted this historic meeting between the first Catholic American president and the head of the Catholic Church.

From When the Dictator Flew Over Our House & Other True Stories, not yet published, Jane Kelly Amerson López

Like diplomats before and after him, my father’s loyalty was to the United States and its elected leader, regardless of policies or political party. It was not always easy — Dad came to disagree with the Vietnam War, which very much colored America’s overseas relationships — but being a diplomat today comes with unprecedented challenges. A July Democratic staff report to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations — Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration’s Decimation of the Department of State — concluded:

The President has undermined the United States’ role as a global leader, withdrawing from international organizations, agreements, and commitments, seeking to walk back our responsibilities to allies and partners, and retreating from leading the response to global crises.

Democratic Staff Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate.\

The facts speak for themselves. Or, to quote Trump, “It is what it is.” We will vote in November.

Voter Fraud is a Hoax

My husband and I are voting by mailing in a paper ballot this year. We live in the President’s official county of residence, Palm Beach, the only place in the country, according to him, in which paper ballots will represent legitimate votes in November.

The county is on the up and up, we agree. The Palm Beach County Board of Elections actually mailed out application forms for mail-in ballots over the summer, and we received ours a month before the August primary. We were glad to have the extra time with the ballot to educate ourselves on who we were being asked to elect.

Palm beach county elections

Although I supported Democrat newbie Guido Weiss in the primary, incumbent Lois Frankel won, and supporting her in November is critical — her opponent will be racist, anti-Islam Laura Loomer whose dangerous language has been banned from social media platforms. Please ignore her.

In the other races, it was satisfying to see a Florida Senate race with our Democratic candidate, fellow New Yorker and current Florida Representative Tina Polsky, on the ballot, and we have a Palm Beach County Judge Jaimie Goodman, who’s been blasted for his lack of decorum, in a November run-off with lawyer Adam Myron to retain his seat. Voting matters.

I have covered banana republic dictators who are more subtle than that in attempting to rig the elections or undermine votes for their opponent.

Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

Voting by mail is secure

Hoaxster Trump is selling the lie that mail-in ballots are fraudulent votes. Every county in this country is on the up and up, and — because the Trump Administration has failed to protect us from the Coronavirus— more people than ever before will be voting by paper ballot.

Voting is our civic duty

We’ve been given ample notice to not assume that the US Postal Service will adjust its schedule to accommodate our procrastination. When our November ballots arrive, we will fill them out and send them in. If you are an American, please use this link to find your county election office to request yours today. If you are not an American, pray for us to remember our civic duty.

I don’t care who you vote for. But don’t let this election be stolen by people trying to deliberately engineer it so not everyone can vote – – or so that not every vote will be counted.

Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

Political Musings in the Time of Corona: Andy Marlette, David Horsey, Clay Bennett

Trump ads threaten: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The images in these ads were taken as Trump sits in the White House. We have never been lead so callously.

He’s against God. He’s against guns.

Donald J. Trump, about Joe Biden

Trump sounds like a frantic salesman who cannot keep his pitch straight.

EJ Dionne, The Washington Post

He is hoping to get the nation to focus on the lesser problem of mayhem… To distract from the crushing, monumental screwup of public health and the economy.

Mona Charen, Ethics and public policy center

He is a businessman, and as such has thrown in the towel and declared bankruptcy.

William Damato, Letter to the Editor. The Palm Beach Post

The most dangerous people are the ones who speak with total authority and no room for error.

Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School

We all have to die, but we don’t have to die of stupidity.

Leonard Pitts, The Washington Post

Stupidity is being allowed to metastasize. And without science-based leadership at the top, it will continue to empower and embolden the mask holes among us.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

I equate Florida to a cruise ship. It’s very social, and it’s very group friendly, whether you’re flocking to the beach with friends or you’re all around the table having lunch.

Peter Ricci, Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Florida Atlantic University

We have I would say uncontrolled transmission at this time. That is fair to say.

Norman Beatty, assistant professor of medicine, University of Florida division of infectious diseases and global medicine

Florida alone has an average daily death toll roughly equal to that of the whole European Union, which has 20 times its population

Paul Krugman. The New York Times

Nothing’s risk-free in life.

Governor Ron DeSantis

Local government leaders in Georgia are being sued by the governor of that state for having the temerity to order the wearing of masks in their jurisdictions.

Can I get annexed to Germany or even North Carolina?

Mayor of Athens, Georgia

I am among the many New York State government retirees living in Florida. I know we make up the largest group outside the State. I know we have the expertise and the numbers, so how about we can petition Andrew Cuomo to be annexed? We would leave Mar-A-Lago behind.