October 10, 2020

Today’s South Lawn Rally

Hurricane Delta is busy churning somewhere to the west of us as it takes leisurely course inland. It’s expected to stay well west and north of the Birmingham area so we shouldn’t have any major issues around here. The outer bands have been passing over all day causing intermittent rain showers with rainbows in between but we haven’t had much in the way of wind. It’s a good weekend to stay sequestered in the condo and work on various projects that are coming due. A couple of distanced theatrical things, a taped story for UAB’s Arts in Medicine program, several legal cases that need reviewing, and the slow methodical clean out of various bins and files as I keep working on life simplification.


Of course, a weekend alone and cooped up does nothing for my existential angst about the rising tide of insanity in the world outside. I speculated some on the president’s medical condition with my last entry in these accidental plague diaries. Nothing I have seen these last few days has suggested to me that his health has improved markedly. There was some sort of rally at the White House today. I did not tune in but someone in the campaign decided to give all the attendees periwinkle blue T-shirts to go with their red MAGA hats. With that color scheme, the few pictures I saw made the south lawn of the White House look like it had been suddenly taken over by a group of fractious garden gnomes. One wonders who is in charge of such things and whether they think before they order or if they’re just trying to enrich a certain vendor. The president’s appearance and remarks were about fifteen minutes in length. As he usually spends several hours extemporizing at his rallies, I assume his stamina is way below what it normally is as the adulation he receives at such affairs appears to be his oxygen. I doubt he’s out of the woods yet and I don’t see him being able to stand up to the rigors of campaigning during the home stretch.


There’s an interesting set of moral questions regarding his treatment with the monoclonal antibodies manufactured by Regeneron, a company in which he appears to hold financial interest if various media outlets can be believed. First, the treatment is not FDA approved so there is no good science that it works. Second, the antibodies are developed from lines of fetal stem cells. (The pro-life movement would say they come from aborted babies and has successfully campaigned republican administrations, including the current one, to halt any science using such tissues – actually, they are usually obtained from embryos made during an in vitro fertilization process and which would be discarded as no longer needed after a successful pregnancy). Third, the cost for such a drug would be likely to run to six figures and, as it is not approved, would not be covered by even the most generous insurance plans. The claims that anyone can and will get the drug for Covid-19 are, excuse my French, horse shit.


So what happens next with monoclonal antibodies? Does the FDA fast track them for approval, possibly undercutting long established safeguards for a political win for the party in power? Does a Republican administration embrace a drug that owes its existence to a line of scientific research that is anathema to its evangelical base? Do they open up additional public coffers to pay for the treatment when much of that money will go into private hands tied to the president? I can’t answer these. All I can do is stay home alone with my cats and my projects as I am not stupid enough to attend mass gatherings at the White House which seem to turn themselves into super spreader events.


Covid-19 is going to have some very peculiar effects on this election cycle. It remains to be seen who will choose to vote early, who will choose to vote in person, or who will be forced into voting through a means not of their choice due to various voter suppression tactics such as limiting all counties to a single drop off box, be they population of 1500 or 1.5 million. Anyone who says they know what the outcome of November 3rd is going to be is deluding themselves. The dozen weeks between the election and the inauguration will also be anybody’s guess. There are so many unknowns regarding the behavior of the population under these stresses and so many knowns such as unstable personalities and large quantities of money wanting certain outcomes that it’s likely to be a very wild ride. One thing I’m fairly certain of is that the president has lost the loyalty of the Secret Service to his person rather than his office. I think the ride in the hermetically sealed limo which endangered them did that. Various Caesars found out that alienating the Praetorian Guard during times of political instability was an unwise choice.


There is an old curse that goes ‘May you live in interesting times’. I’ve had enough of interesting, thank you. I’d rather have some boring ones instead. At least boring enough for me to plan an interesting trip and an interesting show or two. In the meantime. Work – home – work – home – lather rinse repeat.


May you all stay well and remember:
Wash your hands
Wear your mask
Stay out of crowds

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