Tag Archives: A Promised Land

Benicia Author Stephen Golub – From Russia, With Love

Lessons for the Republicans’ leadership, starting with 1917.

By Stephen Golub, A Promised Land, February 4, 2021
Benicia Author Stephen Golub, A Promised Land

Adopting a policy of “no enemies to the left,” Russian prime minister Alexander Kerensky freed Vladimir Lenin from jail shortly after he tried but failed to overthrow Kerensky’s government in July of 1917.

In November, Lenin succeeded.

An excellent essay by Slate’s Fred Kaplan draws parallels between Kerensky and most of today’s Republican leaders. Kerensky thought that his greatest threat was forces seeking to return czarist rule to his country. He accordingly sought to align with the very Marxists who soon toppled him.

As for our own situation, Kaplan explains:

“Republican leaders in America today have, in effect, declared a policy of ‘no enemies to the right.’ With very few exceptions, they have declined to impeach or even criticize Donald Trump for inciting the attempted insurrection of Jan. 6. They have awarded a House committee seat to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who believes in QAnon’s wildest conspiracy theories, who has told right-wing protesters they should feel free to use violence, and, before she was elected to the House this past fall, called for the assassination of Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Several GOP lawmakers still refuse to acknowledge that President Joe Biden fairly won the November election…”

“[They] embraced Trump and now refuse to dissociate themselves from his most fanatical followers because they were, and are, seen as potent bulwarks against the Democrats’ liberal programs, which they see as the real enemy.”

In Kaplan’s view, the upshot of this all is that the Republican Party will “likely lie tattered in shambles, regardless of which side prevails in its internecine battles.”

I’m not so sure. I can see Mitch McConnell, who has suddenly discovered a self-interested spine in pushing back against Trump and Greene, reverting to jellyfish mode if he decides the political tides again favor Trump. I hope that I’m wrong.

There’s another historical lesson here, obvious but ignored: If someone tries to destroy your democracy or government, don’t let them off easy.

That lesson clearly applies to Kerensky’s mistake in relying on Lenin…

And to the German establishment’s error in indulging and then releasing Hitler from incarceration just nine months after his failed 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch,” with the likely expectation that he was “tamed by prison” and “no longer to be feared”

And to post-Civil War Republican leaders’ cynical calculation, which robbed Southern Blacks of democracy and rights for nearly a century as a result of the 1877 deal that installed Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidency in exchange for the Republicans ending Reconstruction in the South…

And, today, to many Republican leaders’ similarly cynical calculation, as they let off wackadoo Greene with just a quasi-tough talking-to and continue to back Trump, despite his incendiary broadsides that ignited the January 6 putsch at the Capitol.

For there’s a third historical lesson for those GOP kingpins who still kowtow to Trump: The revolution eats its own.

That was the case for the French Revolution’s leaders as they turned on and guillotined each other. Though it may serve their short-term interests, the Republican honchos who have enabled Trump and his increasingly fanatical followers for years could yet end up politically dead, should they continue to cave to those conspiracists.

Given what the GOP has become, it couldn’t happen to a nicer party.

Benicia Author Stephen Golub – Get the Whole World Vaccinated!

A Promised Land: Go Global

To fight Covid, there’s no alternative.

“Vaccine Nationalism”

Benicia Author Stephen Golub, A Promised Land

As vaccinations bring the first flicker of light at the end of the Covid tunnel, the emergence of more transmissible and somewhat vaccine-resistant variants seem to stand in the way.

But there’s a path forward. In fact, as a matter of both principle and self-preservation, it’s the only path: Go global. Get the whole world vaccinated much more quickly than currently planned.

Going global is vital because, as explained in a recent Washington Post article, “A [coronavirus] mutation in any location [on the planet] will likely spread everywhere.” Inoculations in America will buy valuable time. But until we control Covid via worldwide vaccinations, we may have to keep striving to stay one step ahead of such mutations.

Drawing in part on a fine Foreign Affairs article decrying “vaccine nationalism,” a Fareed Zakaria  op-ed accordingly makes a case for a massive international effort to inoculate the entire world as soon as possible. Among his primary points:

“[O]ur current trajectory [which features a much faster vaccine roll-out for richer nations than the rest of the world] virtually guarantees that we will never really defeat the coronavirus. It will stay alive and keep mutating and surging across the globe.”

“The basic problem is in how the vaccine is being distributed around the world — not based on where there is the most need, but the most money…Rich countries make up 16 percent of the world’s population, yet they have locked up 60 percent of the world’s vaccine supply.”

“Duke University researchers say [that at the currently planned vaccination rate] many developing countries will not be fully vaccinated until 2024, which means the virus will have years to spread and mutate. In their annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates note that low- and middle-income countries will be able to vaccinate only 1 out of every 5 people by the end of 2021.”

“The International Chamber of Commerce has released a study showing that this lopsided vaccination of the world will cause global economic losses of $1.5 trillion to $9.2 trillion, of which half could be borne by the richest countries…Another study estimates that for every dollar rich countries invest in vaccines for the developing world, they would get back about $5 in economic output.”

“Bollyky and Bown lay out an excellent plan in Foreign Affairs. They argue that the United States should use the lessons from Operation Warp Speed to ramp up production and distribution of the vaccine worldwide…There is now a global vaccination effort to help developing countries, COVAX, which provides a powerful framework for action. President Donald Trump refused to join this effort [surprise, surprise] despite the participation of over 180 nations, but President Biden has reversed that decision.”

Ramping Up

Biden can and probably will do more. The question is whether he, other world leaders and pharmaceutical firms will commit to doing much, much more, by bolstering vaccine production and distribution to inoculate the entire planet well before 2024.

A key step would be to persuade or compel such firms to convert existing facilities into plants that manufacture Covid vaccines or other supplies crucial to the inoculation efforts. There’s already a precedent for this: A French firm, Sanofi, is making a Frankfurt pharmaceutical plant available to increase production of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Where persuasion or shared profit-making prove insufficient incentives for drug makers to boost production via factory conversion, Biden could invoke the Defense Production Act to force them to do so. His staff was reportedly considering that option during the transition period and is continuing those deliberations now.

Neither Gleeful Nor Glum

Word of the potentially more dangerous South African variant, and of other new strains, might make us wonder whether we can get a handle on the pandemic’s spread in America, much less the rest of the world. This is indeed cause for concern, putting us in a “race to vaccinate” in order to limit the spreads of such strains. The recent decisions of California and other states to start opening up again could prove premature, to put it mildly.

But there’s good news. With research findings indicating the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protects against Covid – albeit not quite as well as the Pfizer and Moderna drugs or as well against the South African variant as it does against other strains – the potential for ramped-up supplies to reach all of the world just became much more realizable.

For one thing, unlike those other two companies’ products, the J&J vaccine requires only one dose. It also differs in that it need not  be stored at ultra-low temperatures, a crucial consideration for much of the world. Finally, even at lesser overall efficacy, it still seems very effective at preventing severe illness and extremely effective at preventing death.

There are yet more reasons to be, if not gleeful, then not entirely glum regarding prospects for protecting both America and the world. More vaccines are already available to various degrees abroad, or are on the way. And the technology utilized for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is such that they can be adapted to fight virus variants in about six weeks (though regulatory and manufacturing hurdles can add time to their becoming widely available).

To be clear, ongoing vigilance and extra precautions against the new variants are well warranted. More people, perhaps many more, may die because of those mutations. My main point here is that we should not give up on helping the rest of the world, regardless of what happens here in coming months. In fact, a turn for the worse here is all the more reason to go global.

Principle and Self-preservation

A  case for aiding the entire human race does not only boil down to humanitarian principle – though saving millions of lives sounds pretty persuasive to me. Since Covid could remain a looming threat here as long as it surges elsewhere, self-interest and self-preservation might be the better selling points for those Americans (and other nationalities) who insist that “charity begins at home.” (That’s why, regarding another global challenge, Biden often frames fighting climate change in terms of jobs.)

Regardless, the battle against Covid demonstrates that we can’t hide behind the “America First” wall that fortunately lost out in November but still haunts this land. It’s not just Covid and our health, as crucial as they are. To a good degree, our economy, environment and security hinge on how the rest of the world is doing.

As Bill and Melinda Gates put it, “[L]ike it or not, we’re all in this together.”

Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

Benicia resident Stephen Golub
 offers excellent perspective on his blog, A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.
To access his other posts or subscribe, please go to his blog site, A Promised Land.

Benicia author Stephen Golub – A Promised Land

Four recent recommended articles…

A Case for Impeachment – And a counter to some counter-arguments

Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

That Was the Week That Was
Quite a week, eh? It’s hard to believe that just last Sunday so much talk was about Trump’s taped talk with Georgia’s secretary of state, while many of us eagerly awaited that state’s Senate elections.

That all seems like ancient history today, as Democrats are circulating a draft resolution to impeach Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” Insurrection is “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.”  [Continue Reading]

American Carnage – Remove Trump from office now. He’s dangerous.

Some thoughts on what’s going on right now in DC.
Trump is deranged. His refusal to condemn the criminals, the rioters, the terrorists who invaded the Capitol and whom he’s egged on demonstrates that this is a man dangerously out of control. So does his praising the mob…  [Continue Reading]

My Chat With a Conspiracist – And why he’s better than his would-be betters in the Senate’s “Sedition Caucus.”

Out in the Street 
As I strolled down the main commercial drag of my new hometown of Benicia, California yesterday, a fellow offered me a small slip of paper and asked, “Do you know how the Chinese Communist Party stole the election? Check out the video from this paper.” The slip recommended a “Who’s Stealing America” documentary on the front and supposedly reliable news sources on the back.

The guy had a mask on, kept his social distance and seemed nice enough, so I engaged. Our chat went something like this: [Continue Reading]

Light at the End of the Dumpster Fire – 2020 was literally catastrophic.

But here are 20 big ways in which it wasn’t all bad.
For whatever reason, I still recall a 1997 TV ad tag line for the telecommunications company MCI: “Is this a great time or what?”

No sane person would say that about 2020. The year brought us… [Continue Reading]

Stephen Golub, Benicia – A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.

Benicia resident Stephen Golub
offers excellent perspective on his blog, A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.
To access his other posts or subscribe, please go to his blog site, A Promised Land.