Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts that is widely acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. Source: www.history.com
Thanksgiving is regarded as being the beginning of the fall–winter holiday season, along with Christmas and the New Year, in American culture. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World.
Although there may be many alternate explanations about the First Thanksgiving regarding other celebrations on the new continent, The holiday wasn’t made official until 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.
The Pilgrim's Freedom from Religious Persecution was the Cornerstone to our New Nation. It was Religion that guided that quest. The Bible became the birthplace of our social systems and moral underpinning.
We must now celebrate a New Beginning and show Thanks to our Family, Friends, Neighbors and our God for the Blessing of our nation in these trying times.
We are no longer Democrats or Republicans for at least this one day. We are Americans who for so long have enjoyed and endured.
Are furbished product is seldom as desirable as a brand-new one. Joe Biden must be assuming Americans can’t tell the difference. Even as President Trump battles uphill to overturn the results of the recent presidential election, faces familiar during the earlier Age of Obama are reappearing in President-elect-apparent Biden’s pantheon of power.
The looming Biden era promises to be Obama 3.0 — Hillary Clinton in 2016 was to be Obama 2.0, but new models don’t always live up to the original (see Windows Vista). Jen Psaki, communications director for the Obama White House and now filling a similar role during the nomination process, describes the emerging Biden brand: “The Cabinet and the team will look like America, so that means a diversity of ideology, diversity of background.” So far, they look more like a team of Obama retreads.
Mr. Biden has chosen Ron Klain for a return engagement in the White House. He becomes the president-elect’s right-hand man as chief of staff, a role he previously filled for Vice Presidents Biden and Gore.
Antony Blinken, who had a stint as deputy secretary during the second Obama term, returns to Foggy Bottom as secretary of State. As the top U.S. envoy to the world, he will be more inclined toward the Obama view of America as an unexceptional nation rather than uphold the Trump foreign policy of “America first.”
John Kerry, who led the Obama State Department, has signed on as climate policy chief to lead U.S. efforts toward rejoining the 2016 Paris Climate Accords. Mr. Trump sensibly withdrew from the agreement that would have placed heavy restrictions on the U.S. economy, already one of the world’s most innovative in reducing greenhouse gases.
Jake Sullivan is the Biden choice for national security adviser, a position he held in Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential office. Mr. Sullivan played a senior role in the Obama nuclear negotiations with Iran, experience that will come in handy in his new job. Mr. Biden has vowed to petition the Islamic regime for a do-over of the nuclear deal, which Mr. Trump canceled in 2018.
Janet Yellen, who served as Mr. Obama’s chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been tapped for secretary of the Treasury. Washington watchers are beset with marvel over the appointment as a first for a female, as if surprised that a woman might be up to the task of handling the national till.
It is clear that as Joe Biden fills out his roster, he would like nothing better than to return to the moment when Donald Trump dashed Democrats’ dreams by winning a chance to “make America great again.” Once the past four years are history, he intends to press “restart” on the Obama drama.
Rock fans will recall a line The Who made famous: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” It came from a song titled “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Maybe we just did.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
The following essay is part of The Federalist’s 1620 Project, a symposium exploring the connections and contributions of the early Pilgrim and Puritan settlers in New England to the uniquely American synthesis of faith, family, freedom, and self-government.
Four hundred years ago, in late 1620, the 102 pilgrims of the Mayflower landed in Plymouth Rock, which they considered the modern-day Promised Land. They were inspired by the Bible, in general, and the Mosaic legacy, in particular, which features a civic covenant, cohesive peoplehood, 12-tribe governance, and a shared vision.
These beliefs and values planted the seeds of the Federalist Papers, the 1776 American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the overarching American political and justice systems to come. These seeds vaulted the United States into the leadership of the Free World, economically, technologically, scientifically, educationally, and militarily.
The 102 pilgrims of the Mayflower viewed themselves as “modern-day Biblical Israelites,” seeking freedom from the bondage of the “British Pharaoh,” King James I. They sought biblical-driven liberty, planting the roots of the uniquely thriving, mutually-beneficial kinship between America and Israel, historically, spiritually, culturally, technologically and geo-strategically.
Indeed, these roots eclipse the political beltway of Washington, D.C., transcend the pertinent role of the Jewish community, and run deeper than geostrategic considerations and formal agreements. They precede both the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence and the 1948 reestablishment of the Jewish state, Israel.
These critical bonds have yielded an exceptional bottom-up international relations phenomenon, whereby pro-Israel sentiments among most Americans have played a key role in shaping the mindset of their state and federal legislatures, as well as the actions of the person sitting behind the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office.
The Bible was the most widely read book in colonial America, inspiring the early Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, educators, the clergy, political leaders, and the public at large. The early Pilgrims referred to King James I as the modern-day Pharaoh; their departure from England as the modern-day Exodus; the sailing across the Atlantic Ocean as the modern-day Parting of the Sea; and the New World as the New Canaan and the New Israel. Truly, they considered themselves the modern-day People of the Covenant and Chosen People.
Hence, the litany of biblically named towns, cities, mountains, deserts, rivers, national parks, and forests throughout the United States for a total of 18 Jerusalems, 30 Salems (the original name of Jerusalem), 83 Shilohs (where the first tabernacle stood), 34 Bethels, 27 Hebrons, 26 Goshens, 19 Jerichos, 18 Pisgahs, and more.
William Bradford and John Winthrop, the leaders of the Mayflower (1620) and the Arabella (1630), were called Joshua and Moses, respectively. Moreover, the 1620 “Mayflower Compact” and the 1639 “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” highlighted the rights of the individual — and the limits of centralized government — and were partly inspired by the Mosaic laws and covenant.
In 2020, the 400-year-old roots of the special American-Israeli ties are reflected by the statues and engravings of Moses and more than 200 Ten Commandments monuments, which are featured in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Justice Department, the National Archives, and throughout important buildings and landmarks across the United States.
Early America and the Hebrew Language
Familiarity with Hebrew was quite common among the early Pilgrims’s intelligentsia and the better-educated clergy. In fact, the initial ten colleges in the colonies offered Hebrew courses.
Moreover, the first two presidents of Harvard University, Henry Dunster and Charles Chauncy, were ardent Hebraists. So were Harvard’s 6th and 11th presidents, Increase Mather and Samuel Langdon, who proposed to make Hebrew an official language in the new colonies. Valedictory addresses at Harvard, Yale, and other institutions of higher learning were offered in Hebrew. King’s College (Columbia University) founding President Samuel Johnson installed Hebrew as a required course, and stated that “Hebrew was part of a gentleman’s education.”
Yale University’s 7th president, Ezra Stiles, spoke, read, and taught Hebrew in addition to astronomy, chemistry, and philosophy. He corresponded with Hebron’s Rabbi, Hayyim Carregal, and noted that “Moses assembled 3 million people — the number of Americans in 1776.” He urged graduate students to be able to recite Psalms in Hebrew, “because that is what St. Peter will expect of you at the Pearly Gates.”
The official seals of Yale University (“Light and Truth”), Columbia University (“Jehovah” and “Divine Light”), and Dartmouth College (“G-d Almighty”) feature key biblical terms in Hebrew. The official seal of Princeton University features an open Bible with the Latin inscription: Old and New Testaments.
The special role of Hebrew in the formation of American culture and university curricula was demonstrated by Prof. George Bush, the great grand-uncle of President George H.W. Bush. The first Hebrew professor at New York University, this Bush wrote books on the Bible and Hebrew, and urged the ingathering of Jews “to the Biblical Zion.”
Hebrew words have been integrated into the English language. For example, the origin of Jubilee is the Hebrew word Yovel (liberty in Hebrew), Jehovah is Yehovah (He was, He is, He will be), amen is a’men (faith in Hebrew), hallelujah is halleluyah (praise God in Hebrew), Abracadabra is Evra keDabra (creating while talking in Hebrew), evil is Eyval (the Biblical Mount of Curse), kosher is kasher (proper in Hebrew), etc.
The Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in 1640 in the New World in Cambridge, Mass. One thousand, seven hundred copies were printed, containing Hebrew characters. In 2013, one of the 11 existing copies was sold for $14.2 million, a record for a printed book. Currently, some 20 million copies of the Bible are sold annually, making it still the best-selling book in America.
According to a February 2020 Pew Research Poll, 49 percent of Americans say the Bible should have at least some influence on U.S. law, including 23 percent who say it should have a great deal of influence.
Even the name of America’s political system — the federalist system — is a derivative of Foedus, which is the Latin word for the biblical covenant between God and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, as well as the civic covenant among the biblical Israelites during the 40 years following the Exodus.
Moreover, the inscription on the Liberty Bell is from Leviticus, Chapter 25, Verse 10: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land, unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” This inscription is the essence of the Jubilee, which is the biblical role model of liberty — freeing slaves and prisoners and returning land to original owners.
Furthermore, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” which was the moral and intellectual touchstone of the American Revolution, was influenced by the Old Testament: “For the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings.” Harvard University’s 11th president, Samuel Langdon, opined:
The Jewish government … was a perfect republic. … Let us therefore look over [the Israelites’s] constitution and laws. … They had both a civil and military establishment under divine direction, and a complete body of judicial laws drawn up and delivered to them by Moses in God’s name. … Instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen states of the American union…
James Madison was deeply influenced by his study of Hebrew and the Old Testament at the College of New Jersey (Princeton University). In a 1778 speech at the General Assembly of Virginia, he stated, “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity … to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
John Quincy Adams, the 6th president, asserted, “The Bible is the best book in the world. … The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code. … The Bible is the book to be read at all ages.”
Moses and the Exodus played a key role in the formation of the Abolitionist anti-slavery movement. Thus, Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery and escaped in 1849, was called Mama Moses, since she was among the initiators of the Underground Railroad, which freed black slaves through a network of secret routes and safe houses.
In 1862, the anti-slavery informal anthem of black slaves was composed of lyrics from Exodus 8:1: “Go Down Moses, way down in Egypt land, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.” This black spiritual regained popularity in the 20th century when sung by Paul Leroy Robeson.
Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the U.S. civil rights movement from 1955-1968, based many of his sermons and speeches — including “I have a dream” — on Moses and the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, as well as on the biblical books of Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Amos. His battle cry was: “Let My People Go” (Exodus 5:1).
President Abraham Lincoln was a student of the Bible, which bolstered his determination to abolish slavery. In his second inaugural address, he stated the Bible was “the best gift God has given to man,” and “The rebirth of Israel as a nation-state is a noble dream, shared by many Americans.”
The Bible, in general, and the Moses legacy, in particular, provided American slaves with much hope and strength, striving for their own Exodus, trusting that God opposes black slavery in the United States as he opposed Jewish slavery in Egypt.
400 Years of American Identification with the Jewish State
The chief engine behind the unique U.S.-Israel kinship was the spirit of the early Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers. They considered the idea of a Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel an authentic implementation of the biblical vision. President John Adams, for example, supported the idea of a Jewish state in the land of Israel: “I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.”
Most notably, on March 5, 1891 — six years before the convening of the 1897 First Zionist Congress by Theodore Herzl, the father of modern-day Zionism — 431 American leaders, including the chief justice, House and Senate leaders and chairmen of congressional committees, governors, mayors, businessmen, clergy, professors, and editors, signed the Blackstone Memorial, which called for the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel. Pastor William Eugene Blackstone was a Christian Zionist, who dedicated his life to the reestablishment of the Jewish commonwealth in its homeland.
In 1917, the Blackstone Memorial influenced President Woodrow Wilson’s support of the Balfour Declaration, and on March 3, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson stated: “… In Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth,” and “The Bible is the Magna Charta of the human soul.”
In 1918, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in his best-selling “History of the American West”:
It seems to me entirely proper to start a Zionist State around Jerusalem. … Many of the best backwoodsmen were Bible-readers. … They looked at their foes as the Hebrew Prophets looked at the enemies of Israel. … No man, educated or uneducated, can afford to be ignorant of the Bible.
Highlighting the potency of these roots, on June 30, 1922, Congress passed a joint resolution, introduced by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Henry Cabot Lodge, R-Mass., and Rep. Hamilton Fish III, R-N.Y., which was signed by President Warren Harding on September 21, 1922. It states its purpose as “Favoring the establishment, in Palestine, of a national home for the Jewish people.” The resolution was opposed by the State Department and the New York Times, which also opposed the re-establishment of Israel in 1948.
On June 10, 1943, Alabama Gov. Chauncey Sparks signed a unanimous Joint Resolution of the Alabama State House and Senate, which called for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish homeland, following the 1917 Balfour Declaration, as was approved by the 1922 joint congressional resolution and the 1924 Anglo-American Treaty.
On May 12, 1948, during a critical session at the White House, Clark Clifford, a special assistant to President Truman (and defense secretary under President Lyndon Johnson), confronted Secretary of State Gen. George Marshall, who opposed the recognition of the Jewish state: “Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore unto your Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them (Deuteronomy, 1:8).”
On May 14, 1948, during a special broadcast upon Israel’s declaration of independence, American radio icon Lowell Thomas stated: “Today, as the Jewish state is established, Americans read through the Bible as a historical reference book.”
While the U.S. Constitution does not require presidents to be sworn in on a Bible, almost every chief executive since George Washington has chosen to do so. Furthermore, almost all American presidents have integrated biblical verses in their inaugural addresses and major speeches.
In just one example, on May 3, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge said: “Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy … If American democracy is to remain the greatest hope of humanity, it must continue abundantly in the faith of the Bible.”
Still more instances abound. On February 15, 1950, President Harry S. Truman told the Attorney General’s Conference:
The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days…
On September 10, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson told a B’nai B’rith conference, “Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls.”
In his 1969 inaugural addresses, President Richard Nixon referred to the book of Isaiah: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4).”
President Ronald Reagan was known for his biblical references, such as when he said, “Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. … Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”
President Bush’s deep biblical conviction was evident during his May 15, 2008 speech at Israel’s Knesset:
When Israel was declared independent, it was the Redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses, and David. … The source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. … It is grounded in the shored spirit of our peoples, the bonds of The Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the ‘Mayflower’ in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: ‘Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.’ The Founders saw a new Promised Land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And, in time many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish State. … Our alliance will be guided by clear principles, shared convictions rooted in moral clarity, and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites.
President Barack Obama frequently used biblical quotes, such as when reciting Psalm 46 at the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial upon the 10th anniversary of that Islamic terror attack on the United States: “God is our refuge and strength … therefore we will not fear.”
The depth and durability of the 400-year-old biblical roots among most Americans have been consistent with the separation of religion and state, but not the separation of religion and society. It is demonstrated by the institutionalization of “In God We Trust,” inscribed above the seat of the speaker of the House of Representatives, and since 1974, Congress opens daily deliberations with a prayer. In 2020, the state constitutions of all 50 states refer to God.
In 2012, the National Democratic Convention reinstated God and Jerusalem into its platform. On October 31, 2011, the House of Representatives voted 396:9, reaffirming “In God We Trust” as a national motto, as did Joint Resolution #396 (July 30, 1956), and a May 26, 1955, resolution to inscribe “In God We Trust” on all U.S. currency.
According to an NBC May 2019 poll, 86 percent of Americans favor “In God We Trust” and retaining “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. An April 2018 Gallup poll showed that 45 percent and 39 percent of Protestants and Catholics attend church each Sunday. About 20 million copies of the Bible are purchased annually in America, there are more than 300 Christian TV (nine in 1974) and 3,000 Christian radio stations across the United States.
On June 28, 2005, Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the Ten Commandment monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol was constitutional, underlining the effect and the legacy of Moses and the “Ten Commandments” on American culture and civic life:
Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments, written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the [Supreme Court’s] south frieze. … Moses sits on the exterior east façade, holding the Ten Commandments. … Since 1897, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building. A two-tablet-medallion depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the National Archives.
In the Justice Department, a statue entitled ‘The Spirit of Law’ has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building stands a sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments. A 24-foot-tall sculpture, outside the Federal Courthouse [in Washington, D.C.], depicts the Ten Commandments and a cross. Moses is prominently featured in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives … a lawgiver, and a religious leader, and the Ten Commandments have undeniable historical meaning.
While there has been a gradual erosion of the 400-year-old roots of the shared, core values that created the healthy foundation of relations between Israel and the United States, they have been notably resilient and broadly cultivated by the state of mind of most Americans.
The recent dramatic enhancement of such a unique and mutually beneficial relationship — militarily, industrially, technologically, agriculturally and medically — has evolved in response to mutual threats and challenges, but in defiance of the State Department bureaucracy and much of the “elite” media, which opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948.
Israel remains the top unconditional ally of the United States in the Middle East and beyond, wholeheartedly reciprocating the value-driven heartfelt identification by most Americans with the Jewish State. And, as “The Ethics of the Fathers,” a second-century compilation of Jewish ethical teachings suggests: “Conditional love is tenuous; unconditional love is eternal.”
One year ago today, my father died following a 10-year battle with cancer. Our family’s final weeks with him likely mirrored those of many other families. With a new wave of COVID-19 lockdowns beginning, however, I feel compelled to share our story because that journey convinces me that we, as a nation, are subjecting the dying to physical and psychological torture in the name of fighting a pandemic.
I’m not sure when my father was first diagnosed with cancer because he didn’t tell anyone. He didn’t need to at the time because his cancer, called myelofibrosis, is a slow-progressing kind that can go without symptoms for years. Likely caused by his 30-some years spent in a garage teaching young adults auto mechanics at a technical college, this rare blood cancer finally advanced enough about five years ago to force my parents to move to a senior facility a mile from my older brother’s home.
Until about three months before my father’s death, my parents lived there self-sufficiently. My father kept his cancer at bay with oral chemotherapy while he cared full time for my mother, who has dementia. After my father received a second diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, however, my brother convinced them to move in with his family. Even then, my father maintained he was going to survive my mom by one day so he could care for her.
About this time, I began traveling back and forth every weekend to spend time with my parents, to help with the move, and to give my brother a respite. My parents were barely settled with my brother’s family when my dad couldn’t eat without agonizing pain. He was hospitalized with a severe thrush infection of the esophagus, the oral chemotherapy ceased, and he began needing more frequent blood transfusions.
For two weeks, it seemed possible he might recover. If he could overcome the thrush infection, he could begin his chemotherapy again. During those weeks, my brother and I cared for my father in the hospital, spoon-feeding him the soft hospital foods, holding his glass to his mouth, placing the straw between his dried lips, helping him to the bathroom when he could walk or changing and cleaning him when he couldn’t, and wetting his lips and mouth with a water-soaked sponge as he slept. When he struggled to breathe — he had asthma as well — we were there to help with his inhaler, to call respiratory therapy, or just to hold his hand and speak words or prayers of comfort.
More importantly, we were there when he realized he couldn’t fight anymore and had things he needed to say. After he told me he was sorry for those times he failed as a father, he saw my loving eyes that held no reproach, and he felt my kiss and knew my love.
He felt my mother’s touch as she held his hand in one of hers and a rosary in the other. They prayed together, often with him falling in and out of consciousness. He heard the priest’s words of absolution and blessing when he came on multiple occasions to anoint my father and hear his confession.
My father spent his final days in hospice. When I arrived one Saturday morning, my brother said my father had been unconscious since late Friday, but a couple of hours later, when the nurse came to change the bedding, the shifting made him moan. “Daddy, Daddy, I love you,” I said loudly, again and again, while holding his hand and looking for his eyes. They opened briefly, and he looked into mine as his lips moved slowly, forming what would be his final words: “I love you.”
That night, I stayed at my father’s bedside while my brother took mom home to sleep. I played his favorite song, “Danny Boy” — he was an O’Brien after all — over and over, as I wiped his brow and wetted his mouth. I whispered words of love and held his hand as I spoke the prayers he had taught me long ago as a child. As midnight approached, I reclined the chair and buried myself in a blanket, catching some sleep between the waking moments when I strained to listen to his breath.
The doctors had explained that his breathing would become shallow before he died, but for the first few hours of Nov. 24, 2019, he seemed to struggle for breath, as if in pain. I requested more morphine for him and prayed, asking God to take him so he would no longer suffer. That was my prayer for hours, but as 4 a.m. neared, my prayer shifted to asking God to sustain him until 7 a.m., when my brother would bring my mom back.
For three hours, his breathing continued to weaken, but then my mom and brother arrived. I had about 30 minutes before I needed to catch a cab to the train station. While I wanted to stay, I knew it might be several days before he passed, and my own family needed me as well, as I had been gone for three months back and forth. My special-needs son, with a dozen medicines and hours of daily treatments, makes being a single parent, as my husband had been during that time, beyond challenging.
I suggested a family rosary before leaving. We joined hands, and my father’s breathing slowed as we started, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” He took his last breath as we ended, “now and at the hour of our death.” I closed my eyes, thanking God for this last gift, as we continued. We comforted my mother as she realized he had passed, saying, “Let’s finish the rosary for Dad.” We did, a mere five minutes before I needed to leave.
The following week brought the wake, the funeral, and a chance to see my large extended family, including my father’s still-surviving five siblings and many cousins I had not seen in a decade. It was the last time I saw my Aunt Margaret, as she died earlier this year under the COVID-19 restrictions.
I met an old classmate of my father’s who told me stories of his high school years, and I met the young manager of a local chain grocery store whom my father had befriended while bargain hunting for the St. Vincent Food Pantry. The manager had tears in his eyes when he told me how much my dad had meant to him — and that meant so much to me. Several fellow faculty members came to support my family, and I saw one of my students in the pew as we entered for the burial Mass. “Thank you,” I mouthed, teary-eyed and touched by her unexpected attendance.
When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, these events were still fresh in my mind, and I thanked God then that my father’s death was not a few months later. Too many families have faced death and dying this year under pandemic restrictions, and we are now en route to a repeat, limiting hospital visitors and banning funerals.
The reality, though, is that these restrictions are not saving those with terminal diseases. Instead, they’re torturing the sick, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No loved ones are beside the sufferers to quench their thirst, hold their hands, forgive their pasts, or pray with them, and there are no priests with sacraments.
Imagine the agony of a father or mother seeking healing and forgiveness from an estranged child before death. Think of the sick or elderly racked with guilt and unable to secure a final penance. Such emotional agony might well pale the physical suffering the dying endure without a constant bedside caregiver who can hear the moan, see the grimace, and witness the struggled gasps for air. Even the kindest and most skilled medical professionals cannot provide the comfort a loved one can.
Those imposing heavy-handed coronavirus rules must realize the truth: Restricting access to the dying is cruel. Keeping people from their suffering loved ones does not safeguard them. It merely subjects them to a different kind of suffering — one for which there might be no recovery.
Joe Biden is fearmongering that “more people may die,” because Team Trump hasn’t begun shifting oversight over COVID-19 vaccines to Team Biden: “There was a plan for 300 million doses to be available at the end of the year. What they’re reporting now is 20 to 30 million doses available. Why? Where’s the bottleneck?”
Biden mixed up the numbers — again. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, predicts 20 million doses will be shipped out on Dec. 11 and 12 — and immediately administered to health workers and other high-risk groups in all 50 states.
Tens of millions more doses will be delivered according to a precision plan in the following months, with delivery sites already designated by each state’s health department. By May, Slaoui predicts, enough Americans will have been vaccinated to create herd immunity, allowing the nation to get back to normal — a historic triumph.
Provided politics doesn’t blow it up, that is.
Biden’s advisers have dangerous ideas about who should get vaccinated first. Already, groups like the corrupt World Health Organization are objecting that the United States has purchased hundreds of millions of doses, putting Americans ahead of others. WHO wants every country to get a vaccine supply based on its population, sending 2 percent to each country, then ramping up eventually to 20 percent. That would doom America to more suffering, because herd immunity requires about a 70 percent vaccination rate.
What’s scary is that Biden advisers buy into this globalist mentality. God help us if they interfere with Warp Speed.
Biden’s COVID adviser, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, slams “vaccine nationalism,” calling it unethical that the rich countries developing vaccines get first dibs. Emanuel, a member of several WHO advisory groups, proposes in the journal Science a vaccine-distribution model whose effect would be to prioritize poor countries with younger populations first, because vaccinating an elderly person saves fewer life years than vaccinating a younger person.
On Monday, Biden said he will nominate arch-globalist Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken decries America First and is pushing to rejoin WHO immediately. Biden and Blinken are ignoring that WHO concealed the virus outbreak in Wuhan and shilled for the Chinese Communist Party, allowing the disease to spread and kill millions.
As for who gets vaccinated, the American public paid to be first. The Trump administration used taxpayer cash to prepay for millions of doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna before they were approved. That reduced the development risk for those companies and ensured priority access. Several European nations took similar steps.
That’s doesn’t mean the rest of the world shouldn’t be helped. AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which announced positive results for their vaccine on Monday, plan to distribute it across the Third World at no profit, for as little as $3 to $5 a dose, and to enlist many manufacturers to do the same. The vaccine requires no refrigeration, a big plus for global distribution.
Meanwhile, the best Americans can hope for is that Biden and his political appointees don’t meddle in this nation’s vaccine plan.
Unfortunately, Biden’s liberal COVID-19 advisory board has other ideas.
Dr. Michael Osterholm has trouble with the idea that the military will help distribute the highly perishable vaccine. Dr. Céline Gounder, a New York University global-health professor and Biden adviser, says Operation Warp Speed needs to be overhauled to put more emphasis on things other than vaccines, including testing and “providing political backing” to local governments to “support things that might be unpopular.” Translation: shutdowns. That’s crazy. Vaccines will make these draconian options unnecessary.
Though the Trump administration conceived and launched Operation Warp Speed, Slaoui explains that the vaccine rollout has been done totally “isolated from the [Trump] administration, from the political environment and political context.” He added: “no political interference, no bureaucracy, no red tape.” He hopes that will continue after the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Responding to Biden’s demagoguery about a the transition delay costing lives, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reassured the nation on Sunday that “the career people” from the Defense Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention running Warp Speed on Jan. 19 are going to be the same people on Jan. 21.
Message to Biden: Hands off this medical miracle.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.
Monday, November 23, 2020
There's another Pandemic in our nation that has infected half of the population, it's called Pettiness-101. It's taught in nearly all of our institutions of higher learning. The great minds on the Left resort to it on nearly every issue known to get what they want. I call it Systemic Ignorance, it has become a prerequisite when applying for employment on Fake news networks, and many government institutions.