Sherman R. Frederick
How sad is 2020 politics? So sad that major political parties feel the need to shiv each other even when legit good news comes our way.
Consider convalescent plasma. Last week we learned that those suffering from COVID-19 will now have that treatment more readily available to them. Those suffering from the virus will be comforted; mortality rate will be reduced, perhaps by as much as 35 percent.
Good news, right?
Well, not for partisan hacks who bicker like children over the news. If we behaved like that when the polio vaccine came out in the 1950s, half the country would have whined about ingesting the vaccine in sugar cubes instead of something more healthy. Truly a bizarre hallmark of this political season.
Convalescent plasma has been used on some 70,000 people. It’s not particularly radical. Yes, in normal times it would go through a bit more testing, but these are not normal times. The FDA issued an emergency use order on Aug. 23. It takes plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and uses it to help current COVID-19 patients recover.
Why can’t this good news just stand on its own? Because we have a national election coming up in under 70 days and Republicans and Democrats care more about winning their political cage match than anything else.
Conservatives want to call it a “Blood Plasma Miracle,” which is a stretch. The president, who can’t take the microphone without humping it, stepped on the good news to ballyhoo himself and how he spurred his administration to work faster than any other administration to make this happen.
Pardon me, Mr. President, but isn’t that your freakin’ job in the Age of Coronavirus. Get back to work!
The New York Times, meanwhile, downplayed the plasma treatment as untested and no big deal. The newspaper asserted that in an unbylined story with zero attribution. How the Times lost its way journalistically (and, believe me, they have) is a column for another day. The point today is that the Times misled readers. Convalescent plasma treatment is not a miracle, grant you, but it is a significant development.
The FDA’s announcement will help and it moves us closer to proclaiming the pandemic over. For everyday Americans, our best hope isn’t in political one-upmanship. It’s in the best medical minds in the world working as fast as they can to end the COVID-19 nightmare.
Let’s take the good news for what it is. Screw the politicians. Hooray for the scientists.
ROBIN WILLIAM BOULEVARD?
I don’t want to get too far ahead of things, but if Marin decides to ditch the Sir Francis Drake name for the county’s major east/west thoroughfare, what other name might fit the appetite of 2020 sensibilities?
There will be much support for a Miwok name. I might lean that way too if for no other reason than Native Americans are all but forgotten these days in California.
But I’m getting email from folks who put forth Robin Williams for further honor in Marin. That opens the door for other favorite sons of Marin like, say, Jerry Garcia or some iteration of the Grateful Dead. I like those ideas, too.
But, the first thing Marin must get off its plate is the Drake name. His reputation has taken several turns throughout the centuries. Current scholarship says he was involved in the slave trade, but was not a racist. That’s a neat trick, laymen like me might say, but smart historians contend that if we’re to be absolutely fair, his legacy is mixed and the current move to reduce him as a racist figure only is inaccurate.
He was the first person in the world to circumvent the globe in one trip. And, he did land in Marin briefly. Of course, that doesn’t mean Marin must stick with naming it’s primary east-west road after him.
This re-thinking of figures from the past is going on throughout the Bay Area and the nation. Marin has its Drake issue. Pacifica has it’s Gaspar de Portola issue. The best thought I’ve heard on the topic comes from Lorelle Ross, a Miwok, who said this during a recent online discussion of Drake:
“We’re all living through new times. There needs to be truth telling about the history. It doesn’t have to be ‘blame and shame.’”
Amen and here endeth the lesson.
ONE MORE THING
— I need to re-home a dog. It’s a small terrier and tends to bark a lot. If you’re interested please let me know and I’ll jump over the neighbor’s fence and get it for you.
— My doctor told me I’m paranoid. Now I lay awake at night and wonder who else has he told?
And with that bit of wisdom, ladies and germs, I’ll take my leave until next week. Thanks for reading. Stay safe. Mask up.
Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, publisher of intensely local community newspapers in Nevada and California, including the Novato Advance, the San Rafael News Pointer, the Mill Valley Herald, the Ross Valley Reporter, the Twin Cities Times, the Sausalito Marin Scope and the Pacifica Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)