Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Letters of transit

 It's July 14 and I woke up thinking about Casablanca, and the great corny scene where La Marseillaise vanquishes Die Wacht am Rhein.  (Fun fact:  The Nazis made little use of that particular song from 1840, but it blends easily into the French anthem.  According to Roger Ebert the battle of the songs was in the original play and not, as I always assumed, a brilliant stroke by Max Steiner.)  If only wars were so easily won.

In 1942, people knew which side they were on.  After Hitler declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, even Republicans stopped calling the President "Franklin Rosenfeld" and accusing him of trying to open the borders to "refu-Jews."  That particular seam runs deep in the Grand Old Party but it was scarce for the duration, like tires and nylon stockings.  Also celluloid, which is why Casablanca crams all those unforgettable lines and events into 102 minutes, at which point The Irishman was just getting warmed up.  

Now movies are too long and diffuse and it feels like nothing good can be accomplished quickly, or sometimes ever.  More than eighteen months into the covid pandemic, millions of Americans continue to find reasons to resist vaccination; as a result, hospitalizations are up as the cunningly evolving virus spikes in 46 states.  Meet the fifth version, the Lambda variant.  (It's a matter of time until someone decides it's being spread by The Gays and their Lambda Legal Defense Fund.  It's probably happened already.)  Numbers have begun to come down in India, to be surpassed by Indonesia.  Japan has declared a fourth state of emergency in Tokyo but is pressing ahead with the Olympics regardless.  The French are rushing to get their shots because by August they must show a "health pass" to enter bars, cafes and shopping centers, and they're not moaning about "la tyrannie."  They just don't want to get needlessly sick.

Back in the land of the fee and home of the grave we see things differently.  Down in Florida Ron DeSantis is demonstrating his loyalty even as he plots to take the 2024 nomination from The Big Liar.  New cases are up by a staggering 429 percent, second only to Tennessee, and DeSantis wants to be Number One.  He has identified the real enemy and targeted him with campaign merchandise labeled "Don't Fauci My Florida."  Clever idea, using death to fund a gubernatorial re-election bid.  Kristi Noem must be jealous.  You have to work hard to surpass Florida in stupidity but that's why Tennessee is the national leader.  The state's top vaccine official Dr. Michelle Fiscus was fired for informing minors of their right to be vaccinated even if their parents are Trumpoid dead-enders.

As human remains continue to be found in the ruins of the Champlain Towers, Judge Michael Hanzman approved the sale of the oceanfront property so the survivors can recover damages and someone can build another condo.  It's not clear where the hearing took place because the Miami-Dade County Courthouse has been closed due to extensive structural damage, while other buildings across the state are getting emergency inspections.  But sure, the problem is Fauci and his facemasks.

And the virus watches us incredulously and then goes back to work. 

"One out, one in," Rick observes after Ugarte is dragged out of the cafe and Ilsa enters.  Pope Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital a week after surgery to remove part of his colon.  Jair Bolsonaro has entered a Brasilia hospital after ten straight days of hiccups.  I've watched enough medical shows to know this is serious and probably indicative of infection.  It's also kind of funny, given his dismissal of covid as "a little flu" and cavalier attitude to more than half a million dead Brazilians.  Has he tried the Valsalva maneuver?  "Exhale while pinching your nose and keeping your mouth closed."  Especially the mouth closed part.

In other Bolsonaro news, scientists have determined that the Amazon rain forest now emits more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.  Sing your way out of that, Victor Laszlo.


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