Morning Reading – Thursday, December 24, 2020
When I think back on the pace of scientific advances in 2020, I am stunned. Humans have never made more progress on any disease in a year than the world did on COVID-19 this year. Under normal circumstances, creating a vaccine can take 10 years. This time, multiple vaccines were created in less than one year.
There would be no Covid-19 vaccine today had there been no venture capitalists prepared to invest before a product or profit was visible, no corporate leadership willing to double down with the companies’ own money in the spring to fund a crash effort to produce a vaccine by year-end, and no researchers pursuing a dream about mRNA as an unprecedented route for vaccines.
President Trump is leaving office as he entered, with a whirlwind of action that gets more attention than it accomplishes. He may also take down his party’s chances of winning the Senate runoffs on Jan. 5. Does he care?
Critics accused Mr. Trump of using his power to obstruct justice by rewarding allies who impeded the investigation against him. “The pardons from this President are what you would expect to get if you gave the pardon power to a mob boss,” Andrew Weissmann, a top lieutenant to Mr. Mueller, wrote on Twitter.
George Mason, however, deserves his reputation for the precision of his predictions. Many have proved uncanny, and, at least in one case, his anticipation of the future is almost eerie. Remarkably, Mason predicted Donald Trump’s pardon of Paul Manafort and Roger Stone more than 230 years ago.
“Anyone who cares about the constitution and the state of our democracy has cause to be concerned.”
The president clearly intended to obstruct justice. By implicitly promising a pardon, he thwarted Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller, and wrecked the probe. Manafort might well have advanced Mueller’s investigation to an even more damning conclusion. Instead, the stymied investigation ended prematurely.
“We crossed a lot of red lines that had not been crossed before,” Mr. Powell said at an event in May.
But time itself has felt different this year, our relationship with it altered significantly by the pandemic. Whatever comfort we once derived from considering the past is gone. Now it’s a stark reminder of all that we had, all that we took for granted, and what we must still reckon with — that our future is not likely to look like what we’re used to.
The lesson from Jesus’ life and ministry is that understanding people’s stories and struggles requires much more time and effort than condemning them, but it is vastly more rewarding. And the lesson of Christmas and the incarnation, at least for those of us of the Christian faith, is that all of us were once outcasts, broken yet loved, and worth reaching out to and redeeming.
Recipe recommendation: My slow roasted Tri-tip makes a delicious holiday meal! Enjoy!