I probably should have written about Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday today. His legacy is with us -- Stacey Abrams and others paving way for Black and Jewish candidates winning in Georgia, and hundreds of leaders of color around U.S. They are a sign of hope for the future, which begins Wednesday as soon as we dump Trump and his pardon patrol -- PillowMan a sure sign of the rot.
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Slow that I am, I have just discovered there is such a thing as PillowMan.
That’s right. He was Donald Trump’s new best friend for a few days, or so he thought – disregarding the public fact that Donald Trump does not have friends.
I only realized PillowMan's existence on Sunday morning when my wife told me, and I looked him up. As other Trumpites scurried to get a new life, and maybe new fingerprints, a newfriendship was growing.
(Maybe only for the moment. More below.)
PillowMan, whose real name is Mike Lindell, apparently has a company called MyPillow, and is on TV a lot plugging his product as well as yakking on Fox.
I would have thought this would somehow get in the way of Material Girl, a/k/a Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is often hustling tea cozies or lamp shades of her design.
But somehow, PillowMan got into the inner circle, giving counsel to, as the papers are calling him, “the defeated President.”
How much did this cost PillowMan? Nobody knows, but maybe he was making political donations or paying for pardons to some of PillowMan’s family, friends, henchmen.
(Are Covid vaccines also on the Trump market? Is that why I get “Currently Unavailable” when I try to sign up?)
Anyway, PillowMan has talked and spent his way into the inner sanctum, and has been photographed laughing it up with the defeated President.
Their ease and happiness with each other reminded me of something, or somebody.
Wait, I’ve got it. Remember Richard M. Nixon’s best pal, Bebe Rebozo, a Florida real-estate developer and banker? They hung out together and Rebozo was always doing favors for Nixon, that often involved expensive homes.
PillowMan seems more political than Rebozo was -- apparently advising Trump as the White House cadre narrowed down, particularly after Trump’s thuggish foot soldiers followed his orders and tried to take over the Capitol on Jan. 6.
While Trump was pondering the long flight to Florida, PillowMan apparently showed up at the White House a few days ago with plans for averting the Inauguration of the man who actually won the election.
But PillowMan made a mistake. A big mistake.He brought the plans in printed form, overlooking Trump's well-known allergy to the printed word.
According to Sunday’s Washington Post, Trump glanced at the PillowMan Papers and suggested he check it out with any White House lawyers still risking their careers by working for Trump to the end.
Read these sad words in the WaPo:
But Lindell said Trump was noncommittal on what he would do with the information and told him to talk to the lawyers, who were dismissive and argued with him.
“They were skeptical,” Lindell said. “They were disinterested, very disinterested. They are giving the president the wrong advice.”
He said the lawyers did not allow him to see Trump again.
It’s heartbreaking to hear about good friends moving apart.
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Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.