My home town has done well in the past week, with former Mets and Yankees star Carlos Beltran being named manager of the Mets, and former New York popinjay Donald Trump announcing he had changed his official place of residence to Florida.
Trump may soon be looking to spend more time at "home" now that many of his lackeys are having amazing memory surges, either from medication or dream sequences or advice from counsel in the Ukraine caper.
He is surely doing it to avoid taxes that he may not pay anyway. But until the process server or Roger Stone's police escort come a-knocking, he can preen in Mar-a-Lago.
Don't tell him that the Florida coast is going to be inundated sooner rather than later by the rising seas that he is increasing with his wanton scorn for the Paris environment agreement.
The part I liked best about Trump's announcement was the way it was greeted by his former neighbor, New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Trump is older, but for many years his family lived on Midland Parkway in Jamaica Estates and the Cuomo family lived on Rio Drive in Holliswood. Their homes were roughly 10 blocks apart, via Henley Drive. I know this because my family lived for a very long time on the busy 188th St., with the buses and the cabs and the lunatics, right in between those two tony neighborhoods.
Yes, Queens boys are a yappy lot -- from point guards to tennis stars to rappers to comedians to politicians -- even a few journalists. In his see-ya farewell to his former Queens neighbor, the Guv channeled his inner Gene Wilder in the movie "The Frisco Kid."
As a rabbi, a long way from Poland, Wilder refuses to allow the killing of an outlaw who is threatening him, Instead, (in heavy Yiddish accent): the rabbi shows mercy, saying: "Would somebody please show this poor asshole the way out of town?"
Now, about Carlos Beltran. Remember Carlos Beltran? The Mets made him the first Latino manager of any major New York team, not that I think they were making a statement like that. He always struck me as a proud, skilled and somewhat reticent artisan, who plied his trade in modesty. I never saw him as a manager. But the teams he served near the end of his admirable career attest to his knowledge and quiet leadership. Plus, he has the reputation of a Hall of Fame signal-stealer.
But can he manage? Never done it. There is something to be said for learning the trade in the minor leagues where the stakes and the attention are not so high. Leadership can be learned, even taught (I still remember the ROTC leadership manual we used in college;an they could pass it out in companies like Facebook and Boeing.)
Managers these days seem to have a bench coach to give them backup. (Trump could surely use one.) Managers also have to live with instructions from the Analytics Laboratory. Personally, I'd like to see Terry Collins, an old-school manager who had the Mets hustling during his regime, back as bench coach.
One thing the Mets won't have to worry about is moving expenses since Beltran already lives in a sumptuous "apartment" on the East Side of Manhattan. I know this from the collected works of a real-estate maven named Laura Vecsey:
Nobody really knows how Carlos Beltran, quiet star, will fare as a manager.
But as for the shady character who is now officially leaving New York as his official residence, may I summon the dismissive words of Casey Stengel whenever the Mets dispatched one of their early failures:
"I seen what he done."
Indeed. Buena suerte, Sr. Beltran.
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.