What’s the word for early nostalgia?
Every time I read the paper or turn on the tube, I am reminded just how much I am going to miss Barack Obama.
Separation anxiety sets in.
I see him comporting himself with dignity and wisdom, in Europe at the moment or wherever he goes - the thoughtful pauses, the complicated sentences, the deference to fact and reality.
Every time the U.S. locates a nest of crazies in the Middle East, or the jobless rate stays down or the stock market moves up, I say, “Yeah, he’s not doing anything.”
Real pundits have been saying the same thing recently. Brooks. Alter.
And I just discovered a wonderful piece by Jim Nelson in GQ. I like every word.
Pretty soon, even Mitch McConnell and that posse (Mitch and the Dull Normals) that stands behind him are going to miss Barack Obama, even though they have spent the last seven years resenting that a President of mixed heritage is the smartest man in the room.
Après lui, le déluge.
The other day I heard Trump making fun of John Kasich’s last name. Get this: a family that claimed it was Swedish, not German, making fun of a Croatian name, in front of angry whites who think they’ve gotten a bad deal. He's mocking them, and they don't get it.
Now I hear Cruz and Kasich are working in cahoots to divide the remaining states. Those two mugs couldn’t figure out how to split the check after lunch.
Recently I had the pleasure of voting for Bernie Sanders in the New York primary.
The other day our grandson sat up close to Sanders at a rally in Pennsylvania and sent a photo and terse note:
“Yeah, it was a little cookie cutter, but it was still really cool to see him.”
He’s voting for the first time this fall. It’s been wonderful to see young people drawn to a political race. I hope they stick around for November, when I will do my duty and vote for Hillary Clinton. For whom else?
I turned on the tube Sunday night and MSNBC was dredging up a canned Clinton retrospect. Yikes. For the next half year we are going to be hearing names like Linda Tripp and Paula Jones and Whitewater, emerging from the swamp, historical zombies.
Meantime, my wife gets Elizabeth Warren newsletters, explaining the economy, the state of the union. Sometimes we fantasize about Warren running for President, this time, right now.
John Nichols put it perfectly in The Nation:
I doubt Sen. Warren can do Al Green. The Prez did him at the Apollo -- even made a reference to Sandman Sims, the legendary comic who gave the hook to bad acts.
Where is the Sandman when we really need him?
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.