(Note: This piece was filed Friday morning, just before John McCain announced he could not support this vicious bill. I have had great respect for McCain since I met him years ago. His action Friday may have doomed the legislation -- for now -- but these people keep coming back for their money.)
Lately, I’ve been seeing the image of the Native American with one tear rolling down his cheek.
It was a highly popular commercial, for the ecology, from Earth Day, 1971.
The man had paddled down a pristine river and sighted a modern Apocalypse of debris.
That’s how I feel these days.
It’s not just the natural disasters pounding Texas and Florida and the Caribbean and Mexico, places we know and love.
It’s the vision into the heart of darkness. I have dealt with the election of a cruel, ignorant and disturbed human being, believing he will be out within 18 months. He’s a symptom of something worse.
The teardrop in my mind comes when I see stone-hearted members of Congress preparing to vote to take away health care from millions of people who need it the most -- fellow Americans, whatever that means anymore.
I see politicians – and by that I mean Republicans – lobbying for votes, to stiff the poor and the sick.
They are doing it for their donors, the Koch Brothers and villains like them, who want tax breaks, and do not care how they come, even at the penalty of taking away surgery from the ill and shelter for the aged.
These donors would, essentially, kill for money, and so would their lackeys in Congress.
Lindsey Graham. For a while, I thought he was showing touches of humanity but now he is front and center for the White Citizens Council, some of them doctors, for goodness’ sakes, who shuffle wordlessly behind Head Kleagle McConnell. They want money so they can keep going.
Jimmy Kimmel is wise to this Cassidy guy. I hope Kimmel's rants do some good.
Until McCain made his statement Friday, I could not count on three Republicans in the Senate to vote for the poor. Plus, I can think of a Democrat or two who would shaft people in their own states, for money.
They do not want to care for their fellow humans. And they have the backing of some large and oily religious lobbies.
I can remember when Americans told each other we were the good guys who helped win two World Wars. If you overlooked the Civil War, the war that has never ended, it was a workable image.
This current collective meanness has been coming on for a while. It began when the McConnell-Boehner-Ryan coalition sabotaged Barack Obama for the crime of Presiding While Black.
It’s about race, a lot of it.
I’ve gotten pretty tough in my old age. I ascribe to the Iris Dement song, “No Time to Cry,” about how her father died and she had to keep going.
But now I'm walking and I'm talking,
Doing what I'm supposed to do.
Working overtime to make sure I don't come unglued.
I guess I'm older now and I've got no time to cry.
Then I remember the Native American, so proud, so stoic, seeing what others are doing to his world.
(Footnote: the man in the commercial, who went by the name of Iron Eyes Cody, was actually of Sicilian ancestry, Espera Oscar de Corti, and grew up in rural Louisiana. He portrayed Native Americans in movies, and married one in real life. He looked the part well enough that I remember his tear, 46 years later.)
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.