Americans have a lot to learn from world soccer, particularly the grand practice of relegation and promotion. This custom ought to be used for the next Republican debate Sept. 16.
If the Premiership could jettison Burnley, Queens Park Rangers and Hull City after hapless showings last season and promote Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich for leading the secondary league, the Republicans should do the same.
In the first debate on Fox – with Megyn Kelly playing the role of the great Collina -- 10 candidates were permitted into the “premier” league in prime time while seven were placed in the “championship” level in late afternoon.
Of course, relegation could be a problem because soccer is far more of a meritocracy than presidential politics.
I mean, you watch Chelsea and Manchester United and Arsenal and the top teams of the Bundesliga and La Liga and Serie A as they move the ball and play defense and you can tell they are the best players in the world.
However, a glimpse of the massive Republican field makes me ask, wait, this is the best we can do? We do not have more impressive business leaders, scientists, teachers, writers, even some politicians, better than this lot? (John Kasich actually seems like a normal adult. How did he get past the bouncer?)
Politics are subjective. Take an obnoxious and not very smart but quite rich candidate like Donald Trump, the Vinnie Jones of politicians. (Jones was the crude defender known for ugly gestures like clutching opponents in intimate places that inhibited their ability to run very far.)
By his own standards – TV ratings – Trump is leading the polls, at least until summer sunstroke wears off. Now the Republicans need to re-arrange the furniture. On sheer instinct, I would make these moves:
*-Dump Mike Huckabee because of the smug righteousness that oozes out of him.
*-Drop Jeb Bush because of his rote recitation of a canned speech, delivered in a sing-song voice. Go down a grade, son, and lose your sense of entitlement.
*-One promotion would be a no-brainer -- Carly Fiorina, who scored verbal hat tricks in the reserve match just by carrying herself with executive poise. Her history will catch up to her, but she had a good match and deserves to move up.
*-The other promotion would go to Lindsey Graham not because of anything he does in the Senate – hardly -- but because his yap-dog attacks just might draw some more bully tactics out of Trump.
The Donald is cruising for a public red card for bad taste.
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.