Thank goodness for the Mets. That’s all I can say. They serve the ultimate function of sports – keeping the mind off real life -- and more power to them.
Right now the Mets are out west, which gives me license to ignore cable news in the evening and hope Bartolo Colón will hit another home run.
I caught that one live on Saturday -- Gary Cohen’s call was great on the tube; so was Howie Rose’s call on the radio; so was the Spanish call by Juan Alicea and Max Perez Jimenez.
All I can say is, if you are going to watch a man with a big belly lumber around with a smirk on his face, better to watch Colón than that trickster from Queens.
This is not escapism, this is self-help, not having to remind oneself over and over again that at least one third of America leans toward a lout from reality TV.
Let’s go Mets. The other night I saw Asdrubal Cabrera, who has reminded us what the position of shortstop can be, race down the left-field line to catch a fly ball over his shoulder at the edge of the stands. When a little boy in the front row leaned forward to congratulate him, Cabrera patted the boy on the head. There was more grace and humanity in those two gestures than I have seen from the front-runners in the grinding decades of this current political campaign.
(As an old Appalachian hand, I am available to advise Hillary Clinton how to talk to coal miners, but I don’t think that is happening.)
I’m burned out. I’ve been watching and reading about the primaries for way too long – and have few complaints. I just read the thoughtful essay in the Times about how pollsters and experts underestimated Trump, but I just want to say these are the same number-crunchers who reassured me President Obama was going to win in 2012.
(By winning, Obama endured, to deliver that wonderful graduation speech at Howard University last Saturday, a civics lesson for all. I am going to miss that man, no matter who wins this long slog to November.)
All right, the pollsters and others missed the Trump tsunami among the minority on the right, but I cannot fault The New York Times, where I used to work. It has given us tons of stories on buffoonery of Trump. (I saw a friend of mine from Queens quoted about what a nasty little boy Trump was; quite right.)
The Times has done fine (with the great Margaret Sullivan riding herd in her final months as media critic) and MSNBC has sent platoons of reporters out into the land. Chris Matthews, the host who doesn’t listen to his guests, is often susceptible to Trump’s flattery (we’re-a-couple-of-big-timers, you-and-me, Chris) but nailed him on his abortion silliness.
MSNBC has enlightened, with Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow and our household favorite Steve Kornacki. (I’ve lost my wife to Kornacki and Bernie Sanders.)
Brian Williams has been irrelevant -- hair and teeth and suit, on his work-release program with the network. When MSNBC veers into silliness, CNN is there. And thank goodness, our cable system carries the BBC and Euro News to remind us the world is still out there. Forget our networks. They gave up decades ago.
For the reading class, the web is full of informative articles, like the one by David Cay Johnston on salon.com about Trump bankruptcy maneuvers. Now Trump is proposing to run the country that unsavory way, according to Paul Krugman.
For all the hand-wringing, I do not think I am uninformed. Fact is, I am too informed. There’s only one more Breaking News I want – not too late on the evening of Nov. 8 -- the long national nightmare is over. We will have a president who is, at bare minimum, informed.
Meantime, the Mets are out west. Colón pitches Thursday night.
* * *
(In case you missed that wonderful talk.)
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.