While some of us were dozing off, and others were gaping at the tube, and Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy were sleepwalking through their own personal nightmares, a bit of America resurfaced Tuesday night and well into Wednesday.
A portion of the United States asserted itself, remembered its manners and its civic lessons and the old movies, maybe overdone, when Americans tried to act like good guys and not ignorant bullies.
One example was Tim Ryan conceding his senate race to J.D. Vance in Ohio, emphasizing that this is the American way, to accept defeat, honorably.
The final results will take care of themselves in the new Congress, but despite the threat of Trumpian storm troopers, voters spoke overwhelmingly for the right of women to have a say about their own bodies, and kicked out a few bad actors, and pretty much ignored the grotesque bully lurching around some somber ballroom.
Now it is time for Americans to echo the words of Gene Wilder, playing a Polish rabbi out in the American west in “The Frisco Kid,” who declines the chance for vengeance on a murderous bad guy, and urges his congregation, (in a thick Yiddish accent), “Would somebody please show this poor asshole the way out of town.”
(Not to gloat, of course, but while Trump lumbers off the stage to face all those inquiries, he could take Kevin McCarthy with him – the “leader” who let Trump stage an insurrection and then crawled down to Florida to kiss his…ring.)
I feel particularly bad for a few Democrats who were voted out Tuesday night – Ryan in Ohio plus former Navy commander Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, who so impressed during the Jan. 6 hearings, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York State.
Also, Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who were already gone, having left an image of conscience. Others will surface. Voters have asserted themselves.
The country has two years to put on the brakes and carefully move into a more rational lane.
President Biden has had a better election than anybody could have imagined. However, from reading Peter Baker’s nuanced and knowing article on President Biden a few days ago, we need a new look two years from now.
Right now, on very little sleep, now that some bullies and know-nothings have been exposed, I’m working on a ticket for 2024.
At the moment, I’ve got Tim Ryan and Stacey Abrams or Val Demings. Or vice versa.
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.