There are many things wrong with Donald Trump. Many things. But whether his family name was changed is not one of them.
Every day something bad comes out about Trump – his faux “university,” his ludicrous litany of products real and discontinued, and worst of all, the public events where Trump’s people sucker-punch protestors who just happen to have dark skin. Apparently, he lied about consulting police before cancelling his rally in Chicago Friday night.
Trump is, to use his own fourth-grade word selection, a nasty, nasty guy. (When he says “dude” it's a code word for blacks.)
I was calling some of Trump’s sucker-punch supporters Brown Shirts long before I heard that his family name may have been altered a generation or three ago. Brown Shirts do not depend on a discarded name from the other side.
Now it turns out that the Trump family from a posh section of Jamaica Estates, Queens, may have been named Drumpf back in Germany. Trump, typically, has been known to claim he had Swedish origins. Well, who believes him on anything?
Into the mix comes a British comedian selling ball caps (at cost) that say “Make Donald Drumpf Again” – a twist on Trump’s subliminally racist slogan. The first lot of ball caps sold out.
I don’t find John Oliver funny. I came upon him in 2014 when he was goofing on the American interest in the soccer World Cup, those silly people. This was after a quarter century of American involvement in the great event, with pubs and television ratings flourishing during the World Cup in Brazil.
But Oliver yukked it up, giving me the impression he has a tin ear about the country where he makes a considerable living. (I gather, to his credit, he is also having fun with the scandals of FIFA, the world soccer body.)
Fact is, the basic act of changing a name, legally or otherwise, is part of the American experience, part of assimilation. Changing names is as American as apple strudel.
Some people changed their names to make them sound more American. But I grew up a yooge half mile away from Trump’s posh enclave, and I knew German-Americans up the block who kept their name – and their vestigial accents, harder to shed – shortly after the War, with no need to hide their life’s journey. My soccer captain at Jamaica High spoke German before he spoke English, he told me the other day.
Nowadays, the newer waves, the Garcias and the Patels, do not change their names; we have moved on. We also change pronunciations. The Hungarian-American family that adopted my father had long since anglicized their pronunciation to VES-see, but as a tour guide in Budapest once lectured me, my surname is quite familiar there, and is pronounced VAY-chay. (Bud Collins was the only person who called me VAY-chay. Bud knew that stuff.)
What’s in a name? Donald Trump is a creep, a dangerous creep. If his family changed its name, a comedian sniggering about it on the tube does not help the dialogue.
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.