(My friend Hansen Alexander, frequent respondent on this site, plumbs the primitive id of a certain candidate.)
Q. Why are you ahead of the other Republicans?
NDT: (Not Donald Trump) The camera loves me. The networks place me standing in the middle of the other candidates during the debates. I suck up all the air in the studio and they become invisible. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and what’s his face from Ohio become mere shadows of the Donald. I’m really the blond bombshell of the year. I’m the Marilyn Monroe of politics.
Q. Marilyn Monroe? Really?
NDT. Heck, Marilyn had some girth around the middle at the end, love handles like me. Not like Rosie.
Q. As a New Yorker, one would think that you are actually a good deal more liberal than you talk.
NDT: I believe strongly in whatever my speechwriters compose that day.
Q. You’ve called for no taxes for people who make less than $50,000. How are you going to make up for that loss of income in your budgets?
NDT. Look, that’s way too complicated to explain to the American public. Only experts at the Congressional Budget Office understand these things.
Q. Your plan to build The Great Wall of America on the Mexican border seems to be popular in some quarters.
NDT: The Donald knows what voters want. You can’t have a bunch of little brown banditos coming to New York City like barbarian hordes and doing all the preparing, cooking, and waiting on tables in our restaurants. They would take all the jobs away from my fellow Wharton grads.
Q. How did you calculate the 8 billion figure for this great wall?
NDT: Look, the American people trust the Donald to figure out these things because he’s a real estate genius and can say “You’re fired” to foreign leaders who disagree with him. And as I’ve made clear, I’ll simply call up the leader of Mexico, whoever the hell that is, and tell him to put up the wall and pay for it himself.
Q. And Mexico would just do that?
NDT: You’ve got to understand that when the Donald says jump, other world leaders and members of Congress are simply going to ask, “How high?”
Q. Speaking of Congress. You have no experience whatsoever in government.
NDT: I’m going to be more successful with Congress than LBJ. And here’s why! Every Republican in Congress owes me big time from contributing to their campaigns. All I have to do is call the up and remind them of my generosity, and they will vote for anything I demand.
Q. And if they don’t?
NDT: I’ll bring in the heavy artillery. I’ll have Regis and Kathy Lee and Michael and my lunch partners at the Plaza pressure them.
Q. You’re coming from a background in high society and reality TV. Why are you so popular with some regular people?
NDT: World Wide Wrestling. As David Brooks pointed out recently, I was a huge success working with World Wide Wrestling, which you know has more cash than any sports media related business.
Q. How could you possibly beat a candidate such as Secretary Clinton, since you probably can’t even win your own state of New York?
NDT: I don’t even know why Hillary is running against me because she loves me so much. Like most women, she daydreams about playing footsie with me under the table at dinner. She and Bill even came to my wedding, I forget which one.
Q. Besides building The Great Wall of America, what do you intend to do in foreign policy, should you win?
NDT: Well, of course besides keeping the Muslims and Mexicans out, I’ll do the easy stuff first, such as imposing peace in the Middle East.
NDT: The first thing everybody needs to know about the Donald is that he’s a master negotiator. Build a few hotels on the Gaza strip, a few new shopping malls for Tel Aviv, presto---an Israeli-Palestinian peace. I expect the new capital of Palestine will be called Trump Town.
Q. How are you going to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq? And will you send more ground troops to Iraq to deal with ISIS?
NDT: That’s a tough question. Got an easier one?
Q. Not really.
NDT: Oh, all right, I’m not going to be PC here because that would ruin my image, but those war things are really too complicated to explain. They are better explained by our war planners at the Pentagon. And you can bet if things go wrong in Iraq when I’m President, those things WILL be explained by the Pentagon.
Q. And if they go right?
NDT: It will prove, of course, what everybody already knows. The Donald is a genius.
Q. You don’t like tough questions. How will you handle the White House press corps?
NDT: If the news media at the White House asks biased questions, which I define as ones that don’t make me look good, then goodbye, don’t hit your butts on the way out the door. Read my lips, no more presidential press conferences. You’re finished. You’re fired.
---Hansen Alexander is a New York attorney and author of six books. The latest, "The Life and Trials of Roger Clemens," will be released by McFarland in the fall.
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.