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Opinion | The Ronald Reagan Guide to Joe Biden’s Political Future

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As his first year in office comes to a close, an ambitious new president is on the decline. His legislative agenda has stalled in a fractious Congress. Voters are angry over inflation and other economic concerns, and he is struggling to find his footing on the world stage.

Allies and critics say the president and his party have made a major misstep, mistaking their successful defeat of an incumbent president for a decisive mandate in favor of their program. The result has been a flagging approval rating, a disenchanted public and an opposition party with the wind at its back. If elections for Congress were held today, there’s no question that the president would lose out to the mounting backlash against his administration.

What year is this? Not 2021, but 1981, and the president is Ronald Reagan, who at the end of his first year in office was described in exactly these terms. “As the president heads into his second year,” Hedrick Smith wrote in The New York Times Magazine in January 1982, “a lot of the magic is gone and the politics of optimism has fallen on hard times. Recession has hit with a force totally unexpected in the euphoric high tide of Reaganism last summer.” Reagan’s “present headaches,” Smith continued, “reflect the life-cycle of the modern American presidency — flashy freshman beginnings, followed by a sophomore slump, with some third-year recovery or dazzling achievement.”

The more you read of Smith’s description of Reagan’s first year in office, the more familiar it sounds: “It is as if there were a rhythm to the political process that not only insures exaggerated tolerance in the honeymoon period but also dictates a political downswing as each new president bogs down toward the end of his first year in the frustrating unpredictability of the economy, the self-inflicted wounds from internal rivalries and failings, the troubling actions of foreign powers and the election-year nervousness and independence of Congress.”

We have, in other words, an analysis of Reagan’s 1981 that could, with few alterations, be published as an assessment of Biden’s 2021. Not because the two men or the two years are that similar, but because, as Smith suggests, there is a rhythm to the presidency. Or, to put this in less lyrical terms, the structural position of the office makes it difficult to be both popular and ambitious. With notably rare exceptions, a president is either one or the other.

It is well known, among political scientists at least, that public opinion functions like a thermostat, in which voters try to adjust the temperature of policy when it moves too far in either direction. When President Donald Trump demonized unauthorized immigrants and tried to end migration through the southern border, most Americans expressed support for a more open approach to immigration policy. Biden has not moved as far in the opposite direction from Trump as he promised during his campaign, but the extent to which he is perceived to be more liberal on immigration has pushed the overall public in a more conservative direction.

This points us to one of the most important aspects of thermostatic public opinion. As the political scientist Matt Grossmann explained on Twitter, “Thermostatic politics does not require Biden to change his policy proposals from the campaign. It also does not require close voter attention to policy detail. It just requires voters to see or expect a leftward change in policy from Trump.”

The more ambitious a president is or appears to be, the stronger the thermostatic reaction against him. Biden has spent most of this year broadcasting the size and scope of his proposed agenda and has signed, thus far, two bills totaling nearly $3 trillion in spending. That is ambitious, to say the least, and we should expect the public to react in response.

Combine a thermostatic response against Biden with the usual first-year decline (as we saw with Reagan), and you have the first part of a structural explanation for the president’s political woes.

Missing in this equation is the economy. What’s striking about Biden’s position relative to Reagan’s is that, unlike his predecessor, he is presiding over the most robust recovery in recent memory. A strong economy is supposed to give the president a lift, but Biden is currently underwater with most voters.

There are other factors at work. Voters are attuned to inflation and the price of gas — the most visible price in most communities — has gone up relative to last year, when economic activity collapsed as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic, of course, is ongoing. And the recent surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 has almost certainly contributed to Biden’s declining fortunes. Compare Biden to other world leaders and you’ll notice that each is dealing with a similar decline in overall popularity. Justin Trudeau of Canada and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand are at 41 percent approval; Emmanuel Macron of France is at 40 percent; and Boris Johnson of Britain is at 32 percent.

As much as each of these leaders has issues (and scandals) that are particular to their political situations, it is also true that each has presided over new waves of infection driven by the Delta variant.

Biden is much less popular now than he was at the beginning of the year. Perhaps, as some observers say, it’s because he and his party are too “woke,” too liberal, too disconnected from the experiences of ordinary Americans.

Maybe some or all of that is true. But before you jump on your hobby horse, it’s worth looking at the bigger picture. It is hard to act as an ambitious president without incurring a penalty, even if your policies are popular, as Biden’s are. It is also hard, as president, to be popular, period. Every person who has held the office has hit a rough spot and struggled to regain his footing.

Biden is down now. If the usual pattern is any indication, he’ll recover. And in the same way that the decline was largely out of his hands, we’ll have to remember that the upswing was as well.

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Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani release date February 10 2023 teaser BTS video

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Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh's 'Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani' to release on THIS date; watch BTS video
Image Source : YOUTUBE

Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh’s ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’ to release on THIS date; watch BTS video

The makers of ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’ starring Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh have finally announced the release date of the film. Taking to Instagram on Monday afternoon, ace filmmaker Karan Johar shared the good news and informed that the film will release on February 10, 2023 in theatres. Alongside the first BTS video, Johar wrote in the caption, “After 7 long years, it gives me such joy and gratitude to be here and announcing that my next #RockyAurRaniKiPremKahani, a love story at its heart with the soul of family values – is releasing on 10th February, 2023. See you in cinemas with an abundance of entertainment that we are getting ready for you!” 

Alia also shared the same and wrote, “Loading it up with music, dance, an ensemble cast, a dash of drama and a whole lot of love just for you! #RockyAurRaniKiPremKahani releasing in cinemas on 10th February, 2023! See you there to make this kahani complete.” While Ranveer posted,”Isse kehte hai full entertainment ka dhamaka! We’re coming to you with love in our hearts blessed with parivaar ke sanskaar. #RockyAurRaniKiPremKahani releasing in cinemas on 10th February, 2023! #RRKPK.”

Have a look at the same here:

Watch the full video here:

From the past few days, pictures of the trio shooting in Delhi have been going viral on the internet. A day ago, Ranveer and Alia were spotted at Qutub Minar, where they reportedly filmed a song from the film. Several pictures from the shoot have been doing the rounds on the internet. In the images, Ranveer can be seen wearing a white shirt, while Alia looks gorgeous in a white saree.

Even Karan shared a set of pictures on his Instagram handle featuring the team of the film. He shared a post and anounced that the release date of the film will be out on Monday. Sharing a selfie, Karan wrote, “We announce our release tomorrow !!!! #rockyaurranikipremkahani ! Watch this space so excited ! @ranveersingh @aliaabhatt.”

Apart from Alia and Ranveer, the film also stars– Shabana Azmi, Dharmendra, and Jaya Bachchan. Also, Saif Ali Khan’s son Ibrahim is working as an assistant director on the film.

A few days ago, celebrity designer Manish Malhotra treated us with a priceless picture of veteran stars Dharmendra and Shabana Azmi from the sets of ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’ in the capital. In the image, Manish can be seen taking a selfie with the two of them. Shabana Azmi can be seen wearing a blue checked saree while sitting next to Dharmendra who sported a navy blue jacket and a scarf. “Selfie Time With all the favourites today,” Manish captioned the post.

 

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Ties that bind: Missouri Senate candidate hopes Trump notices neckwear | Missouri

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Senate candidates endorsed by Donald Trump have struggled of late, from Sean Parnell’s withdrawal in Pennsylvania while denying allegations of domestic abuse to the former NFL star Herschel Walker angering party leaders with his run in Georgia.

But to one candidate for the Republican nomination in Missouri, Congressman Billy Long, the former president’s endorsement still carries the ultimate weight.

“If he endorses in this race,” the 66-year-old told Politico, “I don’t care who he endorses, it’s over … And that’s what I’m trying to impress upon him is that, you know, ‘You need to get involved in this race and put an end to it.’”

Long said he would tell the former president: “You’re looking at the guy that was with you from day one.’ Never ever left. I mean, look at this tie.”

The former auctioneer duly showed off his neckwear, a gold striped number signed, apparently in his signature Sharpie marker, by Trump himself.

Long said Trump signed the $37 tie in Nevada in 2016, when Long spoke on his behalf. Long has had – and auctioned off – other ties signed by the president, including a striking example featuring flags and caricatures which Long wore to the State of the Union in 2019.

Trump’s own ties played a prominent role in the 2016 election and its aftermath.

In 2015, Macy’s made news when it dropped Trump’s menswear line – many headlines said the retail giant was “cutting ties” – over his racist remarks about Mexicans at his campaign launch.

In 2019, the former New Jersey governor and Trump ally Chris Christie revealed that Trump advised him to wear longer ties in order to look slimmer.

Politico described Long as “built like a lineman” and said he spoke with a “thick ‘Missoura’ twang”. In Missoura’, whose other sitting senator is the Trump-supporting controversialist Josh Hawley, a large field is jostling to replace the retiring Roy Blunt.

One candidate, Mark McCloskey, rose to fame in 2020 when he and his wife pointed guns at protesters for racial justice near their home in St Louis. Both pleaded guilty to misdemeanours. Another, Eric Greitens, resigned as governor in 2018, amid scandals over sex and campaign finance. Criminal charges were dropped.

Long wears a tie signed by Trump at a White House ceremony for the St Louis Blues hockey team.
Long wears a tie signed by Trump at a White House ceremony for the St Louis Blues hockey team. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Speaking to Politico, Long called Greitens “Chuck Schumer’s candidate”, a reference to the Democratic leader who will defend control of the Senate next year, hoping to face weak or controversial Republicans in key states.

A spokesperson for Greitens told Politico: “Billy Long is a much better comedian than he is a Senate candidate.”

Observers including Blunt said Long, who also has a habit of handing out fake money with Trump’s face on it, had a chance of winning Trump’s endorsement.

But though Long voted to object to electoral college results in 2020 he has also recognised Joe Biden as president, thereby failing a key test in a party in Trump’s grip.

Long told Politico he would not follow his leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, to Florida to worship the party’s golden idol.

“I have people say: ‘Call him, call him every day. Go sit at Mar-a-Lago and tell him you’re not leaving till he endorses,’” Long said. “I’m smart enough to know that’s not going to win favour with Donald Trump.”

Others might say that it would.

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From symptoms to precautions, what you need to know about Omicron — Covid’s latest horror

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Omicron patients reported extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, a scratchy throat and dry cough.


Omicron patients reported extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, a scratchy throat and dry cough. | Representative image&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 — Omicron — has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization.

  • A South African doctor said that the Omicron patients she treated had “unfamiliar symptoms”.

  • The Omicron patients have shown extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough, with a few reporting slightly high temperature.

The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 — Omicron — has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 26, 2021. The variant, belonging to a lineage named B.1.1.529, is possibly even more transmissible than the highly infectious Delta variant as per early indications. The experts opine that the current vaccines may be less effective against it. While a lot of things about the variant are still unclear even to the epidemiologists, preliminary data has some revelations.

How infectious is Omicron

From what is known currently through preliminary analysis, this variant is highly infectious. The Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) has said that South Africa has reported a four-fold increase in new cases, coinciding with the emergence of Omicron over the last two weeks. Further, the NGS-SA added that the rapid and consistent rise in the number of cases is most likely fuelled by cluster outbreaks. The Omicron cases have shown a marked increase in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the NGS-SA speculates that the variant has already travelled to most other provinces as well. WHO has maintained that epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if the increased number of cases is because of Omicron or whether there are other factors.  

What are the symptoms

Coming to the symptoms, there is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants, according to the WHO.  The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa maintains the same, saying that currently, “no unusual symptoms” have been reported following infection with the Omicron variant, though highlighting that some individuals who tested positive are asymptomatic, as the case with other infectious variants such as Delta.

However, a South African doctor who raised the alarm over this new variant has revealed that the patients she treated had mild but unfamiliar symptoms, according to an AFP report. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, said that she had seen around 30 patients over the past 10 days who tested positive for Covid-19 but had unfamiliar symptoms. The symptoms included mild muscle aches, a “scratchy throat” and dry cough, and only a few had a slightly high temperature, she said adding that these very mild symptoms were different to other variants. 

Do the patients require hospitalisation

On the hospitalisation requirement, WHO said that there are increasing rates of hospitalisation in South Africa in the clusters where the variant seems to have been reported most widely. However, the health body is quick to add that the increasing rates may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected. Coetzee confirms the same and adds that her patients recovered fully without hospitalisation.

What is the vulnerable group

What was concerning, however, was the age group that showed an increased vulnerability to Omicron. Of the 30-odd patients that Coetzee treated, most were men under the age of 40. Less than half of them were vaccinated. It is very much possible that they could be of the same cluster. Initially, the reported infections were among university students — younger individuals who tend to have milder forms of the disease. However, WHO stresses that understanding the level of severity and the vulnerable targets will take days to several weeks.   

What about re-infection

According to WHO, preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, meaning that people who have previously had COVID-19 could be re-infected more easily with Omicron, as compared to other variants of concern. However, the information is limited and cannot be taken as absolutely certain.

Do the existing vaccinations help

Well, that’s another grey area. According to preliminary studies, vaccines are 40 per cent less effective on this variant — thanks to the 32 mutations in the spike protein. The currently available vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike from older versions of the virus. However, since the spike protein looks so different on Omicron, the body’s immune system may not be able to recognise and fight it off.

Further, of the 32, three mutations — H655Y, N679K and P681H — help the virus penetrate the body’s cells more easily, and two mutations — R203K and G204R — help the virus replicate faster. The mutations P681H and N679K which are “rarely seen together” could make Omicron is more resistant to vaccines, according to British scientists as per a report in Daily Mail.

However real-time data shows that high vaccination rates significantly reduce the stress that Omicron causes on health systems. Experts have stressed that vaccination remains crucial to protect groups at high risk of hospitalisation and death.

How to prevent it

The same protocol that has been put in place since the outbreak of the pandemic — Covid-appropriate behaviour including wearing masks, social distancing, good ventilation in shared spaces, and sanitising hands and surfaces regularly. As WHO puts it, the pandemic is far from over and the emergence of the new variant establishes that for certain.

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