The key question Joe Biden must answer in his debut UN General Assembly speech

Can’t wait to see what happens here. fls

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

Updated 5:23 AM ET, Tue September 21, 2021

This will be most consequential week of Biden’s presidencyCNNThis will be most consequential week of Biden’s presidency 01:53

(CNN)As President Joe Biden makes his presidential debut at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the question is not whether America wants to lead the world any longer, but whether it can.During his inaugural address, Biden promised that “we will not lead merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” But eight months on, that shining example is looking a little tarnished — even as the US remains the indispensable anchor of Western democracy.Increasing doubts surround Biden’s self-described foreign policy expertise and his capacity to both quell America’s raging domestic political chaos and to put a superpower’s stamp on a world bristling with challenges to US authority.

Global uncertainty about Biden’s presidency runs deeper than the debate over whether he is pushing a kinder version of ex-President Donald Trump’s “America First” creed, following the chaotic US exit from Afghanistan and a spat with France after the US and United Kingdom subverted their longtime ally’s submarine deal with Australia.

Trump used his UN addresses to lay out his vision of a world of individual sovereign powers individually pursuing self-interest. Biden, for all his current domestic focus, has long been an internationalist committed to US alliances.

But for 70 years following World War II, the United States for the most part offered strength, predictability and strategic certainty. Its might at home translated to power abroad and it bankrolled and bolstered the West against totalitarian threats to democracy, despite periods of domestic political strife.That ended with Trump’s erratic, temperamental presidency, which put US postwar alliances in Europe and Asia to their greatest test. And while Biden lacks the ex-President’s volcanic character, a new age of friendship with allies did not suddenly dawn with a new leader in the Oval Office. The new President has exacerbated, rather than eradicated, questions about US staying power abroad in defense of its vital national interests. And amid China’s rise, Russia’s power games and emerging threats like cyberwarfare and climate change, America’s reputation as a bulwark against global threats is in doubt.

Doubts over Biden’s vow that ‘America is back’

Biden set to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly

Biden set to address world leaders at the UN General AssemblyThe United States still has plenty of advantages. Its easy access to capital powers technological innovation. A young, diverse population is a growth engine. Its state-of-the-art military technology has few peers. Millions want a piece of US culture and markets — the fury of European powers over pandemic travel restrictions for vaccinated citizens, which the administration only announced on Monday it would soon lift, proves that.But America’s fierce political polarization, supercharged by Trump’s presidency, will still undercut Biden’s vows Tuesday that “America is back.”When he warns that democracy is in peril around the world, Biden will do so from the extraordinary position of being falsely accused by his predecessor of stealing the last election. US presidents usually use the UN to blast coup attempts. Biden is the first to appear before the world body in the wake of a homegrown assault on the world’s most important democracy, following the Capitol Insurrection by Trump supporters on January 6.Questions about American resolve abroad are only deepened by national divides that are broader now than since the Civil War. And if Trump does not return for the 2024 campaign, many US allies fear one of his acolytes will still win the White House.An eighth of the way through Biden’s term, the refusal of Trump to accept his defeat and successful attempts by Republican legislatures to suppress voting have only exacerbated concerns that US democracy may be yet to face its greatest threat.Some of the President’s own decisions may also undercut his speech.If he chooses to speak out in favor of human rights, including women’s rights — another plank of his foreign policy — his message will be weakened by harsh new Taliban restrictions imposed on women and girls following the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Pledges to pursue relentless “over the horizon” military action against terrorists will recall the tragedy of an Afghan family, including seven children, killed in a mistaken drone strike in Kabul. Biden’s vows to restore American alliances look less convincing amid the worst diplomatic showdown with France in decades and after what appeared to perfunctory consultations with allies over leaving Afghanistan.

How Washington could destabilize the world

Joe Biden's challenge at his first UN General Assembly: Convince allies he's not another Trump

Joe Biden’s challenge at his first UN General Assembly: Convince allies he’s not another TrumpUS economic might is a vital element of Washington’s power. But it could cause chaos within weeks since Republicans are refusing to agree to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, a crisis that could tip the US economy into default and the global economy into crisis.Biden’s attempts to lead the world in the battle against climate change risk being undone not by Republicans but his own Democratic Party. Splits between moderates and progressives are imperiling spending and infrastructure bills containing billions of dollars for a green economy and climate mitigation. If the US can’t set an example, the UN Climate Summit that will take place in Scotland in November could founder and worsen a coming age of extreme weather.Biden will speak at the United Nations amid a glaring lack of global leadership on another threat to humanity: the worst pandemic in 100 years. While the US led the way in developing vaccines in super-quick time and has bought hundreds of millions of doses for developing nations, vast areas of the world remain unvaccinated, meaning the pandemic is nowhere near over.American leadership is undermined by its own struggles with Covid-19. On Monday, it recorded its 675,000th death in the crisis, passing its total in the 1918 flu pandemic, as the virus exposed many of the county’s cultural and political chasms.”We have lost 100,000 Americans since April or May — almost all of them unvaccinated, almost all of those deaths preventable,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday.

Foreign policy begins at home

President Joe Biden meets with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in New York.

A boyband, Boris and Biden’s debut. UNGA gets underway 02:18Biden understands that domestic disunity and turmoil weaken the United States abroad. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spelled it out during his first major speech in office in March.”More than at any other time in my career — maybe in my lifetime — distinctions between domestic and foreign policy have simply fallen away,” Blinken said. “Our domestic renewal and our strength in the world are completely entwined.”Both Biden and Blinken believe that for foreign policy to be successful, it must receive buy-in from working- and middle-class Americans. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was a clear case of this approach in action, as Biden promised working Americans they’d no longer have to send their kids off to war.Meanwhile, Biden’s huge $3.5 trillion spending plan, currently in limbo on Capitol Hill, is stuffed with health care, education, home care and other social programs meant to restore American strength — literally, nation building at home. And increasingly, US economic, diplomatic, military and soft power is being trained across multiple sectors on the next great American mission: maintaining an edge over a rising Chinese superpower.To that end, Biden will host the leaders of Japan, India and Australia in Washington this week, in a summit of so-called Quad powers, in a rare show of continuity with the Trump administration, which pushed the grouping in an unmistakable message to Beijing.

Missteps and oblivion

Joe Biden's self-created image of foreign policy savvy has taken a serious blow

Joe Biden’s self-created image of foreign policy savvy has taken a serious blowOne surprise of the Biden era has been the ham-handedness of foreign policy management.The showdown with France was triggered by a US desire to quickly scale up its military posture in Asia in the face of China’s aggressive naval expansion. The deal among the US, UK and Australia — dubbed “AUKUS” — will see a fleet of new nuclear-powered submarines head down under and canceled France’s previous agreement to build conventional boats for Australia.But in bolstering one alliance, Washington badly damaged another. France saw the deal as a betrayal by its anglophone partners and recalled its ambassadors to Canberra and Washington. While Biden is expected to try to ease tensions in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron this week, the estrangement is bound to fuel a belief in Europe that — in its zeal to meet the rising threat from China — the US is turning away from Europe.

It’s hard to believe that there wasn’t a way for the Biden administration to pursue its goals in Asia without insulting a friend in Europe. The chaos of the Afghan withdrawal, which left the US effectively relying on its Taliban enemies of 20 years to secure Kabul’s airport — a scenario that resulted in the deaths of 13 American service personnel and more than 170 others in a suicide bombing — was emblematic of a poorly planned operation, even if the military managed to extract more than 120,000 US citizens and allies. After the withdrawal, Biden barely mentioned the sacrifices of US allies in a war they joined to defend the US after the September 11 attacks.Ultimately, however, US allies have little choice but to learn how to deal with the Biden team, accept its missteps and adapt to its new foreign policy goals. Because if the US can’t or won’t lead, who will?

Donald Trump’s Legal Troubles: A Guide

Donald Trump’s Legal Troubles: A Guide

From tax evasion to election tampering to inciting an insurrection, a comprehensive list of the criminal and civil allegations against the former president


  • Blog question: Why does this seem to be taking so long?
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Donald Trump exits the White House to walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Following last week's deadly pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill, President Trump is making his first public appearance with a trip to the border town of Alamo, Texas to view the partial construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is no stranger to legal trouble, but it’s never been anything he couldn’t solve with his checkbook. Just after he won the White House, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges that Trump University swindled thousands of students. He later paid another $2 million for misusing his charitable foundation, which was shuttered after authorities documented a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “repeated and willful self-dealing.”

But Trump isn’t going to be able to buy his way out of criminal charges, which he could soon be facing now that he’s the subject of an array of serious criminal investigations — including over shady business dealings and real-estate tax arrangements, as well as his incitement of the January 6th siege of the Capitol. (Trump has made light of the probes against him, writing: “There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime.”)


How the War on Terror Gave Us TrumpTrump Thinks the General Who Lost the Civil War Definitely Would Have Won the Afghanistan War

Trump also faces myriad civil actions, ranging from allegations he violated the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act (which prohibits the intimidation of public officials), to multiple claims that he defrauded people, including a family member, an investor that bought into his troubled hotel ventures, and “economically marginalized people” looking to “pursue the American Dream.”

The prosecution of a former president would be unprecedented, and the notion that Trump could face dire consequences is hard to fathom given his ability to elude them. As president, he was shielded from prosecution; this is no longer the case. “This is a significant concern for him because he’s no longer in office,” says Rebecca Roiphe, an a professor at New York Law School and former assistant DA in Manhattan. “If he committed a crime like anyone else, I don’t exactly understand how he could escape it.”

Trump will still be able to cry “witch hunt” as the investigations continue to develop, leading some to believe his legal trouble could actually help him should he decide to run again in 2024. And in case you’re wondering, a federal conviction would not disqualify him from doing so.

Below, we cover the waterfront of Trump’s legal troubles:


Manhattan District Attorney

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance battled all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain eight years worth of Trump’s tax returns and other records — reportedly comprising millions of pages of documents. Vance now has a team poring over these records, and the two-year investigation that began over hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 election now appears to include potential bank and insurance fraud, as well as other potential financial crimes.

In May, a grand jury convened to hear evidence from prosecutors, a signal that the investigation could be entering its final stages. The DA’s office is zeroing in on longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, probing whether he failed to pay taxes on fringe benefits he received from the company — including cars, apartments, and private school tuition for his grandchild. Prosecutors are also investigating whether Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari enjoyed similar tax-free benefits, indicating the alleged illicit activity could be a company-wide issue. (Neither Weisselberg nor Calamari have commented on the probes or been formally accused of wrongdoing.)

On July 1st, the DA’s office charged Weisselberg and the Trump Organization with 15 counts of various financial crimes, including federal tax fraud, falsifying business records, grand larceny, and scheme conspiracy. The indictment described a 15-year scheme to provide tax-free benefits to top executives, including Weisselberg, who is alleged to have skirted paying over $1.7 million in taxes. “To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme,” Carey Dunne, general counsel for the Manhattan DA, said in court.

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization both pleaded not guilty, with the latter describing the charges as “politics.” A week after they were charged, the Trump Organization began removing Weisselberg from his leadership positions within the company, according to the Times.

Trump was not charged, but the “sweeping” nature of the alleged scheme could open him up to liability. “If this is the way the entire organization is run, then I think we’re getting into the realm where it’s far more dangerous for Trump himself,” says Roiphe, the former assistant DA. “As long as it’s rogue actors and he can push it off on them, then he’s fine. The more pervasive it is and the more people who have high-level responsibility are included, the more likely it is that he’s in some way involved.”

The question now is whether Weisselberg will flip on Trump. Weisselberg has so far refused to do so, but that could change if he’s indicted. “It’s one thing to be loyal to somebody, up until the point where you’re doing jail time for them,” says Roiphe. “It’s quite another when you’re facing that reality.”

New York Attorney General

The state of New York began investigating a civil fraud case against the Trump Organization for its real estate business practices in 2019. But in May of this year, the office of Attorney General Letitia James announced a serious evolution: “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature,” said spokesperson Fabien Levy. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”

Collaboration between the two offices is unusual, but it makes sense considering the overlap in their probes. According to The New York Times, two assistant AGs from James’ office have joined the DA’s team, and James’ office is not conducting its own independent criminal investigation.

In addition to the Weisselberg issues, James has reportedly been investigating potential financial fraud relating to several Trump Organization properties, including the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York. Trump bought the estate for $7.5 million in 1995, failed to turn it into a golf resort, and later claimed a $21 million tax break for conserving its grounds as open space. Trump is infamous for inflating the paper value of his assets, and he reportedly secured an appraisal that valued the full estate in excess of $56 million. Local authorities, by contrast, believed the entire property, Tudor-style mansion and all, was worth only $20 million, less than the deduction Trump claimed for the protected land.

James’ office is also said to be scrutinizing the Trump Tower in Chicago. One of Trump’s lenders reportedly forgave a debt of $100 million on the property in 2012, and authorities are looking into whether Trump paid the necessary taxes on the debt forgiveness. The finances of Trump Organization properties in Los Angeles (Trump National Golf Club) and New York City (40 Wall Street) also appear under the AG’s microscope.

It may seem like Trump is a sitting duck, but Roiphe, the former assistant DA, stresses the difficulties prosecutors will face. “There are a lot of these sorts of crimes that go unpunished,” she says. “There are times when you can be convinced 100 percent as a prosecutor that a crime has been committed, you can know who committed that crime, and you are incapable of bringing that case. It’s frustrating, but it’s the way it works.”

The greatest challenge is not demonstrating wrongdoing, but criminal intent. “It is extremely hard and extremely resource intensive to prove,” Roiphe adds. “There is still a chance that even if he did all of this, and orchestrated a company that was corrupt through and through, he might get away with it.”


Georgia (criminal)

In his crusade to overturn the results of the 2020 election and promote the Big Lie that Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate, Trump turned up the pressure on Georgia election authorities. Fulton County DA Fani Willis is now investigating whether Trump pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on a recorded phone call to “find” sufficient Trump votes to overturn the election violated state law, specifically: election fraud conspiracy, criminal solicitation of election fraud, and/or interference with elections duties.

Read letters sent by the DA announcing the investigation.

Michigan/NAACP (civil)

Voting rights activists in Michigan, joined by the NAACP, are suing Trump for conduct alleged to violate the Voting Rights Act. Trump’s Big Lie pressure campaign included lobbying Wayne County Republican officials against certifying the election totals for the jurisdiction that includes Detroit. The Voting Rights Act forbids the intimidation of voting officials. “[B]y exerting pressure on state and local officials,” the complaint reads, “defendants attempted to and did intimidate and or coerce state and local officials from aiding Plaintiffs and other residents of Detroit, Milwaukee, and other major cities with large Black populations from having their votes ‘counted properly and included in the appropriate totals of votes cast.’”

The suit seeks a declaration that Trump violated the Voting Rights Act and a restraining order forcing the former president to obtain court approval “prior to engaging in any activities related to recounts, certifications, or similar post-election activities.”

Read the complaint.


Washington, D.C., Attorney General (criminal)

The Attorney General for the District of Columbia announced a criminal investigation into the 45th president’s activities on January 6th, and is reportedly looking at bringing charges against Trump under a local statute that makes it “unlawful for a person to incite or provoke violence where there is a likelihood that such violence will ensue.” The charge reportedly carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.

U.S. Capitol Officers (civil)

Two Capitol police officers who were beaten, maced, poked with flag poles, and pinned against the doors of the Capitol have filed a civil suit against Trump for inciting the violence they endured. “As the leader of this violent mob,” their complaint reads, “Trump was in a position of extraordinary influence over his followers, who committed assault and battery“ on the officers. Conspiracy claims added to the suit allege Trump was in cahoots with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, violent groups whose members stormed the Capitol. “Defendant Trump conspired with the Proud Boys and others to, among other things, incite an unlawful riot on January 6 with the goal of disrupting congressional certification of President Biden’s electoral victory,” it reads. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Read the complaint.

Seven Capitol police officers in August filed a separate lawsuit alleging Trump others violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed during Reconstruction after the Civil War to beat back violent white supremacists in the South, and which forbids conspiracies “to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat” U.S. officeholders from discharging their duties or forcing them to leave the location where those duties must be performed. The suit claims the defendants’ “unlawful efforts culminated in the January 6 mass attack on the United States Capitol and the brutal, physical assault of hundreds of law enforcement officers.” It also alleges that Trump worked “in concert” with far-right extremists to push the election lie that led to the attack.

Read the complaint.

Members of Congress (civil)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the NAACP have filed a civil suit alleging a “violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act.” Thompson and the NAACP claim that “Defendants Trump, Giulini, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers plotted, coordinated and executed a common plan to prevent Congress from discharging its official duties in certifying the results of the presidential election.” The suit seeks a declaration that Trump violated the KKK Act and an order enjoining him from future violations.

Read the complaint.

Former presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) has also sued Trump for inciting the insurrection. “Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun,” the complaint reads. (Swalwell also names as defendants Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and GOP colleague Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at the rally and whom Swalwell alleges “directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed.”)

Read the complaint.


E. Jean Carroll (civil)

In 2019, E. Jean Carroll wrote a book claiming Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-90s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room. Trump brushed off the accusation, claiming Carroll was “totally lying,” that he didn’t know her, and that the advice columnist and magazine journalist was “not my type.” Carroll sued for defamation. Trump got the Justice Department to stand in as his legal representation, arguing the allegedly defamatory conduct was committed as part of his official duties. Last October, a federal judge ruled the DOJ shouldn’t be standing in for Trump, writing that the president wasn’t a protected “employee” of the government under the statutes in question and that, “Even if he were such an ‘employee,’ President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment.” But the Trump DOJ took the case to federal appeals court. The Biden DOJ is now defending Trump’s claim that the alleged defamation was part of the president’s official conduct.

Carroll’s lawyer Robbie Kaplan tweeted: “The DOJ’s position is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalizing any woman who has the courage to come forward. Calling a woman you sexually assaulted a ‘liar,’ a ‘slut,’ or ‘not my type’ — as Donald Trump did here — is NOT the official act of an American president.” The suit seeks to force Trump “to retract any and all defamatory statements” as well as to pay compensatory and punitive damages.

Read the complaint.

Summer Zervos (civil)

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, filed a suit alleging Trump defamed her in 2016 when he called her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault in 2007. Zervos was one of several women who publicly accused Trump of sexually predatory behavior prior to the 2016 election, claiming that he kissed and groped her without her consent on multiple occasions. Trump called her story “phony,” prompting the lawsuit. “Donald Trump lied again, and again, and again, and again,” the complaint reads. “In doing so, he used his national and international bully pulpit to make false factual statements to denigrate and verbally attack Ms. Zervos and the other women.”

Trump tried to block the suit, arguing that as president he was immune from legal action. The suit was hung up in the courts for the remainder of Trump’s time in office, but this March the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that it could proceed. The decision could result in Trump being forced to testify under oath. “Now as a private citizen, the defendant has no further excuse to delay justice from Ms. Zervos and we are eager to get back to the trial court and prove her claims,” said Zervos lawyer Beth Wilkinson, according to the Times.

Read the complaint.


Mary Trump, the former president’s niece and author of a tell-all book about her uncle, was an heir to the family fortune when patriarch Fred Trump died. After The New York Times’ 2018 expose about the trajectory of Donald Trump’s fortune and how he routinely manipulated the price of his assets, Mary realized she’d been bought out of her share of the Trump fortune unfavorably. She sued Donald and others in the family, alleging they’d carried out “a complex scheme to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited.” Mary, the daughter of Donald’s brother Fred Jr., accused Donald and her other relatives of having “willfully, egregiously, and repeatedly abused their position of trust” to rob her “in order to maximize their own profits.” The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Read the complaint.


The Attorney General of D.C. has sued Trump over diverting 2017 inauguration funds to Trump properties, alleging that the nonprofit inaugural committee “wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment” to Trump businesses that charged exorbitant rates, including $175,000 for a ballroom that usually rented for $5,000. The AG alleges “the Trump Entities … unconscionably benefited from nonprofit funds required to be used for the public good.” The suit seeks to have the ill-gotten gains from the Trump properties donated to public-serving nonprofits.

Read the complaint.


In 2018, the Trump family was hit with a class-action lawsuit from a group of anonymous Americans who claimed they were duped by Trump into joining a multi-level marketing scheme — run by a third party called ACN — which Trump was secretly paid to promote. (ACN, itself, is not being sued in this litigation.) The lawsuit alleges that Trump, his company, and his offspring executives Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr. “operated a large and complex enterprise with a singular goal: to enrich themselves by systematically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own small businesses, and pursue the American Dream.” The suit asks for class-action status, which would allow others to join the litigation, and for “actual, compensatory, statutory [and] consequential damages.” It also seeks the “disgorgement of all ill gotten gains” by the Trumps.

Read the complaint.


The Trump Organization managed a 70-story, sail-shaped high-rise hotel and condo complex in Panama City from 2011 to 2018. In 2019, the investment group Ithaca Capital Partners filed a suit alleging it was fraudulently induced to buy a majority stake in the business by Trump, who’d warranted that the luxury complex was well maintained and successful as a business. In fact, the suit alleges, the Trump Organization was “grossly mismanaging its operations of the former Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama including causing intentional damage to the Hotel Amenities Units and failing to pay income taxes to the Panamanian government.” The suit seeks “not less than” $17 million in damages plus attorney fees.

Read the complaint.

In This Article: Allen WeisselbergCy VanceDonald TrumpE. Jean CarrollLetitia JamesMatthew CalamariSummer ZervosTrump Organization

Biden’s Authority to Mandate Vaccines Stems From Law Protecting Workers From ‘Grave Dangers’

Shiels Blog intro:

We are at a turning point: two great swirling political nebulae: 1. yes, more government (e.g. Biden) will protect progressive (worker, climate, environment, underserved, women’s autonomy/agency, stimulation of the economy by government Action v. 2. No, less government (Republicans’): free market, less State interference, less concern about government “climate science”, less affirmative action, limits to abortion, rejection of federal gun legislation. This administration, more than those of Obama and Clinton, appears pushed by elements of the Democratic Party to a truly Progressive experiment, perhaps helped by the Covid Plague, to attempt truly ambitious feats not seen since the 1960’s or 1930’s.

White House officials believe the law is a legitimate and legal way to combat the pandemic, though they acknowledge it has never been used to require vaccines.

President Biden’s assertion of far-reaching executive authority this week appeared to be on strong legal ground, experts said.
President Biden’s assertion of far-reaching executive authority this week appeared to be on strong legal ground, experts said.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times
Michael D. Shear

By Michael D. ShearSept. 10, 2021Updated 1:41 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Biden’s far-reaching assertion of presidential authority to require vaccines for 80 million American workers relies on a first-of-its-kind application of a 51-year-old law that grants the federal government the power to protect employees from “grave dangers” at the workplace.

White House officials believe the emergency authority provided by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a legitimate and legal way to combat the coronavirus pandemic. But they acknowledge that the law’s emergency provisions, which were employed in previous decades to protect workers from asbestos and other industrial dangers, have never been used to require a vaccine.

The novelty of the effort is at the heart of legal threats from Republican lawmakers, governors, pundits and others, many of whom vowed on Thursday to challenge the president’s use of the workplace rules. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, called the Mr. Biden’s actions “utterly lawless.” Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican of Georgia, said the move “is blatantly unlawful, and Georgia will not stand for it.”

In a fund-raising email sent on Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican who has issued antimask orders, wrote, “Joe Biden has declared war on constitutional government, the rule of law, and the jobs and livelihoods of millions of Americans.”

But top aides to the president do not appear to be shaken by what they say was an expected response from those quarters. At a middle school in Washington on Friday morning, Mr. Biden responded to threats of lawsuits from his adversaries.

“Have at it,” he said.

And experts said the administration appeared to be on strong legal ground because it was relying on existing authority granted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by the legislative branch and supported by decades of judicial rulings.

“The OSHA Act gives employees a right to a safe and healthy workplace,” said Robert I. Field, a law professor at Drexel University. “Having a vaccinated work force is an essential component of having a safe and healthy workplace. Being exposed to a potentially deadly virus is neither safe nor healthy. So OSHA would have that authority.”

Mr. Biden’s call to use that authority was a sharp shift in tone and approach. Flinging aside the caution that has characterized his administration’s earlier tack toward vaccine mandates, the president said he would use the OSHA rules to require vaccines for as many as 80 million workers in private companies across the country, along with health care workers, teachers, federal employees, government contractors and more. Those who still refused would be required to submit to at least weekly testing to prove they were not infected.

For months, the president tried gentle persuasion. Anything more, the White House worried, would backfire in a polarized country where tens of millions of people viewed the Covid-19 vaccine as a political Rorschach test.

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But having declared himself out of patience with the unvaccinated, Mr. Biden is now testing the limits of government’s authority to compel personal health care decisions in the interests of confronting a pandemic.

“This is not about freedom, or personal choice,” he said Thursday. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”

The argument may provoke exactly the kind of blowback Mr. Biden’s team worried about.

“Federal government mandates, of dubious legality, will further alienate the skeptical, undermine our institutions, and punish ordinary business owners and their employees,” Senator Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Friday.

But in a statement, White House officials said the president was “committed to pulling every lever possible” in the fight against the pandemic. The statement said, “The reason that the Department of Labor is able to take this critical step to protect Americans from Covid-19 is that Congress passed a law that requires the department to take action when it finds grave danger to workers.”

“This action is both clearly legal and needed to help save lives and stop the spread of Covid-19,” it said.

White House officials said that OSHA, an agency in the Labor Department, would draft an “emergency temporary standard” over the next several weeks that requires companies to take certain actions.

To impose an emergency standard, the law requires the administration to show that “workers face a hazard in the workplace that poses a grave danger to their health or safety.” They must also prove that the method being used to mitigate those dangers would be effective in keeping workers safe.

In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, the administration will argue that the death and illness caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus poses a “grave danger” to workers across the country, and that the vaccine is an extremely effective way of preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Those arguments will likely be included as part of a preamble to the regulatory language that officials at OSHA and the Labor Department are drafting, according to a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss regulations that are still under development.

Once the regulations are in place, OSHA will enforce them using the usual tools provided to the agency: They will collect reports of violations and will send inspectors out to businesses. And for those businesses that refuse to enact the rules, the agency can impose $13,600 fines for minor violations and $136,000 for major ones.

Kathryn Bakich, a senior vice president at Segal, an employee benefits consulting company, noted that “this is the first vaccine mandate ever applicable to private employers.” But she added that many employers were already “moving toward mandatory vaccination policies at great speed.”

Wendy K. Mariner, a professor emeritus of health law, ethics and human rights at the Boston University School of Public Health, said that the administration’s logic made legal sense.

“Employers have a duty of care to maintain a safe workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” she said. Given the transmissibility of the virus, she said “it is quite sensible to require vaccination (or testing/masking for those with contraindications to the vaccine; and accommodations for those with disabilities under the A.D.A.) to protect all employees, as well as customers, clients, and patients.”

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Biden said it would take weeks, if not longer, for many of his proposals to take full effect — a delay that has real-life consequences as the Delta variant of the virus fills hospitals with severely ill patients who had refused to be vaccinated. The president did not say why he waited until early September to take steps that many health care experts were calling for in July.

But one thing was clear: He is done with coddling, urging, persuading, pleading and even begging people to get vaccinated. Those without the shot are endangering everyone else, he said, preventing the country from putting the pandemic behind them once and for all.

“We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who’ve done their part, and want to get back to life as normal,” he said.

‘Afghans don’t deserve this’: ‘The Kite Runner’ Author Khaled Hosseini Laments Afghanistan’s ‘nightmare’, Taliban’s Rise

Last Updated: 30th August, 2021 19:53 IST

‘Afghans don’t deserve this’: ‘The Kite Runner’ Author Khaled Hosseini Laments Afghanistan’s ‘nightmare’, Taliban’s Rise

Stressing that now is not the time ‘to turn our backs to Afghanistan’, Khaled Hosseini urged the US & its allies to keep their borders open for Afghan refugees

Written By Gloria Methri


Afghanistan crisis


Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini has shown readers worldwide a side of Afghanistan that goes side-by-side with the war and terror that has mired the region over the last several decades. His debut best-seller “The Kite Runner” was published in 2003, two years after the deadly 9/11 attacks and the subsequent US-led invasion in Afghanistan.

Millions of people were captivated by the tale of two young boys –  Amir and Hassan – from opposite ends of society, whose lives transform after the Soviet invasion.

The world’s attention is once again on Afghanistan as the barbaric Taliban regained control of the war-torn nation, putting countless lives at risk. For Hosseini, watching the nightmare unfold in his hometown has been utterly gut-wrenching.READ | Pakistan NSA tries to pull back warning of ‘another 9/11’ attack if Taliban govt ignored

Though Hosseini left Kabul in 1976, his ties with the country and its people run deep. The author, who moved to the US with his parents in 1980, has described the past week as the bleakest days that Afghanistan has seen in decades.READ | Kabul: 10 people including children killed in US’ ‘self-defensive’ airstrike till now

“Afghanistan is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people who have poetry in their souls, who are humble, hospitable, and kind. They do not deserve 40 years of violence, persecution, and the cruelties that they have endured,” said Hosseini in an interview with NBC host Mehdi Hasan. 

Stressing that now is not the time ‘to turn our backs to Afghanistan’, he called on the US and its allies to stand up for the war-stricken country, and keep their borders open for Afghan refugees. He urged America to continue to support those Afghans who are fleeing the brutal regime of the Taliban and are looking for safety. READ | As US abandons army outposts in Afghan, high-end arms, helicopters fall into Taliban hands

“The American decision (to withdraw troops) has been made. And the nightmare Afghans feared is unfolding before our eyes. We cannot abandon a people that have searched for forty years for peace. Afghan women must not be made to languish again behind locked doors and pulled curtains. The United States has a moral obligation to admit as many Afghan refugees as possible,” said Hosseini. 

‘What will America do about Afghan crisis?’

In a series of tweets posted over the last week, the author posed several questions before the US government over its response to the Afghanistan crisis. 

“President Biden failed to answer the fundamental question. What will America do about Afghanistan’s looming humanitarian crisis? Who will protect the men, women, and children left behind?” asked Hosseini. 

He recalled that after the fall of Vietnamese city Saigon, the Indo-China Migration and Refugee Assistance Act allowed 130,000 refugees from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to enter the United States under a special status. Hosseini said the same should be done for Afghan refugees today.READ | Kabul Airport attack: Slain US Marine who cradled Afghan baby, avowed she loved her job

A goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, Khaled Hosseini also informed that almost 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of the year, in light of the Afghanistan crisis. In video messages shared by the UNHCR on its official Twitter handle, the author has urged people to help in providing life-saving support to Afghans in need during this heartbreaking moment in time. Besides Khaled’s contribution to the United Nations, his Khaled Hosseini Foundation delivers aid to Afghan women and children. Published: 30th August, 2021 19:53 IST


  • One of the most insightful writers on the all consuming Afghan problem (or what they would call “the American problem”. Well worth the read. Something NEW here!
    Sarah Chayes

The Ides of August

Updated: 8 hours ago

Credit: AP/Rahmat Gul
Credit: AP/Rahmat Gul

August 15, 2021

I’ve been silent for a while. I’ve been silent about Afghanistan for longer. But too many things are going unsaid.

I won’t try to evoke the emotions, somehow both swirling and yet leaden: the grief, the anger, the sense of futility. Instead, as so often before, I will use my mind to shield my heart. And in the process, perhaps help you make some sense of what has happened.

For those of you who don’t know me, here is my background — the perspective from which I write tonight.

I covered the fall of the Taliban for NPR, making my way into their former capital, Kandahar, in December 2001, a few days after the collapse of their regime. Descending the last great hill into the desert city, I saw a dusty ghost town. Pickup trucks with rocket-launchers strapped to the struts patrolled the streets. People pulled on my militia friends’ sleeves, telling them where to find a Taliban weapons cache, or a last hold-out. But most remained indoors.

It was Ramadan. A few days later, at the holiday ending the month-long fast, the pent-up joy erupted. Kites took to the air. Horsemen on gorgeous, caparisoned chargers tore across a dusty common in sprint after sprint, with a festive audience cheering them on. This was Kandahar, the Taliban heartland. There was no panicked rush for the airport.

I reported for a month or so, then passed off to Steve Inskeep, now Morning Edition host. Within another couple of months, I was back, not as a reporter this time, but to try actually to do something. I stayed for a decade. I ran two non-profits in Kandahar, living in an ordinary house and speaking Pashtu, and eventually went to work for two commanders of the international troops, and then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (You can read about that time, and its lessons, in my first two books, The Punishment of Virtue and Thieves of State.)

From that standpoint — speaking as an American, as an adoptive Kandahari, and as a former senior U.S. government official — here are the key factors I see in today’s climax of a two-decade long fiasco:

Afghan government corruption, and the U.S. role enabling and reinforcing it. The last speaker of the Afghan parliament, Rahman Rahmani, I recently learned, is a multimillionaire, thanks to monopoly contracts to provide fuel and security to U.S. forces at their main base, Bagram. Is this the type of government people are likely to risk their lives to defend?

Two decades ago, young people in Kandahar were telling me how the proxy militias American forces had armed and provided with U.S. fatigues were shaking them down at checkpoints. By 2007, delegations of elders would visit me — the only American whose door was open and who spoke Pashtu so there would be no intermediaries to distort or report their words. Over candied almonds and glasses of green tea, they would get to some version of this: “The Taliban hit us on this cheek, and the government hits us on that cheek.” The old man serving as the group’s spokesman would physically smack himself in the face.

I and too many other people to count spent years of our lives trying to convince U.S. decision-makers that Afghans could not be expected to take risks on behalf of a government that was as hostile to their interests as the Taliban were. Note: it took me a while, and plenty of my own mistakes, to come to that realization. But I did.

For two decades, American leadership on the ground and in Washington proved unable to take in this simple message. I finally stopped trying to get it across when, in 2011, an interagency process reached the decision that the U.S. would not address corruption in Afghanistan. It was now explicit policy to ignore one of the two factors that would determine the fate of all our efforts. That’s when I knew today was inevitable.

Americans like to think of ourselves as having valiantly tried to bring democracy to Afghanistan. Afghans, so the narrative goes, just weren’t ready for it, or didn’t care enough about democracy to bother defending it. Or we’ll repeat the cliche that Afghans have always rejected foreign intervention; we’re just the latest in a long line.

I was there. Afghans did not reject us. They looked to us as exemplars of democracy and the rule of law. They thought that’s what we stood for.

And what did we stand for? What flourished on our watch? Cronyism, rampant corruption, a Ponzi scheme disguised as a banking system, designed by U.S. finance specialists during the very years that other U.S. finance specialists were incubating the crash of 2008. A government system where billionaires get to write the rules.

Is that American democracy?


Pakistan. The involvement of that country’s government — in particular its top military brass — in its neighbor’s affairs is the second factor that would determine the fate of the U.S. mission.

You may have heard that the Taliban first emerged in the early 1990s, in Kandahar. That is incorrect. I conducted dozens of conversations and interviews over the course of years, both with actors in the drama and ordinary people who watched events unfold in Kandahar and in Quetta, Pakistan. All of them said the Taliban first emerged in Pakistan.

The Taliban were a strategic project of the Pakistani military intelligence agency, the ISI. It even conducted market surveys in the villages around Kandahar, to test the label and the messaging. “Taliban” worked well. The image evoked was of the young students who apprenticed themselves to village religious leaders. They were known as sober, studious, and gentle. These Taliban, according to the ISI messaging, had no interest in government. They just wanted to get the militiamen who infested the city to stop extorting people at every turn in the road.

Both label and message were lies.

Within a few years, Usama bin Laden found his home with the Taliban, in their de facto capital, Kandahar, hardly an hour’s drive from Quetta. Then he organized the 9/11 attacks. Then he fled to Pakistan, where we finally found him, living in a safe house in Abbottabad, practically on the grounds of the Pakistani military academy. Even knowing what I knew, I was shocked. I never expected the ISI to be that brazen.

Meanwhile, ever since 2002, the ISI had been re-configuring the Taliban: helping it regroup, training and equipping units, developing military strategy, saving key operatives when U.S. personnel identified and targeted them. That’s why the Pakistani government got no advance warning of the Bin Laden raid. U.S. officials feared the ISI would warn him.

By 2011, my boss, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Taliban were a “virtual arm of the ISI.”

And now this.

Do we really suppose the Taliban, a rag-tag, disjointed militia hiding out in the hills, as we’ve so long been told, was able to execute such a sophisticated campaign plan with no international backing? Where do we suppose that campaign plan came from? Who gave the orders? Where did all those men, all that materiel, the endless supply of money to buy off local Afghan army and police commanders, come from? How is it that new officials were appointed in Kandahar within a day of the city’s fall? The new governor, mayor, director of education, and chief of police all speak with a Kandahari accent. But no one I know has ever heard of them. I speak with a Kandahari accent, too. Quetta is full of Pashtuns — the main ethnic group in Afghanistan — and people of Afghan descent and their children. Who are these new officials?

Over those same years, by the way, the Pakistani military also provided nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea. But for two decades, while all this was going on, the United States insisted on considering Pakistan an ally. We still do.

Hamid Karzai. During my conversations in the early 2000s about the Pakistani government’s role in the Taliban’s initial rise, I learned this breathtaking fact: Hamid Karzai, the U.S. choice to pilot Afghanistan after we ousted their regime, was in fact the go-between who negotiated those very Taliban’s initial entry into Afghanistan in 1994.

I spent months probing the stories. I spoke to servants in the Karzai household. I spoke to a former Mujahideen commander, Mullah Naqib, who admitted to being persuaded by the label and the message Karzai was peddling. The old commander also admitted he was at his wits’ end at the misbehavior of his own men. I spoke with his chief lieutenant, who disagreed with his tribal elder and commander, and took his own men off to neighboring Helmand Province to keep fighting. I heard that Karzai’s own father broke with him over his support for this ISI project. Members of Karzai’s household and Quetta neighbors told me about Karzai’s frequent meetings with armed Taliban at his house there, in the months leading up to their seizure of power.

And lo. Karzai abruptly emerges from this vortex, at the head of a “coordinating committee” that will negotiate the Taliban’s return to power? Again?

It was like a repeat of that morning of May, 2011, when I first glimpsed the pictures of the safe-house where Usama bin Laden had been sheltered. Once again — even knowing everything I knew — I was shocked. I was shocked for about four seconds. Then everything seemed clear.

It is my belief that Karzai was a key go-between negotiating this surrender, just as he did in 1994, this time enlisting other discredited figures from Afghanistan’s past, as they were useful to him. Former co-head of the Afghan government, Abdullah Abdullah, could speak to his old battle-buddies, the Mujahideen commanders of the north and west, and their comrades within the Afghan armed forces. You may have heard some of their names as they surrendered their cities in recent days: Ismail Khan, Dostum, Atta Muhammad Noor. The other person mentioned together with Karzai is Gulbuddin Hikmatyar — a bona fide Taliban commander, who could take the lead in some conversations with them and with the ISI.

As Americans have witnessed in our own context — the #MeToo movement, for example, the uprising after the murder of George Floyd, or the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — surprisingly abrupt events are often months or years in the quiet making. The abrupt collapse of 20 years’ effort in Afghanistan is, in my view, one of those cases.

Thinking this hypothesis through, I find myself wondering: what role did U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad play? An old friend of Karzai’s, he was the one who ran the negotiations with the Taliban for the Trump Administration, in which the Afghan government was forced to make concession after concession. Could President Biden truly have found no one else for that job, to replace an Afghan-American with obvious conflicts of interest, who was close to former Vice President Dick Cheney and who lobbied in favor of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan when the Taliban were last in power?

Self-Delusion. How many times did you read stories about the Afghan security forces’ steady progress? How often, over the past two decades, did you hear some U.S. official proclaim that the Taliban’s eye-catching attacks in urban settings were signs of their “desperation” and their “inability to control territory?” How many heart-warming accounts did you hear about all the good we were doing, especially for women and girls?

Who were we deluding? Ourselves?

What else are we deluding ourselves about?

One final point. I hold U.S. civilian leadership, across four administrations, largely responsible for today’s outcome. Military commanders certainly participated in the self-delusion. I can and did find fault with generals I worked for or observed. But the U.S. military is subject to civilian control. And the two primary problems identified above — corruption and Pakistan — are civilian issues. They are not problems men and women in uniform can solve. But faced with calls to do so, no top civilian decision-maker was willing to take either of these problems on. The political risk, for them, was too high.

Today, as many of those officials enjoy their retirement, who is suffering the cost?

My warm thanks to all of you who have left comments, for taking the time to write, and for the vibrancy of your concern. A number of you have asked some excellent questions. I have provided some answers in my subsequent post, “Failing States?“.

John Dean: Trump has set quite the trap for himself with lawsuit against Facebook and Twitter

US President Donald Trump visits the American Cemetery of Suresnes, outside Paris, on November 11, 2018 as part of Veterans Day and the commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

Why are we not surprised by this?. The theater continues but the stakes are actually high for the country.~ fls, editor

Donald Trump is a different kind of beast. It’s been clear for some time that he’s completely untethered from the truth, and that his army of sycophants is dutifully orbiting Planet Bullshit right along with him. Trump tends to engage with the truth the same way he addressed COVID-19: just ignore it, the thinking goes, and it will disappear on its own. Or, like mixed vegetables, you can hide it in your hulking mound of mashed potato lies so your gape-mouthed troglodyte horde will never even know it’s there.

I sometimes wonder what it feels like to have no shame and absolutely no fealty to the truth. I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to bask in Walter Mitty-like fantasies about myself—like how I’ve won prestigious-sounding, decidedly nonexistent awards and how Madonna was begging to date me at the height of her fame—but I’m constrained by consensus reality and the fact that I didn’t inherit $413 million from my dad.

Well, as COVID-19 proved to Trump that there’s also a limit to his lies, his latest cranial methane blast may end up being a comeuppance as well.

You probably saw that Donald Trump has decided to sue Facebook, Twitter, and Google for supposedly violating his First Amendment rights … by enforcing their own terms of service. As lawsuits go, this one is pretty embarrassing. If lawsuits could walk up stairs with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their shoes while their flaccid, flaxen shocks of corn husk hair decamped from their helmetless Darth Vader heads, that’s what this cosmic yak shart of a lawsuit would be doing right now. 

Unfortunately for Trump, lawsuits trigger depositions, and it’s very unlikely that he’ll want to sit for another one of these—especially since his Twitter and Facebook bans were directly tied to his actions on Jan. 6.

For the nontweeters:

This is the dumbest thing Trump has ever done. It’s wonderful. I remind you from personal experience that when you sue somebody you have to give a multi-day deposition on anything relevant to the topic … in this case, like your role inspiring the 1/6 Coup

Not to be outdone, John Dean, the former White House counsel who famously flipped on Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, quoted Olbermann’s tweet, making it clear that he’s very much looking forward to Trump’s deposition


What we have gotten rid of. This was posted in Facebook 3 years ago. Now look at how far we’ve come!

Children in cages. 2018. BORDER WITH MEXICO.


[2018] JUST FINISHED LISTENING to a CD read- through of the New Testament for the 3rd time in 15 years. Wanted to be sure to have it straight. SO, DEEP SOUTH FRIENDS (many, not all), especially those who sing in church: Please explain to me how you support an administration that Does, much less allows to be done, what is happening to Children all along the border if you support your President? (he’s not Mine). What kind of country has this become? and, you knew this was coming, What would JESUS say? You KNOW the answer.



Democrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states


Good luck with this. Try to wrap your head around states that do not want deadbeat citizens to get the advantages of Medicaid. We’ll have to research more about what seems insanity may have some kind of logic.

Democrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states

BY PETER SULLIVAN – 06/20/21 01:00 PM EDT 51Share to Facebook Share to Twitter  

Just In…


Democrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states

© Greg Nash

Congressional Democrats are pushing legislation that would expand Medicaid in states that have so far refused to do so, seeking to fill one of the major remaining holes in the Affordable Care Act.

There are currently 12 states where Republicans have refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid eligibility provided under ObamaCare, meaning 2.2 million low-income people are left without coverage they otherwise would have, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Efforts to entice the holdout states to expand the program with financial incentives have run into a wall, so Democrats are now turning to the idea of having the federal government step in and provide coverage.

The details of how to do that, however, are still up for debate, and pose thorny questions of cost and potential health care industry opposition.

Still, there is momentum for including a measure of some sort to expand Medicaid coverage in an upcoming legislative package consisting of President Biden’s priorities in the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.

“We’re unwilling to walk away without a solution and leave the disadvantaged empty-handed once again,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), while introducing a measure to allow Medicaid expansion in holdout states on Thursday. “They’ve been waiting for a decade; it’s time to cover them now.”

The idea has influential Democratic backers. The leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus wrote to Biden on Wednesday urging him to include a Medicaid expansion measure in the American Families Plan, a package of bills on topics like paid leave and child care. The original version did not include the Medicaid proposal.

“We must take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring affordable health care to all Americans,” the lawmakers wrote.

Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), whose victories in January allowed Democrats to take back the Senate, also voiced support last month for the Medicaid expansion idea.

“We cannot continue to allow Americans with low incomes to suffer any longer just because they live in a state that has been overcome by political obstruction,” Warnock and Ossoff wrote to Senate leaders.

There are competing proposals for how to go about extending Medicaid in the 12 holdout states.

Doggett’s bill would allow counties or other localities to go around their state government to work directly with the federal government to expand Medicaid in that jurisdiction.

But Democratic committee staff and leadership have raised concerns that the legislation would only cover people in some parts of a state.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, is working on a different approach.

“The committee is continuing to work on a comprehensive solution to provide coverage to Americans who are trapped in the Medicaid coverage gap through no fault of their own,” a spokesperson for committee Democrats said. “Our priority is crafting a policy fix that provides coverage and access to care to everyone in the states that have not expanded and not limited to certain counties.”

Among the options Democrats are discussing is simply creating an entirely federally run Medicaid program in the holdout states, or expanding the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces to give heavily subsidized private coverage to people falling through the cracks.

Any new government-run option risks triggering opposition from health care industry groups, who worry that the payment rates from a government plan are lower than rates from private insurers, and that the plan could be a step toward a public option becoming more widely available.

Doggett said his proposal could be a “backup” if the other options do not work out, and that he had discussed it with White House officials.

“We just don’t want to walk away empty-handed again,” he said. 

The Energy and Commerce Committee said it had also asked the Congressional Budget Office to conduct a cost estimate of Doggett’s proposal at his request.

“There are different ways of doing it, we have to decide, we have to come up with a consensus,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a brief interview.

The Medicaid push is part of a larger negotiation over which health care measures will make it into the package Democrats are crafting to bypass a Senate GOP filibuster using the fast-track reconciliation process.

The amount of savings from another health care priority, lowering prescription drug prices, will in part determine how much money is available to spend on health care measures. The options in the mix include extending enhanced financial assistance to reduce premium costs under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid expansion measure, as well as adding dental, hearing, and vision benefits to Medicare and lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60.

Opinion: Trump killed the old GOP — and he’s getting away with the murder

Opinion: Trump killed the old GOP — and he’s getting away with the murder

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) speaks to reporters after her removal as chair of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Image without a caption

Opinion by Colbert I. KingColumnistMay 14, 2021 at 3:57 p.m. EDT

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s ouster from her high-ranking House Republican leadership post was foreshadowed by Donald Trump’s getting away with what his onetime pen pal, former president Richard M. Nixon, could not. During his ill-fated presidency, Trump learned that he could cross lines, abuse power, punish enemies, lie his head off and still stick around to brag about it.

Nixon lived in a different time and was part of a Republican Party not of his own making, as I observed in an earlier column.

Finding his back pressed against the wall by special prosecutor Archibald Cox’s pursuit of the White House Watergate tapes, Nixon accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when each refused to discharge Cox. Frustrated by this principled stance, Nixon directed Solicitor General Robert Bork, newly installed as acting attorney general, to carry out the order to obstruct the Cox probe, which Bork did. Nixon went on to abolish the special prosecutor’s office and instructed the FBI to seal the Justice Department offices of Richardson and Ruckelshaus, as well as Cox’s.

That political nightmare, which unfolded on Oct. 20, 1973, is recorded in U.S. history as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Nixon was oblivious to the firestorm he had ignited. But the American electorate didn’t miss a thing.

People might not have been able to cite laws that Nixon might have violated. But they knew by the offensive odor coming out of Washington that Nixon had gone too far. Congress got an earful from voters, and the press corps went into overdrive.

Nixon’s resignation was just over the horizon.

Trump said a year ago in a phone call to “Fox & Friends” that one of the things he supposedly learned from Nixon was “don’t fire people,” suggesting that Nixon made a mistake in firing aides who wound up providing evidence against him.

But Trump, in fact, followed suit. He, too, ousted people, and with fanfare. Exhibit one: His loud-mouthed firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who managed to come across as both venal and hapless during his Justice Department tenure.

Trump’s motive for firing James B. Comey as FBI director was also a Nixon copycat. Both embattled GOP presidents sought to quash federal investigations into activities associated with their presidential campaigns.

So how was it Nixon had to skip town, while Trump was allowed to stick around and gleefully watch the Jan. 6 bloody function at the junction of the U.S. Capitol?

Trump was on hand for the great insurrection because he had — still has — what Nixon lacked: the backing of a Republican Party controlled by weak-kneed leaders whose notion of duty is limited to what they perceive Trump expects of them.

Thus enter Cheney, who believed that the truth about Trump’s presidential defeat should trump his lies, and that integrity deserves a place in her party. Proving her wrong on both counts, the Republican Party showed her the door this week.

Again, Nixon couldn’t have gotten away with something like that. The U.S. senator for whom I worked for four years, Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), was about as popular with Nixon as Cheney is with Trump. Mathias, a vocal opponent of two of Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees — G. Harrold Carswell and Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. — was also a Vietnam War opponent, a key sponsor of civil rights and campaign finance laws, an early and outspoken critic of Watergate, and an earner of a place on Nixon’s ”enemies list.”

But unlike Cheney, Mathias could not be taken down from within his party.

A number of Senate and House Republicans in the 1970s, while generally more conservative than many Democrats on fiscal issues, were united among themselves and more closely aligned with non-Southern Democrats on civil and voting rights and domestic social policies.

Mathias remained popular in his state, and his outreach and partnership with Democrats at home and in Congress were bulwarks against the Nixon terrors.

That is not Cheney’s world. She holds membership in a party that has devolved into a self-segregating, ideologically rigid cult that views outsiders as a threat to Trump and, by extension, themselves.

Trump is — in their hearts — owed the Republican Party’s devotion.

The only room for a Liz Cheney is in the house out back. A small but plucky bunch of GOP outsiders — whose leaders include former congressman Charlie Dent, former party chairman Michael Steele and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman (names from a long-gone era) — are weeping and wailing over Cheney’s ouster and huffing and puffing about blowing down the House that Trump built. Every good wish.

Today’s Republican Party is to Donald Trump what the Workers’ Party of Korea is to Kim Jong Un, the Chinese Communist Party is to Xi Jinping and the United Russia Party is to Vladimir Putin.

The party of Mathias, Cheney, Dent, Steele and Whitman is dead. The death blow was landed by Trump. And he’s getting away with the murder.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: The stampede away from the GOP begins

Charlie Dent, Mary Peters, Denver Riggleman, Michael Steele and Christine Todd Whitman: The GOP has lost its way. Fellow Americans, join our new alliance.

Leana S. Wen: The CDC shouldn’t have removed restrictions without requiring proof of vaccination

Gershom Gorenberg: Israelis and Palestinians can’t go on like this. Weep for us.

Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

My Student Norman Simon on the Idea of being a World Citizen


This essay as taken from my course in International Relations and a talented student writer:

Norman Simon

Professor Frederick Shiels


28 February 2021

Prior to taking this class, I was not all that familiar with International Relations. I had: visited the United Nations three times, taken European and Global History in high school and regularly watched CNN, however, my primary interest and focus has always been American History, particularly the American Presidents and elections. While I knew that as a super power, America was a major actor on the world stage, I concentrated on its domestic, rather than foreign policy legislation, hence, much of the material and terms that we are covering in this course are entirely new to me.

Of all of the topics and concepts that we have covered so far, the one that has most fascinated me the most is that of ‘world citizen.’ Most of us tend to consider ourselves citizens of the nation in which we have either been born or have chosen, through immigration. We may feel a sense of connection to the countries that our ancestors descended from, however, for most of us, considering ourselves world citizens, rather than as: Americans, Italians, Albanians, Japanese, Brazilians, etc. is a foreign concept. When one simply views themselves as a member of the society in which they live, they tend to view the world and the interactions between nations in both a nationalistic and realistic manner, whereby power is used to advance a state’s interests. Each treaty, trade deal and piece of legislation is viewed in the context of ‘is it good for America’ (or whatever country the individual is from) or ‘how does it benefit us,’ (self-interest), rather than what is its impact on the world and its people, (all of them), both in the short and long terms. 

As I continue to think more and more about what being a world citizen truly means, I have come to the realization that if we truly saw ourselves as citizens of the world, rather than simply defining ourselves by what is stamped on our passports, we would begin to desire for all people, what we presently desire for: ourselves, families and nation. We would begin to see issues such as: poverty, disease, healthcare, hunger, terrorism gender and racial equality and environmental concerns, just to name a few, not simply in the context of how they affect us (personally), but rather how they affect the entire global family. We would begin to view actions that we presently take for granted such as buying or selling products that are made through the exploitation of women and children, (Apple’s Manufacturing in China: Key Issues), treating the planet as our personal dumping ground, or supporting legislation and policies that benefit us, at the expense of others as unconscionable. We would stop seeing the world in terms of us and them, but rather, we would all become uses. If each of us began to see ourselves as global citizens, we would become more willing to create alliances with other nations and to explore solutions that transcend national borders. As our economy becomes increasingly more global with every passing year and information gets disseminated faster and faster across the globe via the internet, the logical next step would be the strengthening of international agencies to help cope with the myriad of problems, (mentioned above), that no single nation can eradicate on their own.

Through our discussions on nationalism, I have come to realize that while it can give a nation’s people a sense of pride in their country or unite them together in a common cause, it can also divide them (both domestically and in their relationships with other states). Many of the most heinous crimes against humanity, have happened in the name of nationalism (ie. Nazi Germany or America’s treatment of the Vietnamese people as was depicted in Hearts and Minds). While nationalism is meant to bring people together, by its very nature, it unites one group together (us) against another group (them) which is what is presently happening in India against Muslims. 

Through our class discussions, I have begun to wonder, if each state is considered sovereign, in that it can theoretically do whatever it wants within its own borders, what is the role of the international community when states choose to commit acts that violate human rights or are unable for whatever reason to meet the needs of all of their citizens? Do other states step in or is this the role of the United Nations?