Labor Day Reads

Good Afternoon!!

There is so much horrible stuff happening in the world that you’d think the New York Times wouldn’t bother with their usual gossip pieces, but you’d be wrong. Yesterday Katie Rogers published this gross pile of garbage in the paper of record, and fellow gossip columnist Peter Baker pushed it on Twitter:

In the hours before Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, was killed by a terrorist’s bomb in Afghanistan, he posed for a photograph taken by a bunkmate. In the image, the Marine’s brow was furrowed. He flashed a peace sign.

“This is Jared Schmitz,” his father, Mark Schmitz, said he told President Biden days later at Dover Air Force Base, where the two men had traveled to observe the dignified transfer of the remains of 13 U.S. Marines killed last week in the attack in Kabul. “Don’t forget his name.”

But Mr. Schmitz was confused by what happened next: The president turned the conversation to his oldest son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Referring to him has become a reliable constant of Mr. Biden’s presidency. In speeches, Oval Office discussions and personal asides, Mr. Biden tends to find a common thread back to his son, no matter the topic. But for Mr. Schmitz, another father consumed by his grief, it was “too much” to bear.

“I respect anybody that lost somebody,” Mr. Schmitz added in an interview, “but it wasn’t an appropriate time.”

The Biden administration, seeking to avoid a public rift with Gold Star families, has not pushed back on criticism from Mr. Schmitz and other families who have said the president brought up his own son too often and acted distant during the ceremony at Dover. But the moment crystallized just how much Mr. Biden is still haunted by the memory of a son he had always described to confidants as “me, but without all the downsides,” and how his anguish over that loss can clash with the political realities of being president.

Mr. Biden’s reputation is staked, in part, around his ability to withstand soul-shattering tragedies. His first wife, Neilia, and his infant daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident in 1972. But it was Beau’s death that left the people in Mr. Biden’s life wondering if he would ever recover, let alone wage a third bid for the presidency. His son, they say, is a major reason he decided to stay in public life.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Schmitz is a Trump supporter. I probably don’t need to remind you that Trump attacked gold star families and said that troops who died in battle are losers and suckers.

It’s the new “but her emails.” They’ve decided that Biden is grieving wrong. He has lost a wife and two children, but he shouldn’t share his experiences with grief and loss with others who lost a loved one. He should just STFU. He’s too empathetic. He even has the nerve to discuss Beau’s death (which he believes was cause by exposure to chemicals in Iraq) with world leaders. Oh, and according to Baker, Biden’s invoking of his son’s tragic death is an “approach,” meaning a political strategy!

In his public meetings with world leaders, doctors, military officials and families, Mr. Biden often shares how his experience with his son’s deployment to Iraq or battle with brain cancer affected his family. Invoking Beau’s memory amid the violent collapse of Afghanistan, the result of the most politically volatile decision of his presidency to date, provided a rare moment for critics to pounce on a penchant for eulogizing his son.

“Mr. Biden is not a Gold Star father and should stop playing one on TV,” William McGurn, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Biden has never claimed that his son died in combat, but he has often spoken of his son’s overseas deployment and the toll it took on his family. Mr. Biden’s supporters say that military families are entitled to their grief, but that the president is also entitled to his.

“The families who are grieving, they are free to feel however they feel,” Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in a mass shooting in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and who has received periodic calls from Mr. Biden, said in an interview. “But to anyone else who may have been critiquing: The president’s children, those living and those not, they formed who the president is.”

How shocking that a Bush speechwriter has a problem with Biden and a supporter like Guttenberg doesn’t. Baker’s tweet ended up with an incredible ratio of angry replies to retweets: 9.8K replies to 2K retweets and 1.6K likes.

Here’s a sampling of some of the replies:

I was so angry about this yesterday, that I just had to share.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, here are a few more more reads with brief excerpts:

A think piece on the anniversary of 9/11 by Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer:

From the article:

“It was 8:46 a.m.,” I wrote as night fell on 9/11, “and America would never be the same again.”

Looking back two decades later, I can’t decide which is weirder — that I wrote this in the darkness of that confusing day, or that somehow I got it right. America was changed forever and — despite those initial days where we hoped the sadness and the rubble would give rise to national unity and a sense of purpose that had felt missing in the detached irony and greed of the go-go 1990s — for the most part it has changed for the worse. Those drivers going every which way at cross purposes on Vine Street weren’t just a traffic jam, but a metaphor for the road ahead.

Any national unity dissolved rapidly into fear and paranoia, which a cynical new government in Washington preferred to exploit rather than tamp down — the better to plant our flag in oil-rich lands abroad and silence any dissent here at home. Those bad tidings — and the conspiratorial mindset we embraced in the wake of 9/11 — would be turned against nations that had nothing to do with the attacks, against immigrants in general, against legitimate protest, and finally, inevitably, against one another. The era that started with the Islamic radicals who hijacked Flight 93 failing to reach the U.S. Capitol dome ended with American fanatics breaching its rotunda. The late Osama bin Laden could not have drafted a better script for his evil ambitions.

And let’s be clear: The ultimate blame for 9/11 rests squarely with those who planned and executed an attack that killed 2,977 innocent people in the name of religious fanaticism and a Middle Eastern power trip — bin Laden and his associates in al-Qaeda. It’s impossible to write about that day without either a full-throated condemnation of the banal evil behind September 11 and also our heartbroken memories of the decent everyday people — firefighters and executive assistants and cops and stockbrokers — who lost their lives because of that immorality.

In responding to their deaths, some positive things occurred — including the killing of bin Laden and the minimizing of at least the old, original al-Qaeda. Despite the inevitable carping from air travelers, an airport-security regime that’s successfully prevented any hijackings for these two decades has been quite an achievement. It’s also a reminder that America could have spent the last 20 years only doing what was necessary — shoring up our anti-terrorism regime on U.S. soil, and right-sizing our role in the world. Instead, our hubris — which was actually masking our inner fears — that America must respond to any threat to our daydreams of exceptionalism with massive force caused us to double down on military imperialism with tragic consequences, in a tortured odyssey that led us full circle to last month’s chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport.

Read the rest at the link above.

From the article:

More than 7 million out-of-work people across the United States are set to lose all of their jobless benefits this week as three federal programs expire on Monday, in what several experts described as one of the largest and most abrupt ends to government aid in U.S. history.

In addition to the more than 7 million people who will lose all their benefits, nearly 3 million more people will lose a $300 weekly boost to their state unemployment benefits.

The cessation of this jobless aid, first put in place by Congress nearly 18 months ago, could upend the lives of millions of Americans still struggling to find work at a time when the pandemic’s delta variant is wreaking fresh havoc across a number of states. It could also lead to a sharp pullback in spending, particularly in certain areas of the country, impacting a wide range of restaurants and other businesses that rely on consumer dollars.

“I don’t understand how anyone in Washington cannot know normal people, their friends, families, cousins who are going through this,” said Kathleen Fox, a producer in New York whose past work has been recognized with a prestigious Peabody Award but who has struggled to find work after the pandemic upended her industry. “The [Biden] administration has lost interest in this cause and they’ve moved on to other things.”

The White House has wrestled with how to deal with these expiring benefits, an internal debate that exposes the fraught political and economic consequences of inaction. President Biden said in June that it “makes sense” for one of the programs, which boosted unemployment checks by $300 each week, to lapse in September, but senior aides have also called on states to reallocate other money in a way that would continue offering some support. No states appear inclined to take action, though, leading to this week’s sudden cutoff.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to rage.

From the article:

Once again, politicians and judges are limiting abortion without any understanding of what pregnancy can, and often does, ask of the human body. To conservative legislators in Texas, a new law banning abortion after about six weeks of gestation is a ploy to subvert Roe v. Wade. But to doctors like me, the measure reveals how thoughtless its designers are and how willing they are to let pregnant patients suffer and die.

I’m an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk cases. Last month, I saw a woman whose water broke 19 weeks into a long-desired pregnancy. This patient, who had conceived after a previous miscarriage, was eager to have a child. When she came to the hospital, my colleagues and I told her the truth: Without an intact amniotic sac, she and her fetus were extraordinarily vulnerable to bacteria from the outside world. She might stay pregnant for the time being. But her chances of getting to 23 weeks—the point at which a baby might be able to survive outside her body, albeit with extensive, lifelong medical problems—were almost zero. While waiting to deliver, she faced a high probability of infection in her uterus, despite the antibiotics that we would give her. She was very likely to develop a serious infection, even sepsis, which could require a hysterectomy or, though unlikely, lead to death.

We told her that she could watch and wait, despite the risks. Medical standards also dictated that my patient be offered a termination of pregnancy right away, before she could become sick. We outlined ways to terminate her pregnancy: a procedure to evacuate her uterus in the operating room or an induction of labor with the understanding that the newborn would not survive.

This situation comes up at my hospital at least a few times a month, every month. Working with high-risk patients means I need to be able to discuss, recommend, and perform abortions somewhat regularly. This is not because I want to kill babies or end desired pregnancies. It is because, in many cases, I am walking patients and their families through a nightmare. Sometimes, abortion turns out to be the least terrible of all the progressively terrible options they face.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

More stories to check out:

Raw Story: ‘Cruel on purpose’: Americans rage at Times writer who claims Biden grieves his family too much.

CNN: Communities across the US trudge through the long recovery process more than a week after Hurricane Ida’s landfall.

A book excerpt by Adam Tooze at The Atlantic: 2020 Was Almost Worse Than 2008. In a crisis like the one that hit the world in March 2020, only one thing will restore confidence: limitless cash. An excerpt from Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy.

The New York Times: Covid Deaths Surge Across a Weary America as a Once-Hopeful Summer Ends.

Axios: Over 230 medical journals: Climate crisis is the “greatest” health threat.

Newsweek: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Approval Plummets as 52 Percent Believe State Is on Wrong Track.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Minnesota State Patrol destroyed texts, e-mails after riot response. Loss of data becomes issue in ACLU suit over journalists’ treatment.

The New York Times: How the Texas Anti-Abortion Movement Helped Enact a Near-Complete Ban.

The Daily Beast: Texas Anti-Abortion Groups See ‘Ultimate Goal’ Approaching.

The Daily Beast: Threats & Leaks: New Documents Show Just How Crazy the Georgia Recount Fiasco Got.

Have a nice Labor Day, Sky Dancers!!

18 Comments on “Labor Day Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. Beata says:

    Wow, that people would criticize Biden for talking about his son Beau is just mind boggling to me. Grief that profound is not something you just “get over”. It’s not “an approach” you use in dealing with others. It’s real.

    My grief over my mother’s death is every bit as painful as it was the day she passed away. I hope it has made me more compassionate toward others who are suffering. That is what I see in Biden. A very compassionate soul.

    I am too upset about this to make much sense. The pundits have gone too far this time.

    • Enheduanna says:

      It’s so disappointing to see ostensibly sane journalists jump on this. The far-right will stoop to the lowest levels of Hades to foment discord. Sad journalists will follow without blinking an eye.

    • NW Luna says:

      It’s disgusting that journalists want to admonish Biden for grieving over his son’s death. Yet Trump calling soldiers killed in battle “losers and suckers” didn’t get this level of attention.

    • djmm says:

      I was considering buying Peter Baker’s latest book, but now, I cannot reward him for such behavior.

      Has he no shame?

      I don’t have a subscription to the NYT because of the way they treated the Clintons. Not just Hillary’s e-mails, but Travel-gate, Whitewater, Benghazi. Of course, when there was an article about then-candidate Trump’s involvement with Russians, the headline proclaimed there was no evidence of that. You had to get deep into the article to find out that the headline was false. Sometimes, I re-consider that decision, but then something like this happens.

      I don’t understand the why of it. But the intention is clear.

  4. quixote says:

    (bb, “batter” -> battle and Biden shouldn’t not “should” in the next sentence. I thought maybe I could just fix it, but the new editor is weird and I’m afraid of blowing the whole excellent post up.)

  5. quixote says:

    I have major issues with all the pro-choice arguments that rest on terrible health consequences.

    Of course there are. But that is light years away from the point.

    There are also terrible health consequences if we don’t take kidneys from people for transplant patients who need them. And yet nobody makes that argument to justify kidney-harvesting vans roaming the streets.

    A corpse, a corpse, cannot have organs taken without prior consent.

    But a woman can have her whole body forced to provide life support without her consent.

    That’s the *only* case where body autonomy is completely ignored.

    And that’s because it’s essential for maintaining women as service creatures. As not-really-humans. Not even as human as a corpse.

    The horrific health outcomes are just trying to trigger sympathy. They can fit just as well into an appeal to prevent cruelty to animals.

    They don’t address the glaring central crime against humanity of treating women as subhumans.

    • djmm says:

      Beautifully said!
      With some Republicans calling pregnant women “host bodies,” some may start to get it.

      • NW Luna says:

        With the Left calling pregnant women “pregnant patients” (as in the Atlantic article), “birthing bodies,” and everything else to avoid saying “women” actual women are getting erased from both sides.

    • darthvelma says:

      Yup. They want to give fetuses rights no born person has (the right to highjack another person’s body/organs for survival without their permission) while leaving pregnant women with less rights than a dead body.

  6. MsMass says:

    Some days/events remain in your memory with vivid detail, like 9/11, or JFK murder, or when humans all over the world stayed home last year. Here’s some pictures from that time.
    That’s what I’m remembering today. Has nothing to do with Labor Day but this whole Covid thing leaves me shaking my head even now.

    The article about terminating unhealthy pregnancies and the lack of understanding of the issues leaves me in despair too.

    Goddamn Republicans.