Thursday: Hili dialogue

September 9, 2021 • 6:30 am

Good morning on Thursday, September 9, 2021: National “I Love Food” Day. Once again, the scare quotes imply that we don’t really love food, but are just pretending to.

It’s also National Wiener Schnitzel Day (cultural appropriation), National Steak au Poivre Day (more cultural appropriation), California Admission Day, celebrating the day in 1850 when California was admitted as the 31st state, International Buy a Priest a Beer Day (?), International Sudoku Day, and National Teddy Bear Day.  If you have a teddy, the first person to send me a photo of it will have it posted here. Here’s my own teddy, named Toasty, who is exactly as old as I am (I was told I got him the day I was born). Toasty resides in my office; he’s almost totally depilated from years of cuddling and, as you can see, has been repaired many times.

. . . and Matthew himself is the winner. His bear, which he also got when he was born, is also beaten up: “Teddy, with a patch on his head where he got singed by the fire.”

News of the Day:

When I saw the title of Bret Stephens’s new op-ed at the NYT, “Another failed Presidency at hand,” I asked myself, “President of what country?” But there’s a picture of Joe Biden at the top, so I didn’t have to guess. And yes, Biden isn’t perfect, but in my view he’s done a pretty damn good job. Stephens, however, indicts Biden for issues he bears little responsibility for:

Joe Biden was supposed to be the man of the hour: a calming presence exuding decency, moderation and trust. As a candidate, he sold himself as a transitional president, a fatherly figure in the mold of George H.W. Bush who would restore dignity and prudence to the Oval Office after the mendacity and chaos that came before. It’s why I voted for him, as did so many others who once tipped red.

. . . Instead, Biden has become the emblem of the hour: headstrong but shaky, ambitious but inept. He seems to be the last person in America to realize that, whatever the theoretical merits of the decision to withdraw our remaining troops from Afghanistan, the military and intelligence assumptions on which it was built were deeply flawed, the manner in which it was executed was a national humiliation and a moral betrayal, and the timing was catastrophic.

and this:

We are a country that could not keep a demagogue from the White House; could not stop an insurrectionist mob from storming the Capitol; could not win (or at least avoid losing) a war against a morally and technologically retrograde enemy; cannot conquer a disease for which there are safe and effective vaccines; and cannot bring itself to trust the government, the news media, the scientific establishment, the police or any other institution meant to operate for the common good.

How much of that is due to Biden’s incompetence? Not much, in my view: the man is dealing with attitudes that long predated his presidency, and the pandemic was a mess, even for people like the vaunted Dr. Fauci. Stephens also criticizes Biden for his $3.5 trillion budget bill, for which, says Stephens, is like LBJ’s war on poverty, with big ambitions yet lacking LBJ’s means.  Can Biden help it if the Senate is evenly split and with little mood to reconcile? (Johnson, after all, had been a Senator for many years, and knew how the system worked.)  Stephens has a solution, but I don’t think it will help either Biden or the Democratic Party:

There’s a way back from this cliff’s edge. It begins with Biden finding a way to acknowledge publicly the gravity of his administration’s blunders. The most shameful aspect of the Afghanistan withdrawal was the incompetence of the State Department when it came to expediting visas for thousands of people eligible to come to the United States. Accountability could start with Antony Blinken’s resignation.

The president might also seize the “strategic pause” Manchin has proposed and push House Democrats to pass the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without holding it hostage to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Infrastructure is far more popular with middle-of-the-road voters than the Great Society reprise that was never supposed to be a part of the Biden brand.

My sense is that Biden will do neither.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, began yesterday; she faces 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; she has pleaded not guilty. Holmesfaces up to 20 years in prison. As the WSJ notes:

Weeks of witness testimony are expected to follow opening statements. Prosecutors have identified more than 180 potential witnesses. Ms. Holmes is among 55 potential witnesses that her lawyers said they may call if she chooses to present evidence in her own defense. Both sides have flagged thousands of exhibits they could enter as evidence, including emails, text messages, media articles and internal Theranos documents.

I’m writing this on Wednesday morning; we’ll see if Holmes claims that she was abused by her co-defendant and partner, Sunny Balwani, and that abuse is a mitigating factor that will exculpate her. From reading John Carreyrou’s  superb book, I saw no sign of such abuse or of Holmes making prior claims about it.

. . . Now, on Wednesday evening, I see that that both sides have made their opening statements (the prosecution gets to go first). As the Associated Press reports, the prosecution is trying to make a strong case for Holmes’s malfeasance:

After the jury was seated and U.S. District Judge Edward Davila gave his preliminary instructions, federal prosecutor Robert Leach wasted little time vilifying Holmes.

He cast Holmes in a dark light, depicting her as a conniving entrepreneur who duped investors, customers and patients for years, even though she knew her startup, Theranos, was nearly bankrupt and its much-hyped blood-testing technology was a flop. . .

He said the evidence would show that Theranos was already in deep trouble as far back as 2009, about six years after Holmes founded the Palo Alto, California, company. At that point, Leach said, Holmes resorted to a pattern of lying and hyperbole in an effort to fool major media outlets, wealthy investors such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, well-connected Theranos board members such as former U.S. Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, and customers such as Walgreens.

Some of the most damning evidence may be presented by a former top finance officer at Theranos who will testify that the company only had $650,000 in revenue from 2011 through 2014, according to Leach. Yet Holmes was telling investors and other people that Theranos would generate $140 million in revenue in 2014, Leach said.

The defense also made an opening statement, mentioning an abuse excuse:

Holmes’ defense team countered with a more heroic narrative describing her as a tireless worker who poured more than 15 years of her life in pursuit of a faster, cheaper and less invasive way to test blood samples and screen for disease.

Defense attorney Lance Wade, argued that Holmes was simply trying to wrest control of the blood-testing technology market from two dominant laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp. “She did her best day in and day out to make Theranos successful,” Wade said of Holmes as he began a roughly 90-minute presentation.

. . . In court documents unsealed just before the trial started, Holmes’ lawyers also disclosed that she may take the witness stand to assert some of her statements and actions while running Theranos were the result of “intimate partner abuse” inflicted by the company’s chief operating officer and her secret lover, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.

I wouldn’t take the witness stand if I were her, as she would then open herself up to questions about EVERYTHING.

I thought about taking a poll about whether she’d be found guilty or not, but that’s premature, as we need to hear what comes out in court.

A photo from the WSJ with its caption:

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arriving at federal court in San Jose, Calif., last week. PHOTO: DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The Guardian has a story about the effect of climate change on animal morphology. (h/t Charles) The classic features of animals to reduce overheating (like the large ears of desert rabbits and foxes) are changing over time in some species:

Animals are increasingly “shapeshifting” because of the climate crisis, researchers have said.

Warm-blooded animals are changing their physiology to adapt to a hotter climate, the scientists found. This includes getting larger beaks, legs and ears to better regulate their body temperature.

When animals overheat, birds use their beaks and mammals use their ears to disperse the warmth. Some creatures in warmer climates have historically evolved to have larger beaks or ears to get rid of heat more easily. These differences are becoming more pronounced as the climate warms.

I haven’t read the paper yet, but I hope the researchers are distinguishing between this being a genetic change—a response to natural selection—or a developmental “plastic” change not reflecting changes in genes. (Cats, for example, grow longer fur in cold weather, and if the climate got colder we’d see cats having longer fur, but that’s not evolutionary). The only way to distinguish these two causes (which can interact) is to breed the animals in the lab, observing whether under constant temperature conditions their offspring have acquired more pronounced heat-reducing features over time. If that were observed, it would show that evolutionary change is happening. This is a flaw of many field studies that simply observe a change in animals in the field over time, and then assume it’s an evolutionary change rather than simply a developmental response to the environment.

And here’s the biggest and most pointless kvetch I’ve seen in ages. It’s in PuffHo, of course, and written by its parenting editor (click on screenshot). Read it! The person got paid to write it! 

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 653,216, an increase of 1537 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,611,320, an increase of about 11,200 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on September 9 includes:

  • 1499 – The citizens of Lisabon are celebrating the triumphal return of the explorer Vasco de Gama, completing his two-year journey around the Cape of Good Hope to India.[2]
  • 1543 – Mary Stuart, at nine months old, is crowned “Queen of Scots” in the central Scottish town of Stirling.
  • 1776 – The Continental Congress officially names its union of states the United States.
  • 1791 – Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, is named after President George Washington.
  • 1839 – John Herschel takes the first glass plate photograph.

Here’s the photo, with the plate still existing. The Wikipedia caption: “Herschel’s first glass-plate photograph, dated 9 September 1839, showing the 40-foot telescope.”

  • 1850 – California is admitted as the thirty-first U.S. state.
  • 1940 – George Stibitz pioneers the first remote operation of a computer.

From Wikipedia:

In a demonstration to the American Mathematical Society conference at Dartmouth College in September 1940, Stibitz used a modified teletype to send commands to the Complex Number Computer in New York over telegraph lines. It was the first computing machine ever used remotely. (See the commemorative plaque and the hall where this event took place in the photos below.)

Here’s the site: McNutt Hall at Dartmouth, where the plaque belong hangs in the entryway:

  • 1947 – First case of a computer bug being found: A moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University.
  • 1956 – Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.

Here’s the King’s first appearance, to much female screaming. He sang “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Tender”:

  • 1969 – In Canada, the Official Languages Act comes into force, making French equal to English throughout the Federal government.

Here’s an example of the dual usage at a superb bagel bakery (the Fairmount) in Montreal (click to enlarge):

Here’s Elizabeth being crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. She’s now reigned for over 69 years! (Her reign officially began on February 6, 1952.)

 

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1585 – Cardinal Richelieu, French cardinal and politician (d. 1642)
  • 1754 – William Bligh, English admiral and politician, 4th Governor of New South Wales (d. 1817)
  • 1828 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (d. 1910)

Here’s the great man in his study in 1908. when he was 80:

Here’s his gravesite at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky: a monument built on fried chicken.

  • 1941 – Otis Redding, American singer-songwriter and producer (d. 1967)
  • 1966 – Adam Sandler, American actor, screenwriter, and producer
  • 1980 – Michelle Williams, American actress

Those who succumbed on September 8 include:

  • 1087 – William the Conqueror, English king (b. 1028)
  • 1815 – John Singleton Copley, American-English colonial and painter (b. 1738)

Here’s Copley’s “Boy With a Flying Squirrel”, painted in 1765:

  • 1976 – Mao Zedong, Chinese philosopher, academic, and politician, 1st Chairman of the Communist Party of China (b. 1893)

Here’s the Chairman as a young revolutionary in 1927, when he was about 34 years old:

  • 1985 – Paul Flory, American chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1910)
  • 2003 – Edward Teller, Hungarian-American physicist and academic (b. 1908)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is once again touting her virtues:

A: What are you doing?
Hili: I’m trying to convince the world of my inborn gentleness and goodness.
Ja: Co robisz?
Hili: Próbuję przekonać świat o mojej wrodzonej łagodności i dobroci.

And here is Szaron, the darkest tabby I’ve ever seen:

A meme from Nicole:

From Jesus of the Day: I see black dots everywhere!

From Facebook, and I make no claims about its truthfulness:

A tweet from Titania:

From Ken. showing Texas Governor Greg Abbott dilating on Texas’s new antiabortion law, with an aside on rapists. Texas deserves the governor it’s got!

From the Auschwitz Memorial:

From Barry, who finds this, as we all will, terrifying. A king cobra!

From Luana:

Tweets from Matthew. This is a good one; be sure to click on the picture to reveal the answer:

This isn’t just a headline, it’s a TRUE headline. See the BBC story here:

The second tweet is the one I’m highlighting.

50 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. I think Abbott should instead modify the law to allow anyone to sue future rapists and set it up so that the plaintiff doesn’t have to pay any fees for a failed suit. This will give women some purchase to fight back on this unconstitutional law.

      1. I don’t know why they even allow six weeks according to their logic, “if life begins at conception.” It shows that the entire anti-abortion issue is a sham to control women’s sex lives. While this law may stop legal abortions, it will not stop illegal abortions. The only way to stop them is to mandate contraceptive use, and make men liable for conception and any medical issues that arise if they don’t sue contraception

        1. Related to this is the claim that not allowing exceptions for incest or raper is somehow more evil. Not necessarily. For those (not all, but a significant fraction) who really believe that abortion is murder, then exceptions would be illogical.

          Either it is OK until a certain time, then it should be legal in general, or not, then there should be no exceptions for rape or incest. (The only exceptions should be to save the life of the mother or, possibly, if the baby would die soon anyway). The idea of exceptions for raper or incest implies that there is a position which says “I’m against it in general, but in some cases those.exceptions make sense”.

          Similarly, being “pro choice” will never convince anyone; if you really believe abortion is not murder, then you have to explain that, since for those for whom it is, choice is not even the issue.

          Yes, there are hypocrites, but not all are hypocrites and even if.they were, one’s own position should be logically sound.

    1. The Texas anti-abortion statute has a window of more like two weeks, rather than six, in which women can obtain an abortion — in that it gives a woman about two weeks after her first missed period (assuming she has clockwork-like periods).

      Until Gov. Greg Abbott succeeds in making Texas a rape-free utopia, I guess women forced into labor with a pregnancy conceived in rape will be expected to take their cue from Lady Hillingdon and simply lie back, spread their legs, and think of England Texas.

      1. I’m not defending Abbott or the abominable anti-abortion law but I do wonder about this argument. I understand how a woman has at most two weeks after a missed period but does that make sense for a rape? If a woman has been raped, she might start taking pregnancy tests immediately rather than wait for a missed period. Of course, rape is a traumatic experience and it is unreasonable to force rape victims to submit to immediate testing or bear a child to term if they don’t. For some, their immediate response is denial of the event.

        Abbott’s claim that his administration will start rounding up rapists is just so ridiculous and enraging. What had they been doing up until now? And what about the huge backlog of rape kits? TX voters have to be crazy to accept this kind of answer from their governor. The real crime is that GOP politicians can get away with statements like this with little accountability.

        1. Strict anti-abortion laws such as Texas’s play extremely well with hardcore religious-right fanatics and virtually no one else. That’s why you don’t see Republicans spiking the ball much on this one. They know that, while it satisfies the base, it hurts them with the general electorate.

        2. If a woman has been raped, she might start taking pregnancy tests immediately rather than wait for a missed period.

          Except that you won’t get a positive on the test until the hormonal changes (the ones that cause the missed period) happen.

          1. According to this website (https://www.availnyc.org/take-a-pregnancy-test):

            “As soon as the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, the hCG pregnancy hormone is produced. This means a high-quality pregnancy test could detect a pregnancy in as little as five days after conception.”

            Of course, pregnancy tests available over-the-counter aren’t going to work this way and, as the page says, false negatives are common even with the high-quality test until it is too late to get an abortion under the new TX law. Abbott’s statements are ridiculous either way. I was just wondering about the truth behind pregnancy testing.

            1. Yes, after conception – but that could be several days after having sex, meaning that most implantations occur about 7-14 days after sex.

            2. hCG is basically a “make us a placenta” instruction hormone. And yes, without a specific (ER room?) test the woman might get a false return, relax, and not realize “Oh damn, I really AM pregnant” – very possibly after her time is up. It is crazy and cruel.
              With the exception of a few Catholic theocracies (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines) most “normal” countries think our American abortion wars are insane.

              Abbott is a moron.
              D.A.
              NYC

      2. We’re now calling the GOP here in Texas “The Texas Taliban”.
        The comparison fits in more ways than one.

      3. I suspect the Texas notion of ‘eliminating rape’ involves narrowing the definition rather than making it more difficult to get away with.

  2. The big problem with op-ed’s like Stephens is they act as if y’all had an emperor, not a federated government with three coequal branches.

    1. Fair point. Of course, American Presidents and presidential candidates often make promises that makes it clear that they think they are emperors (and people applaud them).

    2. And don’t acknowledge that 8 months is a short time frame, especially when undoing many of Trump’s disasters.

  3. “And here’s the biggest and most pointless kvetch I’ve seen in ages. […] The person got paid to write it! ” – Yikes! What an unbelievable waste of eyeball power reading that nonsense.

  4. And here’s the biggest and most pointless kvetch I’ve seen in ages. It’s in PuffHo, of course, and written by its parenting editor (click on screenshot). Read it! The person got paid to write it!

    She was not just paid, she is an editor and is thus supposed to be one of the people weeding out the bad writing.

    Anyway, it says she’s passed breaking point so this is presumably what a broken Huffpost editor is like.

  5. He said the evidence would show that Theranos was already in deep trouble as far back as 2009, about six years after Holmes founded the Palo Alto, California, company.

    The irony here is that if Holmes had been honest and her biotech startup failed after 6 years, that would’ve been so normal she probably could have easily found a job as a VP or other senior officer of another startup. Most of them fail, and everyone knows it’s a high-risk, high payoff business. There’s a lot more to evaluating leadership and management capability than just ‘did the widget work.’

    Didn’t Theranos actually sell blood testing units to Walmart to be used, when they didn’t yet work? Not just entered into an agreement to deliver units at a future date, but they actually delivered units. I can’t exactly remember, but if they did, that’s IMO a pretty cut and dried case of fraud.

  6. … we’ll see if Holmes claims that she was abused by her co-defendant and partner, Sunny Balwani, and that abuse is a mitigating factor that will exculpate her.

    That sounds a lot more like evidence that, if Holmes is convicted, could be presented at her sentencing in support of a request for a downward variance from the range set by the federal sentencing guidelines, rather than a complete theory of defense to the pending charges.

    I’d be shocked if Holmes takes the stand at trial, something I imagine would happen only if she insists on doing so (as is her constitutional right) against the advice of counsel.

  7. Holmes is a consummate confidence artist, she only has to snow one juror to get a hung verdict. Plus, she probably believes her own B.S. and is such a narcissist that she cannot accept responsibility for large-scale fraud and failure which a plea agreement would necessitate.

    You can be sure if she goes down she’ll write a book and earn a mint and try to organize a public relations campaign based on her purported victimhood, and probably some prominent people in her network to push for her early release.

      1. No, but it is possible that the victims of her crime might get paid some restitution from the proceeds, or could attach the proceeds through civil process. However, I guess she would probably try to do it through a shell to avoid paying off.

    1. Should Holmes’s trial end in a hung jury, the judge will merely declare a mistrial, and she will have to endure the time and expense of a retrial. Such retrials generally favor the prosecution, since the defense has had to lay its cards on the table at the first trial. Criminal defense lawyers tend to view such retrials with the same relish as putting on a wet bathing suit.

      Since federal parole was abolished by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, in the event of Holmes’s conviction, presumably the only way for “prominent people in her network to push for her early release” would be to lobby the president for clemency. Good luck with that.

  8. The RealClearPolitics presidential approval poll average for Biden is 45.3% approval and 49.5% disapproval, and the most recent poll from The Economist and YouGov shows 43/53 approval/disapproval. This is down from the beginning of his term when polls showed him with approval in the high 50s, even low 60s, and disapproval in the 30s. He’s getting close to Trump numbers now. (Trump overall for this first term 42.8/53.4.) This suggests that, while Stephen’s analysis might be questionable, his conclusions will be broadly accepted.

  9. Poor Bret Stephens with no more party to follow. He can’t quite stomach his old party any more so he looks for a following among conservative democrats. There are some out there for sure so maybe he can talk to them. The biggest fault to find with Biden is when he was still VP to Obama and could not talk him out of all the wrong things he did in Afghanistan. Obama is right up there with Bush when it comes to stupid foreign policy and mistakes in the middle east. So how easy it it to blame Biden for the whole mess and ignore reality. Read the Afghanistan Papers if you want to understand anything about our war over there. But the same people who remain ignorant about Vietnam or Iraq will be front and center for the most corrupt war of all in Afghanistan.

  10. For sh*ts and giggles try watching a clinical chemist taking apart a video of Elizabeth Holmes speaking at a science convention. Which was filled with actual, you know, scientists, people who knew the field she was trying to bullsh*t her way through.

    For some reason Holmes thought it would add to her sinking credibility to try her usual Steve- Jobs-Disclosing-Innovation-That-Will-Change-Everything routine at the 68th ACC Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo. She may not have been wrong, in that even though everyone in the room knew she had no idea what she was talking about, they were all very “kind.” She was asked hard questions in the Q&A, but when she ducked them nobody stood up and screamed that she was a fraud. Missed opportunity.

    https://youtu.be/RWIOggQZ5ns

  11. “Here’s Elizabeth being crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. She’s now reigned for over 69 years! (Her reign officially began on February 6, 1952.)”

    Providing that Her Majesty doesn’t go to join the ancestors between now and next February 6th, she will become the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum (70 years) jubilee. And everyone in Britain will get an extra public holiday in early June 2022. It will, of course, rain all day, because that’s (a) required by law on public holidays in Britain and (b) just what the weather does here in Britain in June.

    1. If he lives long enough, Charles will be noted as the oldest English monarch to be crowned. His reign wll be exceptional for at least one thing.

  12. I think Holmes will be convicted. She’s been caught faking the performance of her blood analysis machine on multiple occasions and ways. I doubt she’s going to be able to blame this on anyone else. Her “partner abuse” defense, if presented, will stand at odds with her strong-woman persona. Even if she was able to provide convincing evidence for the abuse, she would have to somehow make it the sole cause of her fraud. I can’t see that being successful. Her only real defense is incompetence. It looks like that’s what her attorney is presenting, the other stuff being offered as window dressing. Something about that you can’t convict a CEO for simply failing.

  13. My take on Afghanistan is that Tr*mp set Biden up wherever he could to ensure that it would be as big a mess as possible if withdrawal were to happen, putting a date in May on it so that Joe would have to scramble to meet it, and could only extend into Aug. Of course if the Dolt had won he simply would have canceled it.

    Also, blocking State from processing any Special Immigrant Visas since March of last year, making 9mos of gridlock there.

    1. While I’m sure Trump would be motivated to set up Biden like you say, do you really think he would have imagined that he wouldn’t win reelection? It doesn’t seem like something he’d even consider. Even if he did, he would have had to have been confident he’d lose. Otherwise, he would be setting himself up.

      1. Oh I think he was plenty worried about not winning. Remember how hard he went after Hunter Biden, well in advance of the election. Greenlighting release of imprisoned Taliban, altho I haven’t dug into how that actually transpired, probably fits in too but that idea needs more input. I think the moratorium on processing SIV applications is the real smoking gun. He might not have come up with any of that himself, but there were plenty of weasels surrounding him. He’d never have any trouble finding an excuse not to bulldoze over a May exit if he had won, too.

        (And this is to Bret Stephens), how in hell was the evacuation a national disgrace? I have yet heard anyone challenging the assertion that the number evacuated in that period of time is a record. It was almost pulled off without a hitch, but that hitch was not at the very end – there were no further hitches. Stephens is an ass.

        1. As I was reading through your comment I had decided to write a response, “Stephens is an ass.” But then I got to your last sentence, and you already took care of that.

  14. Good morning on Thursday, September 9, 2021: National “I Love Food” Day. Once again, the scare quotes imply that we don’t really love food, but are just pretending to.

    I feel seen by this National Day day. I really, really love food. I’m like a food motivated pet. Wave cheese in front of me? I’ll do whatevs. In fact, I just finished my morning snack of pecan nut-thins, Humboldt Fog cheese (it’s my favorite currently) and a local landjager- perfection.

  15. Seeing as it is national teddy bear day, I must confess that I am worried about my childhood teddy bear. It occurred to me recently that he is probably somewhere in my dad’s storage unit, perhaps getting cold and hungry and afraid of the dark. I mentioned my concerns to my dad who said “Oh, I shouldn’t worry too much. He was a cheap teddy who came with some cornflake tokens”. Oh dear 🙁

  16. Biden should pay no attention to Bret Stephens, who is silly enough to write off an eight month Presidency. The Afghanistan withdrawal, the only major blot on Biden’s term so far, would have been messy under any circumstances. It’s good that Biden has put it behind him now rather than anytime later.

    Stephens shows his right-centrist credentials in echoing Manchin’s disastrous idea of a “strategic pause” (i.e., stop pushing much-needed transformative policies and go back to business as usual) and his mockery of the Great Society, which was actually undone by LBJ’s warmongering and military spending. No surprise that Stephens favors more military action and less social renewal. Just what the US needs to accelerate its decline!

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