This week President Joe Biden continued taking some hard bets, hoping the coins will land his way. He set the pattern in January, days before he took office, by outlining a huge Covid relief package amounting to $1.9 trillion and then topped it last month with a proposal for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
The White House revealed that he would speak to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — ratcheting up the stakes of the prime-time presidential ritual by scheduling it just two days before his 100th day in office, a milestone that shapes perceptions of new presidents.
When Biden goes to the Capitol that was overrun by rioters enraged that he, and not Donald Trump would be certified as the winner of the 2020 election — and when he enters the House chamber that had to be defended at gunpoint on that chaotic January 6 — it will be a defining moment, either an opportunity to show that he is indeed “building back better” or a demonstration that he is becoming overwhelmed by mushrooming crises.
Responding to the killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, at the hands of a police officer who said she mistook her gun for a Taser, Biden called out the “trauma that Black America experiences every day,” and said, “there is no justification for violence,” Peniel E. Joseph noted.
End of the longest war?
Less than a month after two passenger jets commandeered by hijackers brought down New York’s World Trade Center, with a third hitting the Pentagon and another crashing into a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, US forces began an attack that would soon topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which had harbored Osama bin Laden’s terror campaign.
This week, Biden declared an end to America’s longest war, saying the last US troops would withdraw from Afghanistan starting May 1. All will be home by the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
For more on Biden and foreign policy:
For more on Covid:
Another Roaring 20s?
“There is excitement to finally experience things like holding a new grandchild in your arms, boarding a plane, putting on lipstick — you know, that others will be able to see — and going to a baseball game.”
“When the pandemic is over, I want to see my children and grandchild again,” wrote one California reader, Renee Aubuchon. “We have lost a year of hugs and dinners, of doing things together, being with each other that we will never get back. How precious, how incredibly sweet, it will be to see them again. I also want to walk along the beach, in a forest again…”
When the pandemic ends, could we be in for another “Roaring 20s”? The 1920s were a decade lived in the shadow of “the last massive pandemic, which occurred alongside a devastating war,” wrote Nicole Hemmer. “The end of these twin crises unleashed a decade of exuberance and experimentation — and a decade of growing inequality and deepening conservatism.”
If the 1920s indeed occupy a big share of mind in the present decade, wrote Gene Seymour, Ernest Hemingway, the writer whose early novels broke through in that era, could “return to the spotlight.” A new PBS documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick makes the case for paying attention to Hemingway, despite the many ways his life and work may be out of sync with our time.
The trap we’re in
In Minneapolis, ex-officer Derek Chauvin’s trial is coming to a close, with the nation watching. Paul Callan noted the array of police witnesses testifying against Chauvin and the medical experts “with sterling credentials” who testified “that Chauvin and other officers used excessive force, substantially contributing to Floyd’s death.”
Paul Begala recalled this week his favorite ride at the Fort Bend County Fair — the Tilt-a-Whirl.
“You sit in a car that rolls and spins around an undulating track, moving in at least three different ways at once,” he wrote. “The ride is a blast. When you get off it, it’s hard to walk. You get the sensation that the ground is spinning and heaving. But it’s not. It was the chaotic ride that made the ordinary seems disorienting. Someone who’s clearly been on the Trump Tilt-a-Whirl too long is Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. The poor man is staggering about, wondering why the earth is spinning.” Cornyn tweeted a lament Monday that Biden is limiting his own tweets and interviews and scripting his comments.
‘San Francisco of the north’
A reader’s question sent John D. Sutter on a search for US cities most likely to avoid disasters caused by a changing climate. The surprising answer: places like Duluth, Minnesota.
Among other climate-resilient cities:
–Rochester and Buffalo, New York
–Knoxville, Tennessee, and
–Asheville, North Carolina.
Duluth’s mayor Emily Larson told Sutter, “We are known as the San Francisco of the North.” The average home price is a comparative bargain — just above $200,000, to San Francisco’s $1.4 million.
“It’s a wonderful place to live. It’s an extraordinary place,” Larson said of Duluth.
“And we want to be that (refuge) for people.”