Cup of Joe – 8/24/21

The FDA granted the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine full approval in a highly anticipated move that’s expected to boost vaccinations and spark more mandates nationwide, the New York Times reports.

The decision will set off a cascade of vaccine requirements by hospitals, colleges, corporations and other organizations.

Associated Press: “The head of the World Health Organization on Monday called for a two-month moratorium on administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines as a means of reducing global vaccine inequality and preventing the emergence of new coronavirus variants.”

President Joe Biden on Monday pressed businesses and public leaders to implement vaccine mandates after the federal government issued its first full approval of a Covid-19 vaccine, Politico reports.

Said Biden: “I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people. If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19.”It’s remarkable how quickly Biden’s discomfort with the concept of vaccine mandates has faded.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) wrote in a legal opinion that private businesses “can require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but must allow reasonable religious and medical exemptions under state and federal law,” the Associated Press reports.

“And they can impose vaccine requirements on patrons as well, as long as they provide reasonable accommodation for customers.”

The Pentagon will now mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for all troops following the FDA’s approval of of the Pfizer vaccine today, Roll Call reports.

“House Democrats will end their summer break on Monday, amid finger-pointing and rising tensions, to try to pave the legislative way for the most ambitious expansion of the nation’s social safety net in a half century,” the New York Times reports.

“But the divisions emerging over an arcane budget measure needed to shield a $3.5 trillion social policy bill from a filibuster are exposing deep strains in the Democratic Party over ideology, generational divides and the fruits of power and incumbency.”

Nine moderate House Democrats tripled down on their threat to not vote for the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill until the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill gets a vote.

Washington Post: “Time kills deals. This is an old business saying and the essence of why we are pushing to get the bipartisan infrastructure bill through Congress. … We are firmly opposed to holding the president’s infrastructure legislation hostage to reconciliation, risking its passage and the bipartisan support behind it.”

Playbook: “The standoff has chilled relationships between the speaker and her moderates such that over the past few days, they were barely speaking. Pelosi’s camp says the speaker has been in direct contact with at least some members of the group, but sources close with the group say she has not contacted most of them directly.”

Punchbowl News: “Key members of the moderate crew told us Sunday night they won’t, under any circumstances, back down.”

Politico: “Some senior Democrats were even floating the possibility of a late-night budget vote on Monday if Pelosi can reach an 11th-hour agreement with a group of centrists led by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who has been demanding an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed earlier this month.”

“One idea being floated among some members of leadership is a firmer guarantee from Pelosi, and perhaps Biden as well, that the Senate deal and the social spending package can both be approved by Oct. 1.”

Punchbowl News: “Pelosi has talked to Gottheimer and they’re trying to work a deal.”This “compromise” does not give the moderates what they are asking for — a vote on the bipartisan bill — but it does gives them an off ramp.

Punchbowl News: “We never, ever bet against Pelosi. We’ve seen her get out of jams too many times to believe she will be derailed here. Democratic insiders also caution that the nine moderates are ‘wobbly,’ so at least some of them are likely to cave, which could put pressure on the whole group to fall in line.”

“Our reporting doesn’t suggest that wobbliness, but the leadership often hears different things than we do.”

Jennifer Rubin: “The vehemence with which many politicians and media pundits on the left and right have attacked President Biden should not be surprising. Given the chaotic and heart-wrenching scenes in Afghanistan, the commander in chief becomes an obvious target, especially for a press corps desperate to show they do not have a liberal bias.”

“But ‘chaotic’ does not equal ‘failed,’ and just because our intelligence community blew it big time — again — does not mean the United States has abandoned its Afghan partners.”

“Since Aug. 14, we have evacuated over 37,000 people. The United States has enlisted a slew of allies to help receive refugees. And our allies remain united that they will not recognize nor extend aid to the Taliban until we are satisfied they have not hindered our evacuation and are respecting human rights.”

“The nation’s top national security officials assembled at the Pentagon early on April 24 for a secret meeting to plan the final withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. It was two weeks after President Biden had announced the exit over the objection of his generals, but now they were carrying out his orders,” the New York Times reports.

“Four months later, the plan is in shambles as Mr. Biden struggles to explain how a withdrawal most Americans supported went so badly wrong in its execution.”

“Interviews with key participants in the last days of the war show a series of misjudgments and the failure of Mr. Biden’s calculation that pulling out American troops — prioritizing their safety before evacuating American citizens and Afghan allies — would result in an orderly withdrawal.”

Tevi Troy: “JFK remade his decision-making process after the Bay of Pigs debacle. Biden could learn something.”

The Taliban have sentenced the brother of an Afghan translator to death, accusing him of helping the US and providing security to his brother, who served as an interpreter to American troops, CNN reports.

A letter told the man that he had been found “guilty in absentia” and sentenced to death for his “servitude to the invading crusaders.”

It adds: “These court decisions are final and you will not have the right to object.”

“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask U.S. President Joe Biden to keep American boots on the ground in Afghanistan after August 31’s withdrawal deadline but the Taliban say they won’t accept any extension,” Politico reports.

“Johnson is set to push the American president for more time for evacuation during an emergency summit of G7 countries on Tuesday, according to briefings to journalists by No. 10 Downing Street. The meeting comes as several thousands of people have gathered around Kabul airport in a desperate attempt to escape Taliban rule.”

A Taliban spokesman told Sky News there would be “consequences” if the U.S. extended its troop withdrawal beyond August 31 to complete the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies from the country.

Politico: “Until last week, Biden’s Afghanistan policy had been defined as a rigid adherence to his withdrawal deadline. And that insistence opened him up to a wave of criticism for being both shortsighted and politically motivated… Biden’s resolve seemed to recede a bit on Sunday night when, in response to two consecutive questions about his Aug. 31 deadline, he said his ‘hope’ was to ‘not have to extend’ it.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time in recent months that the White House has blown through a major deadline of its own creation: the administration missed its July 4 benchmark to vaccinate 70 percent of American adults… The president’s setbacks in Afghanistan and in corralling the coronavirus were due, in part, to intelligence failures and unanticipated variables… Yet in close succession, they represent threats to Biden’s reputation as a steady hand with institutional wisdom that helps him to see around corners.”

Gizmodo: “It turns out ignoring bedrock environmental laws may not have been the best choice for a multibillion-dollar construction project.”

“Photos show former President Donald Trump’s border wall in deep disrepair after summer monsoon rains literally blew floodgates off their hinges.”

“Major Wall Street brokerages are urging clients to look past Democratic infighting and prepare for a torrent of new government spending as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings two historic measures up for a vote,” CNBC reports.

“Strategists say that moderate Democrats hoping to persuade Pelosi to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before a $3.5 trillion budget resolution will ultimately concede for fear of risking their reelection chances in 2022.”

Politico: “President Joe Biden’s honeymoon with the American people is over. As many Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance as approve, according to two new polls out Sunday — a precipitous decline for the new president after he spent his first half-year in the White House with high job ratings.”

Washington Post: “Biden’s presidency has been full of crises — some inherited, others created and still more appearing by surprise. At the moment, he is dealing with a collision of almost all of them at once. Coronavirus numbers are again on the rise, aspects of his legislative agenda are in jeopardy, and the Afghanistan withdrawal has become nearly all-consuming.”

Politico: “The alarming spread of new cases is draining the pool of available health workers in ways not seen since the pandemic’s winter peak, forcing officials to improvise and tear up rules dictating who cares for whom. Governors and hospital directors warn that the staffing crisis is so acute that patients, whether suffering from Covid-19, a heart attack or the effects of a car accident, can no longer expect the level of care that might have been available six weeks ago.”

“The staffing crunch is more than just a nursing shortage. Radiologists, laboratory technicians, custodial staff and food-service workers are all in short supply. Some leave because of burnout, having battled the pandemic for nearly 18 months. Some who’ve stayed need time off to care for an infected loved one.”

A new Peterson-KFF analysis finds the spike in hospitalizations of unvaccinated adults — which are almost all preventable — cost the U.S. health system more than $2 billion in June and July.

Axios: “Those costs are ultimately shouldered by all of us, not just those who remain unvaccinated and then get severely ill. A coronavirus hospitalization costs, on average, around $20,000.”

New York Times: “When the coronavirus surfaced last year, no one was prepared for it to invade every aspect of daily life for so long, so insidiously. The pandemic has forced Americans to wrestle with life-or-death choices every day of the past 18 months — and there’s no end in sight.”

“Scientific understanding of the virus changes by the hour, it seems. The virus spreads only by close contact or on contaminated surfaces, then turns out to be airborne. The virus mutates slowly, but then emerges in a series of dangerous new forms. Americans don’t need to wear masks. Wait, they do.”

“At no point in this ordeal has the ground beneath our feet seemed so uncertain.”

San Jose Mercury News: “In a significant twist that could reshape our understanding of the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, death records now indicate the first COVID-related deaths in California and across the country occurred in January 2020, weeks earlier than originally thought and before officials knew the virus was circulating here.”

“A half dozen death certificates from that month in six different states — California, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin — have been quietly amended to list COVID-19 as a contributing factor, suggesting the virus’s deadly path quickly reached far beyond coastal regions that were the country’s early known hotspots.”

In a flash notice sent to all officers and members of the department, Metropolitan Police activated the entire force and postponed vacation days, in anticipation of a Sept. 18 protest organized by supporters of Jan. 6 defendants, WUSA reports.

“President Biden isn’t inclined to fire any senior national security officials over the chaos in Kabul unless the situation drastically deteriorates or there’s significant loss of American life,” Axios reports.

“Dismissing national security advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or CIA Director William Burns would be tantamount to admitting a mistake, and the president stands by his decision.”

Said Biden: “Let me be clear: The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul was going to be hard and painful no matter when it started, when we began. It would have been true if we had started a month ago — or a month from now. There’s no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss of heartbreaking images you see on television. It’s just a fact.”

“Igor Fruman, a Rudy Giuliani associate charged in a campaign finance case, is scheduled to plead guilty during an appearance in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday,” CNN reports.

“The leader of the Proud Boys extremist group was sentenced to more than five months in jail on Monday for burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in downtown Washington and bringing two high-capacity firearm magazines into the nation’s capital days shortly before the Jan. 6 riot,” the Associated Press reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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