[guest post by Dana and JVW]
First news item [Dana]
Given President Biden’s age (80) and frequent behaviors that come with being an octogenarian, his team is now working to find ways to provide him cover, and thus prevent Republicans from exploiting the vulnerability:
Joe Biden’s aides realized they had a problem last month when the president tripped over a sandbag — hard — at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony. Afterward…a few aides tried…make sure that such an embarrassing and dangerous incident “never happens again,” according to two people familiar with the discussion…
In a preview of what voters will see more of if Biden wins re-election and serves into his mid-80s, the White House seems to be making concessions to his age. An iconic image of the modern presidency is the chief executive walking up the stairs to a majestic Air Force One, then turning at the doorway and waving. More and more, Biden is forgoing the long staircase for the shorter stairway that takes him up through the plane’s belly.
Biden seems to be preserving his energy in other ways. It’s customary on foreign trips for the president to schmooze with other leaders at dinners once the meetings are over. Less formal and structured than the events preceding them, the dinners offer a chance for leaders to bond, talk through differences or amplify a point. On two recent international trips, Biden has chosen to skip the nighttime socializing…Other age-compensating measures are logistical…: extra-large font on his teleprompter and note cards to remind him of the points he wants to make in meetings.
President Biden is no exception to experiencing age-related issues. But being the Chief Executive complicates these normal events.
Meanwhile, Wednesday morning Mitch McConnell (81 years old) was lead away after he froze while making remarks about a policy bill. It was unsettling to watch as it appeared as if he experienced some sort of medical episode, given his lack of responsiveness. It was also jarring that those around him didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about what was happening:
Flag: McConnell just stopped abruptly during his opening statement during the gop leadership presser and appeared to be unable to restart talking. He then stepped away and walked away with Barrasso: pic.twitter.com/f1kFUjggzm
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 26, 2023
According to the report:
A few minutes later, McConnell walked back to the news conference by himself. When asked about his health, he said he was fine. Asked whether he is fully able to do his job, McConnell said, “Yeah.”
Asked about the episode, a McConnell aide pointed to the GOP leader saying, “I’m fine,” but the aide added that McConnell “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment.”
“He came back to handle Q&A, which as everyone observed was sharp,” the aide said.
Senator McConnell had a TBI in March. Reminder from a Brain Injury PM&R doc that head injuries can cause chronic sequela (including seizures that may look like this).
If you were to see something like this, call 911 & make sure they get evaluated.
Second news item [Dana]
Because Russia pulled out of the deal that allowed Ukraine to transport grain via the Black Sea, the U.S. is working to find alternative ways to deliver grain throughout the world:
“We are working with our EU partners, we’re working with Ukraine and other European partners to see if there’s other ways to get grain to market over land. But that’s not as efficient,” John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, told reporters at the White House Wednesday.
“The best way for this grain to get to market is through maritime lanes,” he said. “But we’re working to see what we can do.”
Hardest hit by Russia’s weaponization of food security will be developing countries where the need is the greatest. The United Nations estimates that up to 49 million people will be forced into famine or famine-like conditions because of Russia’s vile actions.
Third news item [JVW]
On Monday we lost Sinéad O’Connor: singer, songwriter, activist, brief supporter of the Provisional IRA, priest(ess) in a fake Catholic sect, Muslim convert, four-time bride, mother of four children, and someone who clearly struggled with mental health issues. She was big in my teen years until her psychological issues and the pressures of being a star caused it all to implode and sidelined her career. She continued to record and tour, though she never recaptured the magic of her early successes. Her cause of death has not been released, though the London Metropolitan Police say that the death is not being treated as suspicious.
I wasn’t any real fan of hers: I preferred Prince’s original version of her biggest hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U” and nothing else in her oeuvre really did much for me. But I appreciate the fact that she was consistent in her feminist beliefs and was not afraid to be accused of “slut-shaming” or “prudery” when she publicly expressed her distaste at the way Miley Cyrus was using raunchy titillation to advance her career. Ms. Cyrus and her fans reacted dismissively, as one might expect and lament, yet her career has certainly cooled as she has reached 30, much as Ms. O’Connor had forewarned. Gone too early, and here’s wishing Sinéad O’Connor the peace in the Hereafter that she failed to find in life.
Fourth news item [JVW]
All the best salons in Europe repeatedly find themselves verklempt when those pesky citizens insist upon electing leaders who don’t want to bend the knee to the edicts and whims of the European Union. Generally speaking, the EUreaucracy and their allies here in the U.S. dismiss these new leaders with typical epithets such as “hard-right” or “far-right,” as if to delegitimize them in the eyes of all proper-thinking people. On Thursday, the new Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, visited our rapidly-diminishing President who had used her election this past fall as a warning to his fellow Democrats of the dire consequences of the rising right. And though the idiot media were happy to apply the “far-right” descriptor on his guest, the President found himself thanking PM Meloni for her stalwart support of Ukraine as well as her skepticism regarding China’s desire for closer ties with her country. Naturally the AP article linked to in the previous sentence describes Ms. Meloni as “far-right” no fewer than three times, just in case we aren’t paying attention. But maybe just maybe the fools and dunderheads who staff the Biden Administration all the way from the reception desk to the Resolute Desk might stop to realize that getting it right on the big things (China, Ukraine) is far more important than getting it right on the little things (transgender locker rooms).
Fifth news item [JVW]
Bad times continue at Anheuser-Busch over the Bud Light fracas. Yesterday they announced a two percent reduction in their corporate workforce as sales of their top-selling beer continue to flag. This comes out to nearly 400 jobs. Understanding that the origin of their woes was a ridiculously stupid marketing department, the corporation has made a point not to reduce headcount in brewing, warehousing, distribution, or sales, and they have gone as far as to subsidize their wholesalers who have seen their summer sales projections go into the tank. Conservatives have long overplayed the whole “get woke, go broke” phenomenon, as companies such as Nike or Apple who court controversy often take very short-term hits but quickly recover. In this case, conversely, it seems pretty inarguable that an executive with a big mouth combined with somebody’s boneheaded decision to pursue a partnership with a troubled social media influencer has led to nearly twenty-score employees being pink-slipped. Perhaps corporate America might learn a lesson from this.
Sixth News Item [JVW]
Mick Jagger turned 80 on Wednesday. I had forgotten that he’s a few months older than my mother. Rest assured, the two are worlds apart in temperament and lifestyle. He’s certainly an interesting character, more so than even the immortal Keith Richards, partly because he was so self-conscious about being a rock star, in an age when his peers wanted everybody to believe that they were just ordinary folks. Christopher Sandford relates some interesting anecdotes in The Spectator:
“I used to go to the Ready Steady Go! studio,” Jagger recalls of the venerable British Friday night musical variety show. “The [Rolling Stones] weren’t even playing, but I’d go down there so I could get an idea of where the cameras were, and get to know the angles, and then I’d go home and practice my moves for the next time when we were on.”
While at the London School of Economics studying the dismal science with an eye on a future in the British ministry (as in bureaucracy), on a cold autumn day in 1961 the prospective civil servant met the vampiric guitarist on a platform at the Dartford Train Station. In short order they had formed a band. A few months earlier, upon leaving grammar school, Mick’s headmaster had written the following assessment of him which still rings true over 60 years later:
Jagger is a lad of good general character, though he has been rather slow to mature. The pleasing quality which is now emerging is that of persistence when he makes up his mind to tackle something. His interests are extremely wide.
Belated birthday wishes to him. Since we’re celebrating his birthday and not a band milestone, I’ll salute him with a song from one of his solo albums:
Seventh News Item [JVW]
World Cup action from Down Under: after the success of the U.S. Women’s National Team in winning major concessions on pay and working conditions from U.S. Soccer, other national squads comprised of birthing people are attempting to follow suit. This includes the hostesses of Australia, who kind of delusionally expect to receive prize money from the tournament organizers commensurate with the men. Our neighbors to the north, like their U.S. rivals, are more successful on the pitch than their male counterparts yet still lag behind them in pay. The English women’s team doesn’t have an arrangement with their federation for performance bonuses at all, so the Lionesses only receive bonus money from the tournament organizers, FIFA, based upon how strongly they finish. South Africa apparently resolved their dispute with their soccer federation. Beyond pay issues, teams from France, Spain, and Haiti have issues with either their coaches or their nation’s federation officials, or even both. Most dramatically, Norway’s star player Ada Hegerberg was a curious last-minute scratch during the team’s first game against Switzerland. Ms. Hegerberg had first played for the Norwegian women’s team twelve years ago at the tender age of 15. She left the national team in 2017, citing issues with the Norwegian Football Federation’s lack of financial support and developmental opportunities for female players. She returned to the team last year to prepare for this year’s tournament, so her decision to remove herself prior to the first game citing tightness in her groin had to strike fans as highly suspect. We will see if she appears in any of Norway’s upcoming matches.
I mean, dames. Sheeesh.
Bonus News Item [JVW]
I know that the Babylon Bee is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I do find their humor to be pretty on point, even when I don’t necessarily agree with the premise. This clip is apparently a few weeks old, but I only encountered it recently. I especially like the small touches that you will notice, such as the Chief Diversity Officer wearing a rainbow flag pin instead of a U.S. flag pin on her lapel. Enjoy (I hope).
Have a tremendous weekend.
– Dana and JVW