Time running out for Biden to dodge blame
The 12-month inflation rate through October reached 6.2%, its highest level since the George H.W. Bush administration in the early 1990s. Bush was the president whose failure to recognize the political impact of rising prices and sluggish wages inspired one Democratic strategist’s retort, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Even though Bush led the nation through a triumphant invasion of Panama and the lightning ouster of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, economic underperformance undercut his 1992 reelection bid. Future presidents never forgot the importance of keeping the economy humming regardless of whatever else is happening in the world.
President Joe Biden should remember that lesson as inflation continues to soar, largely driven by gasoline-pump prices and supply-chain problems that are preventing products from reaching shelves. Inflation also normally is driven by too much money chasing too few goods, which is another key point for Biden to consider as he prepares to sign a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and continues pushing for a $1.85 trillion social-spending bill. The injection of $3 trillion dollars into an economy that’s still digesting an infusion of $2.6 trillion from pandemic relief measures threatens to throw fuel on an already raging inflation fire.
Even if Biden, who turns 79 on Nov. 20, has no intention of seeking reelection, congressional midterm elections are now less than a year away. The clock is running out for him to start showing results or risk dragging Democratic candidates down with his own sagging support ratings. Maintaining control of Congress is particularly important as Democrats work to complete their investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and potentially hold former President Donald Trump accountable for his role. Speculation is running high that, if given the majority, the GOP might even seek Biden’s impeachment as a tit-for-tat response to Democrats’ two impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Biden has no more ability to unclog ports or control OPEC oil-price manipulation than did President George W. Bush when a similar pump-price spike occurred in 2008. Regardless, Biden will be targeted for blame as 2022 campaigning heats up.
American consumers, who also are voters, don’t want to hear excuses and historical explanations. What they see in the supermarket are rapidly escalating prices for bread, meat, milk and eggs. They can’t buy the cars and gadgets they want. What once seemed like a generous gesture when major employers voluntarily raised wages to $15 an hour now is starting to look woefully inadequate.
Whatever Biden does, he’s got less than 12 months to produce results strong enough to convince voters that his party knows what it’s doing.
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch
US should do more to address vet suicidesThanking a veteran every day would be a good start to a better country. Taking an additional step, though, could help save lives.
The United States continues to fail in addressing the ongoing epidemic of suicide by active-duty members of the military and veterans. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, 7,057 members of the armed forces have died in combat operations. Over the same period, an estimated 30,177 active-duty personnel and veterans have taken their own lives. Veterans account for 22,261 of those deaths.
Americans who die by suicide use guns about half the time, but the rate for veterans is 70%. Of course, using a gun is often lethal. One of the ways to interrupt suicide is to remove guns from troubled people. But this is especially difficult for veterans. Suggestions have included locking the guns in a house or storing them with a friend, relative or local gun club until the risk of suicide has passed.
Suicide has always been a silent epidemic among soldiers. These men and women experience awful things in a combat theater and risk their lives. All are changed, whether the results of being under fire, firing themselves, or losing fellow soldiers In battle.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it is putting a high priority on suicide prevention and awareness. But we must also play a role to be certain our soldiers are properly tended to, during and following their active service. They must receive the care promised to them.
The first thing troubled veterans may need is someone to talk with. The extent to which you feel comfortable talking to a stranger or a casual acquaintance about their mental well-being is going to vary, of course. The vital personal parts of the conversation will be more important coming from family and close friends.
Be certain the veterans in your life are aware of and able to get in touch with a suicide prevention lifeline and website. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255. The related website is SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources. A resource specifically for veterans can be found at www.veteranscrisisline.net, by phone at 1-800-273-8255 or by texting 838255.
— The Herald & Review, Decatur, Illinois
Closing in on the cause of ‘Havana syndrome’Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced recently that he is appointing two veteran diplomats to lead the State Department’s efforts on “Havana syndrome,” a series of mysterious health episodes that first emerged at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in 2016 and now include similar issues reported by over 200 diplomats, CIA operatives and national security officials in Washington and overseas.
In another encouraging move, Blinken said the department has new technology to help the government figure out what is causing the incidents. The State Department also has made reporting any health incidents a top priority.
It’s about time that the U.S. government focused this level of attention on the problem. The government suspects, but has not been able to confidently determine, that the episodes are attacks on American personnel by a foreign adversary. The Cuban government denies participating in any wrongdoing toward foreign diplomats.
The Biden administration believes it is getting closer to identifying who is responsible and understanding what mechanism is being used to cause the mysterious medical condition. We hope the answer comes quickly.
— The Miami Herald