This week, President Joe Biden took out al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, saw the heavily red Kansas say no to abortion restrictions, made a deal with Manchin and Sinema on a spending bill that includes funding for climate change, health care and tax increases, signed an Executive Order to help low income women pay for abortion services, and delivered a jobs report for July of adding 528,00 new jobs—twice what economists had predicted. He also saw the narrow passage of a bill that guarantees health benefits to veterans—a bill that says, in essence, you took care of us, so we’ll take care of you. Which only seems fair. And right.
All of that while struggling to overcome a rebound diagnosis of COVID-19 and gearing up for a possible prisoner exchange with Russia.
Wish I could have had such a “sleepy” week.
The execution of al-Zawahiri, though not as dramatic as President Obama’s taking out Osama bin Laden, was significant in that the death of the Number Two al-Qaeda leader was a serious inroad to limiting the effectiveness of the terrorist organization. It also signaled the end of the last of the organizers of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
What strikes me as odd is that al-Zawahiri was shot while standing in plain view on a balcony of a house in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan. He wasn’t actually shot, by the way. He was diced by a six-bladed R9X Hellfire missile. And just to be accurate, the place he was staying was ironically called a “safe house.”
It’s not clear to me how or why the issue of abortion ever entered the political sphere. It has always struck me as something quite personal—the business only of a woman and her doctor. But privileged white men seem compelled to exert control over women.
They might claim their concern is over babies, but it’s not. It’s all about control.
So it was great to see the voters of Kansas recognize that women should be in control of their own bodies. And for President Biden, a devout Catholic, to help low-income women in pursuit of their own control is a breath of fresh political air.
It’s dangerous to comment on any issue that involves Joe Manchin until the votes are counted. The Senator from West Virginia is an opportunistic fellow who supports anything that will benefit him and his family. Let’s hope he nods off during the ensuing debates.
The Biden Administration has added more than 10 million jobs since taking office. Even if it wasn’t a record (which it was), it’s a great achievement that deserves recognition and appreciation.
Meanwhile, in Russia, Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years for her “inadvertently” smuggling vape tubes and cannabis oil into that country. There is great uproar over the sentence and demands that she be returned to the U.S.
And while we’re at it, U.S. officials are saying we should obtain the release of accused spy Paul Whelan as well. The U.S. reportedly offered to swap the two for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, and Russian officials have also asked the U.S. to include a convicted murderer and former Russian spy named Vadim Krasikov.
It seems an uneven swap, but most of them do. I, for one, hope the swaps all work out to everyone’s advantage. But I do question what Griner was doing in Russia. There are tremendous opportunities for women basketball players throughout Europe. And Russia, with its history of dictatorial control and poor record of human rights, I would have thought it would be at the bottom of the list. Furthermore, Griner should have known the rules of living in a place like Russia, where rights are always in jeopardy and never guaranteed.
But I do have a prisoner swap suggestion: You send us Whelan and Griner, we’ll send you Rand Paul and Jim Jordan. Deal? How about we sweeten the pot with “Moscow” Mitch McConnell?
Turning to the Sports Page: Soon after arriving in Los Angeles in the summer of 1976, I went to Dodger Stadium to see the home team play my beloved Chicago Cubs. I don’t remember much about the game, but I was taken aback by the number of attendees who played their transistor radios throughout the game.
I suppose it was the first time I’d ever heard or heard of Vin Scully, the consummate baseball broadcaster who died this past week at the age of 94. For a young man who had grown up listening to Jack Brickhouse announce Cubs games with all the enthusiasm of a Cardinal fan, Scully was pure magic. I found myself listening to Dodgers games at home and in my car. When I went to Chavez Ravine, a transistor radio I picked up at a pawn shop was my constant companion.
Scully spent 67 seasons in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth. He was there when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and he called three perfect games (Don Larsen, Sandy Koufax, Dennis Martinez) and 20 no-hitters. He called 25 World Series, and was in the booth when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s long-standing record.
“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”
Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year and had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. In 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
I last went to a Dodgers’ game in 1999. My radio was long lost, but my son Daniel was with me. There were plenty of fans around us with radios so we could hear Vin Scully work his magic as the game played out.
Thanks for calling the games with class, style and unbounded expertise. I enjoyed every one of them.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Ham in Cider (Jambon braisé au cidre)
4 thick slices of smoked cooked ham
3 shallots, chopped
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup fresh cream
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
Pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the ham slices and brown slightly. Pour in the cider and leave to reduce slightly.
Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve ham with sauce, boiled potatoes with parsley, peas and some crusty bread.