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@FromaHarrop

Believe It Or Not, Giuliani Once Had A Finest Hour

Rudolph Giuliani was always somewhat off-center, even in his glory days as New York City mayor. But people who recall him then were stunned by his decline into a conspiracy-mongering swamp creature of Trump world. The 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 lets us remember that on that day of horror, Giuliani was on the chaotic scene, passing out courage and hope.

At 10 a.m. on 9/11, I was in New York on a train being kept underground in Penn Station. The two planes had just hit the World Trade Center.

The conductor came on the loudspeaker telling us repeatedly that "this is the safest place you can be right now." We didn't all have cellphones then, but a guy in the back of the car did and informed us that the Pentagon had been hit and the first tower, and then the second, had come down. The conductor asked us to pray for the people in the World Trade Center.

We were scared and shuddered imagining the terror downtown. We didn't know at that point who did it, why or whether they had stopped. We wanted to get out of town, but the train wasn't going anywhere because the tunnels were being searched for bombs.

The conductor came on one last time and told us to stay calm, take our bags and leave the train. We ascended into the light and a totally transformed city, country and world.

A public filled with dread needed consoling. President George W. Bush was incommunicado most of the day. But Giuliani was there among the smoking debris, the only visible political figure offering solace and, even more importantly, reassurance that life would go on.

He spoke eloquently about the collective grief. Asked how many had died, he said, "The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear."

But he also pleaded with New Yorkers to keep faith in the future. "Tomorrow, New York is going to be here," he said.

The most calming thing he said that afternoon, though, was that two of the subway lines were again operating and named which ones. Yes, it was going to be OK.

Giuliani became "America's Mayor," hailed as the ash-covered leader of 9/11. Time magazine made him "Person of the Year," and Queen Elizabeth gave him an honorary knighthood.

The backstory of Giuliani's role in 9/11 was less inspiring. One reason he became the hero of the streets was that he had pushed to place the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in the worst possible location, on the 23rd floor inside the 7 World Trade Center building. The office was created in response to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and the site was considered among the top targets for terrorists.

Giuliani has long had a strained relationship with the truth but went over the deep end in 2019 by peddling a theory that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. He forever disgraced himself by pushing lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump — culminating in his speech on Jan. 6, calling on Trump supporters to engage in "trial by combat" right before they ravaged the capital.

Giuliani had already fallen far. In 2018, he attended a game at Yankee Stadium, and when the announcer said, "The New York Yankees wish a very happy birthday to Mayor Giuliani," the crowd burst out with boos.

There's been much speculation about what happened to him. In New York City, he could have had bridges, roads and schools named for him. All that's left is a memory of Giuliani's finest hour urging battle against fear in the darkness of 9/11.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

When Only Veterinary Science Will Do

You know things are off the wall when even the FDA can't keep a straight face. What could the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say to Americans who refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine administered by medical professionals but instead go to a livestock supply house for a drug designed to deworm horses and cows? Ivermectin in big animal doses can easily make a human sick and possibly dead.

The FDA did issue a warning for people using ivermectin to prevent or treat the virus. But it also playfully tweeted: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow."

Some might deem it inappropriate to apply humor to a matter attached to serious health consequences. Some anti-vaxxers of the right-wing persuasion may accuse intellectual elites of looking down on them. They're not wrong, but average functional folk are also rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

The only logical explanations are stupidity, mental disability, and terminal ignorance. That Sen. Ron Johnson has endorsed use of ivermectin for early treatment of COVID-19 does not change the explanation.

After the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Johnson issued the following statement: "Our federal health agencies have not been forthright with the public about how these life altering decisions have been made or what science and data they are based upon. ... The American people deserve full and accurate information so that they make up their own minds regarding vaccination."

I understand little about aeronautics, but I get onto jet planes anyway because I know credentialed engineers have overseen the building of a safe aircraft. I don't feel I have to study the "science and data" of flight, because I know that experts are on the case.

Now you see people on TV, not all right-wingers, say they won't get the shot until they've researched the evidence on the vaccine. Some look like they couldn't operate a toaster, but if they want to examine the science and data, there are scholarly papers on the virus and its spread at their disposal, courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences. (Surely, they know all about interquartile ranges.)

Likewise, I could devote a decade to studying how those planes get off the ground before boarding one, but I'll pass.

A feed store in Las Vegas that ran out of ivermectin has posted a sign saying it will not sell it to customers who can't produce a picture of them with their horse.

Shelly Smith, manager of V&V Tack and Feed, recalled a man telling her that his wife wanted him on the "ivermectin plan." She told him that it was not safe to take, to which he said, "Well, we've been taking it, and my only side effect is I can't see in the morning." Smith said she responded, "That's a big side effect, so, I mean, you probably shouldn't take it."

Confusing matters, ivermectin in far smaller doses has been used to treat certain parasitic infections in humans. Rest assured, however, that reputable doctors are not prescribing horse paste to human patients.

Resistance to vaccines designed for humans and openness to horse meds seems especially acute in so-called conservative parts of the country. The anti-vaccine hordes of the right seem to be charging unarmed into the reality of a well-equipped and heartless virus. It's a free country, right?

Fifty years from now, documentaries about the COVID-19 crisis may relieve the grimness with a short section about the run on horse meds set to playful music. The associated tragedies will probably be forgotten, mainly because they were self-inflicted.

What can you do about people who choose veterinary medicine over the human kind? Nothing, really.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

So, Ron DeSantis Wants To Be President

Beyond the human price of COVID-19 is the financial toll of treating the sick. Back in the day, conservatives touted fiscal responsibility — that is, keeping the cost of government in check.

But now we have the extraordinary example of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, apparently looking to run for president in 2024, backing policies designed to waste the maximum number of taxpayer dollars. From a fiscal point of view, his opposition to vaccine and mask requirements is insanity.

Here are some numbers to consider:

The required two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines cost the U.S. government less than $40. Either vaccine protects most people from contracting the disease, and for those who do, it lessens the severity, keeping them out of the hospital.

Florida hospitals are now clogged with the COVID-19-infected, with over half of their intensive care beds taken by patients with the virus. The median cost for a stay at an ICU or being on a ventilator in Florida is $234,732 for those without insurance, according to FAIR Health. With insurance, it runs at $115,497.

Oh, but DeSantis now has a cheaper alternative to hospitalization. He is pushing for monoclonal antibody treatments for those already sick. These antibody cocktails, such as Regeneron, seem fairly effective at keeping COVID-19 patients out of the hospital. DeSantis has opened at least 18 clinics in his state to deliver them.

The expense of running these treatment centers aside, Regeneron charges about $2,100 per dose to treat a disease that, again, could have been prevented for under $40. And these numbers don't take into account the care provided to survivors who suffer "long" COVID-19 — people who show disabling symptoms long after the disease has run its normal course.

Across America, the cost of COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults came to an estimated $2.3 billion in June and July alone, according to a Peterson-KFF analysis. Some 84 percent of these hospital admissions were preventable.

Where does the money come from?

Government-run Medicare covers necessary hospital care for older Americans. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects hospital payments to go up by $3.7 billion in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, much of the rise due to COVID-19.

However one may feel about hospitalized adults who could have gotten shots but didn't, the fact remains that many will be handed significant bills for treatment. How much depends on their insurance plan, but some survivors are getting hit with bills in the hundreds of thousands.

If the patient dies, the providers may go after family members or the estate for payment. A man whose father died of the virus reportedly received bills of more than $1 million.

Gone are the days early in the pandemic when many insurers waived the copayment for COVID-19 treatment. And who can blame them? Why not ask patients to pay their share at a time when they could have had their free shots and not become patients?

Despite the enormous amounts Medicare pays for treatment, beneficiaries are still expected to cover hospital deductibles and copays.

DeSantis, meanwhile, continues to defend a law that bans private businesses from requiring vaccines for service — a pain especially for cruise companies trying to draw passengers to their crowded ships. Disney Cruise Line has just joined Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian in ignoring the law and are now demanding proof of vaccination for passengers 12 and older.

The Florida governor evidently believes the path to a Republican presidential nomination requires appeasing the right-wing nuts who recently booed even Donald Trump when the former president urged people to get their shots.

Taxpayers should know that they are paying for this idiocy and vote accordingly.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Afghan Mission Impossible Was Not Possible

As the images of chaos at Afghanistan's main airport looped on the news channels, "disaster" quickly became the favored word of commentators, followed by "disgrace." What we saw was disturbing, especially the evidence that U.S. forces hadn't secured the airport early on.

But 20 years after the U.S. first sent its soldiers to police the country and spent billions arming a huge Afghan army — a force that quickly melted away — Americans saw their country finally getting out of an impossible mission, that of transforming a very foreign political culture to our liking. The audience at home did not share the unhappiness expressed by experts on TV criticizing what they saw on TV.

Everyone saw the hundreds of Afghans running on the tarmac. They heard commentators opining with no information that the mob was all frightened Afghans who had helped the U.S. But some could have been using the confusion to immigrate to a better life in America. Some could have been slipped into the crowds by terrorist organizations. No one then knew.

And if, in the middle of the craziness, someone clings to the bottom of a packed U.S. military cargo plane as it takes off — and that person falls to earth — what are we supposed to do about that?

Since then, the optics haven't been all bad. Hundreds of Afghanis gathered in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and other cities to protest the radical Islamist takeover, and the Taliban responded with violence. In the end, though, this is the Afghans' fight.

America's presence did give women 20 years of relative freedom. We learn that some are now buying up burqas but also that other brave women are venturing onto the streets with uncovered faces.

Afghans facing the Taliban on their streets without an American escort is a good thing. Also potentially positive are signs that the Taliban may want the world to see them as less monstrous than before. America's job now is to ensure that they don't again send terrorists their way.

This can be done through intelligence. As National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the media, we are already dealing with the threat of terrorism in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and across the Islamic Maghreb, "without sustaining a permanent military presence."

Media pests, meanwhile, were demanding apologies to liven their chyrons. "Will you publicly disclose what went wrong?" one journalist asked. No, the U.S. is not going to issue a what-went-wrong report, Sullivan responded, but it is going to look at "everything that happened."

Another reporter asked, "Will the U.S. government commit to ensuring that any Americans that are currently on the ground in Afghanistan get out?" It can sure try, but how many American soldiers' lives are you going to risk searching remote mountain villages for U.S. nationals?

A dumb foreign journalist asked, "How can you just claim to be a global leader without making sacrifice?" Sullivan showed great self-control in noting that 2,448 Americans had lost their lives and many thousands more were injured in Afghanistan, and the United States has spent more than $1 trillion there.

There's been much simple-minded lumping of the evacuation from Kabul with that from Saigon in 1975. There was a big difference: Americans were obsessed with the war in Vietnam. They hardly thought about Afghanistan.

The recent exit has been painful, as evacuations tend to be. But claims that it cost America "credibility" — that it was a "betrayal" that will "live in infamy" (George Packer inThe Atlantic) — can be ignored.

Most Americans understand that trying to redo the politics of this very different place has been mission impossible. For them, this withdrawal was not a foreign policy calamity. It was a relief.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Should Mainstream Democrats Primary AOC?

When will mainstream Democrats start fighting back? When will they stop playing nice with a left fringe that regards them, not Republicans, as the opposition, if not the enemy?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's threat to kill President Joe Biden's hard-fought infrastructure deal should have been a last straw.

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How Mental Illness Spikes Street Crime And Political Extremism

Antisocial behavior has reached pandemic levels. Disruptive airline passengers are punching flight attendants. Thugs are attacking Asians, gays and other minority groups. Criminals have grown more brazen in bringing violence to the streets and into American politics as seen in the savage invasion of the Capitol on January 6.

Mental illness clearly underlies a lot of these disturbing trends, with the cracks widening during the COVID-19 scourge. The pandemic deprived many of community, personal interaction and, for those on the edge of psychic breakdown, the in-person mental health services they relied on or need.

America's system for supporting good mental health has never been strong to begin with. The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act did help expand coverage, but getting insurance to pay for treatment of serious psychiatric problems remains problematic.

And the need has risen. From March through October of last year, hospital emergency rooms saw a surge of patients seeking urgent mental care, according to JAMA Psychiatry. The numbers were far lower in the same months of 2019, right before the pandemic hit. The crises ranged from suicide attempts to drug and opioid overdoses to abuse of partners and children.

Last year, a third of American adults displayed symptoms of clinical anxiety or depression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up from 11 percent in previous years.

Many of the Capitol insurrectionists had a history of mental illness and related social dysfunction. We made fun of several.

Eric Munchel of Nashville, Tennessee, who brought restraints police use on hands, legs and arms to the Capitol, was dubbed the "zip-tie guy."

Actually, Munchel had been charged with assaulting a man and woman in 2013. Recently fired from his job at a bar, he entered the Capitol costumed in paramilitary gear, his mother at his side.

Sean McHugh of Auburn, California, who attacked Capitol police with chemical spray, had accused the officers of "protecting pedophiles." McHugh, it turns out, had done jail time for statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl.

It was thought at first that Rosanne Boyland had been crushed to death in the rush of stampeding vandals, but the medical examiner concluded that the Georgia resident died from an overdose of amphetamines. Boyland had a history of drug use, including a charge of felony drug possession. The pandemic cut off her in-person group meetings of addicts.

When you look at some of the creeps who had been attacking Asians, you find something more than the usual racial animus. The homeless man seen viciously stomping on a 65-year-old woman of Filipino origin in New York was on parole for having killed his mother in front of his five year-old sister.

Another homeless man with 90 prior arrests was charged with slashing a gay man. Both the criminal and the victim were Latino.

You see madness in the faces of airline passengers throwing tantrums over demands that they wear masks. Videos show the protesters, usually women, making noisy and self-righteous stands for their right to break the rules. No matter how normally these disrupters dress, they radiate the look of the unhinged.

The mission here isn't to solve the dearth of psychiatric services for those barely hanging on. Others can better do that. Rather, it's to note that fragile psyches often lie beneath the growth of appalling behavior. And a society in the grips of fraying social ties is going to suffer more of it.

We now have an evil mix of social isolation and extremist rhetoric that some use to confer an air of respectability to their delusions. The social services that keep the mentally unbalanced in check need to be strengthened — and soon.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Not Getting Your Shot May Cost You Your Job

The CEO of Morgan Stanley wants all the boys and girls back in the financial giant's Times Square office by Labor Day. "If you can go to a restaurant in New York City," James Gorman told them, "you can come into the office. And we want you in the office."

Gorman added: "If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this 'I'm in Colorado ... and getting paid like I'm sitting in New York City." Clearly, the time employees may happily Zoom in from a lakeside cabin or suburban sunroom is drawing to a close.

This is a sentiment less colorfully shared by other captains of Wall Street finance, where group effort is often required.

"Having worked in the industry for 25 years," James Davies, a top Deutsche Bank executive said, "it was somewhat strange to walk onto the trading floor ... and see, you know, I guess six to 10 people here, versus the hundreds we would normally have." He wants them back, too.

Say what you want about Wall Street bosses, they're refreshingly uninterested in indulging the preferences or prejudices of their high-paid workers. It should thus surprise no one that they'd insist that the returnees are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

They're not heartless. Gorman says those who don't want the vaccine for genuine health or religious reasons will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Arguing that you don't want the shot because Tucker Carlson says it is dangerous, however, will not work.

It takes less of a mental leap to understand why hospital staff would also be told, no jab, no job. That didn't stop a nurse from becoming lead plaintiff in an unsuccessful suit against her employer, Houston Methodist Hospital, for firing workers who refuse to be vaccinated. Jennifer Bridges claimed she was being asked to become a "human guinea pig."

The Texas federal judge who rejected her case stated the obvious: "Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer."

A medical assistant seeking to stop a similar mandate at Indiana University Health contended that these medical institutions would "lose a lot of employees" as a result. Well, some people should not work in health care, particularly those who would expose vulnerable patients to a deadly disease.

Do note that most of these workers are already required to get an annual flu shot and to be immunized against measles, mumps, chickenpox, and other infectious diseases. Suits to stop these mandates have also gone nowhere.

Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine say all three vaccines authorized for emergency use are highly effective in preventing a serious disease, and their benefits greatly outweigh the rare risks. They would know.

The issue of liability is not insignificant. Hospitals could face serious legal consequences if an unvaccinated worker infects a patient, James Hodge Jr., a law professor at Arizona State University, told Stateline.

The mayor of a city near Los Angeles, meanwhile, says that city employees who work with the public must get vaccinated. If you won't, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told them, "we'll help you find another job in the city to do until this crisis is over." But you could also be suspended without pay.

For the record, Parris is a Republican. And one can assume that the Wall Street executives who won't let returning workers spread pestilence on their premises are fairly conservative. They all have businesses to run.

No one has to get the shot, but no one should have to employ those who won't. Playtime is over.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

While Red Texas Blusters, Blue California Prospers

A funny thing happened on the way to California's collapse. It didn't happen.

We keep hearing that the Golden State is going down, down, down. Last year, it suffered the first drop in population since records have been kept. And there's that parade of natural plagues — the droughts, catastrophic wildfires and infernal heat.

A largely hostile right-leaning media go on and on about California's high taxes and various liberal excesses. Californians, their story goes, are leaving in droves for low-tax, lax-regulation places like Texas. And it's true that some big California names — Oracle, Charles Schwab, Hewlett Packard and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — have moved their headquarters there.

But is this the whole picture? It is not. As Bloomberg News reports, California's economy is hardly headed for disaster. On the contrary, it is No. 1 among the states by most economic measures. Furthermore, it is emerging from the pandemic in very good shape.

And so when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last February that California uses "heavy-handed government tactics that drive away businesses," California Gov. Gavin Newsom had to respond. "We remain the fifth largest economy in the world," Newsom's office said. "No. 1 in Bloomberg's Innovation Index and home to 20 of Fortune's top 100 fastest growing companies in the world."

California's small population loss last year largely reflected former President Donald Trump's curb on new visas. While some people do leave California, others arrive. Many of the newcomers are immigrants with grand ambitions and a desire to live in a welcoming place.

As the pandemic draws to a close, California is sitting pretty with an operating budget surplus of $75 billion. This is the product of a surging economy and the collection of capital gains taxes. It would seem that a few rich Californians did not move to Texas after all.

Thanks to this surplus, California has embarked on what Newsom calls the "largest state tax rebate in American history." Two-thirds of Californians are receiving Golden State stimulus checks totaling almost $12 billion.

What about economic growth? California's gross domestic product has jumped 21 percent over the past five years, leaving Texas' 12 percent gain in its shadow. Even New York state, another of Abbott's targets, outdid Texas with a 14 percent rise in state GDP.

If California were a country, its growth rate would have exceeded that of Japan, Germany and the entire U.S. Only China grew faster.

"For all its bluster as being 'best for business,' Texas can't match California's innovation," Bloomberg said. Some 18 percent of California's corporate locations are dedicated to research and development. The percentage of Texas facilities for research and development are just under half that of California's.

During a heat wave last August, parts of California suffered rolling blackouts, leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to predictably snark that the state was "unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity."

Six months later, of course, blackouts left millions of Texans in darkness without heat or electricity or, in some cases, running water. Abbott used the occasion to troll green energy advocates, blaming the crisis on freezing wind turbines. Wind supplies only 20 percent of the state's energy, and it was noted amid laughter that Greenland's turbines do just fine in subzero weather.

Some of the coolest people I know live in Texas —- and California is home to a variety of moronic woke campaigns, such as the attempt to take Abraham Lincoln's name off a San Francisco school. But right-wing efforts to portray California as an economic failure due to its liberal politics wither in the heat of facts. On economic prowess, Texas really should not mess with California.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

We Need To Tax The Rich — Not Punish Them

Taxes are how we raise the money needed to run government. The rich have the wherewithal to bear most of those costs. These points are especially connected at a time when the rich have gotten so much richer and the government needs to do so much more.

But in making the case to raise taxes on the wealthy, it is counterproductive to portray such a scenario as a kind of just punishment for those who have accumulated wealth. Many on the left can't stop themselves from hurting their cause.

It's true that America's billionaires added $1 trillion to their pile during President Donald Trump's four years. But though the 2017 tax cuts mostly benefited the richest investors, a growing concentration of wealth has been going on for decades. So, raise taxes on these guys because they have the money and not because they are supposedly greedy or otherwise in need of moral teachings.

The pandemic did especially nice things for Silicon Valley companies that helped stay-at-home Americans move their shopping and working online. They didn't create the pandemic. They just happened to be in the right businesses when it hit.

Thus, there was no good reason for the Institute for Policy Studies and others to fulminate against "pandemic profiteers," a list heavy with tech entrepreneurs. The dictionary defines profiteer as one who makes "an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally or in a black market."

What exactly made Zoom founder Eric Yuan one of the pandemic profiteers? Yuan had no idea when he created his videoconferencing service in 2011 that nine years later, economic shutdowns and social distancing would create a huge market for his invention and make him a billionaire several times over.

Liberals should bear in mind that many of the biggest donors to President Joe Biden's presidential campaign are the very billionaires on whom he wants to raise taxes. They include the top people at the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple. One of them, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, saw his net worth, now $17.4 billion, rise 61 percent in the Trump years.

Also note that several factors influence rich people's view of taxes. Some feel morally obligated to help support the society that has done so much for them. Others consider it very much in their interests to have good roads, ports and internet — things their taxes pay for.

The "fairness" argument does remain valid. The wealthiest Americans have received enormous tax breaks while having the ability, in many cases, to set their own number for taxable income. By contrast, the working stiffs see their taxes automatically deducted every week from their paychecks.

That makes Biden's plan to beef up the IRS to go after tycoons who chisel on their taxes long overdue. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig has said that tax cheats deprive the government of something like $1 trillion a year.

Just don't blame the honest economic winners in the pandemic for the hardships of others. New York State Sen. Luis Sepulveda, who represents a working-class area of the Bronx, implied as much when he said, "It makes me angry because in the wealthiest city in the world, it's inexcusable to have such a high rate of unemployment in one area."

His largely immigrant constituents did not lose their service jobs because rich people lived elsewhere in the city. They lost them because a deadly virus shut down the businesses that employed them.

So, there's no need here to spin a morality tale about the evils of great wealth. The case for raising taxes on those who could most easily pay them is good. Let's stick to this more sophisticated argument and skip the reproach.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Stupid But Lucky, Republicans Failed To Kill Obamacare Again

They tried. Oh, they tried. Republicans spent a decade bashing and voting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And what did they get for all their trouble? A 7-2 ruling by a conservative Supreme Court to uphold the health insurance program also known as "Obamacare."

For that, Republicans should thank their lucky stars. There would have been unlovely consequences had they succeeded in killing a government program that secured health coverage for 23 million Americans.

Could it be that their attacks and thrusts to repeal the ACA were really just an act? Republicans passed several bills to do in the ACA during the Obama administration, resting assured that the former president would veto them.

After 2016, Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress but still failed to deep-six the ACA. Republican John McCain famously stopped a serious repeal effort with his one vote in the Senate. Though pilloried for that, he had saved his party from having to deal with the inevitable fallout.

Targeting the ACA worked early on politically when the kinks were still being ironed out and the program was hard to explain. Once millions of Americans started experiencing the benefits, the tack turned to promises to put something better in its place.In 2016, Donald Trump ran for the presidency promising to replace Obamacare with "something terrific." As you know, nothing emerged.

One of the problems with offering to replace a popular program is that you really do have to come up with a replacement. There were (and remain) a few conservative health care experts ready to develop alternatives, but they have been largely ignored by the politicians.

With a few exceptions, Republicans simply aren't interested in doing the work on health care, which requires accepting trade-offs. There was all this talk, for example, about getting rid of funding for Obamacare but keeping coverage for preexisting conditions. An insurance market couldn't function if people could sign up for coverage after they've become sick and, therefore, expensive enrollees.

Where does the health care debate go from here?

Republicans have turned to a more specialized complaint centered on the "public option." This would be a government-run plan that competes with private offerings on the ACA Marketplace.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently condemned a Democratic proposal as "a stepping stone toward a single-payer public option system, which would eliminate private health insurance." And the Senate Republican Policy Committee is peddling the notion that Democratic support for a public option is a push for a "fully government-run health system."

None of this is quite true. How a public option might affect private insurers would depend on how the public option is structured. (Sorry, everybody, but the details matter.)

The real problem with throwing thunderbolts at the public option is that Democratic leaders aren't currently pushing for one. They want to avoid a fight with insurers, providers and others who profit off the high cost of American health care.

And so, Democrats are focusing on the simple, easier stuff, such as lowering the eligibility age of Medicare, now 65, to something like 60. And they are addressing the scourge of outlandish prescription drug prices, something the Trump administration said it would do but didn't.

Of course, Congress should let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. Democrats have backed that for a long time, and lest we forget, so did Trump during his first presidential campaign.

Saved from taking the rap for strangling Obamacare, Republicans should know they have alternatives to nibbling at it on the edges. They could become deeply involved in developing a rational health care system that the ACA only got rolling. How 'bout it?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Dr. Fauci Has Honor — And George P. Bush Has None

Donald Trump is no longer president. COVID-19 is no longer the threat it was. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, is back to more routine briefings on vaccination rates and such. So why does Fauci remain so much in the news?

Because the Trump camp can't stop bashing him. And why is that? Why does the right continue to portray this mild-mannered public official as the enemy?

It may be that Fauci publicly refuted some of Trump's ignorant musings during that presidency, but that's not really it. Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hit at Trump in the past. During the 2016 campaign, Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward."

The difference is that Cruz later came crawling on his belly to praise Trump, a man who insinuated that his father helped kill JFK and that his wife was ugly. Fauci never made that kind of round trip. Nor would he.

And what surely riles the right even more than Fauci's refusal to cave is that he didn't care. Fauci saw Trump as a politician to manage rather than to fear. The lack of abject submission punched a few holes in the Trumpian myth centered on an all-powerful authority.

Fauci met the attacks on him with sighs. He responded to nutty declarations on science with patient correction. The right wants angry conflict, and Fauci never delivered on his end.

We now have the sad sight of another Texan sacrificing his good family name to appease Trump. George P. Bush is campaigning to be the Republican nominee for Texas attorney general on the wings of Trump's remark that he was "the only Bush who got it right." It's printed right on George P.'s campaign beverage sleeves.

George P. is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whom Trump demeaned as "Low-Energy Jeb." Trump tweeted that Jeb "has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife," who immigrated from Mexico. That Mexican immigrant would be George P.'s mother.

George P. is the nephew of former President George W. Bush, whom Trump maligned after George W. put out a video applauding health care workers but not praising him. He is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, who found Trump so appalling he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. And Trump wasn't invited to speak at the grandfather's funeral as presidents traditionally do.

If George P. Bush's name had been George P. Jones, his political rise undoubtedly would have been less smooth. But now he's shocking a lot of Bush family admirers in his quest to receive a pat on the head from Trump — or at least not a swat. Sure, a lot of Texas Republican primary voters worship Trump, but is winning a nomination for state office worth losing one's honor?

It's a guarantee that Fauci would not kiss the rear end of anyone who insulted his family. What we have here is a short guy from Brooklyn basically brushing off Trump's menacing antics while swaggering Texas Republicans collapse at the sign of a New Yorker's displeasure.

And there's one other reason for Trump's continued obsession with Fauci: envy. Trump is fading from national prominence. Even Fox News no longer carries all his speeches live.

But Fauci goes on. He's still respected by the sort of people whose respect serious leaders want. His polls numbers remain high.

As the virus threat recedes, not every pronouncement Fauci makes will grab headlines, but he's not there for that. He's there to do the science. The right-wing attacks on him can't be pleasant, but Fauci will end his long career with a legacy of public service and, importantly, his dignity intact.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Republicans Need Jan. 6 Commission More Than They Realize

It's been a given that Democrats would benefit from an official probe into the January 6 rampage on the Capitol and Republicans would not. The thinking goes that Democrats would use a commission report to bash Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections. It would certainly detail how former President Donald Trump incited his supporters to commit the outrage.

Where Republicans err is believing that without a report, Democrats won't have the ammo to bash them effectively. But the trauma of that day is already seared in the American brain.

Legislation passed by the House would establish a 10-member commission appointed equally by Democrats and Republicans. Without Republican input, the official story of January 6 will be told by historians, journalists and the courts.

That was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's argument. "It's not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress," he said.

He's missing something. The trials of those who ransacked the Capitol will hardly help the Republican cause. And with Trump and many in the party continuing to reject the outcome of the election, Republicans would lose another chance to turn around the public's perception that they've got a screw loose.

It is rare that a president's party adds seats in midterm elections, but Republicans made that happen in 2002 under George W. Bush. That's because they campaigned on the terror of 9/11. They didn't need fancy explanations, because the national calamity — jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center —was so visual and visceral.

The same can be said of the horrific imagery that emerged from January 6 as Trump supporters vandalized the Capitol and beat cops with flagpoles. It's all on video.

And so is the rally at the Ellipse, where Trump pushed the dangerous lie: "We will never give up. We will never concede. ... You don't concede when there's theft involved."

Back in 2002, fear of terrorism created a new group of voters, the so-called security moms, who rewarded Republicans in the midterms. Shortly after, former President Bill Clinton criticized his party for failing to address Americans' widespread anxiety. "We have to have a clear and strong national security stand," he said.

Two years later, Bush was reelected, despite growing dismay at his Iraq War. Clinton had already seen that coming. "When people are feeling insecure," he'd said in 2002, "they'd rather have someone who is strong and wrong rather than somebody who is weak and right."

The recent election showed that Trumpification has already cost the Republican Party female voters, now called suburban moms. Come the midterms, these women won't like pictures of furniture piled up at the House chamber doors and officers with guns drawn as the mob tried to enter.

Some Republicans open to a commission pushed for a December 31 deadline to wrap up its work. That would have provided very little time to do an adequate job, but, they reasoned, in getting it over with by year end, the results wouldn't be waved at their candidates right before the midterms.

Republicans can't possibly believe that Democrats won't be featuring that sickening day in their campaign ads, however old a commission report. Republicans would be better off if they kept their hands in telling the story. They could have used their cooperation to do what Clinton wanted Democrats to do in 2002: to reassure the public that the democracy will be defended.

If they don't want to help construct a respected explanation of the awful events of January 6, then fine. Democrats will be happy to do it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Demand Justice, But Stand Up For Law And Order Too

The conversation started on a long Uber ride. The driver, originally from Colombia, said he knows a lot of Colombians living in the U.S. "without papers." He argued that they are good people paying taxes and should be left alone. I responded that I believe they are good people paying taxes but our immigration laws should be respected.

He then said, to my surprise, "I kind of like Donald Trump." Why, I asked. He went on heatedly about the riots that followed the killing of George Floyd. He thought Trump was more serious about restoring order.

The public really dislikes civic chaos. Democrats, you need to address this more forthrightly.

It matters not that only 6 percent of the racial justice rallies from May through October of last year saw violence. Nor is the intention to downplay troubling cases of police brutality. And let's not forget that the most outrageous incident of savage lawlessness, the Jan. 6 rampage on the Capitol, was staged by the Republican right wing.

It's just that the right talks a big game on maintaining law and order while some on the left leave the impression that Democrats don't care so much. The liberal media tend to give these radical voices outsized attention, which the right-wing media happily scoops up.

Thus, we hear stupid calls to "Abolish ICE" (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the agency tasked with stopping cross-border crime and illegal entry. And there are demands to "defund police," which President Joe Biden and the vast majority of Democrats totally oppose.

I recently had dinner with progressive friends who were angry over the violent demonstrations in the liberal strongholds of Portland and Seattle. They complained that the rioters' destructive behavior — and the apparent toleration of it by cowardly local officials — was helping elect Republicans opposed to their progressive values. And they were right.

The recurring mayhem in Portland has become a sport for punks. Though they may invoke the usual woke causes, they are performers out for thuggish "fun." And though they often riff on "identity politics," the few who get arrested are almost all young and white.

Earlier this month, May Day demonstrations brought another fresh round of havoc to Portland. Buildings were damaged and windows smashed. Garbage piling in the streets prompted The Oregonian to rename the city "Dumptown."

Seattle is still recovering from the fallout of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, several blocks that city leaders astonishingly made off-limits to police last year. Early on, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan naively told CNN, "We could have the summer of love." Not quite. The area was tormented by rapes, assaults, burglaries, vandalism and shootings.

The Economist recently pointed to a study strongly suggesting that last year's civic disorder cost Democrats support in November. Biden's share of the vote, it noted, was lower in and around Kenosha, Wisconsin, than in similar places in the state. The apparent reason were the ugly riots that followed the Kenosha police shooting of a black man.

A poll of New York City voters has crime as the No. 1 issue. More than 60 percent of those responding said they wanted to raise the New York City Police Department's budget and hire more cops. The top-polling mayoral candidate is Eric Adams, a former police officer and the current Brooklyn borough president. When his chief rival, Andrew Yang, bashed the movement to defund police, Adams countered that he himself had bashed the movement first.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, Mayor Eric Garcetti recently swatted down the noisy activists, saying, "If you want to abolish the police, you're talking to the wrong mayor."

This is how people in America's liberal cities feel. It's time the rest of America knew it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why The 2022 Midterms Just Might Surprise Us

Tradition tells us that, come the midterms, the president's party loses seats in the House. If this tradition holds in 2022, that could be bad news for Democrats, whose House majority now stands at only nine seats.

But history of late doesn't seem to be commandeering the driver's seat. Right after Joe Biden turned Georgia blue, Politico confidently stated that to win the state's two Senate runoffs on January 5, "the Democratic Party will have to defy a long track record of failure in overtime elections." So everyone believed, Democrats included. "Everyone" was wrong.

Special elections tend to produce low turnout, and former president Donald Trump wasn't on the ballot to motivate Democrats to show up. But while Trump wasn't on the ballot, he was in voters' heads. Democrats took both seats.

And that was the day before Trump sent his goons on a rampage at the Capitol. Rather than outrightly condemning that violent attack on the democracy, Republicans are trying to downplay a horror Americans saw with their own eyes. Rather than evict the man who incited it from party leadership, Republicans have doubled down in demanding servile obedience to the toxic figure now walking the corridors at Mar-a-Lago.

As a result, Trump will still be in the voters' heads come November 8, 2022. And the party-turned-personality cult seems to be ignoring how unlovable most voters find its object of adoration. Or perhaps it doesn't know.

The National Republican Congressional Committee recently withheld internal polling showing weak Trump support in key swing districts. His unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher in these districts than his favorable ones. (Recall also that Trump left office with an approval rating below 40 percent, the lowest for a first-term president since Jimmy Carter.)

One imagines that as the 2022 election approaches, Republicans in swingable districts will say the party has moved beyond Trump. The evidence so far says otherwise.

A Gallup poll from February found that Americans' favorable opinion of the Republican Party had fallen to 37 percent, while 48 percent saw the Democratic Party in a positive light. It also reported that a record-high 63 percent of Republicans supported a third party, as opposed to 46 percent of Democrats. And though 68 percent of Republicans wanted Trump to remain party leader, only 47 percent of Republican-leaning independents — less than half — felt that way.

Meanwhile, the midterm tradition isn't unbreakable. In 2002, the party of then-President George W. Bush took another eight seats in the House and two in the Senate. Those elections took place about a year after the trauma of 9/11. The next midterms are scheduled about a year after another national trauma, the COVID-19 pandemic, the end of which President Joe Biden will have presided over.

In 2022, Democrats will be defending only seven House seats in districts Trump won. No Senate seat in a state that voted for Trump will be up for grabs. And the economy is expected to continue booming.

Republicans had a way out with Liz Cheney, a rock-ribbed conservative from Wyoming willing to condemn Trump for his efforts to cancel the will of the voters and for stoking the insurrection. But no, the cult turned Cheney into the enemy rather than a path for renewed respectability.

Some Republican operatives may hope that the voters will have relegated the Jan. 6 outrage to "the past." Good luck with that. A leadership that, six months after the election — four months after the riot — still won't concede that Trump lost will have a hard time rewriting that vivid history by next year. In any case, Trump won't let them. And neither will Democrats.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

What Do The Stunning Statistics That Emerged From 2020 Actually Mean?

We're a statistics-happy society. We obsess over the latest numbers on just about everything — birthrates, jobs and population changes — mining them for trends.

Some stats are really obscure, such as the shocking amount of electricity Bitcoin uses. The digital currency's complex computing process devours 143 terawatt-hours a year — more than the country of Norway! Can you believe?

Anyhow, the commonly quoted stats are dribbling in, but because they are being compared to those of the wildly abnormal pandemic year of 2020, what should we do with them? The answer may be to marvel at the dramatic shifts but with asterisks attached.

Take changes in state and city populations. California reported a net loss in population last year, the first time since 1900, when the state started counting. The effects of the pandemic, says Hans Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California, should put an asterisk on last year's shrinkage.

Two big reasons for the falloff were the large number of COVID-19 deaths and a sharp decline in international immigration. But as shots in Californian arms curb the disease and more normal immigration patterns return, the state should resume growing slowly, as it has in recent years, Johnson adds.

New York state also lost people last year. Some of it resulted from COVID lockdowns sending people out of its cities to less crowded parts of the country. As with California, however, more of it reflects a decline in foreign immigration, according to the Empire Center.

The country as a whole last year grew at its slowest pace since 1918 — by only 700,000 residents, or 0.2 percent. Some of that low count reflects deaths from COVID and a lower birthrate. The number of babies born in the U.S. hit a 4 million high in 2015 and has fallen every year since.

The pandemic may have accelerated the process. Last December, when babies conceived early in the health crisis would have been born, the U.S. birthrate posted its sharpest decline in history. Was a drop-off this severe a temporary phenomenon reflecting health and economic fears of those strange times? We will see.

Cities are reporting significant spikes in shootings. Experts have offered some pandemic-related explanations for that as well. Lost jobs, closed schools and suspended after-school activities have left vulnerable young people on the streets where violent youth gangs do their recruiting.

COVID knocked the economy on its rear, so a large jump to more normal levels of consumer spending is producing price numbers that just reflect a return to normal. Gasoline prices, for example, soared 50 percent in April compared with the same month of 2020. For perspective, though, they actually decreased 1.4 percent from March 2021.

Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expect the economy to grow in the second quarter at an annual rate of 8.1 percent over the same time a year earlier. This would be the most torrid growth in about 40 years. Then again, consider the pathetic base we're starting at — the annus horribilis of 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of new COVID cases — almost 350,000 a week early this month — could drop to below 10,000 by August if vaccinations continue apace. The scourge seems to be ending, and barring some other astounding turn of events, the trend lines could start becoming less dramatic.

Clearly, 2021 is turning into a whole new ballgame. Making comparisons to the sick, sick year of 2020 may offer opportunities to exclaim over the biggest year-to-year surge or drop in this or that since the nation's founding. We can have fun with that, but, hey, remember the asterisks.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Liz Cheney Won’t Be Exiled To Political Wilderness

Liz Cheney's ouster from the House Republican leadership has prompted many observers to say that the Wyoming representative is headed to the "political wilderness." This assumes that the Republican Party is itself a civilization and not some decaying political entity about to be buried under the lava of its craziness.

The Donald Trump personality cult may have gotten its way for now, but Cheney's story is just beginning. The few sane Republicans left, Cheney among them, are now vowing a fight to remove the Trumpian scourge from their party — while others talk of abandoning the ship they see as too far gone and forming a third party.

One of the party's most serious conservatives, Cheney remains totally unrepentant about condemning former President Donald Trump's "big lie" that the election was stolen. She is said to have big plans to confront Trump head-on and march on the media to drive home her message. And, yes, she is running for reelection and willing to face the possibility of losing the Republican nomination to a Trumpian clone. That would be another big story starring her.

Trump's own acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, just said that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. That sort of truth-telling finds no resonance in the cultish depths, a place so cracked that Arizona Republicans have conspiracy theorists examining last year's ballots for traces of bamboo. That would be evidence, they say, that fake votes from Asia invaded Arizona on Election Day, thus tainting the final count. Good lord.

As the never-Trump conservative Tom Nichols lamented on The Bulwark Podcast, many of the Republicans endorsing Trump's fraudulent claims that he won the election are not stupid. As an example, Nichols said, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum "was perfectly capable of mimicking normal human behavior" before disgracing himself as an unprincipled promoter of Trump's lunacy.

"But," Nichols added, these Republicans are now "like addicts ... in a co-dependent relationship with other addicts where they need to just keep giving each other bigger and bigger hits of crazy." They're on a hamster wheel.

A group of over 100 Republicans have joined to demand that the party take Trump off its altar and threaten to form a third party if it doesn't. These prominent Republican former officials include governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, and state party chairmen.

Cheney echoed their call for a patriotic defense of the democracy. "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar," she said in a fiery address on the House floor. "I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy."

Republican Barbara Comstock, former congresswoman from Virginia, defended Cheney thusly: "I think Liz understands it's not worth selling your soul for No. 3 in the minority. She's just not going to do that."

Trump says that "Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being" and "has no personality." The Trump base swimming in the muck of post-truth nihilism may nod in a servile manner, but then there's most of the country.

Cheney is doing more than not selling her soul. Republicans may expel her from the position of House Republican conference chair, but in terms of national importance, she's going nowhere but up.

Liz Cheney is not headed for the political wilderness. She is destined for the history books. Her politics are not mine, but she's on the road to becoming a towering American political figure. One could say she's already arrived.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Biden’s Ambitious Agenda Is More Truman Than FDR

Joe Biden's multitrillion-dollar plans to revive the economy, fix America's infrastructure and ease poverty have spawned comparisons between him and Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the 100-day mark of the Biden presidency, David Gergen, who has advised presidents of both parties, wrote, "Biden is off to an excellent start — arguably, one of the best since Roosevelt."

And Biden hasn't discouraged such talk. He now has a giant portrait of FDR in the Oval Office, right across from the Resolute Desk.

But while there may be likenesses between those two presidents' agendas, the less glamorous Harry Truman also deserves inspirational face time. Truman and Biden both came from modest small-town origins. Unlike the aristocratic Roosevelt, they knew firsthand about middle-class striving.

It's not surprising, then, that the Biden agenda seeks to recreate the Golden Age for the American middle class — the postwar years of 1947 through 1973, when productivity doubled but so did the median compensation of full-time workers. Truman was instrumental in launching it.

Truman understood that the well-being of workers depended on factors beyond the magic of the market. Widespread prosperity needed a third player in addition to business and labor. That player was a government willing to impose social norms through tax policy, the minimum wage, and protection for organized labor.

As World War II was ending, impatient workers launched destabilizing strikes. And so, in November 1945, Truman held a conference to create a new labor policy through which postwar abundance would be broadly shared. The participants came from business, the labor movement and — at Truman's insistence — government.

The business community came eagerly on board. As Eric Johnston, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the conference: "Labor unions are woven into our economic pattern of American life, and collective bargaining is a part of the democratic process. I say recognize this fact not only with our lips but with our hearts."

Truman proposed a national health care plan, which didn't happen, and higher taxes on the top incomes, which did. Biden's agenda both strengthens the Affordable Care Act and seeks to raise taxes on the top incomes.

Unlike Roosevelt's New Deal, Truman's Fair Deal took a strong stance on civil rights. New Deal programs broadly discriminated against Blacks. The National Recovery Administration, for example, gave preferences to white job seekers and allowed lower pay scales for Blacks.

Roosevelt appointed a few Blacks to token jobs. Truman put nonwhites in positions of real power, notably William Henry Hastie, the first African American federal appellate judge.

Biden just announced a racially diverse slate of judicial nominees. It includes sending Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered a springboard for the Supreme Court.

Biden is pursuing racial equity in some controversial ways. The COVID-19 relief bill includes a $5 billion fund for minority farmers only. And the infrastructure package says that 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy must go to "disadvantaged communities." How that would work is unclear.

The offshoring of American jobs and technological change of course accelerated workers' loss of economic security — and helped end the Golden Age. But the ditching of norms that only government could enforce also played a part.

Ronald Reagan cut taxes on the rich. Then George W. Bush did, and then Donald Trump. The federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25 an hour. In 1973, it was equivalent to $9.81 in today's dollars.

Biden seems to be summoning his inner Harry Truman and bringing back the third player. In assuring a stable and happy middle class, the market has a job to do, but so does government.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.