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10 Things in Politics: The Democratic lawmaker fighting to end forever wars




  • In Politics
  • 2021-09-09 08:53:20Z
  • By Business Insider

Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

Here's what we're talking about:

With Phil Rosen.

Rep. Barbara Lee speaks at a protest against war with Iran.
Rep. Barbara Lee speaks at a protest against war with Iran.  

1. THE INTERVIEW: Rep. Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress who voted against a broad authorization for the war in Afghanistan in 2001. The California Democrat's opposition has received renewed attention in the wake of the disastrous end to America's longest war. Lee spoke with the Insider columnist Anthony L. Fisher.

Here's a peek at their conversation:

  • On how she approached her historic opposition: "My background is clinical social work and psychology. The dynamic for me was that you don't make important decisions when you're mourning, grieving, angry." She added: "And I think my background helped me understand that it was not the moment - three days after the attack - to just give away Congress' responsibility and authority to any president to go to war in perpetuity." (Lee faced death threats and was called a traitor.)

  • Lee called the US withdrawal "chaotic" but defended the decision: "It was very chaotic, and we're going to have the committees of jurisdiction conduct a deep-dive investigation to find out what happened and what went wrong. Having said that, the number of people the administration got out, in terms of Americans and Afghan civilians, was just phenomenal."

  • What she hopes has changed in the past few weeks: "Members recognized whether or not they agreed with the Afghanistan withdrawal, that they need to be more present in doing their job in terms of their constitutional responsibility. And we just haven't been doing that, because these authorizations are still there for any president to use in perpetuity."

Read more of the interview, including why Lee says she's not a "pacifist" and how she would like to see US foreign policy change.

2. Biden set for national address on COVID-19: The president is set to discuss the White House's efforts to incentivize corporate America, the federal government, and schools to impose vaccine mandates and testing protocols, The New York Times reports. Biden plans to outline six key areas on how to get more Americans vaccinated. The president's speech comes during a critical time in the pandemic.

3. Department of Justice said to be preparing to sue Texas: The DOJ could file its suit as soon as today, unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal. Abortion-rights groups and other Democratic big wigs have applied intense pressure to the Biden administration to more forcibly push back on the US's strictest antiabortion law. More on the news.

Vice President Kamala Harris at a campaign event for Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP
Vice President Kamala Harris at a campaign event for Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP  

4. Gov. Gavin Newsom gets major boost to defeat California recall: Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned alongside Newsom in San Leandro just days before Biden was expected to stump for the embattled governor, The Washington Post reports. Ads featuring former President Barack Obama will begin appearing soon too. Democrats in the state are increasingly confident Newsom will survive the recall attempt.

5. Former Trump officials fight to keep spots on boards: The Biden administration is cleaning house at numerous military-academy advisory boards. Russell Vought, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, tweeted, "No. It's a three year term," in response to a letter kicking him off a Naval Academy board. Kellyanne Conway, who is getting removed from an Air Force Academy board, said the move "seems petty and political, if not personal." The White House denied any political motive for the firings, suggesting it was about qualifications and board appointments traditionally being nonpartisan. More on the faceoff between the Biden administration and Trump alums.

6. US on track to default by next month: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the federal government would run out of money sometime in October, meaning there's a much tighter deadline to raise the debt ceiling. Yellen warned that a delay in raising the debt ceiling "would likely cause irreparable damage to the US economy and global financial markets." Republicans thus far have said Democrats must find the votes on their own. Pelosi told reporters that Democrats were paying "the Trump credit card."

7. Some big names may testify during Elizabeth Holmes' fraud trial: The witness list for the case spans more than 200 names, including former senators; employees turned whistleblowers; and patients who say they were affected by inaccurate results from Theranos tests. Here are some of the biggest players, including Rupert Murdoch, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

8. Pfizer's top scientist defends vaccine dosage: The drugmaker's COVID-19 vaccine has 30 micrograms of mRNA, while Moderna's has 100 micrograms. Scientists have speculated that this could be a reason the Pfizer-BioNTech shot produced a lower antibody response than Moderna's in recent studies. Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, told the Financial Times that the company "used the minimum dose level" to get the proper immune response. Dormitzer added that a higher dose would risk more side effects. More on the comments.

9. Hurricane Ida home repairs are going to be slow and expensive: Supply shortages have placed "overwhelming demand" on contractors after Hurricane Ida damaged hundreds of thousands of homes. As a result, construction costs have surged and companies are facing a shortage of skilled workers. Home-repair workers expect the recovery to continue into 2022 - here's what the rebuilding process looks like on the ground.

Steve from "Blue
Steve from "Blue's Clues" recently addressed fans in a new video.  

10. Remember the host of "Blue's Clues"? He remembers you, too: Steve from the beloved children's television show starred in a new, heartwarming video addressing now-adult fans of the show. In the clip, he explains why he left the show and imparts gratitude to his fans - "I never forgot you, ever," Steve says in the video.

Today's trivia question: Long before Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Gov. Gray Davis in California, which state in 1921 became the first to recall its governor? And they didn't stop there; the state booted the attorney general and agriculture commissioner too. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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