I’m struggling to get going with this post. There is so much negative and even crazy coverage out there. If only there could be a week or two of boring news! But the media is still beating up on Biden for ending a 20-year war, Republicans are still claiming 2020 was a “rigged election,” and the pandemic is still worsening because wacko right wingers insist on taking a horse de-wormer instead of just getting vaccinated and wearing masks. And we can’t forget the powerful hurricanes and wildfires that are linked to our refusal to deal with climate change. So here’s a sampling of what’s out there in the media today.
At the Washington Post, Matt Viser has a piece on angry families who recently lost sons and daughters in Afghanistan: ‘Don’t you ever forget that name’: Biden’s tough meeting with grieving relatives.
In Florida, where Covid-19 is running rampant, Governor DeSantis has decided to ignore a court decision that his anti-mask orders are unconstitutional. The New York Times: Florida withholds money from school districts over mask mandates.
The Florida Department of Education has withheld funds from two school districts that made masks mandatory in classrooms this fall, state officials announced on Monday, making good on a threat that local school boards that required students to wear masks would be punished financially….
Richard Corcoran, the state education commissioner, said in a statement that the department would fight to protect parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children, adding: “They know what is best for their children.”
The penalty applies to two school districts — Alachua County and Broward County — that went ahead with mask mandates in defiance of the governor’s order.
The department had indicated that it would withhold a monthly amount equivalent to school board members’ salaries. In Alachua County, members make about $40,000 a year, and in Broward County about $46,000, according to the State Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
However, because the state does not pay the salaries of local officials, it cannot withhold the salaries directly. Mr. Corcoran had previously said that he might recommend withholding funds “in an amount equal to the salaries of the superintendent and all the members of the school board.”
Also at The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie asks: Do Republicans Actually Want the Pandemic to End?
Joe Biden, in his 2020 campaign for president, promised to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. With additional aid to working families and free distribution of multiple effective vaccines, he would lead the United States out of its ongoing public health crisis….
Rather than work with him to vaccinate the country, Biden’s Republican opposition has, with only a few exceptions, done everything in its power to politicize the vaccine and make refusal to cooperate a test of partisan loyalty. The party is, for all practical purposes, pro-Covid. If it’s sincere, it is monstrous. And if it’s not, it is an unbelievably cynical and nihilistic strategy. Unfortunately for both Biden and the country, it appears to be working.
Naturally, some of the loudest vaccine-skeptical Republicans are in Congress. “Think about what those mechanisms could be used for,” Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said of the Biden administration’s plan for door-to-door vaccine ambassadors. “They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could go door-to-door to take your Bibles.”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has similarly criticized the president’s effort to reach the unvaccinated. “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations,” she tweeted. “You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”
Cawthorn and Greene are obviously fringe figures. But these days, the fringe is not far from the center of the Republican Party (if it ever was to begin with). Their rhetoric is not too different, in other words, from that of their more mainstream colleagues in the Senate.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has attacked vaccine mandates — “There should be no mandates, zero, concerning Covid,” he said in a recent interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity — while Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has urged Americans to “resist” efforts to stop the spread of the virus. “It’s time for us to resist,” Paul said in a video posted to Twitter. “They can’t arrest all of us. They can’t keep all of your kids home from school. They can’t keep every government building closed, although I’ve got a long list of ones they might keep closed or ought to keep closed.”
Republican rhetoric in Washington, however, is a sideshow to the real fight over Covid, in states like Florida and Texas.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Hurricane Ida has moved on, but Louisiana with be dealing with the aftereffects for a long time. Read about it and see photos at NPR: These Images Show Just How Bad Hurricane Ida Hit Louisiana’s Coastline.
Hurricane Ida’s fierce Category 4 winds and torrential rain left the Louisiana coastline badly beaten.
Images of the effected areasdays after the storm show crushed homes, debris scattered across streets, and flooded neighborhoods.
As cleanup is underway, officials are warning residents who evacuated not to return to their homes just yet due to the severe damage.
Out West, the devastating drought and resulting wildfires continue. The New York Times: Evacuations Ordered Near Lake Tahoe as the Caldor Fire Chokes Region.
A wildfire that had burned through remote areas in the Sierra Nevada for two weeks crested a ridge on Monday and began descending toward the major population centers along Lake Tahoe.
As the Caldor fire intensified amid dry and windy conditions, thousands of people along the lake’s southern and western shores were ordered to evacuate. Crews of firefighters sped to put out spot fires only miles from South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Tourists normally swarm the lake on the California-Nevada border in the summer months for boating, fishing, hiking, eating and drinking. But by sunset on Monday, the community seemed to stand still.
On streets that were clogged only hours earlier, shops and businesses — motels, restaurants, supermarkets — were deserted. Roads were empty except for fire engines and television reporters documenting the eerie calm.
It was impossible to know when, if at all, the fire would reach the town. But people did not stay to test the fury of a blaze that fire officials estimate could threaten more than 20,000 structures.
Public safety officials warned that the Caldor fire, the latest to grip California during a particularly unforgiving summer for fire crews in the West, showed no signs of relenting. It had scorched more than 186,000 acres and was 15 percent contained on Monday.
The mandatory evacuation zone extended from Tahoma, Calif., on the western shore of the lake, to the Nevada border.
So those are the highlights of today’s news from my point of view. What stories are you following?
Yesterday, on the 16 anniversary of Katrina, Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane. Dakinikat weathered the storm, but all of New Orleans is now without power and 911 service. Last night, the storm moved west into Mississippi, where it was downgraded to a tropical storm that will affect the state throughout today. Here’s the latest:
A massive failure of the transmission system that brings electricity to New Orleans and the east bank of Jefferson Parish left the city completely without power as Hurricane Ida slammed the area and it’s not clear how long the problems will take to fix.
The problems during the storm took all eight electricity-transmission lines into the area offline, including one massive tower on the west bank that collapsed into the Mississippi River. Now, the New Orleans area could spend an extended period, perhaps days but potentially much longer, without electricity in the summer heat and during a hurricane season that will continue after Ida has departed.
The failure raises questions about New Orleans’ plan to use Entergy power to replace the Sewerage & Water Board’s antiquated turbines as the primary source of power for the city’s drainage system. City Council members who chair the committees that regulate Entergy and oversee the S&WB said the outage would prompt investigations into the power company and would require further scrutiny of the S&WB plan.
Failures of the transmission system during Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and Hurricane Laura last year left huge swaths of the state without power for days or weeks.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to stay in their homes and New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said “anti-looting” officers would be deployed due to the outage.
The full details of what went wrong with the transmission system were not yet known and Ida’s strong winds kept crews from fully evaluating the system on Sunday.
The 911 system is not working in Orleans and Jefferson parishes in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, officials said Monday morning.
In Orleans, if you have an emergency, officials said you should go to your nearest fire station or approach a police officer.
In Jefferson Parish, officials said you should call 504-227-1400, which is the administrative number for the 911 Center, if you can’t get through by dialing 911.
Dakinikat just texted that she walked to her local fire station to report a downed tree on a power line. She also talked to some neighbors, one of whom said they heard it could take 6 weeks to restore all power. Her house is OK, but a couple of big branches broke off her magnolia tree. She has been posting some updates to her Facebook page.
The partial loss of generator power Sunday at a Louisiana hospital in the path of Hurricane Ida sent doctors and nurses scrambling to keep patients breathing as they moved them to a different area.
Patients at Thibodaux Regional Health System in Lafourche Parish were bagged by hand, meaning hospital staff manually pushed air in and out of their lungs in place of mechanical ventilation, while they were transported to another floor, according to officials with the Louisiana Department of Health. Other generators in the hospital are still in working order, according to Dr. Joe Kanter, the state’s chief health officer, as workers and patients there continue to ride out the storm.
Officials from Thibodaux Regional Health System posted on social media around 7 p.m. Sunday that “the backup generator that was affected earlier by winds from the hurricane is back online at the current time.”
As the powerful Hurricane Ida roared ashore in Louisiana on Sunday, the storm’s force was so strong it temporarily reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.
Hitting as a Category 4 storm, Ida’s winds snapped trees and tore roofs off buildings as its floodwaters blocked roads and submerged cars. The storm was expected to dump up to 2 feet of rain in some areas and bring up to 7 feet of storm surge. Over a million people in Louisiana were without power.
A U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Belle Chasse, south of New Orleans, detected the Mississippi’s flow moving backward around midday Sunday because of the amount of water Ida whipped up.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Ricky Boyette confirmed engineers detected a “negative flow” on the Mississippi River as a result of storm surge.
In the days leading up to Ida’s arrival, the river, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, had a discharge rate hovering around 300,000 cubic feet per second. At the peak of the reversal, it was flowing nearly 40,000 cubic feet per second upriver. The reversal occurred for just over a couple hours.
Although rare, the river changing course is not unprecedented, occurring during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
Brian Stelter at CNN Business: Webcams and social media apps are changing the way we experience hurricanes.
In an ever-more-internet-connected world, we are getting close-up views of extreme weather in ways that were hard to imagine a generation ago.
When Hurricane Ida barreled ashore and ransacked the Louisiana coast on Sunday, we were able to see the storm surge inundate Grand Isle through remote video cameras that were installed by storm chasers.
Locals also uploaded web-connected security camera footage of the rising waters to social media and streamed the winds on Facebook Live. Reporters weren’t embedded in these coastal and low-lying areas because the danger was simply too great, so webcams were the main way to assess the damage on Sunday.
Later in the day, as the center of Ida moved closer to New Orleans, residents posted panicked pleas for help on Twitter and other sites. Local reporters shared videos of homes that have been flooded. Other videos on Twitter and Instagram showed debris flying through the air in New Orleans.
Traffic cameras and levee monitoring webcams also provided dozens of views from inside the storm.
Some locations lost power and/or internet connectivity, but an impressive number of the cameras remained online throughout the day. It was the latest sign that the way we witness landfalling hurricanes is changing — perhaps providing a more visceral education for the public. Can all the live feeds and social snapshots, showing the real-time reality of the weather, cause viewers to take the threat more seriously?
And/or do some folks see the video clips and decide to head outside with their own cameras? “A video of a man plowing headlong into storm surge from Hurricane Ida garnered a stern warning from National Weather Service officials,” urging everyone to stay inside, Missy Wilkinson of The Advocate reported Sunday afternoon.
Storm chasers could not be dissuaded. Numerous chasers showed Ida’s storm surge pouring into towns like Golden Meadow, Larose and LaPlace. One camera crew said they were surrounded by water but were safe at a Motel 6 with high-enough ground.
By nightfall, a man on Twitter who called himself an oil field worker had posted a video from the actual site of the landfall, Port Fourchon, showing a toppled crane and other damage. Through texts, video clips and live streams, we’re experiencing hurricanes in new ways.
More stories to check out today:
The Jerusalem Post: New COVID variant detected in South Africa, most mutated variant so far.
David Rothkopf at The Atlantic: Biden Deserves Credit, Not Blame, for Afghanistan.
The New Republic: Be Glad Donald Trump Isn’t Running the Show in Afghanistan.
Adam Jentleson at The New York Times: When Will Biden Join the Fight for Voting Rights?
That’s all I have for you today. I’ll have to do another post tomorrow. Take care everyone!
Ain’t it the fucking truth…
Cartoons via AAEC:
And from Cagle:
That last cartoon is from the foreign press…in Spain.
Not that Ida, this one…
I will post more updates on Ida in the comments. But…
The #WaffleHouseIndex is not looking good:
Now for a few other news items:
These next are from the Onion.
A bit of calm, in a story of cheese…
This is an open thread as always…
Hurricane Ida is bearing down on Louisiana on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, the seawall protections are better now and Joe Biden is president instead of George W. Bush.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Ida struck Cuba on Friday and threatened to slam into Louisiana with devastating force over the weekend, prompting evacuations in New Orleans and across the coastal region.
Ida intensified rapidly Friday from a tropical storm to a hurricane with top winds of 80 mph (128 kph) as it crossed western Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center predicted Ida would strengthen into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with top winds of 140 mph (225 kph) before making landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast late Sunday.
“This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said during a Friday news conference with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The governor urged residents to quickly prepare, saying: “By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to be to ride out the storm.”
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered a mandatory evacuation for a small area of the city outside the levee system. But with the storm intensifying so much over a short time, she said it wasn’t possible to do so for the entire city. That generally calls for using all lanes of some highways to leave the city.
“The city cannot order a mandatory evacuation because we don’t have the time,” Cantrell said.
City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours.
Other areas across the coastal region were under a mix of voluntary and mandatory evacuations. The storm is expected to make landfall on the exact date Hurricane Katrina devastated a large swath of the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years earlier.
Ida is anticipated to reach at least Category 4 strength before landfall, the National Hurricane Center said, maintaining its earlier forecast.
“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday,” National Hurricane Center forecasters said Saturday morning. At 8 a.m. ET, the storm sustained winds of 85 mph.
Officials throughout the state implored people to evacuate, with some issuing mandatory orders to do so.
A dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River on Sunday as Ida makes landfall, the NHC said.
Hurricane conditions are likely in areas along the northern Gulf Coast beginning Sunday, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin by late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. These conditions will spread inland over portions of Louisiana and Mississippi Sunday night and Monday.
Rainfall can amount to 8 to 16 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 20 inches possible across southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi through Monday– which will likely lead to significant flash and river flooding impacts.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River and includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.
In Louisiana, a hurricane watch is in effect from Cameron to west of Intracoastal City and the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Tropical storm warnings and watches are also issued stretching east to the Alabama-Florida border.
The city is anticipating impacts from damaging winds of up to 110 mph, according to Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
I found this article at Yahoo News interesting: EXPLAINER: Is New Orleans protected from a hurricane?
New Orleans finds itself in the path of Hurricane Ida 16 years to the day after floodwalls collapsed and levees were overtopped by a storm surge driven by Hurricane Katrina. That flooding killed more than 1,000 people and caused billions in damage. But Ida arrives at the doorstep of a region transformed since 2005 by a giant civil works project and closer attention to flood control.
The system already has been tested by multiple storms, including 2012’s Isaac, with little damage to the areas it protects….
The federal government spent $14.5 billion on levees, pumps, seawalls, floodgates and drainage that provides enhanced protection from storm surge and flooding in New Orleans and surrounding suburbs south of Lake Pontchartrain. With the exception of three drainage projects, that work is complete.
“The post-Katrina system is so different than what was in place before,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Matt Roe.
Starting with a giant surge barrier east of the city, the system is a 130-mile (210-kilometer) ring built to hold out storm surge of about 30 feet (9 meters). The National Hurricane Center on Friday projected Ida would bring a surge of 10 feet to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) on the west bank.
At that level, it could come over the levees in some areas, said emergency manager Heath Jones of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District.
“They’re designed to overtop in places” with protections against worse damage, including armoring, splash pads and pumps with backup generators, he said.
“We’ve built all that since Katrina,” and they’re designed for a worse storm than the Ida is expected to be, he said.
Governments as of Friday were not ordering people protected by the levees to evacuate, showing their confidence in the system.
A number of floodgates are being closed as the storm approaches. That includes massive gates that ships can normally sail through, such as ones that close off the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal near the Lower 9th Ward. That has reduced the risk of flooding in an area long viewed as among the city’s most exposed. At least one smaller floodgate on land has been removed for maintenance, though, with officials planning to close the gap with sandbags.
Read more at the Yahoo link.
The US drone strike in Afghanistan targeted a mid-level “planner” from the Islamic State’s local affiliate who was travelling in a car with one other person near the eastern city of Jalalabad, US official sources said on Saturday.
The strike came two days after Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, as western forces running the airlift braced for more attacks.
The US president, Joe Biden, has promised to hunt down those responsible, striking in a place and time of his choosing.
The drone strike is likely to be in part aimed at reassuring a shaken US public that its government’s counter-terrorist capabilities in Afghanistan remain intact despite the chaotic withdrawal.
There is no indication that the target of the drone was involved in Thursday’s blast, which killed around 180 people, including 13 US marines.
The attack focused attention on ISKP, which had previously been seen as only a minor actor in Afghanistan and one of the weaker IS affiliates around the world.
The group was founded in 2014 by a few dozen disaffected Taliban commanders and defectors from other militants from the region and made early gains in districts close to the border with Pakistan in the eastern Nangarhar province, where the drone strike occurred around midnight on Friday night. The name Khorasan was given by medieval Islamic imperial rulers to a region including modern Afghanistan.
Read more about ISKP at the Guardian link.
The Washington Post: The 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul airport attack: What we know so far.
What’s happening in your neck of the woods? If you’re in the path of Ida, please stay safe!
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I first heard this song in Junior High School. My neighbor and playmate is a Doctor now, but she introduced The Hobbit to me in the 4th grade when she was in 5th grade, and our favorite play activity was building clouds from white sheets and playing goddesses. So, when she got her first Doors album, she immediately ordered me to her bedroom for initiation into the fans of Jim club. It wasn’t like I wasn’t playing the entire The Doors album until the grooves disappeared already.
I was in 8th grade, forced into a cotillion weekly dance class, and my only treat was getting either that album or Inna Gadda Da Vida played as the last song of the night where we could actually dance. But, Janet was particularly interested in sitting me down to hear Riders in the Storm because she insisted it was next level. Yeah. She was right. That and “Blowing in the Wind” became my official stuck in the basement during a tornado song set. My guitar went everywhere with me during those years. Well, actually it is still here sitting in that corner over there.
So, why am I all over this song today? It’s not 1971. But, I’m staring at a Cat 3 Hurricane coming right at us on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and like all good children with a music obsession, I need a fight song to deal with the PTSD. So, enjoy! I may have to trade my Monday blog duties for Tuesday if our infrastructure does its usual thing.
The Doors were also a big deal during the Vietnam War, as was another obsession of mine, Creedance Clearwater Revival and “Run through the Jungle.” I actually knew a sniper/medic who took that as his fight song while doing active duty in Somalia. I always play 70s music when stressed. It’s my Wayback Machine. I will see you on the other side of this. At least it’s in the 70s temperature-wise today.
That’s my sewerage and water board building with pumps from the World War I era. Fortunately, I’m still on high ground, and our dedicated pump is up and running! I will be ‘Riding the Storm Out’.
So, this is your diversion from all the craziness. The Republicans are running amok with our democracy. They’re trying to impeach Secretary of State Blinken for the misdeeds of Secretary Pompeo. They’re calling for President Biden to resign over a deal with the Taliban struck by Trump and Pompeo. Writing for Slate, William Saletan has this to say: “The GOP’s Phony Complaints About Afghanistan. Nearly everything Republicans are decrying happened under Trump“.
On Thursday, suicide bombers killed scores of people outside the Kabul airport, including at least 12 American service members. Congressional Republicans snapped into action, demanding that President Joe Biden resign or be impeached. It’s the latest outburst in a string of political opportunism. For weeks, Republicans have been all over cable TV, lambasting Biden for withdrawing troops. They’ve professed dismay that thousands of jailed Taliban fighters were released from prison, that al-Qaida operatives are still in Afghanistan, and that the American president accepted a Taliban deadline to get out. All of these complaints are phony. Nearly everything the Republicans are decrying happened last year. But Republicans defended or ignored it, because the president who engineered those concessions was Donald Trump.
On Feb. 29, 2020, the Trump administration signed a deal with the Taliban to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. The deal also required the Afghan government to release 5,000 imprisoned Taliban fighters. Hawks called the agreement weak and dangerous, but Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, advised them not to speak out against it. In March 2020, at hearings of the House Armed Services Committee, some lawmakers worried about the deal, but most, including Reps. Jim Banks and Matt Gaetz, said nothing about it. Another Republican member of the committee, Rep. Mo Brooks, expressed his impatience to pull out, noting that American forces had long ago “destroyed al-Qaida’s operational capability” in Afghanistan.
In July 2020, the committee took up the National Defense Authorization Act, which would fund the military for the next year. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow presented an amendment that would make the Afghan pullout contingent on several requirements. These included “consultation and coordination” with allies, protection of “United States personnel in Afghanistan,” severance of the Taliban from al-Qaida, prevention of “terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan,” and adequate “capacity of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces” to fight off Taliban attacks. The amendment also required investigation of any prisoners, released as part of the deal, who might be connected to terrorism. In short, the amendment would do what Trump had failed to do: impose real conditions on the withdrawal. Crow told his colleagues that he, too, wanted to get out, but that Afghan security forces weren’t yet “ready to stand on their own.”
Gaetz dismissed these warnings. The Taliban was already taking over the country, he argued, and imposing conditions would just get in the way of the pullout. “I don’t think there’s ever a bad day to end the war in Afghanistan,” he said.
Eleven members of the committee, including Banks, Brooks, and Gaetz, voted against the amendment. It passed, but Trump refused to accept it. In December, he vetoed the whole defense bill, complaining that it would, among other things, “restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.” Steve Scalise, the minority whip, voted to uphold Trump’s veto. McCarthy, who had to miss the vote for medical reasons, said he, too, stood with the president. Congress overrode the veto, but Trump essentially ignored the amendment.
I keep thinking that BB and I have written our faces blue on this but the evidence is out there and coming out all the time. We’re both livid about the press treatment. Flights from Kabul have resumed after the deadly attack this week despite more information about possible future ISIS-K suicide bombers. This is from the New York Times and is updated constantly.
After a blast that killed 13 U.S. troops, evacuation flights have resumed. With four days remaining until an Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. withdrawal, the window for airlifts is narrowing.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Kabul attack recalls the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, a decade ago.
Biden faces a tragedy he worked to avoid.
A baby born on an evacuation flight is named Reach, after the aircraft’s call sign.
How strong are ISIS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?
Aid groups work to find ways into Afghanistan amid the chaos in Kabul.
Devastation at one airport left many fearful at another across the world.
President Joe Biden was visibily moved by the airport carnage and loss of American life. As you can see in the Takei tweet, the Trump family is ready to take political advantage of dead american soldiers and Afghani children. This analysis is from WaPo and was written by Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan. It starts with an unnecessary stab at Biden.
President Biden on Thursday confronted the most volatile crisis of his young presidency, the deaths of at least 13 Americans in Afghanistan that threatened to undermine his credentials as a seasoned global leader and a steady hand.
In emotional comments at the White House, Biden made clear that the attack would not cause him to rethink his strategy. Rather, he said, it reinforced his belief that the war must end and that the evacuation must proceed. He framed the deaths as the sacrifice of heroes performing a noble mission, and he suggested that any move to cut short the evacuation of Americans and their Afghan supporters would amount to caving to the terrorists.
“I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that has happened,” Biden said, addressing the nation hours after the deadly attack. His voice broke as he invoked Scripture, history and personal loss to decry the double suicide bombing at the entrance to the Kabul airport, which stands as the last small acreage controlled by the United States in Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the war began.
Biden promised to track down the killers responsible for the massacre, who he suggested were members of the terrorist group ISIS-K. “To those who carried out this attack: We will not forgive,” he said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
These paragraphs are then followed by a litany of Republicans blaming Biden and Blinken’s actions instead of remembering that Trump and Pompeo rolled this ball of dung to the next adminstration. The best source of why the Kabul evacuation was superior to the Saigon evacuation continues to be presented by Lawrence O’Donnell. He also highlights the difference between the response by Biden to Ford. When you read all those headlines today asking Biden to take full responsiblity, you shoud also ask yourself has he not already done that several times?
Well, we`ve been through this only once before in our history. Before the evacuation in Afghanistan, the American military had carried out only one evacuation from a war that we lost. That was from Vietnam in 1975, and Vietnam, when the airport we were using came under rocket fire from the north Vietnamese army and two marines were killed, the final two soldiers killed in combat in Vietnam, Republican President Gerald Ford immediately ordered the abandonment of the airport and the switch to helicopters dangerously taking people from the tops of buildings to finish the evacuation.
President Ford immediately ordered the evacuation speeded up. The president never gave a thought to trying to a avenge deaths of those two marines or in any way prolonging the dangerous situation and extending his deadline for evacuating from Vietnam. President Ford speeded it up. But President Ford did not tell us any of that at the time.
President Ford did not say a public word about the evacuation while it was going on or immediately after its end. Not one word. And not one word about the deaths of those marines in the evacuation of Vietnam.
Today, when tragedy struck in Afghanistan and 13 marines were killed, 18 marines were injured, President Biden said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that`s happened of late.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Pentagon estimates that at least 60 Afghans were killed in the suicide bombing outside the airport in Kabul. President Biden`s first message today was one of condolence to the families and to the loved ones of the marines who were killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: My heart aches for you. I know this. We have a continued obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary, it lasts forever. The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others and the service of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president`s second message was to the people who carried out he attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: For those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I`ll defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president then explained what happens next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.
I`ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time at the place we choose in a moment of our choosing.
Here`s what you need to know: these ISIS terrorists will not win.
We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on.
America will not be intimidated. I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives and get Americans, our partners, our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, keep riding through all these American Storms and remember there are good guys and gals out there. If only people would solve the problem insteading of being one.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?