Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch -- possibly the world's best reporter on the Middle East -- says "It is Government Weakness, Not Taliban Strength, That Condemns Afghanistan" -- as in the Afghan government's "weakness and unpopularity," which his Afghani contacts describe as "no better than a gang of racketeers gorging themselves on US aid money or on juicy supply and construction contracts." Also, despite the $2 trillion-plus outlay, "Afghan soldiers were often short of food, ammunition, fuel and could not even get defective weapons replaced," in large part because "the American aid money never made it past the sticky fingers of US consultants and security companies." The story won't end here, though, because Afghans don't like the Taliban any better than they like the Americans.
Philippa Rizopoulos at TruthOut reminds us that privatization of Medicaid and Medicare also stands in the way of getting to Medicare-for-All. Medicare Advantage, an "innovation" of George W. Bush, now has over 40 percent of American seniors in its grip, and worse, nearly 70 percent of Medicaid recipients get their care, such as it is, from Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (or MCOs), and these developments don't lead to better care, or even cheaper care. They do lead to shifting networks, reduced benefits, and rejected claims, and they also lead to public programs bearing the burden of private corporations, just like with charter schools. Best to expand Medicare to include everyone, and all care, not least because we'd save money.
Does the fall of Afghanistan into Taliban hands again make you wish we'd "done more"? Here's a reminder from Alice Speri at The Intercept that "(t)he biggest al-Qaeda plot the FBI claimed to have foiled in the years following the 9/11 attacks involved no weapons, no plot, and no al-Qaeda." You say that's not precisely relevant? Perhaps not, but consider that we "did more" for 20 years in Afghanistan, throwing away over $2 trillion to get no further than the status quo, and consider, also, that "doing more" in Iraq helped al-Qaeda establish a presence there they didn't have before, and then helped birth ISIS. Maybe "doing more" shouldn't be our first impulse, particularly at those times we're trying to prove we're "right" about terrorist threats.
Uh oh: Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan faces calls to resign after one of the state party's big donors (and a close friend and fellow podcaster of hers!) gets indicted for sex trafficking. And just as the folks who squeal about "voter fraud" ignore all the Republicans who get caught committing it, the QAnon crowd will promptly ignore this scandal precisely because it implicates Republicans. In each case, you'd think right-wingers would take an opportunity to appear "independent," but they don't -- blunt force is their only strategy, in both argument and action. (And just like the rest of them, Ms. Carnahan issues a statement that's 60% about how badly she thinks she's been treated. That's how you know she's a Trumphole -- everything's a drama, and they're always the star.
In case you were wondering how Fox News's biggest stars were spinning our defeat in Afghanistan, both Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham focus on Afghan refugees, with Mr. Carlson calling them "invaders" coming to "your neighborhood." "Fuck you" was my immediate reaction to this news, but after I'd given the matter more thought, I found myself saying is this the best they can do? America may have stopped being a great power today, and all these clowns can think to do is bash immigrants who ain't even here yet? That'll be a hell of a footnote to the history of this war, if anyone's around to write it.
Finally, I read President Biden's Monday remarks about our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and I note that while his repeated insistence that "one more year, five more years or 20 more years" wouldn't make a difference is absolutely correct, it's also absolutely calculated to impress independent voters (as is his relentless blaming of the Afghan government and military), which might just make up for "the buck stops with me" most emphatically not impressing them. I don't want to bash the guy who actually got us out of a war, but I do also wonder how he didn't get heard about this matter during those eight years he was Vice President.