Another lesson in the utter uselessness of moderates: a lot of Congressional Democrats are working hard behind the scenes to scuttle tax hikes on the rich. They have to work behind the scenes, of course, because if they worked in the light of day, they'd burn to a crisp like the vampires they obviously aspire to be. And when you learn that former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp used to want to repeal a particularly notorious tax-cut-for-the-rich, but now gets paid to advocate exactly the opposite position, you'll remember that money corrupts everything. That's before we get to raising the SALT cap, a cause for which "moderate" Democrats are apparently willing to kill every legislative endeavor.
Patrick Cockburn's excellent analysis about the Taliban's efforts to appear respectable by opposing ISIS deserves further comment. It's quite telling that "ISIS itself has denounced the Taliban as collaborators with the US," and while it may not be true, strictly speaking, that "only an understanding between the two can explain the speed of the Taliban advance and of the Kabul government’s collapse," as ISIS claims, I'm sure it still looks that way to a lot of folks. But in saying so, ISIS also plays into the Taliban's narrative; why, it's almost like that was the whole idea. We may be done pouring gasoline on the flame in Afghanistan, but we're not done seeing "war on terror"-related drama.
If you're scratching your head wondering how Florida Gov. DeSantis can still penalize schools that impose mask mandates even after a Leon County Circuit Judge said he couldn't, you could surmise that the ruling must only apply in Leon County, but your best bet is to consider that Mr. DeSantis makes the same calculation he always makes -- that "the bigger a jerk I am, the more my voters will love me, whether it works or not," and in the absence of a spirited Democratic alternative, it's not a bad political calculation. Maybe Charlie Crist could get some fire in his belly about something people care about for once, rather than simply rely on being the only non-jerk in the race? That would teach Ron DeSantis and his votaries right quick.
At long last Sen. Ron Johnson (E-WI) is taking flack from Trumpholes over his rather tepid statement that there's "nothing obviously skewed about the results" of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, and wouldn't it be something if this was The Last Straw for him? "Sheesh, I shill ivermectin everywhere I go, I say the coup wasn't so bad, I say we need an election audit in Wisconsin, and they're still not satisfied? Where would these clowns be without me?" I won't be particularly sympathetic if he throws up his hands and quits, but I will approve of the result, since he's in better shape to win 2022 than any other Republican who might run. Unless they hire his ad agency, maybe.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo runs down "The Great and Cowardly Press Freakout of August 2021" over our withdrawal from Afghanistan. Long story short: "the great majority of the criticism we’ve seen amounts to ignorance and deflection." Long story somewhat longer: the government fell faster than we anticipated, but we still got over 100,000 good folks out, and our "liberal" media still seems obsessed with optics, when they're the ones taking all the pictures! I don't think our "liberal" media should even be in the meta-commentary business. Historians and social scientists should be, of course, but the folks recording the news shouldn't be manufacturing it as well. Call me old-fashioned. (Also, too, if 20 years of occupation ain't enough to make a supposedly home-grown government last more than a week, then what's another six months going to accomplish?)
Finally, Jonathan Chair argues that Republicans aren't actually trying to hurt Democrats with their anti-vax strategy, but I"m not convinced by his argument. True, "Republican posture toward the coronavirus has not fundamentally changed since Biden’s election" (if not the beginning of the pandemic, I'd say!), but that doesn't rule out the possibility that Republicans have been using the entire pandemic, not just the vaccine, to try to hurt Democrats' political fortunes. And his puzzlement that Republicans would support one thing under Trump and the opposite under Biden can be answered with "gosh, they do that, like, all the time!" I'm not even sure they're "absorbing damage" with their machinations -- yeah, many more of their supporters (and voters) are dying these days, but you can always create new supporters by appealing to their thirst for rage, particularly when Democrats don't appeal to their highest natures, or look down on them.