Archive for category National Politics

Afghanistan Update: Taliban Take Kunduz


Re-taking Kunduz, a former Taliban stronghold in northeastern Afghanistan, has been a strategic objective of the insurgents for a long time. The fall of the city counts as the biggest Taliban victory since 2001.

Via CNN:

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghan security forces started retaking parts of Kunduz from the Taliban, officials said, one day after the key city had largely fallen in a major victory for the insurgents.

“A big military operation to clear all Kunduz city is about to start,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Tuesday.

U.S. forces joined in the military action, launching an airstrike in Kunduz on Tuesday, said Brian Tribus, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The Kunduz prison, a police compound and the neighborhood of Zir Dawra are among the areas Afghan forces have secured, Sediqqi said.

A day earlier, Sediqqi said Kunduz had largely fallen into “the hand of enemies.” Kunduz is the largest city to be overrun by the Taliban since 2001.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief, said Taliban insurgents seized the main roundabout in the city and made it to the prison, where they freed more than 500 inmates.

More info:
Battleground Kunduz: The city the Taliban seized
Afghan forces fight to retake Kunduz from Taliban

Coalition Forces Engage Insurgents In Combat Near Kunduz
U.S. Airstrikes Back Afghan Security Forces’ Efforts To Retake City From Taliban
Taliban emir seeks to reassure residents of Kunduz


Hillary: ‘I will not hesitate to take military action’

Hillary at warSeriously? As a senator, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize George W. Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq, an ill-fated invasion and occupation halfway around the word that led to enormous loss of life and ongoing chaos in the Middle East, and mind-boggling deficits at home.

Now she says: “I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

In other words, Hillary has learned nothing about what constitutes an illegal war of aggression. Fortunately for all concerned, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and their theocratic government regards nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as un-Islamic. It’s an empty threat.

We can’t help wondering if Hillary thinks that the first woman president needs to take America to war again just to prove she’s a tough commander-in-chief – and never mind the consequences.

Bernie 2016!

Amanda Marcotte suggests the loud Tea-GOP freakout over peace with Iran is mostly if not entirely about political calculation for 2016.

[P]ainting Hillary Clinton as some kind of weak-willed surrender monkey, mostly by dropping the word “Benghazi” a lot, is clearly going to be the centerpiece of the anti-Clinton strategy.

This may explain, but certainly doesn’t excuse, Hillary doubling down on her hawkish foreign policy views.


President Obama’s Labor Day Speech

Watched this on TV live yesterday. I know President Obama has been a disappointment for Americans who work for a living. He definitely never walked a picket line as President, like he promised in 2007. But he sure gave a great speech on the one day a year when Dems come out to defend labor unions.

More info:
Obama Thinks You Should Have The Right To Take A Sick Day
Labor Unions: The Folks Who Gave You the Weekend


‘Extreme Poverty’ – Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) Didn’t Work

Money is for rich people

This is part of the Clinton administration’s legacy. In a new book, Kathryn J. Edin concludes the number of Americans living on $2 a day or less has “more than doubled since 1996, placing 1.5 million households and 3 million children in this desperate economic situation.”

$2 per person per day, or $2,920 per year for a family of four. is an income category that the World Bank refers to as “extreme poverty.”

1996 is an important marker, because that’s the year the Clinton administration, working alongside Republicans in Congress, eliminated the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program, which provided a guaranteed safety net for the poor. In its place they created Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), a much more meager and temporary safety net.

…In 2012, only one-quarter of poor families received TANF benefits, down from more than two-thirds in 1996, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to $2.00 a Day, the welfare program reached more than 14.2 million Americans in 1994, but by 2014 only 3.8 million Americans were aided by TANF.

The failure of TANF, like the decline of the American middle class, is barely mentioned in the media. Nobody is asking presidential candidates about this. Instead we get Donald Trump’s daily insult-fest and the great gefilte fish e-mail flap.

More info:
Could You Survive on $2 a Day?


Meet the Tea-GOP

Last night Rachel Maddow looked at Public Policy Polling’s August 28-30 poll of Tea-GOP primary voters. Aside from the “horse race” findings of who’s ahead and who’s behind (Trump is ahead, followed by Ben Carson, and the other candidates are all in the single digits) the poll revealed just how low-information the Tea-GOPers really are.

Obama a Christian?
Obama born in USA?

President Obama is a self-declared Christian born in the State of Hawaii. Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz was of course born in Canada, and held Canadian citizenship until last year.

More info:
More Republicans Believe Ted Cruz Was Born In USA Than Obama

The number is even more stark among those who indicated that they support 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Among those voters, 61 percent said Obama was not born in the U.S., while a mere 21 percent concede that he was American born.


Robert Reich: Spot-Auction Labor Market Replacing Steady Work

Robert Reich describes how more businesses are skirting labor laws by employing so-called “independent contractors” working irregular hours for unpredictable pay.

It’s the biggest change in the American workforce in over a century, and it’s happening at lightning speed. It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

…Whether we’re software programmers, journalists, Uber drivers, stenographers, child care workers, TaskRabbits, beauticians, plumbers, Airbnb’rs, adjunct professors, or contract nurses – increasingly, we’re on our own.

And what we’re paid, here and now, depends on what we’re worth here and now – in a spot-auction market that’s rapidly substituting for the old labor market where people held jobs that paid regular salaries and wages.

Bottom line: the 1 Percent want to rake in nearly all the profits from this economy while shifting a much bigger proportion of the risk onto workers. They have combined 21st Century information systems with 19th Century labor practices. So far, they are getting away with it.


Anchor Babies Are Back, Thanks to Trump

Anchor babySo-called “anchor babies” are now an issue in the Tea-GOP presidential primaries, with most candidates saying they would like to cancel the constitutional right of citizenship.

Since Donald Trump came out Sunday against birth right citizenship, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham have followed suit. Scott Walker is also with Trump on this.

Chris Christie says we ought to “reexamine” the 14th Amendment. John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush says birth right citizenship is one of “like 10 things I would change in the Constitution.”

If the Tea-GOP prevails, the children of a disfavored class will be disqualified from citizenship – rejected by the land of their birth. Despite the fact that birthright citizenship has been part of our Constitution for nearly 150 years, no precedent is sacred to the Tea-GOP. For them, there is no such thing as settled law.

Of course, the anchor baby myth is pure fear mongering without basis in fact. Assuming anyone cares about facts. Children born to undocumented immigrants get deported all the time, along with their families – precisely what Trump proposes. Even though they are U.S. citizens, most are not entitled to come back to this country until they are 21 years of age.

What’s more, there would be a significant cost to “solving” the nonexistent anchor baby problem. The parents of every child born in this country would have to go through a lengthy and expensive individualized assessment of their child’s citizenship. The Center for American Progress points out that such assessments currently cost an average of $600, essentially a birth tax. The alternative would be legal limbo, without U.S. citizenship — or possibly having no citizenship in any nation.

More info:
Donald Trump Tells GOP To Jump On Immigration, Candidates Say ‘How High?’
Donald Trump’s First Policy Plan Is Even More Racist Than You Think It Is
Wikipedia: Anchor Baby

To be fair, some Tea-GOP candidates don’t advocate taking away the right of citizenship to everyone born in the USA.

John Kasich has reversed his position, telling CNN earlier this month, “I think we need to get over that. I’m not for it anymore. Let these people who are born here be citizens and that’s the end of it. I don’t want to dwell on it.” Mike Huckabee also opposes changing the 14th Amendment.


The ’24-Day Delay’ And Other Lies About the Iran Deal

Via Media Matters (the entire article is worth reading).

Remember how the Tea-GOP took advantage of the complexity of the ACA to invent “death panels” and other fictional features they said were in the law? Political allies of Israel’s right-wing extremist government are trying to play the same game with the Iran deal.

Most people don’t understand the details, so liars such as Senator Chuck Schumer think they can get away with falsely claiming there is a “24-day delay” for nuclear site inspections, and other made-up reasons to be against peace and for an unprovoked attack on Iran. Senator Schumer vociferously supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, and apparently has learned nothing from that decade-long fiasco.

For the record, the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community and even the Israeli Mossad is that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Iranian government ruled out development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as inconsistent with Islam back in the 1980s.

Certain foreign governments would like the USA to start a war of aggression against Iran, a country of 77 million people that’s larger than Alaska and halfway around the world. And they want to sell us a bullshit story about nonexistent nuclear weapons. Americans would have to be breathtakingly stupid to go for that a second time.

More info:
Chuck Schumer is running from TV cameras for first time in his career after rejecting Iran deal

Josh Marshall explains why the so-called “24-day delay” is a phony issue.

The people making the biggest stink about this are phrase-makers from RNC, AIPAC and the various other billionaire-backed, stood-up advocacy groups fighting the deal. Virtually every nuclear expert and weapons scientist does not see it as a problem.


‘Bernie Sanders Can Become President’ Has Replaced ‘I Like Him, But He Can’t Win’

Bernie Sanders

I stole the title above from H.A. Goodman because I couldn’t come up with a better one. There is an enthusiasm gap among Democratic primary voters, and Senator Bernie Sanders is way ahead. Polls now confirm this.

From Goodman’s latest post on HuffPo:

Polls once extolling Hillary Clinton’s enormous lead over Sanders are now dwindling for the same reason Sanders beats Republicans in various other polls: Americans have had enough of dynasties, scandals, wars, and Wall Street corruption.

…[M]ore and more Americans have had enough with a two-party system that doesn’t give people a choice.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with practical ideas about what he would do to reverse the trend of increasing inequality in America.

Bernie Sanders knew in 2002 that invading Iraq would be a terrible mistake with horrible consequences. He voted not to authorize the use of military force, unlike then-Senator Clinton and then-Senator Biden.

Also too, voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton.

Looks like the campaign dirty tricks are starting now…
Black Lives Matter Seattle Protestor Is A Former Tea Party Palin Supporter
Bernie Sanders rally crasher Marissa “Johnson” Jenae is a Republican

How could two people take over the stage and preempt Bernie’s speech in Seattle? Now he’ll have to get some security and his events won’t be as friendly.

After the event was canceled the Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement, “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”

The so-called protest doesn’t even make sense. Why attack the one candidate who’s most committed to civil rights?

Sanders talks at University of Washington rally after activists disrupt earlier speech at park

Audience of 12,000. No fake protesters.

The Real Black Lives Matter Wants Activists To Publicly Apologize to Bernie Sanders

#BlackLivesMatter activists believe that this type of behavior is inappropriate and counterproductive, and we will not support it.


Kentucky Man Uses Birdshot to Solve Drone Problem

Drone hunter

William Merideth of Hillview, Kentucky grabbed his shotgun and fired three blasts of Number 8 birdshot to take out a drone flying over his backyard.

The Kentuckian was arrested Sunday evening in Hillview, Kentucky, just south of Louisville and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He was released the following day.

I think he’s within his rights. If it’s OK to shoot birds, why not drones? What do you think?

Drones have recently become a nuisance in the airspace over western wildfires. And people are making their own armed drones now, which is apparently legal.

More info:
This video of a drone with a gun will freak you the hell out


Lindsey Graham: Attack on Iran Better Than Diplomacy

Iran attack

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is running for president as a super-hawk, but this is just ridiculous.

‘Who wins the war between us and Iran?’

The Senate Armed Services Committee held its own hearing today on the international nuclear agreement with Iran, which regrettably went about as well as the other congressional hearings on the issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Republican presidential candidate and one of his party’s most unyielding hawks, got especially animated during an exchange with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter:

GRAHAM: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?

CARTER: No, the….

GRAHAM: We win!

The senator seemed pleased with himself, though this doesn’t exactly help the Republican cause. For proponents of the agreement, the concern has long been that GOP lawmakers want to kill the diplomatic deal because they want a military confrontation with Iran. Republicans usually make a point to deny this, instead saying they prefer a “better” diplomatic solution.

Graham, however, is less subtle – his line of questioning suggested the United States would win a war, which makes war an appealing alternative.

Reminder: Iran is larger than Alaska, with a population of 80 million people. They have an active duty military numbering 545,000, with 1.8 million reservists.

By comparison, the entire U.S. Army consists of 475,000 soldiers. To say a war of aggression against Iran is a bad idea would be a massive understatement. Like Iraq, it’s halfway around the world. Unlike Iraq, they have the capability to defend their country – making Senator Graham’s proposed invasion very costly and bloody.

As usual Donald Trump says out loud what the rest of us are thinking: Trump: Graham a ‘total lightweight,’ couldn’t get a job in the private sector

The Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Iraq, is in possession of at least one US M1 Abrams tank. The Iraqi government has lost control of many of those lately, mostly to ISIS.


John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Medicare Phase Out ‘A Winning Argument’

Let’s “phase out” Medicare? Seriously? (emphasis added):

“I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something – because they’re not going to have anything. And that argument I think is going to be a winning argument if we take it directly to people.”

Why do Tea-GOPers keep attacking Social Security and Medicare, the most popular and effective government programs that sustain the American middle class? How out of touch can you be?

The “new system” he’s referring to is the Tea-GOP’s idea of replacing Medicare coverage with cheap vouchers that don’t cover the cost of health care for seniors.

Bush answers my last question here: Jeb Bush: ‘Please Help Me’ Understand Sharknado

Hey, lately Tea-GOP presidential candidates have been desperate to get media attention, resorting to various lame attempts to out-clown Donald Trump (can’t be done, Trump is driving the clown bus). It’s sad.

Paul Krugman Decimates Jeb Bush’s Medicare Delusion

The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.

…Medicare is 50 years old this week. Conservatives have been warning that it will destroy American freedom for that entire time. Kind of a bizarre claim about a program that has been a lifesaver both financially and literally for many seniors and their loved ones.


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