Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Boy's Cheese

Things are pretty tough these days in Alberta. Dave Climenhaga writes:

Brace yourselves, Alberta, for a hard circuit-breaker lockdown to rein in the province’s surging, out-of-control COVID-19 infection rate.

We can be reasonably certain this is coming soon, because Premier Jason Kenney informed us Sunday that there’s no way it’s going to happen.

Alberta's doctors have been pleading for a lockdown:

Kenney took to the airwaves to respond to calls for a “firebreak” lockdown to counter the collapse of the province’s health-care system, including a weekend open letter from the province’s former chief medical officer of health and a critical care physician.

In the letter, James Talbot and Noel Gibney urged newly appointed Health Minister Jason Copping to close bars, gyms, casinos, indoor dining and sports facilities for at least four weeks.

University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach tweeted that Kenney had “rejected the possibility of a fourth wave, and previously rejected calls for more stringent measures during the second and third waves. He rejected calls for a vaccine passport. He rejected calls to replace Shandro” — that is, his former Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who is now the labour minister.

So, Leach concluded, “Kenney rejecting something is a sure sign that it’s coming.”

As they say in the American South, "This boy's cheese slid off his cracker."

Image: You Tube

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Making Faustian Bargains


Republicans are threatening to let the American government default on its debt. Paul Krugman writes:

The crisis could be very severe. It’s not just that the federal government would run out of money, forcing curtailment of essential services. U.S. government debt plays an essential role in the global financial system because Treasury securities are used as collateral in financial transactions around the world. During the brief Covid-induced financial panic of March 2020 interest rates on short-term Treasuries actually went negative, as frightened investors piled into the safest assets they could think of.

Make U.S. debt unsafe — make the U.S. government an unreliable counterparty, because its ability to pay its bills is contingent on the whims of an irresponsible opposition party — and the disruption to world markets could be devastating.

The Republicans are ruthless. And Krugman writes, they  have one goal -- to make things worse:

So ask yourself: If a party doesn’t care about the state of the nation when the other party is in power, and it knows that its opposition suffers when bad things happen, what is its optimal political strategy? The answer, obviously, is that it should do what it can to make bad things happen.

Sometimes the sabotage strategy is almost naked. Consider Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida. DeSantis has done everything he can to prevent an effective response to the latest pandemic wave — trying to block mask and vaccine requirements, even by private businesses. Yet this hasn’t stopped him from blaming President Biden for failing to end Covid.

And now comes the debt crisis. Nobody has ever accused [Mitch] McConnell of being stupid. He knows quite well just how disastrous failing to raise the debt limit could be. But the disaster would occur on Biden’s watch. And from his point of view, that’s all good.

Lots of smart people have made Faustian bargains.

Image: Scribd

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Murray Dobbin

There are some commentators who believe with Tennyson's Ulysses that it's "not too late to seek a newer world." Murray Dobbin was one of them. Seth Klein and Shannon Daub write:

On Sept. 8, our good friend and comrade Murray died at age 76. Murray was not ready to leave, but after two-and-a-half years the inexorable brutality of cancer led him to choose medical assistance in dying to end his life on his own terms.

Murray’s fighting spirit, sharp intellect and unwavering values guided him through decades of work in service of a better world. We read him and heard him before we knew him. The man we read and listened to on the radio and giving speeches directed his righteous anger at the neoliberal project unfolding in the 1980s and ’90s. But the man we got to know was mostly of good humour — still with a strain of that suitable outrage, but kind and supportive.

Dobbin worked tirelessly to create a newer world:

Less known were the countless hours and many years Murray spent donating his time on the national boards of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Council of Canadians, and Canadians for Tax Fairness. In 2001, Murray was a key architect (along with Judy Rebick, Jim Stanford, Svend Robinson and Libby Davies) of the New Politics Initiative, an endeavour to renew the NDP and strengthen its connections to social movements.

His longtime friends Davies and Kim Elliott, in a lovely tribute they wrote on Rabble, recall, “He was a giant of the Canadian left, and had a profound influence on contemporary thinking and action.”

He will be sorely missed.

Image: The Tyee

Monday, September 27, 2021

Perhaps Transformational

The recent election may look like a nothing-burger. But, Susan Riley writes. it could be transformational:

If it produces an affordable national child care program, for example—and that work is well underway—families, especially women, (along with the economy) will benefit far into the future. True, that work was underway before Justin Trudeau called his long-forecast “snap” election. But it won firm endorsement from a combination of progressive voters last week, in the face of Erin O’Toole’s threat to kill the program and replace it with a much-inferior plan for enhanced tax benefits for parents.

There are those who are skeptical, with good reason, of every political promise. And affordable child care will not arrive overnight. The Liberal aim is a reduction, by half, in exorbitant child care costs (ranging from $450 a month in Winnipeg to $1,600 per child a month in Toronto) by next year, with a $10-per-day approximate cost in five years. That, paired with an ambitious plan to create more spaces, could be game-changing for families, single parents and employers desperate to fill empty jobs.

And the Liberals promised lots of other things:

Other attractive elements of the Liberal platform include: retention of the much-debated, and long overdue, ban on assault-style weapons with incentives to cities that want to ban handguns; 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated employees; some $3-billion for provinces to improve lamentable long-term care homes; a pledge to work with provinces to train 50,000 more personal support workers and guarantee them a minimum wage of at least $25 an hour; another $6-billion, on top of $4-billion already committed in health transfers, to help provinces clear waitlists caused by the pandemic. Some money is also intended to help provinces hire 7,500 more much-needed nurses and doctors.

The biggest problem with the election was Justin Trudeau's mangled messaging:

In fact, the prime minister’s robotic, unfocused and insincere-sounding pronouncements throughout the short campaign harmed, rather than helped, the Liberal cause. Other commentators, including Vancouver freelance journalist Sandy Garossino, have made the point: going into the campaign, the Liberals had a winning story to tell, starting with its superior performance in buying and distributing vaccines. But Trudeau was distracted by fending off opposition attacks, and launching his own, turning what could have been a winning argument for progressive policies into sour complaints about the opposition.

Only time will tell how historians will view this election. In the meantime, we'll wait to see if the Liberals deliver on their promises.

Images: emu music

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Lessons From The Election

Robin Sears writes that there are three lessons we should take from the Federal election:

Lesson one: We need a major overhaul of Elections Canada’s recruitment, training and election readiness. While we’re at it, let’s add several more advance polling days, culminating on a Sunday election day — the choice of most democracies around the world.

Lesson two: Remove all the TV networks from debate production, hire independent producers with no network affiliation, grant the hosting to a qualifying university or civic organization, and hold two debates in each language. The “real” campaign was triggered by three of the worst political debates in Canadian political history, and that was an already very low bar. Game show sets, ridiculously short sound bites, too many preening journalists, and the now infamously inappropriate question hurled angrily at Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet — a gaffe that probably moved several seats in Quebec.

Lesson three: Increase the penalties for any form of co-operation with a foreign power interfering in an election, including accepting payment, to a level that will help deter Canadians from being frightened into spreading slurs about any candidate or party. Name and shame those identified, and if any have diplomatic status, expel them. Mounting evidence of the Chinese Communist Party and its local agents attempting to disrupt the voting in Chinese-Canadian communities is disturbing. They may have prevented some Conservative victories in Vancouver and Toronto. We should have anticipated and prepared for this. The Chinese were much more secretive in their disruption plans than were the Russians and the Iranians during the Trump campaign, but more witnesses will no doubt emerge.

When it comes to elections we live in a brave new world.

Image: The Toronto Star

Saturday, September 25, 2021

O'Toole's Future

The rumblings against Erin O'Toole began on the day after he failed to become prime minister. But, Chantal Hebert writes, the Conservatives should keep O'Toole as their leader:

It is certainly possible to find someone liable to comfort the Conservative base in the long-held convictions O’Toole’s campaign has challenged. But before the CPC refights internal battles over issues like carbon pricing or vaccine-related measures, its members might want to consider that the first will have become a time-tested federal policy and the second will have been put to rest by the time the next election comes around.

Fiscal and economic policy — areas that once played to Tory strengths and could still in the future — will inevitably loom larger once the pandemic is resolved.

And then, if there ever was a time when the conservative movement could ill afford to be dragged into a civil war over its federal leadership, it is probably the coming year. The Conservatives are about to have other fish to fry on the provincial scene.

In the provinces, all hell could break loose:

That starts with Ontario and the upcoming spring provincial election. And then there is the fractious situation in Alberta where the fate of Jason Kenney as premier and the party’s place in government both look like they hang by a thread.

It's always been hard to hold the Conservatives together. It's worth remembering that both the Bloc and the Peoples Party splintered from the Conservative Party. Fighting among yourselves is not the way to win elections. Just ask Anime Paul.

Image: The Globe And Mail

Friday, September 24, 2021

He Won!


Newsflash! The Cyber Ninjas -- you remember, those bozos from Florida who conducted an audit in Arizona to discover who won the American presidential election in Maricopa County -- have completed their work. And -- wait for it -- they have concluded that Joe Biden won the election. Phil Helsel reports that:

Maricopa County, Arizona, said Thursday that a draft report from a company in a contentious, partisan review of November's election has confirmed the winners.

The "draft report from Cyber Ninjas confirms the county's canvass of the 2020 General Election was accurate and the candidates certified as the winners did, in fact, win," Maricopa County tweeted Thursday night.

The review grew out of Arizona Republican lawmakers' efforts to toss out President Joe Biden's victory in November, and the state and the county have been targeted by those who falsely believe the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Maricopa County did not release the draft.

NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix said that it obtained a copy of the report and that the review widens Biden's victory margin by 360 votes.

In the United States, it's as clear as rain: A sucker is born every minute.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Pearson On The Election

 I read Glen Pearson's commentary regularly. His take on the election is insightful:

Many have delighted in telling whoever will listen that this country is moving steadily along a progressive path.  It’s hard to argue with such statements.  Everyone seems to have an opinion on Justin Trudeau, many of them unnecessarily extreme, but his record is a progressive tour de force.  Though only in power for six years, he has refined the NAFTA agreement, developed a somewhat credible plan on carbon reduction, welcomed a successful share of global refugees, centred indigenous reconciliation in national policy, at least in words and sometimes in deeds.  Essential to people working in the anti-poverty movement, Trudeau has reduced child poverty to levels unseen in many years.  His failure to commit to his electoral reform commitment in his first mandate will remain a deep stain on his legacy. Still, his years in power have left some impressive accomplishments for all the negatives aimed at Justin Trudeau.

So, yes, given the reality that the country has returned him to power, for now, the third term, speaking of a “progressive” age, is a credible claim.  But little of this has happened in a vacuum.  While the election extended the progressive wing of Canadian politics for another two or three years, the polarization it manifested drove opposition forces as they became ever more profound in their angst.

That angst was most apparent in the People's Party of Canada:

The depth of that change was perhaps best displayed by the rise in popularity of the People’s Party of Canada.  Some never saw that coming, yet it created such an effect that many worried about the rise of the angry right.  And with many Conservatives concerning with O’toole’s move to the middle, some might drift further right. Pollster Eric Grenier, in his credible assessment of the just concluded political contest, saw evidence of this troubling trend.

“The People’s Party made some significant gains but still didn’t quite meet the level of support they had in the polls. But they were up five points in both Alberta and Saskatchewan and six points in Manitoba. They gained four points in Ontario and New Brunswick and three in B.C. and Nova Scotia. They were only up 1.3 points in Quebec.

While it appears that the progressive movement in federal politics has found success three elections in a row, it is creating its own opposition as it attempts to forge a new future for Canada.  The pandemic response only exacerbated that growing division, ensuring that hatred of Trudeau will remain a political staple for the near future.

The Liberal minority provides Trudeau with some stability. No political party wants an election for at least two years -- perhaps three. But those three years won't be without high tension.

Image: yahoo money

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

There They Go Again

America's most dysfunctional family is at it again. The Washington Post reports that:

Former president Donald Trump has sued his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the New York Times over the publication of a 2018 article detailing allegations that he “participated in dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to receive over $413 million from his father, Fred Trump Sr., while significantly reducing taxes.

The suit, filed in a Dutchess County, N.Y., court on Tuesday, alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of its reporters “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records” about the former president’s finances. According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages as a result of the alleged actions.

Donald Trump’s suit alleges that the New York Times influenced Mary Trump to help them acquire confidential documents despite a settlement agreement that she had signed after a legal challenge to Fred Trump Sr.’s will. In her 2020 book “Too Much and Never Enough,” Mary Trump detailed how she helped the reporters obtain Donald Trump’s financial records.

And so Trump's  quest for personal vindication via the courts continues:

News of Donald Trump’s lawsuit was first reported by the Daily Beast. Mary Trump told the news website that the legal action was motivated by “desperation. … The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”

A spokeswoman for the Times said that the paper’s coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes “helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest. This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations, and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”

We all have our troubles. But at least we can give thanks to the powers behind the universe that we weren't born Trumps.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Election -- Some Observations

There are still lots of mail-in ballots to be counted. But, as of this morning, we are almost exactly where we were when this all started. The Liberals gained three seats, the Dippers gained two, and the Conservatives kept the number of seats they won after the last election.

I offer the following observations:

1. I expected the number of Green votes to fall. I did not expect them to virtually disappear. I make no predictions about the party's future. But, at the moment, it looks dark.

2. I thought the People's Party was a flash in the pan. I was wrong -- although  Maxime Bernier appears to be more popular in Saskatchewan than he is in The Beauce.

3. The Bloc Quebecois makes dealing with Quebec -- which is always an issue -- more difficult. I attribute the party's resurgence to Justin's handling of the SNC Lavlin Affair -- and Stephen Harper's majority victory without Quebec support.

4. The divide between urban and rural Canadians continues to grow. In that way, we mirror what is happening in the United States.

5. The marriage of convenience between the Liberals and The Dippers may produce some very significant legislation -- legislation which we will need whenever this pandemic subsides.

Image: The National Post

Monday, September 20, 2021

Max's Revenge

When Maxime Bernier lost the leadership of the Conservative Party by a smidgen, his supporters circulated a story that the leadership had been stolen from him. Stephen Maher writes:

On June 5, 2017, a week after Andrew Scheer upset Maxime Bernier to become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I had an off-the-record interview with a senior Bernier organizer who was challenging the results.

The Globe and Mail had just reported that 133,896 voters cast 141,362 ballots, which meant that there were 7,466 more ballots cast than people to cast them. The Bernier team believed that many people voted twice, once by mail and once at their local ballot location.

“It is so goddamn easy to double vote in this,” the organizer said. “In fact, if you are in some of these ridings, you could likely triple vote. You could mail your ballot in, go to your riding … and then go to the convention.”

To make matters worse, as soon as the ballots were counted, they were destroyed. The party said the results had been certified by an accounting firm, but they hadn’t.

“There were a lot more ballots in that box than there were supposed to be,” Max’s guy told me. “The party’s explanation is that there were thousands of innocent mistakes made by volunteers across the country. That’s sort of like saying we flipped the coin and it landed on its edge.”

“What one can derive from all the comment, public and private, from the party, is they have no interest in doing anything but saying, ‘Everything was great. F–k off,’ ” the strategist explained.

Here’s the theory: The Harperites weren’t going to let the man from the Beauce take over their party, fire all of the people who built it and take it in some unknown libertarian direction. Much better for Scheer, a known quantity, to win, since he would leave everyone in their jobs, and keep control of the fund-raising machine.

There is a fire burning across the country against Justin Trudeau. That fire is white-hot among Conservatives. And it's white-hot among the members of the PPC. But the People's Party also wants to burn down the Conservative Party of Canada:

It is starting to look like [Bernier] will have his revenge on Monday, denying the Conservatives the votes they need to finally dispatch Justin Trudeau.

If the polls are right, the People’s Party will get a lot more votes than last time, mostly from people who voted for Scheer’s party in 2019, likely enough to allow the desperate Liberals to hang on.

You don’t need to read the polls, actually, to know what is happening. In the course of the last 10 days, as the LPC-CPC race got tighter, the Conservatives have been forced into the same kind of strategic-voting pitch that the Liberals always use at the end of a campaign. It started with a vaguely worded meme on a social-media surrogate account, and ends up with O’Toole making an explicit pitch to would-be PPC supporters, echoed by allied commentators.

There will be lots of strategic voting today. We'll know the final count in about four days.

Image: Northern News

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The March Of The Misinformed

Yesterday's protest in Washington was a dud. Chris McGreal writes in The Guardian:

As a protest, it was a flop.

Turnout was at best half of the 700 predicted by organisers, which in itself fell well short of the many thousands who stormed Congress in January. The event organiser, Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, blamed the poor attendance on government intimidation and press scaremongering.

Speakers told of family members arrested by the FBI who were now “political detainees” and “prisoners of conscience”

A woman who identified herself as the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, a man charged with crimes including assault, said he was being held in solitary confinement. She read a letter in which he claimed: “This reminds me of how the Jews were treated by the Nazis.”

If there was a common denominator among the protesters, it was ignorance:

A man who identified himself as Adam from Florida [was] holding an American flag with the Roman numeral III in the corner. That, said [organizer Matt] Braynard, was a symbol for a far-right militia, the Three Percenters.

“It’s an outside group and it makes the optics look bad,” he said, telling Adam to put the flag away. “Anyone who doesn’t agree to take it down we have to assume is an infiltrator.”

Adam professed ignorance of the association – but rolled the flag up.

Anders Bruce, a 30 year-old organiser with Look Ahead America, said he was there to seek justice for “prisoners of conscience” subject to political persecution.

But who is responsible for that persecution when the prosecutions began under the Trump administration?

“It shows that it’s a problem with the government under both political parties,” he said.

And where was their hero? He was in New Jersey playing golf.

The March Of The Misinformed continues.

Image: The Guardian

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Someone Has To Go

When this election is over, Chantal Hebert writes, either Justin Trudeau or Erin O'Toole will have to go. In Trudeau's case, the calculation is simple:

Trudeau made the call that put his top job and the Liberals’ hold on federal power on the line more than two years early. If the Liberal ship goes down on Monday night, he will be widely expected to walk the plank.

In similar circumstances, most outgoing government leaders tend to not wait for the morning after the vote to announce their resignation. But things could play out differently in this instance. 

In O'Toole's case, things are more complicated:

Win or lose, the party has exceeded pre-writ expectations. Few, even within Conservative ranks, believed O’Toole would manage to run as competitive a campaign.

The problem is that, when it comes to policy, O'Toole has been all over the place:

Since his leadership bid a year ago, O’Toole has gone from promising to scrap the tax to proposing to weaken it to looking to the provinces for guidance.

The road to Damascus O’Toole has chosen to take on gun control, the future of the CBC or that of the child care agreements Trudeau has struck with seven provinces is equally foggy.

And then there was the decision to propel Brian Mulroney to the centre stage of the Conservative campaign.

Make no mistake, the former Tory prime minister is a well-respected figure in his home province of Quebec. And he has a nostalgic following within what is left of the progressive wing of the Conservative party.

But his name is also anathema to much of the Conservative base west of Quebec. While O’Toole and his campaign revelled in Mulroney’s aura, Stephen Harper has remained unnamed and unseen. This is not a development many of the Conservatives who supported O’Toole for the leadership could have seen coming.

And then there was O'Toole's claim that Jason Kenney had handled the pandemic better than Trudeau. Those could wind up being O'Toole's famous last words.

Soon we'll know who will be heading to the exits.

Image: The Toronto Star

Friday, September 17, 2021

Not All Milleys

General Mark Milley is being praised these days for his efforts to restrain a clearly deranged president. But, Max Boot writes, there is no guarantee that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be as wise as Milley:

There is, alas, no shortage of right-wing extremists in the military. See, for example, a supposed resignation letter from an Army lieutenant colonel named Paul Douglas Hague that has ricocheted around the Internet in recent days. The Defense Department already mandates 17 different vaccinations for various personnel. But Hague was said to have resigned to avoid taking a vaccine for covid-19, ludicrously claiming that it signified a “Marxist takeover of the military and the United States government.”

There is absolutely nothing stopping Trump or some other future Republican president from appointing someone with far-right views such as Hague’s as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In other words, we cannot count on future generals resisting a power-mad, would-be authoritarian in the Oval Office as Milley did.

The potential for another Trump to try what the present Trump did is always there. Legislation is required to reign in a president's unfettered ability to use nuclear weapons:

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation to prohibit the president from a first use of nuclear weapons unless Congress has declared war. That would still allow a president to respond to a nuclear attack but would take off the table the kind of “wag the dog” scenario that so worried Milley. Other experts have proposed going even further by mandating that any presidential nuclear order would have to be ratified by the next two people in the line of presidential succession, normally the vice president and House speaker.

It is imperative for Congress to pass some such limitations on the president’s nuclear-use authority before another unhinged president takes office. We suffered badly enough under Trump; 400,000 Americans died of covid-19 while he was in office and insurrectionists invaded the U.S. Capitol. Yet it could have been far worse — and could still be in the future if we don’t act today.

Will it happen? We'll see.

Image: axios

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Bad Mood Election

There's a bad mood in the air. Susan Delacourt writes:

This election campaign, soon to be over, has essentially been a bad mood looking for a place to land.

It isn’t just those wild-eyed crowds dogging Justin Trudeau’s tour and expanding the support of the People’s Party of Canada, either.

For Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, all the roiling, negative emotions running loose in this campaign may make the difference between victory and defeat on Monday. The sheer closeness of that red-blue contest, in fact, would seem a testament to a lack of widespread enthusiasm for either option.

Trudeau’s biggest problem isn’t the ugly mob anger he’s denounced so frequently along the trail. It is anger’s close relation — disappointment — and the prospect of disillusioned former Liberals flocking to the New Democrats and other parties.

O’Toole’s biggest problem, on the other hand, is anger that threatens to weaken his party from either side.

Both of the main contenders are deeply distrusted by certain voters:

Some disaffected Conservatives don’t find O’Toole sufficiently aggrieved and are drifting to the People’s Party, the outlet for white hot resentment of everything from pandemic restrictions to Trudeau. Other potential voters — those disappointed Liberals, for instance — may be worried that the face of the Conservative party remains too angry and negative, even after all O’Toole’s efforts to put a confident, smiling face on the campaign.

O'Toole claims to be attracting disaffected Liberals:

“Look, I will tell you I’m blown away by the number of prominent former Liberals, current Liberals voting for us in this election,” O’Toole said. “There are dozens that talk to me personally and some may even talk about it this week.”

He says he likes to see himself as a leader who “is not showing contempt for people that haven’t voted for us in the past.” One wonders whether this memo has gone out to MPs who have made their mark casting Liberals as evil over the past few years — Pierre Poilievre, for instance, or Michelle Rempel.

Justin claims that the other parties are selling cynicism:

The Liberal leader is accusing the other progressive parties — whether that’s the NDP, the Greens or the Bloc — of fuelling a lot of this disappointment, to the point of outright cynicism. Rather than accuse the Liberals of not doing enough, Trudeau says, their strategy in this campaign has been to say that the government has done absolutely nothing — on reconciliation, on income inequality or child care.

We're not happy campers. One wonders how happy we'll be when this election is over.

Image: The National Post

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

New Lies

The Republicans are trading in new lies. Dana Milbank writes:

On Tuesday morning, one of the most senior and important Republican senators used one of the most prominent settings in official Washington to level one of the most serious allegations possible against the commander in chief. And his charge was based on an utter fabrication.

Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, used a hearing intended for sworn testimony from the secretary of state on the Afghanistan withdrawal to allege that President Biden is mentally incompetent.

Risch first devoted his opening statement to continuing the long-running Republican narrative. “We know for a fact the president of the United States is somewhat disadvantaged here in that someone is calling the shots. He can’t even speak without someone in the White House censoring it or signing off on it,” the senator claimed. “As recently as yesterday, in mid-sentence, he was cut off by someone in the White House who makes the decision that the president of the United States is not speaking correctly. … This is a puppeteer act.”

Risch insisted, again, that “it happened yesterday at the Interagency Fire Center. It was widely reported. … Are you telling this committee that this does not happen, that there is no one in the White House who pushes the button and cuts him off in mid-sentence?”

After yet another back-and-forth on the matter, [Antony] Blinken finally told the senator: “I really don’t know what you are referring to.”

There’s good reason for that: It didn’t happen.

It was a blatant lie -- like the lie that the election was stolen. An entire political party unashamedly sells lies. It now performs only one function. Like a very large cesspool, it manufactures and spreads excrement -- tons of it.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

More Or Less?

This election, Susan Delacourt writes, is all about change: How much do you want? More or less?

It’s one of the most fundamental questions in any election campaign, but the pandemic has made it incredibly complicated in 2021 — especially for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

But this is 2021 and the country finds itself in the middle of an election campaign during the time of COVID-19.

So Trudeau has spent a lot of time talking about how he needs a mandate for big, post-pandemic change. “Really big changes, coming in the next weeks and months,” the Liberal leader reiterated on Monday.

The dynamic of this election is the opposite of the usual dynamic. Normally, O'Toole would be the agent of change. Trudeau would represent the old guard. But "security" is everywhere in the Tory platform:

Hence the Conservatives’ surely not accidental emphasis on security all through their platform — called “Secure the Future” — and their presentation of O’Toole as a stable dad from the suburbs who will ratchet down drama in Liberal-led Ottawa.

In the final days of the campaign, O'Toole is engaged in ad hominem attacks on Trudeau:

“I’m a new leader,” said O’Toole, who likes to mention that these days. “Canadians deserve better than a leader concerned only about his own power. But this is a pattern, day after day, month after month, year after year. The only thing he and the Liberal party prioritize is their own survival, more of the same spending and debt, $424 million per day, with more of the same on its way, more of the same corruption.”

We'll know in a week.

Image: The Toronto Sun

Monday, September 13, 2021

Hedges on 9/11

On the anniversary of 9/11, Chris Hedges offered these thoughts:

The explosions and collapse of the towers, however, were, to me, intimately familiar. I had seen it before. This was the familiar language of empire.  I had watched these incendiary messages dropped on southern Kuwait and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War and descend with thundering concussions in Gaza and Bosnia. The calling card of empire, as was true in Vietnam, is tons of lethal ordnance dropped from the sky. The hijackers spoke to America in the idiom we taught them.

The ignorance, masquerading as innocence, of Americans, mostly white Americans, was nauseating. It was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. It was the greatest act of terrorism in American history. It was an incomprehensible act of barbarity.

For Hedges, 9/11 was a case of what goes around, comes around:

We did not, and do not, grasp that we are the mirror image of those we seek to destroy. We too kill with an inchoate fury. Over the past two decades we have extinguished the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who never sought to harm the United States or were involved in the attacks on American soil. We too use religion, in our case the Christian faith, to mount a jihad or crusade. We too go to war to fight phantoms of our own creation.  

And so, the cycle continues.

Image: Reuters

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Shame Of It

I was never a fan of George W. Bush. He made some terrible decisions that had far-reaching consequences. But, yesterday, in a speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, he spoke the unvarnished truth. Jennifer Rubin writes

In perhaps the most important words spoken in his political career, Bush in his remarks at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 drew a straight line between the 9/11 terrorists and the 1/6 terrorists. “We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” he said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit." He added, "It is our continuing duty to confront them.” Bush’s words were an indictment not only of the violent MAGA insurrectionists but also, implicitly, of his party that coddles them and the leader whom the 1/6 terrorists wanted to install by force. 

These days, there are few Republicans willing to speak the truth and point out the obvious:

The Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect and ignore the 1/6 terrorist attack. Can one imagine in the wake of 9/11 Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking senators as a "favor” not to investigate the 9/11 attacks? Consider the reaction had House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted we not bother investigating 9/11 because the other side was simply seeking to score political points. One can only imagine the reaction if, after a foreign attack premised on the big lie, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and the other Republicans proceeded to make challenges to the democratic process based on the same conspiracy theory advanced by foreign terrorists.

Rubin has it right:

Bush’s bluntness was a refreshing antidote to the usual blasé treatment of a radicalized Republican Party that embraces “children of the same foul spirit” as the 9/11 terrorists. The press, the ecosystem of donors, activists and operatives, and even, to an extent, the Democrats all treat Republicans as a normal political party within our democratic system, rather than as the enablers of a “foul spirit” and violent extremism. They shy away from labeling Republicans as “1/6 truthers” when the GOP’s effort to direct blame away from the actual terrorists is no better than claiming 9/11 was an inside job. (McCarthy and his cohorts insist it’s Pelosi who should be investigated.)

These days, George W. is a lonely Republican. And that's the shame of it.

Image: CNN

Saturday, September 11, 2021

No Debate

I tried to listen to the English language leaders debate. I turned it off after about forty-five minutes. It wasn't a debate. Michael Harris correctly characterizes it as "a third rate cage fight:"

The confrontation that everyone was waiting for, Trudeau versus O’Toole, never materialized in any coherent way. Given that one of those two men will be prime minister in just ten days, at least according to the current polling, it was a squandered opportunity of monumental proportions.

Had there been a substantive exchange between the two leaders, Trudeau would have been able to probe some of O’Toole’s signature platform policies that have now been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Those costings reveal that the Conservative party’s child care plan, for example, is nowhere near what the public was led to believe it was.

The way Erin O’Toole has been selling the Conservative plan, families would get a direct cash infusion through an improved child-care tax credit, roughly equivalent to the Liberal cash promise. The Liberal plan is to send $29.8 billion to the provinces over five years, with the goal of creating $10-a-day child care.

“It turns out that the Conservatives would replace the nearly $30-billion in child-care transfers to the provinces with just $2.6 billion in child tax credits to individuals. The Conservatives will honour the first year of deals signed by the Liberal government, delivering provinces a one-time transfer of $3.1 billion. But thereafter, the Tories would replace child-care transfers with a child-care tax-credit worth approximately 91 per cent less,” [The Globe and Mail's] the editorial board wrote.

And there were lots of other nasty personal exchanges:

[Annamie] Paul offered to “educate” the Bloc leader about the reality of racism. Blanchet replied that it was not an offer, but an insult. The Bloc leader already felt aggrieved after the moderator had earlier raised the issues of racism and xenophobia in a question about Quebec’s Bill 21.

Paul was also involved in another vitriolic exchange, after she claimed that Trudeau was not really a feminist, reminding the audience that he had driven two strong women, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, out of his party over the SNC-Lavalin affair.

It was these clips that made the news broadcasts.

The moderator, Shachi Kurl, was on a power trip. She cut leaders off, not allowing them to give explanatory answers.

This was no debate. It was a Canadian version of The Jerry Springer Show.

Image: Sean Kilpatrick, Canadian Press

Friday, September 10, 2021

Quebec Does It Again

Justin Trudeau was pretty happy after the second French leaders debate. Then Francois Legault rained on his parade. Ian MacDonald writes:

Justin Trudeau should have been feeling pretty good on the morning after the night before, about his strong performance in the second French leaders’ debate, and confident about his prospects for the upcoming evening’s one in English.

And then François Legault went and spoiled his morning by tacitly endorsing Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

Legault went out of his way to warn against voting for the Liberals or the NDP, or the Greens for that matter.

"I think it’s dangerous to support those three parties,” he declared, warning voters to be wary of them as representing the centralizing forces of orthodox federalism.

For example, he said: “They think they are better than Quebec at managing the health care system.”

And writ large, he added, “the Quebec nation wants more autonomy, not less.”

“It will be easier,” he said, “for Quebec to negotiate more powers with Mr. O’Toole than Mr. Trudeau.”

Legault's partner in this election is Yves-Francois Blanchet -- a little man with a big grudge. Blanchet says that he and his party will not take part in a coalition government  -- which begs the question, "What are you doing in Ottawa?" The group he leads is a bloc -- a fragment, not a national party.

Both men echo a position that is best expressed in two well-worn phrases: Quebec se faire -- Quebec knows better, and C'est le faute de federal -- it's the federal government's fault.

If M. Legault and M. Blanchet hold sway in la belle province, Justin Trudeau and his party will occupy the opposition benches.

Image: Le Devoir

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The Worst In Us

The West Island is that part of Montreal that hugs the shores of Lac St. Louis, from Dorval to Ste. Anne de Bellevue. It used to be an Anglophone ghetto -- a glaring example of what we used to call The Two Solitudes in Quebec. In the last forty years, its population has changed. Lots of Francophones now live there as well as lots of immigrants -- particularly people of colour.

It's where I grew up. And it has its dark side. Global News reports that:

A West Island Liberal candidate said Wednesday that he will continue to campaign, despite being the target of a “public display of racism.”

Sameer Zuberi made the comment on Twitter Wednesday after at least three of his election posters were defaced with racist slurs, referring to people of Pakistani and Indian origins.

One of the signs even included a death threat.

Zuberi, whose father was born in Pakistan, is running for re-election in the federal riding of Pierrefonds-Dollard.

This election has exposed the anger that has been just below the surface during the pandemic. COVID has brought out the best in us. It has also brought out the worst in us.

Image: Global News

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Erin O'Toole's (And Jason Kenney's) Healthcare Plan

Erin O'Toole says he's going to reform Canadian healthcare. But, when you get into the weeds, O'Toole's plan sounds a lot like Kenney's policy. Gillian Steward writes:

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s comments about how a government led by him would improve public health care seem designed to evade the whole truth about what Canadians can expect when they need a family physician, surgery, long-term care or a visit to ER.

O’Toole has said he believes in both “innovation” by the private sector, what he calls “public-private synergies,” and universal access to public health care, meaning no one would have to pay out of their own pocket to get the care they need.

Kenney's "reforms" funnel public money into private healthcare facilities:

The Kenney approach has public money being funnelled into surgical clinics, diagnostic imaging, laboratories and testing facilities that are owned and operated by various private investors, who expect to earn a return on their investment.

So, yes, there will be universal access; a patient just has to show her health care card to get whatever service she needs. But where is all that public money actually going? How transparent is the contract awarding process and the contracts themselves? What oversight is government going to provide to make sure patients are receiving a high standard of care? And doesn’t expecting a profit mean higher costs than in the public system?

A prime example of this approach is the Alberta government’s arrangement with Telus, Canada’s second largest telecom company, to provide an app that Albertans can use for a virtual consultation with a physician. A virtual walk-in clinic, although the attending physicians might be in another province far from the patient’s network of community resources.

Telus is doing quite well:

Alberta’s health minister Tyler Shandro, breathlessly announced the partnership early in the pandemic as a way for homebound people to get in touch with a doctor. But it was soon discovered that the Telus docs were getting paid more per virtual visit than doctors in Alberta who were bypassing the Telus app and virtually consulting with their patients using whatever technology was available to them in their clinics.

The fees were adjusted after Alberta doctors loudly complained. But we never did find what kind of remuneration or benefit Telus gets from this arrangement. How much public money went to Telus for this service and shouldn’t that information be easily accessible?

And Kenney  broadened the policy:

Despite the pandemic, the Kenney government was quick to pass legislation that permits the health minister to enter into agreements with “corporations” and to establish alternative relationship plans with physicians who would bypass fee scales negotiated through the Alberta Medical Association.

This approach, Steward writes, is the point of the spear:

This is all in preparation for establishing small, privately owned hospitals focused on complicated surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements. Kenney claims it will be faster, cheaper, more efficient and will reduce wait times, although he doesn’t present any data to back that up.

In fact, it's been tried before:

That has already been tried in Calgary during the Klein era and it was a disaster. The health authority ended up paying 10 per cent more for surgeries it had contracted to the private facility than it paid in its own hospitals. When the place went into receivership the health authority had to pay the receivership fees to keep it going because it didn’t have enough operating capacity in its own hospitals.

There is a reason Alberta is leading the nation in new COVID cases.

Image: ipolitics

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Way Past Redemption


Jennifer Rubin wonders why Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are still members of the Republican Party:

To recap: Kinzinger and Cheney’s party pushed the “big lie” that the election was stolen, overwhelmingly opposed impeachment, blocked a bipartisan commission, tried to undermine the committee and now has threatened private companies against cooperating. McCarthy also blatantly lied in saying the FBI had found the former disgraced president had “no involvement” in the violent insurrection (which he sparked with his call to action in the “stop the steal” rally).

Yet both Cheney and Kinziner remain loyal to the party:

We can praise Cheney and Kinzinger for their candor, but what are they still doing in the GOP and seeking to secure the majority for the Jan. 6 enablers, cheerleaders and rationalizers? It boggles the mind that Cheney, who has repeatedly stated that McCarthy should not be speaker (and surely wouldn’t support other Trump pawns such as New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who replaced Cheney in the No. 3 spot in House leadership), will run under the GOP banner and certainly support other Republicans whose victories could secure the majority for the party that has embraced authoritarianism, lawlessness and nonstop lying.

There should be no doubt — and Kinzinger has repeatedly acknowledged as such — this is a party that is all about “pushing conspiracy and pushing division and pushing lies.” There’s no doubt that it will stoop to obstruction or embrace violence. Kinzinger is simply going to shrug his shoulders and recommend the country roll the dice on a party that has already proved itself contemptuous of truth, democracy and simple decency?

Kinzinger and Cheney’s advocacy for truth-telling about Jan. 6 is admirable. However, they have been unwilling to acknowledge that putting their party in the majority is not putting democracy and the Constitution above their party or their personal political futures. To the contrary, they are perpetuating the myth that the republic would do just fine with the GOP back in power and with Trump’s flunkies running the House. They know better, and it’s long past time for them to say so.

Apparently, both Cheney and Kinsinger believe that the Republican Party can be redeemed. The truth is that it is way past redemption.

Image: The Bulwark

Monday, September 06, 2021

Conservatives and Guns

The Conservatives were going to lift the Liberal ban on assault rifles. But now they've changed their minds. John Ibbitson writes:

In a week that shook up the federal election campaign, both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole focused on guns and crime, leading the Conservative Leader to reverse his position.

Faced with the possibility of losing an election that they hoped would deliver a comfortable majority government, the Liberals have been lashing out at a Conservative commitment to lift a 2020 order-in-council that banned certain kinds of semi-automatic weapons.

In Markham, Ont., on Sunday, Mr. Trudeau declared: “Mr. O’Toole has made a secret deal with the gun lobby to reverse that ban on these assault weapons, military-style assault weapons,” which had been used in a number of mass shootings in Canada.

“Those guns have no place in Canada, but that’s the choice Erin O’Toole is offering, to return to a time when these guns were legal in our country,” Mr. Trudeau said. “That’s not what Canadians want.”

And O'Toole began to think that Mr. Trudeau was right. He decided it was better to keep the ban:

At a media availability at Vancouver’s Canada Place, Mr. O’Toole announced that, if elected, his government would keep the order-in-council in place during the public review of legislation and regulations.

We’re going to maintain the ban on assault weapons, and we’re going to maintain the restrictions that were put in place in 2020,” Mr. O’Toole told reporters.

“Our intention is to take the politics out of this,” he said.

Clearly, O'Toole's move is a stall -- and it's all about politics.

It's important to remember that -- whatever Mr. O'Toole says -- his party doesn't believe in banning assault rifles and it doesn't believe in climate change.

Image: Global News

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Looney Candidates

Every election has its share of looney candidates. One such candidate is Cheryl Gallant for the Conservatives. Robin Sears writes:

Conservative candidate Cheryl Gallant, is back. This year she launched a hilariously wacko set of YouTube videos insinuating that the Liberals plan a “climate lockdown.” (What does that even mean? Perhaps that Trudeau will lockdown climate deniers so that they can spread no more dangerous misinformation to Canadians?) The candidate has not been seen recently — she and her videos have apparently been quietly locked in a closet by the party managers, probably until Sept. 21.

The Liberals have a house flipper running in Vancouver. Sears writes that handling the loonies presents a problem:

The only voting issue that matters is how party leaders handle the mess. Try to brazen your way out of it, or attempt to diminish the alleged sin — as Justin Trudeau has tried to do in the case of the Vancouver house flipper or the Ontario candidate who is facing allegations — and you damage your credibility as a leader, and that of your party. Be too fast to smack down a one-time offender — especially if they are already known as an internal opponent — and you look arbitrary and brutal, as Stephen Harper often did.

Some of these candidates -- like Gallant -- keep winning. Others, like Derek Sloan -- who used to be the sitting Conservative MP in the riding next to ours -- are resurrected. Sloan's ignorance doomed his bid for the leadership of his party and his re-election. He's now running for the Conservatives in Alberta.

The latest poll suggests that this race is a statistical tie. In a contest like this one, the crazies could make the difference.

Image: CAFE

Saturday, September 04, 2021

We Never Learn

Andrew Nikiforuk writes that there are seven lessons that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan should teach us. Here are three of them:

1. Interventionistas by definition do harm.

The straight-talking philosopher and risk expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb lays out the disastrous hubris of interventionista thinking in his excellent book Skin in the Game. Interventionistas, he says, not only lack practical sense, but they never learn from history. They also fail at pure reasoning and cannot imagine complex interactions let alone consequences. (Author Wendell Berry called such unaccountable people “itinerant professional vandals.”) These vandals tend to symbolize the adage that experience is making the same mistake over and over again but with greater confidence.

Tellingly, the downside of intervention (ruined economies, waves of refugees, degraded environments, failed states, drug cartels, violent warlords, extremist beliefs, relentless poverty and the persecution of women) is never experienced by the paid advocates of intervention, notes Taleb. “He continues his practice from the comfort of his thermally regulated suburban house with a two car garage, a dog and a small playground with pesticide-free grass for his overprotected 2.2 children.”

2. History is a graveyard.

Landlocked Afghanistan occupies an ancient crossroad that beckons pioneering empires. They soon discover that its unforgiving geography of mountains and deserts is no playground. As a consequence of its tribal and geographical complexity, the place has stumped one empire after another for thousands of years.

In the ninth century the Arab Empire burst forth and set its sights on Afghanistan. It spent nearly 200 years trying to conquer the place. Its first army of 20,000 returned as a skeletal force of 5,000.

The British Empire fought three separate wars in Afghanistan over 80 years. It lost tens of thousands of soldiers and recorded its greatest military defeat at the Battle of Gandamak. Several wars later the British Empire ran out of steam and its interest in Afghanistan waned. It granted the place its independence in 1919.

After the British follies came the Soviet Empire. The Soviets invaded in 1979 believing they could impose a communist regime on a tribal people because they were worried about growing U.S. influence in the region. The invasion soon turned into barbarism as the Soviets mined the landscape and retreated to isolated fortresses. Their limping army exited in 1989 leaving in its ruinous wake a civil war that spawned the Taliban. Two years later the Soviet Empire, largely due to an energy crisis, collapsed in 1991.

3. Theft of imperial proportions fills pockets of the powerful few.

By any measure the “forever war” in Afghanistan represented a massive transfer of wealth from public taxpayers to U.S. military contractors. (Only an empire that has lost its moral compass could tolerate such a squandering of resources.)

By one calculation a $10,000 investment in the top five U.S. defense contractors in 2001 would have yielded a return of $97,295 by 2021 — outperforming the stock market by 58 per cent.

“The more the Afghans needed contractors, the more these contractors would earn. Thus they had a vested interest in keeping the Afghans helpless,” noted Saqib Qureshi, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.

“Rather than build an Afghanistan that would prosper on its own, becoming ever more self-sufficient, the entire American war enterprise seems to have been an exercise in manufactured dependency.”

The other four reasons are equally instructive. Unfortunately, we never learn any of them.

Image: wikimedia

Friday, September 03, 2021

Pure Claptrap

The state of Texas has passed a blatantly unconstitutional law on abortion. And the Supreme Court has refused to do anything about it. The New York Times editorializes:

The Texas law, known as SB 8, is the most brazenly anti-abortion law in the country. It bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. By itself, this violates a woman’s constitutional right to get an abortion, which the court has protected at least until the fetus is viable outside the womb, at around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. That is why courts have struck down similar six-week bans in other states.

But worse still is the law's enforcement provision:

Instead of making it enforceable the usual way, through government officials, they authorized private citizens — in Texas or anywhere else — to sue anyone who is involved in performing an abortion or who “aids or abets” one: not only a woman’s doctor, but her family, her friends, potentially even the taxi driver who takes her to the clinic. There is no exception for cases of rape or incest, and the plaintiff doesn’t need to have any connection to the woman in order to bring the suit. If it succeeds, he or she is entitled to $10,000 plus legal fees. It’s a dream for bounty hunters and a nightmare for everyone else.

This is vigilante justice pure and simple. And it also nullifies the process of judicial review. Eight of the nine Supreme Court justices have law degrees from either Harvard or Yale. The majority ruling was unsigned and did nothing to enjoin the law.

So it has come to this. That old American saw that the United States is "a country of laws not men" is pure claptrap.

Image: Sites At Penn State

Thursday, September 02, 2021

No More Detente

Doug Ford was going to stay out of this election. But he's now in it in a big way. Susan Delacourt writes:

So much for the election truce between Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau.

The detente appears to have crumbled over the issue of vaccinations — proof of vaccination, in particular — an off-and-on wedge issue of this pandemic election. It has given a whole new meaning to “shots exchanged,” which wouldn’t make a bad title for anyone writing a book about this weird campaign in the age of COVID-19.

Yesterday, Doug introduced a policy of vaccine passports -- and blamed Trudeau for the delay:

Ford is blaming Trudeau for his own about-face on vaccine certificates, saying that he was only introducing one in Ontario this fall because Trudeau dropped the ball and called an “unnecessary election” instead.

Team Trudeau fired back within hours, calling it a “shocking” revision of history around the first ministers’ table.

“Today’s press conference from Premier Ford was shocking and a disappointment,” said Bill Blair, who is campaigning for re-election in Scarborough Southwest while also retaining caretaker responsibility for public safety and border matters.

“The premier has been late to announce vaccine passports in Ontario. His comment today that he asked the federal government to bring in a national vaccine passport is untrue. “

Ford appears to have particularly irked the federal Liberals with his assertion that Trudeau’s government had balked at provincial demands for a pan-Canadian proof-of-vaccination system.

"All the provinces, all the premiers, have requested a national vaccine passport,” Ford said.

That's a lie. Bill Blair -- the Liberal member for Scarborough-Southeast and Toronto's former police  chief -- responded to Ford's claim:

“Premier Ford, Premier (Jason) Kenney of Alberta, and Erin O’Toole have been the only ones opposing vaccine passports domestically. In fact, Premier Ford asked the federal government to stay out of domestic vaccine passports. Premier Ford has only ever asked for an international version for international travel,” Blair’s statement said.

O'Toole's numbers are surging and Doug is hopping on the bandwagon.


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Hard To Accept

Yesterday, Joe Biden told a lot of Americans what they don't want to hear. Jennifer Rubin writes:

As he began, he sounded pugnacious if not angry. “I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not going to extend a forever exit,” he said. He praised U.S. troops and diplomats who risked their lives to save more than 120,000 lives, impressing upon Americans the magnitude of the evacuation effort. For critics who point to thousands of Afghans who will live in misery, he explained that no country has done more to airlift allies to safety after losing a war. Regarding Americans still there, he argued there is “no deadline” to get them out. Getting those Americans out will be vital to retaining his credibility.

He then launched into a point-by-point rebuttal of his critics’ main claims. “Some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner, and couldn’t this have been done in a more orderly manner. I respectfully disagree.” The chaos would have started then, he argued. He also insisted that “there is no evacuation you can run at the end of a war without the complexities, challenges, threats we faced, none.” His concession that the projection for how long the Afghan government and military would be able to hold was “inaccurate” will go down as a world-class understatement.

Speaking to critics who argue the United States could’ve secured Afghanistan at low cost and low risk, he said, “I don’t think enough people understand how much we’ve asked of the one percent of this country who put that uniform on.” This was both Biden the president and Biden the father speaking. He understands how the war chewed through American lives and families for no discernible gain. “There is nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war,” he said.

Americans don't like to lose a war. But, in the last fifty years, they have lost quite a few. Some Americans continue to believe that the greatest nation on earth simply can't lose a war. The most important thing that Biden said was that "the era of nation-building is over." That has been the central thrust of American foreign policy for over fifty years. And that is why the United States has got so much wrong.

Sometimes, it's really hard to hear -- and accept -- the truth

Image: The New Republic