Saturday, September 18, 2021
I did not realize this documentary was on YouTube! The entire thing!
The Ballets Russes brought ballet to the entire globe. It's history is epic. But it's also very personal. George Zoritch, who receives much attention here, was my first ballet teacher, at the University of Arizona, in 1982. I blogged about this movie when it came out in theaters, in 2005. I even met the filmmakers at a showing in San Francisco.
Best inspirational ballet movie ever!
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Asking the obvious questions:
In the end, it wasn’t even remotely close. California voters rejected a GOP-led recall of Governor Gavin Newsom by a landslide margin of 64-36 — a 28-point shellacking.
Yes, this is what we should have expected from such a heavily Democratic state, but it might have been (much) closer if the vote had been a straight up-or-down referendum on Newsom himself. Instead, it became a referendum on “the abyss.”
The abyss, of course, was Trumpism.
...The California fiasco will probably not be enough to prompt the sort of introspection that Republicans so desperately need. But as 2024 looms, it provides one more reason for Republicans to ask themselves: Do they really want to do this again?
...As Clay Risen noted yesterday “Newsom and the Democrats seem to have persuasively argued that he was running not on his record or against a particular candidate, but against Trumpism. . . .”
“In a vacuum, there was a lot of discontentment with Newsom and ambivalence with him among Democrats,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political consultant in California.
That started to change once “the abyss” got a name.
The election also represented the ascendancy (and vulnerability) of the entertainment wing of the GOP. As Risen noted:
Mr. Elder isn’t a serious politician; he’s running not to win, but to raise his media profile. But that very fact says something about today’s Republican Party. Many of its highest-profile figures blur the line between politician and celebrity, and act accordingly, even if their success as the latter undermines what we expect out of the former. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn — and, yes, Larry Elder — are only nominally politicians. In substance, they’re entertainers.
They also put Donald Trump on the ballot. As Perry Bacon Jr. notes this morning: “The rise of [Larry] Elder, whom Democrats cast as a California Donald Trump, was ‘perfect,’ [Newsom senior adviser Addisu] Demissie said. ‘Couldn’t have been better. He made no effort to appeal to anyone outside of his base.’”
“Newsom’s victory,” writes Bacon, “suggests that running as the anti-Trumpism party still has real political value, even with Trump no longer in the White House.”
BONUS: The California results were a repudiation of anti-mask, anti-vax politics — a clear sign that Republican opposition to precautions against the pandemic is a colossal miscalculation. As the AP notes this morning: “The Republicans running to replace Newsom opposed mask and vaccine mandates, and the California governor was happy to highlight that. Newsom aired an ad calling the recall ‘a matter of life and death’ and accusing the top Republican candidate, talk radio host Larry Elder, of ‘peddling deadly conspiracy theories.’”
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
I like Gustavo Arellano's take in today's LA Times:
If you’re looking for the best metaphor for how the California Republican Party blew the recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom, look no further than the sight of mixed-martial-arts legend Tito Ortiz knocked out by Anderson Silva in the first round of a boxing match held on 9/11.
This time last year, Ortiz was a rising star for the GOP, the latest celebrity to make a political run as he campaigned for a seat on the Huntington Beach City Council. He ended up getting the most votes of any candidate in city history by espousing the MAGA school of politics — ridicule the libs, proclaim skepticism to coronavirus shutdowns and the pandemic itself and offer vague promises of freedom with little in actual, tangible plans.
But once it came time to actually duke it out in the octagon of democracy? Ortiz went down like a tree meeting a lumberjack. 9Instead of building a career as Surf City’s Trump-by-the-Sea, he left office in June after barely half a year, basically claiming the public was too mean to him and his family. Just three months later, Ortiz lay before Silva in the boxing ring, flatter than a tortilla. Why, even Trump was there to witness his acolyte’s demise.
Way to impress Papi Trump, Tito!
...For the last quarter-century, state Republicans have acted like the Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” that poor soul who insisted on fighting even after all his limbs were cut off, describing the amputations as mere flesh wounds, and then left bragging that he earned a draw against King Arthur as His Royal Highness left the squawking stump by the side of the road.
Nearly every big move that the state GOP has done to wrest power from Democrats — term limits, bigoted propositions, selling its soul to Trump — has spectacularly blown up in their face. Back in April, I wrote: “I’ll wager a roll of pesos that the ultimate loser will, again, be the Republican Party. The house — in this case, history — is on my side.”
The attempted Newsom coup was the worst laugher yet — because it had the best chance of the many Hail Marys that California conservatives have thrown to actually work.
Intrigued by the voter turnout map at the CA SOS site.
The Recall Election was most popular in two discrete clusters - Northern and Central Sierra - and reasonably popular in the Bay Area and Orange County. Surprisingly, turnout was mediocre in the Central Valley, even in areas where the recall movement was popular. An enthusiasm gap there.
I love it when Republicans get their ass handed to them, like they did tonight in California!
Still, it was a peculiar campaign. In a highly-partisan era, in an election where Independents weren't particularly engaged, the results were completely predictable: 2 to 1 against the recall, just like the D to R party registration numbers. Given those numbers, I was puzzled why Republicans thought the recall was even worth trying. They apparently felt Democrats would barely notice the recall campaign was happening, and could slip anything past the electorate. Strange confidence there.
And why elevate Larry Elder, of all people? Why did he catch fire among Republicans? A shock jock on the radio - big ego, no experience. It was a discrete decision too - it didn't just happen. His own TV ads portrayed him as a humorless fanatic. Elder seemed to conduct his campaign in megachurches, endorsing every unpopular idea the GOP has ever had in the last 30 years.
With every campaign that the GOP loses, they further cement their status as losers, and highlight their irrelevance for the future. As California goes, so goes the nation.
Congratulations to Daniel Watts, who came in 9th with more than 113,000 votes, much better than his 2003 showing. Conditions were so much better for his campaign this year.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Rather a gold mine. Regarding the Mustard Seed:
We avoided external religious motifs topside (or signs of any kind) and only had an 8x11 paper sign on our stairwell door. The stairs allowed access after-hours. Otherwise, we walked from the basement post office to the hallway door that entered the stairwell.
The impact of the 1970 Asbury College Revival (Wilmore, Kentucky) spread westward while the California version of the Jesus Revolution spread eastward. Socorro was an isolated community that became an experimental closed-system to allow God’s Holy Spirit to mix multiple backgrounds without interference by external organizations.
The resulting crucible of standing for faith in a hostile academic environment spun off some graduates as pastors, Christian school principals, and persistent lay leaders.
Service of Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation - St. John's Episcopal Church, Roseville, CA - September 12, 2021
Presided over by the Rt. Rev. Megan Traquair, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Rachel is now officially an Episcopalian.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Quick thumbnails on the candidates. Daniel Watts is here.
I assembled my Walter White jigsaw puzzle (purchased from Marq and Ed's Breaking Bad Store in Albuquerque). I had trouble finding the very last piece. Did it fall on the floor? Not obviously. On a hunch, I checked my dog’s stash of chew toys. Voila!
“The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel.
Every time September 11th rolls around, I'm reminded of two classmates in my freshman year at New Mexico Tech (a college that specializes in geosciences).
I took Dr. Loganbill's English class in the Spring of 1975. I was apprehensive about this class, having already heard stories about Loganbill's fascination with structuralism and postmodern linguistics. Freshmen technical students could see the value of an English class - good for writing better owners' manuals, after all - but this jargon-filled Long March into philosophy was intolerable.
The first classmate, Victor Saracini, was 24, a bit older than most. We shared small talk. What I remember was his smile, his humor, his calm demeanor, and unflappability under postmodern stress.
I never saw Victor again after Loganbill's class. After graduating from NM Tech, he became an airline pilot. He was the pilot of United Flight 175 on September 11, 2001 - the second airliner. The hijackers killed him and his copilot before flying into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and into history.
The second classmate was Kathy McGrade, a student majoring in metallurgy. After 9/11, she toured the 9/11 Truther circuit. Apparently, debris from the World Trade Center contains metal microspheres. McGrade believed these microspheres were highly-significant, since they can't be generated at the lower temperatures characteristic of open fires. Conspiracy theories flowed from that observation.
I think McGrade was just wrong. It happens - highly-trained people can make mistakes. I think the microspheres came from high-temperature welding - metal ash from the building's original construction in the late 60s. No need to posit elaborate conspiracy theories. I'm just baffled. Why didn't she think of that simple explanation?
Two classmates. Diligence and error. My generation's collision with history:
Victor J. Saracini was born on August 29, 1950 in Atlantic City, New Jersey to parents Anne and Victor Saracini. He attended local grammar schools, Atlantic City High School, and was a graduate of the New Mexico School of Mining and Technology with a major in biology. He joined the United States Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School, was commissioned as an ensign, and in 1976, received his Naval Flight Officer wings in Pensacola, FL. Victor attended graduate school at Louisiana Tech University.
Victor served in the Naval Reserve at Willow Grove, PA from 1980 to 1985 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy "E" Ribbon, and the Expert Marksmanship ribbon. Victor worked as a corporate pilot for Trenton based Johnson & Johnson, and Pennsylvania based Penn Commuter and the former Wings Airways. He joined United Airlines and was the pilot of the United Airlines Flight 175 when it was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
Friday, September 10, 2021
I'm all for white-hot rage, but also worried. My sister is an anti-vaxxer, not so much based on principle as based on a deep desire for autonomy. Still, if we are going to get back to normal, we have to get on it, now, before this winter's coming peak:
We were willing to debate the efficacy of masks.
We agreed there should be balance between lockdown measures and economic interests.
We patiently accumulated evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
We kept our cool through every quack remedy and grifter treatment.
We offered guidance to the confused and correctives to the misinformed.
We forbore ignorant assertions that the coronavirus was a hoax, bratty defiance of public health orders, puerile abuse of “freedom," looney vaccine conspiracies.
We did this all with fear, as we watched wave after wave of infections disrupt our lives and kill members of our families.
But now, as we suffer through a second summer of illness and death, we find ourselves confronted with a category of people whose behavior is despicable — the COVID obstructionists, the ones who not only refuse to protect themselves but actively prevent others from doing so.
There's no point trying to understand them, no reasoning with them. They deserve no patience, no forbearance. The only reasonable response to these miscreants is anger. White hot anger.
Road testing Trump's stupid, failed approach:
“It’s probably rigged.” That was Donald Trump’s assessment of the effort to recall Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom, during an appearance on the dutifully sycophantic network Newsmax. “They’re sending out all ballots―the ballots are mail-out, mail-in ballots. I guess you even have a case where you can make your own ballot. When that happens, nobody’s going to win except these Democrats.”
...As with so many of the ideas that spill from Trump’s paranoiac imagination, the idea that Democrats have engineered a massive voter fraud conspiracy across dozens of states is now a key plank of the Republican Party platform; an operating premise of the party that’s done more to undermine democracy than any since the Reconstruction era.
...Fox Nation’s Tomi Lahren told her viewers that “the only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud.” Baseless claims of fraud have trended on social media throughout the summer. Larry Elder, the Republican radio host most likely to become the state’s governor if Newsom is recalled, has also suggested that Dominion Voting Systems was working to rig the gubernatorial recall election.
...As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump argued on Wednesday, these tactics also provide “a way to undermine the credibility of elections in general, using a Democratic state preserving a Democratic governor as evidence that Democrats are somehow cheating.” This all bolsters the larger argument that will be the foundation of Trump’s 2024 run: that he was cheated out of reelection in 2020 by a vast conspiracy that is stealing elections from righteous Republicans.
The 2021 Recall Election was winnable. A generic GOP candidate could have walked away with it. Now it looks like the election of a Republican isn't possible. Why?
The Democrats woke up! What woke them up? Several things. The Delta Variant rampage. The Texas Abortion Case. Dodging a bullet aimed straight at them - the Caldor Fire didn't burn down South Lake Tahoe, despite all the destruction wrought by that fire, the Dixie Fire, the Tamarack Fire, the Lava Fire, etc., etc.
What really helped too was finally getting a favored Republican candidate, Larry Elder, a shock DJ who came across on his TV ads as a humorless true fanatic. Democrats woke up! Right now it looks like Independents aren't fired up, so it all boils down to a nakedly-partisan skirmish. And Democrats have the advantage!
Now, why did support coalesce around Elder in the first place? That's the real mystery to me. Way too extreme for California. Trumpers on the national scene running things when Trump is hated almost everywhere in California. It's not really Elder's fault, although he will get blamed. Professional politicians weren't in charge, that's for sure!
Kicking ass and taking names. Love it!:
Gov. Gavin Newsom is on track to survive a recall election in deep-blue California after initially causing Democrats severe heartburn, with veteran Republican insiders blaming GOP front-runner Larry Elder.
The conservative talk-radio host motivated previously complacent rank-and-file Democrats — which neutralized Newsom’s biggest challenge of voter apathy — by catering to the Republican base with polarizing rhetoric and adamantly opposing mask and vaccine mandates amid a resurgence of the coronavirus. In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2–1, Elder made himself the perfect foil for Newsom — enabling the Democratic incumbent to make the campaign about the GOP rather than his embattled leadership.
“Newsom has successfully framed the race as him versus Elder, and Democratic voters are responding by voting,” said Rob Stutzman, a GOP operative in Sacramento who advised former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican who succeeded Gray Davis after the Democrat was recalled from office in 2003. “Elder has no appeal outside of GOP voters.”
...“Before Elder, the race was all about Gavin, and our polls were looking very good,” said a Republican consultant in California. “If the election had been four or more weeks ago, we would have won.”
Elder has received some support outside of the traditional conservative circles.
Democrat Gloria Romero, who served as her party’s majority leader in the California Senate, even cut a television advertisement for the Republican.
“Yes, I’m a Democrat. But the recall of Newsom is not about political party,” she said in the spot. Meanwhile, Elder’s Republican critics concede the GOP faced several hurdles in this special election campaign that have nothing to do with Elder, as is true for the party in every statewide contest.
The Democratic Party enjoys a 22.4 percentage point advantage over Republicans among registered voters, and Newsom and the anti-recall forces vastly outspent the pro-recall groups and the handful of Republicans seeking to replace the governor. Additionally, former President Donald Trump, broadly viewed as the leader of the Republican Party, is disliked in California. In contrast, top Democrats — President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama — are popular.
Despite all of that, some Republicans claim Elder squandered opportunities to hobble Newsom when he was on the ropes. Voters were upset with the governor for infamously ignoring his own pandemic, and they tired of his coronavirus regulatory regime. There was frustration over closed public schools, rising crime, and a homelessness epidemic. The state unemployment agency overseen by Newsom’s administration was beset by fraud and mismanagement.
...“This is over,” added Garry South, the Democratic operative who was Davis’s chief political adviser in 2003. “Newsom beats it by double digits.”
It took me a while to put together the clues. Jasper was barking in the back yard at 12:30 a.m. Not that surprising. Jasper then came in and burrowed himself into a throw rug. Odd conduct there.
Suddenly the house reeked of skunk. Overpowering! The skunk must have released its scent really close by too - various burnt overtones were present in different rooms of the house. I was so alarmed by the odor that I checked the house for smoldering plastic.
Satisfied there was no immediate fire danger, I went downstairs into the basement and checked on two rather hi-tech mouse traps I have there. It would be really terrible if I caught a skunk instead. But the traps were unmolested. The only creature I’ve successfully caught with them so far is me (my fingertip).
I went into the back yard and got Jasper ready for his nightly walk. I heard the thud of an animal. Could it be? Yes, a skunk was in the back yard, hiding behind a bush just 15 feet away, making noise and otherwise trying to be as scary as possible. Scared, we left the yard for our walk. I left the yard’s gate open, to facilitate the skunk’s departure, should it choose to depart.
Only then did I stoop to smell Jasper. Sure enough, the skunk had got him, probably earlier in the yard. I guess the skunk came to Jasper rather than the usual opposite. We took an abbreviated walk and returned home.
To Jasper’s great surprise, at 1:30 a.m., I gave him a bath, using dog shampoo on him, plus non-chlorine bleach usually used for clothes. The hydrogen peroxide in the bleach is really good for eliminating skunk odor.
At 2 a.m., after toweling off Jasper, I went out and locked the back yard gate. The skunk had apparently departed. Safe once more! I need to start using my lapsed methods to keep skunks out of the yard.
Saturday, September 04, 2021
Joe The Plumber needed financial backup for some truck repair, so off I went to an obscure location known as Security Park, off South Sunrise Blvd.
I missed encountering Joe at Security Park. He managed to get his truck repaired for free, and left Security Park, so no financial support was required. Instead, we met at Costco. Joe ate lunch and we tossed crumbs to the starlings.
Friday, September 03, 2021
I saw the headline "Is California Doomed to Keep Burning?" in The New Republic, from October, 2020 (and just as applicable this year).
In my opinion, California will settle back down once we get some rain here. The drought of 2013-2016 killed so many trees all over California that a slow motion disaster was set into motion. Most of those dead trees would burn, and fairly-soon. There was no way to stop it.
This year, I knew the big fires would be in the Sierra Nevada, since that mountain range hasn't burned extensively. In the years 2016-2020 many of the big fires were in the Coast Range north of San Francisco and south of the Trinity Alps, but that area can't really host big fires right now since they've been largely burned. Indeed, very few fires at all this year have started there. It's progress.
It's a brutal process, but we're getting there. Getting to more-sustainable thinner forests with less ground cover.
We had a surprise fire, just three blocks from my house, at the end of Larkin Way. In these photos, the fire is on opposite side of the railroad sound wall. There are lots of surprise fires these days in California, and they scare me.
Here are two photos, posted by Stephanie Duncan, on Nextdoor, Curtis Park.
Jasper and I were walking near Sierra 2 Community Center in Curtis Park at our accustomed hour of 1:30 a.m. when we saw flames ahead. A homeless person had just set a fire on the little porch steps at 2424 Castro Way, at one time, the rehearsal space for Runaway Stage Productions.
As we neared, the homeless person, wearing a grey hoodie, began to shuffle away, and head north on 24th. There’s been a woman on those steps before; perhaps it was her. Jasper and I lingered nearby. Then I used my pooper scooper to snuff out the remaining embers. From the ashes it looked like maybe a book had been set afire.
I reported the events to Sacramento Fire Dept. I hope they responded. It’s important to stress that no one should be burning anything in California these days without professional supervision.
A Democratic candidate in the California recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom alleges that Republican front runner Larry Elder’s security detail assaulted her and detained her against her will after she interrupted a speech Elder was giving at a Los Angeles area church on Sunday.
Jacqueline “Jackie” McGowan, a cannabis advocate and lobbyist who is one of 46 candidates seeking to replace Gov. Newsom in a recall election, told The Sacramento Bee in an interview that several security guards “attempted to bodyslam me because I challenged (Elder) to a debate.”
Thursday, September 02, 2021
I went shopping at the local Target this evening. I've been there many times before. Still, I felt disoriented, and a bit alarmed.
They've been remodeling the store lately, and so every time I go there, it's different - floor tile removed here and there, more shelves, narrower aisles, products shuffled around. So, some disorientation was to be expected. Still, certain items on the shelves were understocked or nearly-absent - milk, for example. It felt like deja vu - March 2020 all over again.
Then there was the ambient music - weird, soaring vocal synth booming through the reorganized space. And the people - a different crowd than usual. Everyone seemed dressed in black. Serious people. No joking around.
Is this the Delta Variant at work? The Caldor Fire? The drought? The Recall Election? Afghanistan? Or some combination of all of it?
The PPIC poll is the best available. It shows the recall effort will likely fail:
SACRAMENTO — Most likely California voters are opposed to the Republican-led recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom and a growing number fear the consequences of removing him from office with a hard-right conservative best positioned to take his place, according to new poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
The poll found that 58% of likely voters surveyed in California oppose removing Newsom from office compared to 39% who support recalling the governor, a gap rooted in the sharp partisan divide between Democratic and Republican voters in the state.
The findings, which were gathered by pollsters over a nine-day period ending on Sunday, may offer some hope for Newsom, who has for the past month expressed concern that an “enthusiasm gap” among Democratic and nonaffiliated voters could lead to his political demise — particularly with high engagement in the recall effort among Republicans.
In response, Newsom has blanketed California with ads attacking the top GOP candidates, casting them as devotees of former President Trump who oppose state mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations and mask wearing, a clear strategy to rally California’s left-leaning electorate.
...If Newsom is recalled, the candidate on the ballot who receives the most votes wins — no matter how many votes he or she receives. The crowded field of candidates is expected to splinter the electorate, which means a Republican who reels in just a small fraction of the vote could become California’s next governor. No Republican has won a statewide election in the state since 2006.
Ballots have already been mailed to all California registered voters. The mail ballot returns so far show that more than twice as many Democrats have voted than Republicans and that liberal areas of the state such as the Bay Area have the highest rates of return, according to state officials and political data researchers.
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
The Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences newsletter from the University of Arizona notes that Chuck Weidman has retired.
Ah, Chuck! I knew Chuck as a fellow graduate student at U of A, but he was also from my hometown of Corrales, NM. Chuck's father Charlie, John Shurter, Mr. Henderson, Mr. Groll, and my dad all carpooled to work at Sandia Labs.
I was surprised to learn the Weidmans had a dog named Valdez. I once asked Chuck how the dog got its name, but he quickly changed the subject. Probably some obscure joke related to my dad.
As a graduate student, Chuck studied lightning under Professor Phillip Krider and was awarded his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences in 1982. He subsequently spent his entire academic career at the University of Arizona, retiring in January 2021 after four decades of exemplary service. His innovative field experiments to study lightning in Quebec, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and the Kennedy Space Center were truly notable. The Tropical Ocean Global Atmospheric Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) was a large international field experiment conducted in 1992-1993 to study the atmospheric and oceanic processes over the region of the western Pacific known as the "warm pool," a region of warm ocean and atmospheric clouds, lightning and precipitation that is linked to El Nino.
Chuck will probably be remembered most of all for his remarkable skill in the classroom. He set the gold standard when it came to teaching freshman introductory atmospheric science courses. He emphasized the scientific method and famously punctuated his lectures with hand-written notes and colorful hand-drawn figures to illustrate examples of atmospheric phenomena.
Chuck was unmatched in the suite of take-home experiments he developed for his students. Frequently, these numbered 600-800 per semester, and he himself meticulously built the kits in the machine shop during summer recess. In addition, Chuck taught a graduate-level course in atmospheric electricity which was in high demand and very popular.
While still a graduate student, Chuck spent time abroad in France where he learned French and discovered his love of bicycling and the Tour de France.
Dr. Weidman will be remembered as a world-class researcher, an unparalleled teacher, and a supportive and collaborative colleague with a wonderful dry sense of humor.
Joe Biden remained resolute:
Unlike his three immediate predecessors in the Oval Office, all of whom also came to see the futility of the Afghan operation, Biden alone had the political courage to fully end America’s involvement.
...Former military officers and intelligence operatives, as well as commentators who had long been advocates of extending America’s presence in Afghanistan, railed against Biden’s artificial deadline. Some critics were former Bush-administration officials or supporters who had gotten the U.S. into the mess in the first place, setting us on the impossible path toward nation building and, effectively, a mission without a clear exit or metric for success. Some were Obama-administration officials or supporters who had doubled down on the investment of personnel in the country and later, when the futility of the war was clear, lacked the political courage to withdraw. Some were Trump-administration officials or supporters who had negotiated with and helped strengthen the Taliban with their concessions in the peace deal and then had punted the ultimate exit from the country to the next administration.
They all conveniently forgot that they were responsible for some of America’s biggest errors in this war and instead were incandescently self-righteous in their invective against the Biden administration. Never mind the fact that the Taliban had been gaining ground since it resumed its military campaign in 2004 and, according to U.S. estimates even four years ago, controlled or contested about a third of Afghanistan. Never mind that the previous administration’s deal with the Taliban included the release of 5,000 fighters from prison and favored an even earlier departure date than the one that Biden embraced. Never mind that Trump had drawn down U.S. troop levels from about 13,000 to 2,500 during his last year in office and had failed to repatriate America’s equipment on the ground. Never mind the delay caused by Trump and his adviser Stephen Miller’s active obstruction of special visas for Afghans who helped us.
Never mind the facts. Never mind the losses. Never mind the lessons.
Biden, they felt, was in the wrong. Despite the criticism, Biden, who had argued unsuccessfully when he was Barack Obama’s vice president to seriously reduce America’s presence in Afghanistan, remained resolute. Rather than view the heartbreaking scenes in Afghanistan in a political light as his opponents did, Biden effectively said, “Politics be damned—we’re going to do what’s right” and ordered his team to stick with the deadline and find a way to make the best of the difficult situation in Kabul.
The Biden administration nimbly adapted its plans, ramping up the airlift and sending additional troops into the country to aid crisis teams and to enhance security. Around-the-clock flights came into and went out of Afghanistan. Giant cargo planes departed, a number of them packed with as many as 600 occupants. Senior administration officials convened regular meetings with U.S. allies to find destinations for those planes to land and places for the refugees to stay. The State Department tracked down Americans in the country, as well as Afghans who had worked with the U.S., to arrange their passage to the airport. The Special Immigrant Visa program that the Trump administration had slowed down was kicked into high gear.
Despite years of fighting, the administration and the military spoke with the Taliban many times to coordinate passage of those seeking to depart to the airport, to mitigate risks as best as possible, to discuss their shared interest in meeting the August 31 deadline.
...The very last chapter of America’s benighted stay in Afghanistan should be seen as one of accomplishment on the part of the military and its civilian leadership. Once again the courage and unique capabilities of the U.S. armed services have been made clear. And, in a stark change from recent years, an American leader has done the hard thing, the right thing: set aside politics and put both America’s interests and values first.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Covid rates in the U.K. (490 daily new confirmed cases in a million) and the U.S. (480) continue to rise in tandem, but the real story is Israel (1,014), where Covid rates are now on a par with the American South (TN 1,030; SC 1,000; AL 990; FL 970; MS 960).
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
So what's the thing between Oak Park and G Parkway? They are on opposite sides of Highway 99. I dunno.
Although I was in Sac for all of it, I only hazily remember the last shooting, because it was a big deal.
My nephew shared this photo on Facebook.
The purpose of social isolation at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, was to slow the virus' advance, so the hospitals weren't overwhelmed. Preserving the function of hospitals is still the primary goal. Since hospitals are nearly overwhelmed now - witness the recent doctors' strike in Florida - changes will be made. Unvaccinated staff will be canned: everyone has to be committed to the mission and staff that might be harboring virus will be denied entry. Most importantly, coming soon (watch for it), unvaccinated patients will be admitted only on a case-by-case basis. Hospital functionality is still the primary goal. If there are too many unvaccinated patients, they walk the plank first.
Left: The Rite-Aid drive-up window at Stockton and Fruitridge, in Sacramento.
Well, it looks like I may have been exposed to the coronavirus, on Thursday, August 19th. So, on Monday, August 23rd, I put a swab up my nose in the Rite-Aid drive-up window driveway - a self-administered test (which made me sneeze).These folks are slow - it'll be three or four days before I hear back. So, for the moment, I'm trying to mask up more and avoid the public.Personally, I don't think I have coronavirus, but there is no reason to believe I wasn't exposed. Prudence is called for.