Editors’ Blog

Where Things Stand: The Little Guys Are Holding The Front Line Prime Badge
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The school districts fighting back against Republican governors’ efforts to prolong the life of the pandemic in their states have shown pretty remarkable strength this week.

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The Fall of Kabul, Washington and the Guys at the Fancy Magazines
on March 28, 2014 in Pul-e Alam, Afghanistan.

I wrote at the beginning of the week that the lightning collapse of the Afghan Army and the Afghan state, far from making me question the decision to withdraw, had removed any doubt in my mind that it was the correct one. The subsequent week has only deepened this judgment. Since then I’ve been wrestling with and trying to make sense of the elite or prestige national media response to the unfolding events. TPM Reader GF captured some of this on Tuesday …

I had to laugh at your post today titled “DC Press Bigs Escalate to Peak Screech Over Biden Defiance” as it made me think of a Punchbowl news article I read first thing this am. The article said the execution of the withdrawal has been awful, Biden has played it poorly etc. etc. The truly gold statement in that Punchbowl article just after saying how poorly Biden has managed the execution of the withdrawal was “There has to have been a better way.” None of these folks know or can suggest what would have been the better way except to make such silly statements as Biden did poorly because there had to be a better way with no follow-on as to what the better way is or was.

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Data Points

A NATO official tells Reuters that 18,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since the Taliban took over the city on Sunday. Yesterday Axios reported that the US has aircraft capacity to airlift 5,000-9,000 people out of the country per day, that 7,000 had been flown out since Sunday and that 2,000 of that number had been in the previous 24 hours.

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Give This a Try!

Every day is a good day to try out a two-week free trial of Prime Ad Free (AF). But today is an especially good day. Just click here to give it a test drive – super easy, free, no obligation. We’re hoping to get to 700 members trying the trial by the end of today – as of this morning we’re at 640.

Where Things Stand: Washington State Finally Does It — All School Workers Must Be Vaccinated Prime Badge
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Being vaccinated is now a condition of employment in all Washington state schools. And that includes public, charter and private.

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Inspired by Trump

In this video from early Tuesday morning, retrieved from Facebook by TPM, Capitol bomb suspect Ray Roseberry refers to himself and those like him as the “last generation” willing to stand up for America. He then says that Trump will be reinstated as President once Joe Biden is driven from office and Democrats are imprisoned. He says Trump will then pardon everyone and he hopes for a pardon himself.
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Watch The New Episode Of The Josh Marshall Podcast: A Rough Spot

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss a group of House centrists trying to decouple the infrastructure bills, the start of the redistricting process and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Watch below and email us your questions for next week’s episode.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Videos from Capitol Bomb Threat Suspect

For the last hour I’ve been watching videos created by the suspect in the Capitol bomb threat situation. He explicitly references the fall of Kabul in an August 16th video, claims Joe Biden has given US military hardware to the Taliban.

In another video from early on August 16th he says that once Biden is driven from office, Trump will become President again. He says he expects Trump, once he becomes President again, will pardon him – presumably for whatever crime he commits coming to Washington.

“It’s time to quit Biden.”

Repeatedly refers to himself and those like him as “the last generation”. He appears to have originally planned something for Labor Day. He references having people rendezvous at a local park the Friday before Labor Day before heading north to Washington, DC.

In a video from last Tuesday night, the suspect said it would be his last video until Labor Day weekend. But in a video early this morning he seems to suggest that over night he decided to move up his schedule.

More to come.

Another Booster Data Point
Benny Gantz (C), A former IDF Chief and the head of Israeli Resilience party speaks to supporters during an election campaign event in Tel Aviv. Israelis will vote in a parliamentary election on April 9, choosing among party lists of candidates to serve in the 121-seat Knesset

New data out of Israel appears to suggest substantial increased protection after a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine. I say ‘appears’ because like a lot of the real-time information emerging out of Israel it’s made up of current statistics rather than a study per se. And at least in the news accounts one has to read between the lines since some points are not stated explicitly.

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Where Things Stand: Election Officials Are Searching For A Plan To Avoid The Next MAGA ‘Audit’ Disaster Prime Badge
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 23: Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (L) speaks with city clerk Melissa Kennedy (C) and election specialist Robert Stokka (R) during a public accuracy testing of Election Day voting machines at the Municipal Services Center on October 23, 2018 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Each jurisdiction that operates electronic voting equipment must hold a public accuracy test within 14 days of the election (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The National Association of Secretaries of State is trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

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Important New COVID/Vax Data

Over the last few days I’ve been collecting information and thinking through a few more posts on the progress of the Delta-driven 4th COVID wave. One of the conclusions I’ve been ruminating on is that the CDC has been doing a pretty good job in 2021 on what the CDC is designed to do. (It is important to remember, and bewildering to remember, that the CDC actually wasn’t posting COVID case, testing or mortality data through 2020. It fell to a DIY journo collaborative.) But it’s clear that we need an entity that is capable of and empowered to do a lot more. In the current moment there is just a lot of data about the current shape of the pandemic that we simply do not have. We do have that data, or a lot of it, for the UK and Israel because they have centralized health care systems that have all the data. We will come back to that. But for the moment I wanted to flag for your attention this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC. It contains three new studies which go directly to the most critical questions we’re facing.

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Sic Transit

A sign of the times update. Politico Influence, Politico’s newsletter on the lobbying industry, is reporting that the US Chamber of Commerce is now requiring proof of vaccination for anyone who enters their DC offices. The National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable are also instituting vaccine mandates.

Governor Abbott’s COVID

You have seen the news that Gov. Abbott of Texas has tested positive for COVID. It adds a new element of drama to the battle he’s currently waging to ban school masking and vaccine mandates in Texas. But there’s another element I wanted to mention. Because when I saw it yesterday it confused me.

The governor’s office reports that he tested positive after one of the tests for the infection he takes each day. They report he is fully vaccinated, in good health and as yet has no symptoms of the disease. At 63 he is approaching the age when people start to have more adverse outcomes. But fully vaccinated there’s every expectation he will have a mild course of the illness if he has any symptoms at all and probably not need to do more than do the duties of office in quarantine.

But the statement from the Governor’s office also noted that he has begun taking the Regeneron antibodies treatment.
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Here’s A Good One

Josh Kovensky talks with the Georgia couple whose property was raided by the FBI last week as part of the Jan. 6 investigation.

Where Things Stand: Contender For Worst COVID Governor Gets COVID Prime Badge
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AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas on June 8, 2021. Abbott signed Senate bills 2 and 3 into law to reform the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and weatherize and improve the reliability of the state's power grid. The bill signing comes months after a disastrous February winter storm that created widespread power outages and left dozens of Texans dead. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has distinguished himself with his incredibly lax approach to handling the COVID-19 outbreak in his state, has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Here’s Why We Do the Prime AF Push

A few of you have asked why we’re doing our Prime Ad Free (AF) trial. So I wanted to explain. In this drive we need at least 1,000 Prime members to upgrade to Prime AF. We know there are at least a thousand who – once they try it – will want to upgrade just because they prefer it. Believe me, it’s a lot better. So our two week free trial is really just a diabolical plan to figure out who those 1000+ members are.
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Watch The New Episode Of The Josh Marshall Podcast: The End

A new bonus episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! Today, Josh and Kate discuss the end of the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Watch below and email us your questions for next week’s episode.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

DC Press Bigs Escalate to Peak Screech Over Biden Defiance

If nothing else for media watchers there’s a fascinating dynamic developing over the last day or so in trying to define the US exit from Afghanistan. It’s not a new dynamic. In fact, it’s one I first saw a quarter century ago when DC’s establishment press got really, really upset that not only Bill Clinton but more importantly most of the country didn’t agree with their take on impeachment in 1998. Official DC was baffled when Democrats actually managed to pick up a few seats in the 1998 midterm that was entirely about impeachment. The specifics of the case are of course pretty radically different. But the dynamic of establishment DC press escalation is not. Politico’s morning newsletter this morning captures the dynamic. It starts quoting David Axelrod making clear that Biden messed up and has to admit he messed up but then notes that Biden didn’t get the message and said he had made the right decision. A sort of primal scream of “WTF, JOE BIDEN?!?!?!!?!” virtually bleeds through the copy.

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Where Things Stand: The GOP’s Dramatic Reversal Prime Badge
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The Republican Party wants you to forget that just a few months ago the GOP agreed that the move to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which Biden is now being criticized for, was sound foreign policy.

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Catching Up on the Fall of the Afghan Government
This morning, the President and Vice President held a video conference with the national security team to discuss the ongoing efforts to draw down our civilian footprint in Afghanistan. In addition, the President and Vice President were briefed on the earthquake in Haiti.

If you weren’t around over the weekend I did a series of posts on the unfolding situation in Afghanistan. In succession, “A Few Thoughts on Afghanistan,” “Vindication and the Fall of Kabul,” “After Sunday It’s Even More Clear Biden Was Right.” The titles give you the gist of my views: for all the chaos and horror, the rapidity of the collapse not only of the Afghan military but the Afghan state itself made me even more convinced the decision to leave was correct and more impressed that Biden had the courage to do it.

Biden is speaking to the American public this afternoon about the unfolding situation. It is the correct decision to do so. I think the entirety of what he needs to do is not second-guess the decision or chase after the emotions or hyperbole of the moment. The most important reason not to do that is that the decision was and is the correct one. But equivocation signals weakness. At a moment of uncertainty and chaotic images, the most important thing a leader can do is to be clear that he has a plan, that it is the right plan, and that because it is the right plan he will stick to that plan regardless of the political consequences and even if it is painful to do so.

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After Sunday It’s Even More Clear Biden Was Right

Americans, or at least the commentating classes, are watching aghast as events unfold in Afghanistan. Some are second-guessing the wisdom of withdrawal – after all, how hard is it to maintain a few thousand soldiers there permanently? Others are taking the more comfortable position of saying yes, we had to leave but this just wasn’t the right way. I must be the only person in America who is having exactly the opposite reaction. The more I see the more I’m convinced this was the right decision – both what I see on the ground in Afghanistan and perhaps even more the reaction here in the United States.
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I Think This is Right

I think this is right. From TPM Reader JB

Just a note here about the ongoing US bugout from Afghanistan, that I suspect we’ll hear more about in the months to come.

President Biden has a long memory; the events of 2009-10, when then-President Obama was jammed by the military leadership into what proved to be an aimless, futile surge of US forces into Afghanistan, have to be a major factor in his thinking. A more deliberate, better planned withdrawal would have been preferable to what we are seeing now in many respects — notably, to get more of America’s Afghan friends out of the country.
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Not An Intelligence Failure

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has a statement out that is at least semi-critical of the Biden administration’s handling of Afghanistan. I’ll print the whole thing below. But it’s this statement that caught my eye: “We also need to determine what intelligence failures led to underestimating the ease and speed of the Taliban’s advancement and work to ensure that we prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.”

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Vindication and the Fall of Kabul

Yesterday I wrote this: “In the coming days or weeks we’re likely to see a situation in which the government only controls Kabul. If you’re in the Afghan army how hard are you going to fight in that final battle? Why fight? The question answers itself.”

As we can see this morning, not days or weeks but hours. Overnight in the United States the army and government of Afghanistan melted away and remaining authorities are in the process of turning over power to a transitional Taliban government. It’s over.

People are lining up to say that this is all on Joe Biden, that he “lost” Afghanistan, that he mismanaged or failed to manage the US withdrawal, that this is “on him.” In the calculus of US military-political culture that’s likely right. But I see it quite differently. This seems to me like the ultimate vindication of his decision.

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A Few Thoughts on Afghanistan
BOLO BLUK (DISTRICT), FARAH, AFGHANISTAN - 2018/03/08: An Mi-17 transport helicopter of the Afghan Air Force approaches for landing on the main road in the desert of Bolo Bluk district, Farah province, Afghanistan (8th of March 2018). The Mi-17 arrived to pick up the bodies of four Commandos that were killed in an operation against the Taliban the night before.Airpower is seen as a decisive advantage of Afghan government forces and their international backers over the insurgency, reaching enemies or own troops in even the remotest areas of the rugged, mountainous and underdeveloped country. These pictures show some of the military aircraft in Afghanistan’s skies – from large transport planes to U.S. drones. (Photo by Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The government of Afghanistan, created under US auspices and propped up by the US military for almost two decades, appears to be collapsing under a rapid military onslaught by the Taliban. This has been triggered by but I think by no means caused by President Biden’s decision to withdraw all US military forces from the country.

Let me share a few thoughts about this in no particular order.
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Where Things Stand: Cruz Hops On The ‘Poor Insurrectionists!’ Train Prime Badge
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We expected folks like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to offer jailed insurrectionists the victim card. They staged a photo-op protest at the jail where some of them are being held last month to paint the rioters as mistreated political prisoners.

Now Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is joining the whitewashing movement.

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Memories of Pelosi
No Democrat in DC is More Determined and Indomitable in a Clutch

With a gaggle of House ‘moderates’, led by the meddling Josh Gottheimer, now trying to strong-arm Nancy Pelosi into decoupling the long-linked infrastructure bills, I’m reminded of a night back in 2010. Republicans made Democrats wait some six months to seat Al Franken after he defeated Norm Coleman in Minnesota in 2008. That finally gave them 60 votes in the Senate, enough to pass what we now know as Obamacare. But now it’s January 19th, 2010. Long-serving Senator Ted Kennedy died the previous August and now there’s a special election to fill his seat. Shockingly, the race is called for Republican Scott Brown. Out of the blue, Republicans have won back their ability to filibuster Obamacare just as its near the negotiation finish line.

Fuck.

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This is A Win-Win

If you’re already a member you can get TPM with no ads at all ever for just four dollars more a month, just the price of a ritzy cappuccino at your local coffee shop. The site gets faster, cleaner. It’s a very different experience. And right now we’ll let you test drive Prime AF for two weeks at no charge. This is a great improvement to your site experience and it is also a big help for TPM. It’s as simple as clicking one button to turn on the trial and one to turn it off if it’s not for you. Can you give it a try? I promise you’ll love the difference and it’s a big help to our operation. Just click right here.

Where Things Stand: Greenberg Hands Over Sex-Arranging Texts That Include Pics Of Gaetz Prime Badge
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Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, speaks during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power” in the Rayburn House office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 29, 2020.  POOL

ABC News got its hands on some private messages that it says Matt Gaetz’s buddy Joel Greenberg allegedly sent. The messages, ABC reports, were turned over to federal investigators, and reportedly show Greenberg arranging a meet up between himself, Gaetz, and women who were allegedly paid for sex.

Things are looking increasingly bad — and gross — for the congressman.

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Colleges and Universities

The Chronicle of Higher Education is compiling a list college and universities that are requiring vaccination for at least some students and faculty for the coming school year.

See if you can see a pattern.
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