How A $2 Trillion Forever War Ends

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 16: Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. (P... KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 16: Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. (Photo by Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 16, 2021 7:54 a.m.

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things.

Afghanistan Falls To The Taliban In Days

Sunday saw the Afghan government collapse as the Taliban took over Kabul with a stunning speed that caught the U.S. government, which had been working to evacuate its embassy personnel and American citizens over the past few days, completely off guard.

  • All embassy personnel in Kabul have been evacuated to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, according to State department spokesperson Ned Price.
  • Afghan citizens are desperately trying to flee the country amid the chaos. Those eligible for the U.S. Special Immigrant Visas are slated to be evacuated over the next two days, according to the Daily Beast
  • Biden stands firm in his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan: “One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” he said on Saturday.
  • Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asserted on “Meet the Press” yesterday that “The inability of Afghan security forces to defend their country has played a very powerful role in what we’ve seen over the last few weeks.”
  • How did this happen? This Washington Post story explains how Afghan forces were demoralized by the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 for U.S. withdrawal. Local forces, underpaid and feeling that they were being left hung out to dry by their government and the U.S., were successfully pressured and paid off by the Taliban to stand down.
  • The total cost of the war came in around $2 trillion, with 2,400 American soldiers’ and more than 38,000 Afghan civilians’ lives lost, the Times estimated.

The images of hundreds of people desperately trying to escape the country are heart wrenching.

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And it’s impossible to ignore the parallels between this disaster and the fall of Saigon.

Local TX Officials Forge On With School Mask Mandates Despite Supreme Court Block

Officials in Dallas and San Antonio are defying Texas’ all-GOP Supreme Court, which sided with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and temporarily blocked mask mandates in Dallas and Bexar counties on Sunday. They say they will continue to require students and school staff to wear masks when school begins today.

  • San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia in Bexar County said on Sunday that the mask mandate “remains in effect.” “The City of San Antonio and Bexar County’s response to the Texas Supreme Court continues to emphasize that the Governor cannot use his emergency powers to suspend laws that provide local entities the needed flexibility to act in an emergency,” Segovia said in a statement.
  • Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa also vowed to ignore the court’s decision. “We are going to have the mask mandate tomorrow. We’re going to be benevolent; we’re going to be nice, but we’re going to be firm and we’re going to enforce it,” he said on Sunday.
  • Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who was the one to issue the mandate in his county, applauded Hinoja via Twitter last night, adding that “this should never be a political fight.”

Pelosi Volleys With Moderates On Infrastructure

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to all House Democrats yesterday making it clear that she isn’t bending to moderates’ demands that the chamber vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before taking up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution.

  • The Democratic leader says her goal is to pass the budget resolution sometime next week “so that we may pass Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda via reconciliation as soon as possible.”
  • Pelosi’s plan is to ensure that both bills move forward simultaneously, telling her colleagues that she has “requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package. This will put us on a path to advance the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill.”
  • The nine moderate Democrats who had threatened to torpedo the process unless the bipartisan bill goes first dug their heels in, saying that “While we appreciate the forward procedural movement on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, our view remains consistent: We should vote first on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework without delay and then move to immediate consideration of the budget resolution.”

Texas Capitol Flood

The state’s Capitol building in Austin was flooded during a storm on Sunday:

Disaster In Haiti

A devastating earthquake in Haiti with a magnitude of 7.2 this weekend has killed more than 1,200 people.

Serving Up The Cat Content

All in all, it was a grim weekend, so let’s find a little joy in some delightfully ridiculous kitty behavior.

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