Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Last Call For Af-Gone-Istan, Con't

President Biden now admits that the "chaos" in Kabul was unavoidable as the US pulled out, and always would have been part of the result.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, and the president's first since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, President Joe Biden stood firm in his defense of the United States' withdrawal, but asserted for the first time that he believes the chaos was unavoidable.

"So you don't think this could have been handled -- this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?" Stephanopoulos asked Biden.

"No, I don't think it could have been handled in a way that, we're gonna go back in hindsight and look -- but the idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens. I don't know how that happened," Biden replied.

"So for you, that was always priced into the decision?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yes," Biden replied, but then amended his answer.

"Now exactly what happened, I've not priced in," he said. "But I knew that they're going to have an enormous -- Look, one of the things we didn't know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out. What they would do. What are they doing now? They're cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera, but they're having -- we're having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there."

Biden's decision to withdraw has led to scenes of pandemonium in Afghanistan, with as many as 11,000 Americans and tens of thousands of endangered Afghans scrambling to evacuate the country. Scenes of civilians swamping planes on the runway at the Kabul airport, desperate for escape, have triggered bipartisan criticism that the Biden administration handled the hasty exit poorly.
Biden grew defensive when Stephanopoulos referred to the scenes of distress.

"We've all seen the pictures. We've seen those hundreds of people packed in a C-17. We've seen Afghans falling --"

"That was four days ago, five days ago!" Biden interjected.

"What did you think when you first saw those pictures?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"What I thought was, we have to gain control of this. We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did," Biden said.

The U.S. said late Tuesday it has successfully evacuated 3,200 people from Afghanistan, including all U.S. Embassy personnel, except for a core group of diplomats at the Kabul airport. Officials have said they hope to ramp up to being able to evacuate 9,000 people each day.

But the U.S. government is not currently providing American citizens in Afghanistan with safe transport to the airport, and it remains unclear how many will be able to safely reach the airport, as Taliban checkpoints continue to harden.


The Vax Of Life, Kentucky Edition

As the court battles over mask mandates and emergency powers continues here in Kentucky, with local Republicans trying to slaughter as many Kentuckians as possible to blame Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, our state's hospitals are now starting to run out of room.

Issuing yet another plea for Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as hospitals fill with unvaccinated patients around the state, Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday said the state is nearing a tipping point.

“The Delta variant continues to burn through our population here in Kentucky,” the governor said at the state Capitol, adding that the state is seeing the “most rapid rise in cases that we have seen to date. We’re at an alarming point, and we’re rapidly approaching critical.”

Hospitals across the state continue to fill with largely unvaccinated coronavirus patients. Some, including in western Kentucky, are nearing or have hit capacity, Beshear said, adding that the Bowling Green Medical Center is reporting a full intensive care unit; the coronavirus patient influx at Jennie Stuart Health Center in Hopkinsville has grown by roughly 500% over the last two weeks; and Baptist Health hospitals in Paducah and Madisonville are nearing capacity.

As the virus rages and further burdens the state’s health care systems, Beshear said he’s not considering “any type of shutdown or capacity restrictions,” but reinstituting a statewide mask mandate is “under active consideration.”

The state is on track to exceed its mid-December record of 1,817 people hospitalized with coronavirus later this week. “By the end of the week, we expect to have more Kentuckians in the hospital battling covid than at any point in this pandemic,” Beshear said.

On Monday, 1,528 had been admitted to health care systems across the state — an increase of more than 100 over the weekend. Intensive care units are also nearing record capacity. At most during the winter surge, 460 people filled Kentucky’s ICUs. On Monday, that number was up to 429.

“There’s no sign it’s abating,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said, adding that a record 17 children or teenagers under age 18 are currently hospitalized with coronavirus in Kentucky. The incidence rate in younger Kentuckians has exploded by more than 400% over the last month, from 133 on July 16 to 548 on August 16. “What we’re finding across the state is this version of [COVID-19] is hitting people harder, they are getting sicker, and they are younger,” Stack said.

Many hospitals are taking steps they didn’t have to take last year, when vaccines weren’t yet available and the virus hit its peak. Over the weekend at St. Claire Healthcare in Morehead, hospital staff needed to “make room” for a continued influx of coronavirus patients, so they repurposed a post-anesthesia care unit into a COVID-19 ICU surge unit — a step the hospital did not have to take in the winter.

Increasingly in the coming weeks, hospitals will be forced to retrofit spaces and resources to accommodate a projected influx of patients. “The health care capacity is going to get really difficult here in the weeks ahead,” Stack said. “This will cascade and it will get worse.”
Kentucky, like Louisiana, is a southern state with a Democratic governor, and like Louisiana, Kentucky's biggest problem is a GOP legislature fighting tooth and nail for the "right" to not wear masks and not get vaccinated, and ending up in the hospital, lungs drowning in fluid.
Beshear is already asking the Biden administration for help, but only 54% of Kentuckians have had even one shot, and that number isn't expected to get much better. In the rural west and Appalachian east, these figures are below 30%, and we're seeing delta crush county after county here.
Beshear needs to issue a mask mandate. Biden needs to issue a vaccine mandate and a mask mandate. People are dying, and the deaths are preventable.

The Good Package, Con't

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the collective bluffs of both the Squad and the Blue Dogs by cutting short the House's August recess and bringing the $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation bill to the floor next week for a vote.
House Democratic leaders told members of their caucus on Tuesday that they plan to press ahead with a vote advancing a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint next week, disregarding warnings from moderate Democrats who said they will oppose that legislation without first voting on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The House is set to return to Washington in the middle of a scheduled August recess in part to advance the budget, after the Senate passed both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget plan earlier this month.

The budget resolution would allow Democrats to craft a subsequent economic package with funding for health care, child care and education provisions and tax increases on wealthy corporations and people, without fear of a Republican filibuster. But in a statement on Sunday, nine moderate Democrats remained adamant that “we simply can’t afford any delays,” saying they first wanted a vote on the bipartisan deal.

But liberal lawmakers have repeatedly emphasized that their support for the $1 trillion bipartisan deal is contingent on passage of the final social policy package, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly said she will wait to take up the bipartisan bill until the far more expansive package clears the Senate. That package is not expected to be finalized until the fall, provided the House approves the budget blueprint.

Should all nine moderates — a group that includes Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Jared Golden of Maine and Henry Cuellar of Texas — vote against the budget blueprint, it will fail, given that all Republicans are expected to oppose the package. Despite just a three-vote margin, Ms. Pelosi has shown little willingness to change her plans, telling her top deputies privately on Monday that “this is no time for amateur hour,” according to a person familiar with the comments, which were first reported by Politico.

“For the first time America’s children have leverage — I will not surrender that leverage,” she added. “There is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned.”

In a private call on Tuesday, she again insisted that “we must build consensus,” according to a person on the call who disclosed the comments on condition of anonymity. She has instead proposed a procedural move that could allow the House to advance both the budget blueprint and the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday with one vote.

“I know that we have some arguments about who goes first, and the fact of the matter is that we will be doing all of the above,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, told Democrats, according to a person on the call, who disclosed the comments on condition of anonymity. “Remember the psychology of consensus.”
So Pelosi is going ahead with the blueprint for the Good Package™ andtelling the Blue Dogs to stick it.
The problem of course is that they very well could stick it, and stick it right in Pelosi's back.
We'll see if there's one last magic gavel bang in her hand.
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