Emmy Awards buck the trend

CBS aired the 73rd Emmy Awards on Sunday night. The ratings are in and they are up for the show. This is a plot twist that will be welcomed by the self-congratulatory narcissists who enjoy nothing more than dressing up and patting themselves on the back and having it all televised. Ratings of award shows have been dramatically down for several seasons.

Is the downward trend in ratings beginning to ease up for the entertainment industry? That remains to be seen but for the Emmys the answer this year is yes. The Emmys ratings are up 16% and 7.4 million televisions were tuned in. I covered the show for NewsBusters and I readily admit that it’s a surprise that people still watch these shows. There is something this year that we haven’t seen in the last four years, though, and it may be the reason for the increase in viewership. We are in the post-Trump presidency days now and it seems to have mellowed out our political betters in Hollywood so much that now the award shows are borderline downright boring.

This year’s big controversy was over the COVID-19 protocol and the lack of masking by the audience and presenters. The regular people working the event were masked up but the stars and big shots were not. Allahpundit wrote about it yesterday and about how the Hollywood crowd is exempt from the mandates that are in place for mere mortals. Seth Rogen spoke out about the indoor venue, though it was announced that the ceremony would be outdoors to accommodate concerns about the pandemic in August. Something changed and the show was held in a tent with a closed roof, hence Seth’s confusion. The Academy tried to clean it up.

On-site media, all guests, crew, and vendors were required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to be admitted, and also show a negative test for the viral disease taken within 48 hours of the big event, the Television Academy said.

So, why did the help have to wear masks? It should have been everyone wearing masks or no one.

Rather than take place inside the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where the 2021 Emmys were scheduled to occur, the event will now happen on the Event Deck at L.A. Live which sits directly behind the Microsoft Theater. The venue change affects not just the main Emmy Awards, which occur on September 19, but the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony the weekend prior. The Event Deck at L.A. Live and its proximity to the Microsoft Theater will allow Emmy organizers to mix-and-match indoor and outdoor festivities and provide ample space to socially distance attendees.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that personal hot takes on current events and political opinions spewing from entertainers and producers and writers in Hollywood are no longer the focus of award shows. The shows are slowly coming back as live events after a pause during the darkest points of the pandemic when everyone was locked down. The viewership numbers are down and it’s likely because when one industry trashes one political party exclusively and that party’s voters, they tune out. For the Trump years, we had four years of profanity and crudeness about him and Republican voters in most acceptance speeches. Funny thing, that isn’t happening anymore.

Suddenly, everything is fine. There are no actresses crying about kids in cages, though the humanitarian crisis at the southern border is worse than ever before. There were no anti-war sentiments expressed or criticism of the Commander-in-Chief, though Biden has blood on his hands over the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The only reference to a political hot button came from an actress who received a supporting actress award for her work in Mare of Easttown and from Debbie Allen who received the Governor’s Award for her lifetime achievements in the industry. Both women conflated the lives of women in Texas (and Philadelphia) with the women in Afghanistan. That’s right – Texas is under the control of the Taliban, apparently. There was one really lame skit by the host, Cedric the Entertainer, which centered around the fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head during his debate with Kamala. I have no idea why they reached back to that stale event.

Maybe people will tune back in and give the shows a second chance. Their time may have passed, though, and, frankly, it wouldn’t be much of a loss. Regular Americans are not interested in being lectured by the privileged few in the entertainment industry.

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Critical Race Theory Has No Place in Military: Rep. Ken Buck

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wants the U.S. military to be more focused on “readiness, not wokeness” and hopes to put an end to “dangerous and divisive” critical race theory being taught to service men and women.

Earlier this week, Buck submitted an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which specifies the annual budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense, regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion practices being mandated at the DOD, when it comes to employment training.

Buck is just one of many GOP lawmakers who oppose critical race theory (CRT) over fears that peddling the Marxist theory to service members will only serve to reduce both their cohesion and combat effectiveness when it comes to fighting real threats facing America, such as those posed by terrorist groups. 

Critical race theory redefines human history as a struggle between the “oppressors”—typically white people—and the “oppressed”—other identity groups—similar to Marxism’s reduction of history to a struggle between the “bourgeois” and the “proletariat.”

CRT adherents generally believe that America is systemically racist and that racial oppression exists and that institutions that emerged in majority-white societies are racist and “white supremacist.” The theory has slowly expanded in recent decades through academia, government structures, school systems, and the corporate world.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, congressman Buck said he believes CRT—which has become more of a central focus following the death of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25, 2020— has “no place” within the U.S. military, calling it “dangerous and divisive”.

“I think that there are political theories that are being espoused in this country, such as critical race theory, that are dangerous, and divisive and have no place in the military,” he said.

“If we want to have those discussions in the private sphere, in the marketplace of ideas, we can certainly have those discussions, but to require members of the military to be trained in critical race theory and to have inclusion and diversity officers in the Department of Defense, I think undermines the necessary discipline that we need in our military to conduct business.”

People hold up signs during a rally against Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg, Va., on June 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Advocates of CRT, such as Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have defended its teachings among the U.S. military, saying that he wants to “understand white rage” and that it’s important for military members to be “open-minded and be widely read”.

But Buck disagrees with this sentiment, and says the military should instead be focusing their attention on “winning wars” and not spending hours and hours being trained on “social issues”.

“Any time we require hours and hours of training on diversity, inclusion, and other areas, we take away from the time that our troops are actually engaged in the activities that that will save their lives, the training is so important to them,” the congressman said.

“I can remember talking to a general several years ago, and the Obama administration required more hours of training in a particular month than the service members worked in that month,” Buck said.

“In other words, more than 40 hours a week they were expected to be in this type of diversity training, and not in the field practicing and training for why they joined the military.”

Buck noted that placing too much of a burden on teaching social issues to military members can also actually widen the divide between Americans based on their race, among other things, which in turn “takes away from the cohesion that is necessary to create a unified fighting force.”

“It reduces our ability for military preparedness for all threats out there — China, which is the greatest threat to this country’s security,” he said while adding Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups that present a threat to the United States.

Katabella Roberts

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Rep. Buck Calls on US Universities to Shut Down CCP ‘Propaganda Machines’

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) is hoping to dismantle the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence on American academic institutions through Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes.

The congressman earlier this week submitted an amendment (pdf) to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a massive defense bill that authorizes spending levels for defense, seeking to bar the use of funds from the legislation to provide grants to “any academic institution that receives funding from the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Government or its affiliates, or hosts a Confucius Institute.”

In an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times, Buck described Confucius Institutes as “an avenue for the Chinese government to spread propaganda on U.S. campuses.”

“The propaganda is misleading and untruthful,” he added. “We as a government should not be funding institutions of higher education that are using and allowing Chinese propaganda to be spread.”

Billed as Chinese language and culture programs, Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes have drawn heightened criticism in the United States over their role in promoting CCP propaganda and stifling academic freedoms on American college campuses. The State Department during the Trump administration designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission in recognition of its role as a propaganda agent of the Chinese regime.

Trump administration officials and lawmakers have also piled pressure on universities to disassociate from the institutes, resulting in dozens of closures across the country. There are currently 36 Confucius Institutes in the United States, down from more than 100 in 2017, according to the National Association of Scholars.

“My hope is that the universities will shut down the propaganda machines of one of our adversaries,” Buck said.

The measure was one of four NDAA amendments submitted by Buck to the House Rules Committee due for consideration on Sept. 20, before the bill moves to the House floor.

The congressman, in another proposed amendment, is pushing for a ban on Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from being downloaded onto U.S. government devices.

“The threat is that the Chinese Communist Party … can use TikTok to gather sensitive information about Americans,” Buck said.

The Trump administration had attempted to ban TikTok last August, saying that the app could be used by the CCP to spy on Americans, but the order was never enforced due to several court orders. President Joe Biden revoked the ban in June, instead directing the Commerce Department to a review of apps with ties to the Chinese regime for national security risks. TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has denied allegations that the app poses an espionage risk.

Buck also wants Congress to take a stronger stance against the CCP’s sweeping human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, where more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are detained in a network of internment camps.

The current version of the House’s NDAA condemns the CCP’s actions in Xinjiang, but does not label it a genocide. Buck is hoping to change this.

“The term genocide is used in a particular way in international law and is condemned in a particular way in international law,” he said.

“It’s important that the United Nations and our allies of the world understand that the United States Congress believes that the Chinese government is committing genocide.”

The U.S. government and several other Western legislatures have recognized the CCP’s campaign in Xinjiang as genocide.

The congressman called on the House to adopt these amendments, saying that Congress should send a “very strong message to China.”

“We will not tolerate their military activities around the world. We are aware of their activities, we’re concerned about those activities, and we are not going to turn a blind eye,” he added.

“It’s very important in this NDAA that we send a message that Congress is absolutely resolute in recognizing the threat from China,” he said.

Cathy He is a New York-based reporter focusing on China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined the Epoch Times in February 2018.

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The Buck Stops With Somebody

For U.S. presidents there is a high bar when it comes to accountability. It was put there by Harry Truman in the form of a frontier aphorism about accepting responsibility. He placed it on his Oval Office desk for all to see. “The buck stops here!” it read, a reminder to Truman and all who came after him that it is unseemly for a commander-in-chief to shirk this duty, or to make excuses when things go wrong.

“The greatest part of the president’s job is to make decisions—big ones and small ones, dozens of them almost every day,” Truman explained in his farewell address. “The papers may circulate around the government for a while, but they finally reach this desk. And then, there’s no place else for them to go. The president—whoever he is—has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

Yet, it’s also human nature to try and deflect culpability by pointing out others’ shortcomings—so much so that Jesus of Nazareth warned his followers against it. And presidents are all too human, as Americans have been reminded in the last few weeks watching Joe Biden pass the buck for the violent and chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan. He hasn’t reminded anyone of Harry Truman.

“I take responsibility for the decision,” Biden said Tuesday. On Aug. 16, he was equally explicit: “I’m the president of the United States, the buck stops with me.” Except that he has blamed, in turn, faulty intelligence, Afghanistan’s president, the Afghan army and, of course, Donald Trump. Most incongruously, Biden even blamed the Americans left behind in Kabul who couldn’t make it past Taliban checkpoints to the airport. “Since March, we reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan, with multiple warnings and offers to help them leave Afghanistan,” he said. “All the way back as far as March.”

Among those who haven’t appreciated Biden’s buck-passing are the families of the 10 U.S. Marines and three other service members killed by a suicide bomber at the Kabul airport. These Gold Star families are not alone: Biden’s job approval rating has plummeted in the past two weeks. Voters judge presidents by their actions, even when the results are beyond their ability to control. But it also seems that many Americans respect leaders who own up to their mistakes.

Doing so, however, cuts against a modern political ethos in which politicians are relentlessly on the offensive and always blaming the other side. Although this wasn’t always the culture in U.S. politics, the tension between taking the heat and wanting to passing the buck is not new.

In the aftermath of the CIA’s Bay of Pigs debacle, for example, John F. Kennedy sounded resigned to accepting blame. In April 1961, during the 10th press conference of his three-month-old presidency, Kennedy acknowledged as much while answering a question from legendary NBC correspondent Sander Vanocur about why information wasn’t more forthcoming from the administration about the disastrous attempt to invade Cuba.

“There’s an old saying that victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan,” Kennedy noted ruefully. “Further statements, detailed discussions, are not to conceal responsibility because I’m the responsible officer of the government…”

But almost immediately, Kennedy aides gave background briefings to reporters in which they pointed fingers at Kennedy’s predecessor. And while it was true that the CIA planned this ill-conceived Cuba adventure under Dwight Eisenhower’s tenure in the White House, it was Kennedy who gave the go-ahead. When Stewart Udall, a member of Kennedy’s Cabinet, made the mistake of publicly faulting Eisenhower, Richard Nixon—who’d been Ike’s vice president and JFK’s 1960 opponent—issued a blistering public statement. It was left to White House press secretary Pierre Salinger to clearly say that, yes, the buck stopped with President Kennedy.

JFK was hardly alone. Some of America’s most popular postwar presidents have struggled living up to Harry Truman’s example. Their first instinct is usually best, but they don’t always stick to it.

After the horrific Lebanon barracks bombing in 1983, a suicide attack that killed more than 20 times the number of Marines lost recently at the Kabul airport, a statement was drafted by White House aides that seemed to hold the military commanders accountable. President Reagan refused to give it. Instead, he ordered that no military officer be court-martialed or disciplined and told the White House press corps: “If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this office and with this president. And I accept responsibility for the bad as well as the good.”

By 1987, during the endless recriminations for the scandal known as “Iran-contra,” Reagan wavered from this path, however. White House aides quietly told reporters that the president was “gratified” when former National Security Adviser John Poindexter admitted that he had concealed from Reagan that profits from Iranian arms sales had been diverted to Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras. “The buck stops with me,” Poindexter said.

But no American had ever voted to elect Adm. Poindexter president and his mea culpa was widely panned. Reagan had a convenient habit of not remembering decisions that turned out badly. This excuse was a double-edged sword for a 76-year-old president. It skirted the line of admitting that he was out to lunch, as satirist Art Buchwald pointed out wryly. “The White House has changed its strategy in regards to what the president knew about the contra connection and when he knew it,” Buchwald wrote. “Originally, the president didn’t know anything. He didn’t even know where Nicaragua is.”

The larger scandal, although this point seemed to elude Democrats and the media, wasn’t the contra angle. It was that the administration had sold lethal armaments to the ayatollahs at a time the U.S. was leading an embargo against Iran in hopes of retrieving American hostages. Ultimately, when confronted with the evidence that he approved this ill-fated scheme, Reagan fessed up, albeit reluctantly.

“A few months ago I told the American people that I did not trade arms for hostages,” Reagan said in a March 4, 1987, Oval Office address. “My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.”

In 2012, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, protesters demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Meanwhile, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was overrun by an armed and well-organized mob that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In the aftermath, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and leading Capitol Hill Democrats pointed fingers in every direction other than the White House. At first, they conflated the two events in Cairo and Benghazi. Then, they blamed some schmuck in California for making an anti-Muslim video and dispatched U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to appear on all the networks to peddle this dubious story.

When finally conceding that the Libyan attack was a well-planned operation that had nothing to do with Cairo militants who’d never even heard of the video in question, nobody in the White House stepped forward except to point fingers at the State Department.

“We weren’t told they wanted more security,” Biden insisted during an Oct. 11 vice presidential debate. Getting the message, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton channeled John Poindexter. “I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world—275 posts,” she told CNN. “The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.”

That makes sense, but Clinton didn’t really mean it; she was just protecting the White House. After an independent review board found that the State Department had ignored requests for enhanced security, the “responsibility” for this disaster fell to four unnamed careerists who faced some undescribed “discipline” and the resignation of an undersecretary who remained as a consultant to the department. In the Obama administration, one might say, the buck stopped with a dedicated career public servant named Eric Boswell.

It will surprise no one that Donald Trump was almost uniquely the un-Harry Truman. A man who actually boasted that he’d never read a presidential biography, Trump didn’t even give lip service to the ethos espoused, if often in the breach, by his predecessors.

In January 2019, his administration played chicken with congressional Democrats over funding his beloved (by him) border wall. The Democrats said they weren’t going to appropriate the money and then stuck to their guns. On the 20th day of the partial government shutdown that resulted, Trump was asked on the White House driveway whether the buck stopped with him on the shutdown. “The buck stops with everybody,” Trump replied before launching into an attack on the Democrats’ record on crime.

In a nice play on words, one CNN wag quipped that the buck really stopped for 80,000 federal employees not getting paychecks. And though Trump had a valid point about the shutdown, this attitude would foreshadow his style of leadership when things really got scary: i.e., when COVID-19 hit these shores. 

Asked by NBC’s Kristin Welker whether he bore any responsibility for the CDC’s botched and tardy rollout of a coronavirus test, Trump replied, “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.” He then added mysteriously, “We were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time.”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump amplified, “President Obama made changes that only complicated matters further.”

So, for Trump, the buck stopped with Obama. Joe Biden has returned the favor in the wake of the awful Afghanistan pullout. As things started to unravel, the 46th president said it was the 45th who had left the Taliban “in the strongest military position since 2001.”

Biden went on to blame many others (though never himself) while adding a new wrinkle to the presidential avoid-the-blame game. This disaster wasn’t my fault, he said, but didn’t it all turn out great? He was talking about the airlift efforts, and in evaluating himself, this president likes to grade on the curve. The mission, Biden proclaimed, was an “extraordinary success.”

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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Biden Education Official Threatens Schools That Buck Mask Mandates, Vows to Fight ‘Discriminating’ Policies

The Biden administration is attempting to muscle red states that have banned school mask mandates into adopting the insane policies of blue-state America.

Even amid the creation of yet another crisis, this time in Afghanistan, the federal government still wants to tell states that have prioritized individual liberty over coronavirus hysteria what to do.

The Associated Press reported that Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is looking to “assess all available tools” his unnecessary department can use to put pressure on states far away from the dysfunction of Washington.

“In an announcement on its website, the Education Department said policies that ban mask mandates could amount to discrimination if they lead to unsafe conditions that prevent students from attending school,” the AP reported.

“The agency’s Office for Civil Rights can issue a range of sanctions up to a total loss of federal education funding in cases of civil rights violations.”


As Thousands of Americans Remain Trapped Under Taliban Rule, It Looks Like Biden’s Scheduled a Long Weekend in Delaware

Cardona specifically saved his ire for Texas and Florida, which both have lucid leaders who have banned schools from forcing small children to wear filthy masks all day.

Those aren’t mask bans; those who want to wear masks, or send their kids to school in them, still can.

But GOP Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis of Texas and Florida, respectively, won’t allow schools to dictate what kind of PPE kids must wear in classrooms.

Do you think masks should be mandated in schools?

That’s not good enough for Cardona, who wants to use obscure civil rights policy to see if he can exert control over the unwashed masses in red states.

President Joe Biden is, of course, in total agreement with his lunatic education secretary.

“Some state governments have adopted policies and laws that interfere with the ability of schools and districts to keep our children safe during in-person learning,” Biden wrote in a Wednesday memo.

The slowpoke president complained that some states “have gone so far as to try to block school officials” from implementing their mandates.

Indeed they have. Abbot and DeSantis are joined by Doug Ducey of Arizona, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Bill Lee of Tennessee and Spencer Cox of Utah.

Cardona intends to target all states that have essentially mandated sanity.


Woman Reportedly ‘Put on Fire’ for Bad Cooking and Death Squads Roving the Countryside: Just Another Day in Biden’s Afghanistan

“The department has the authority to investigate any state educational agency whose policies or actions may infringe on the rights of every student to access public education equally,” Cardona said in a statement, according to the AP.

He accused conservative governors of “needlessly placing students, families and educators at risk” and said their acts of defiance violate the American Rescue Plan, which offered extra federal funds this year to reopen schools.

“Let me be clear. … This department will continue to use every tool in our toolbox to protect the health and safety of students and educators and to maximize in-person learning as the new school year begin,” he added.

Yeah, right. The same administration that pushes on-demand abortion and has left Afghan girls to live under Sharia law cares about the health and safety of kids.

This is a pure political power play from Washington.

As Stitt of Oklahoma told KOKH-TV: “We’re going to push back against that Biden federal overreach. … Our attorney general, the Department of Education, my secretary of education — we don’t believe there’s any stance, any way that they can hold up [American Rescue Plan] funding.”

The Biden administration better be prepared to fight, and it looks like it’s all out of fight right now.

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Conservatives buck left’s GOP-Taliban narrative: ‘It’s everybody’s fault but Joe Biden’s’

Progressives for days likened Republicans to the Taliban to deflect criticism of President Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan

Conservatives have begun to push back.

The hashtags #RepublicanTaliban and #GOPTaliban surged on Twitter as leftists sought to equate the Republican Party with the radical Islamist group on issues such as abortion and religion.

“The Taliban extremists are here in America just with a different name,” tweeted Pulp Fiction actress Rosanna Arquette on Sunday. “[T]he GOP right-wing extremists who support destroying democracy are the Terrorists in America and will continue to terrorize America until they are stopped and pay for their crimes against Americans Jan 6th.”

Those repudiating the comparisons included The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, who said Thursday that media figures are doing whatever they can to avoid talking about “the disaster that is this administration.”

“They’re pushing a narrative and they will do anything in defense of that narrative, and the narrative right now is that it’s everybody’s fault but Joe Biden’s about what’s going on in Afghanistan, and also that the GOP is worse than the Taliban,” Mr. Domenech said on Fox News.

The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan after seizing power in 1996, women were required to wear burqas and prevented from working; girls were barred from school; television, music and movies were banned; and executions by stoning were carried out in public.

“OK, well, you can live under GOP rule and you can live under Taliban rule,” Mr. Domenech said. “Compare that for me and then come back, because I know that one of them is going to actually destroy your life, and the other is going to cut your taxes.”

The Republican-Taliban narrative also emerged in news outlets and on network TV.

The MSNBC website featured an op-ed Wednesday by columnist Dean Obeidallah headlined, “Afghan women’s rights are threatened — but the GOP isn’t their champion,” with the subhead, “The Taliban aren’t the only ones trying to impose their will on women’s bodies and choices.”

MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid tweeted Saturday that the takeover has resulted in a “real-life Handmaid’s Tale” and then drew a U.S. parallel.

“A true cautionary tale for the U.S., which has our own far religious right dreaming of a theocracy that would impose a particular brand of Christianity, drive women from the workforce and solely into childbirth, and control all politics,” Ms. Reid said.

Cracked CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert: “Why should our soldiers be fighting radicals in a civil war in Afghanistan? We’ve got our own on Capitol Hill.”

Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg on Wednesday offered a reminder that the comparison has been trotted out before.

“The return of ‘The GOP is just like the Taliban’ talking points really brings me back to the old days,” tweeted Mr. Goldberg. “Still, if the only thing you have to say about the Taliban right now is ‘the Republicans are just as bad’ you might consider that you just don’t have anything worth saying.”

In his op-ed, Mr. Obeidallah cited recently passed pro-life laws in Arkansas, including a near-total ban except in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother, which was temporarily blocked last month by a federal court before it took effect.

“That law was enacted not by the Taliban in Afghanistan, but in Arkansas,” Mr. Obeidallah said. “Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the GOP-controlled Legislature’s ban on abortion in all circumstances — except to save the life of the woman — in March. This law also makes it a felony to help a woman get an abortion — even in the case of rape or incest.”

Mr. Hutchinson said the bill was intended as a direct legal challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. He also signed a bill in April requiring women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks under the rape-or-incest exception to file a police report.

“Look, nobody is saying the GOP and the Taliban are equally bad,” Mr. Obeidallah said. “But in just the past few months, we’ve seen Republicans champion measures to deprive women of freedom over their own bodies, as well as oppose laws to protect women from violence and ensure that women are paid the same wages as men. And they’ve done so, at least in part, to impose their religious beliefs on all others.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, blasted the op-ed, saying that the U.S. is also one of seven nations allowing “abortion on demand for any reason up to birth,” as is the case in some states, along with China and North Korea.

“MSNBC does the nation a great disservice in allowing this piece to run, which exploits Afghan women, ignores their values, and smears pro-life Republicans who are fighting every day in Congress to defend the lives of American women and their unborn babies from the extreme agenda of the abortion lobby,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in a statement.

She said that pro-life lawmakers “are to be commended for their courage in challenging this extreme status quo — and they should be emboldened by the truth that the majority of Americans are on their side, eager to humanize our laws.”

• Doug Ernst contributed to this report.

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Clay & Buck Take Calls From Veterans Venting On Afghanistan – The First TV

From ClayandBuck.com

CLAY: Let’s start with David in Superior, Wisconsin. David, what is your reaction watching all this unspool in front of us?

CALLER: What a slap in the face to every Gold Star family that lost a loved one over there. Guys, you asked earlier, “How is it that they didn’t know?” The answer is, “They did. They knew exactly what would happen and how long it would take.” (garbled cell) Why the chaos? Why all this? Let’s not make any mistake.

Going forward, for all these Marxists in government — in this government here — China is the model. So that’s all you have to do. There’s been news blurb after news blurb that for the past three or four weeks about China’s designs on Afghanistan. You combine that with the fact, how many…? (cell drops)

CLAY: I think we lost David. Yeah.

BUCK: Let’s get Mike in Georgia. Mike also served in Afghanistan. Mike, what branch?

CALLER: Hey, guys. How you doing? So I just actually retired last month from the Army. I spent 22 years as an infantryman, a lot of my adult life in Afghanistan.

BUCK: Well, God bless you. Thank you for your service, Mike.

CALLER: I appreciate it, guys. In looking at… I think you guys have nailed it on the head with everything you’ve been saying. If the administration and all their top advisers and insert-really-cool-job-description here and there, if they didn’t see it coming, they’re either ignorant or they’re lying to the American faces.

Listen: Veterans Flood The Phone Lines To Vent On Afghanistan

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Let’s face it, the buck for this “avoidable” disaster stops with Biden – HotAir

“The buck stops here,” said the Finger Pointer in Chief yesterday while blaming everything from Donald Trump to the weather for the catastrophic collapse in Afghanistan. The editorial board of the Washington Post agrees — on where the buck actually stops. One can get a sense of this agreement in the video montage of Biden’s speech they put together:

They agree so much with Biden on the buck’s itinerary that they struggle to find a historic parallel to his “blunders” in a scathing response to Biden’s speech yesterday:

President Biden’s blunders in what is — suddenly — a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan may be measured in many ways. One is by searching the sorriest episodes of U.S. foreign policy history for an analogy. Former defense secretary and former CIA director Leon E. Panetta drew a comparison with the Bay of Pigs, the 1961 U.S. attempt to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro, which ended with hundreds of CIA-backed invaders killed or captured after President John F. Kennedy denied them air cover.

Another parallel: the desperate plight of U.S. allies at the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975. Images of Afghans, terrified of Taliban rule, clinging to a departing U.S. military aircraft — some fell to their deaths — are indeed reminiscent of the last days in Saigon. Imagine how desperate a person must be to risk piggybacking on a moving airplane; such is the betrayal of the trust so many Afghans placed in the United States.

Worse, this was avoidable.

They scoffed at Biden’s attempts to claim that Trump tied his hands. Even acknowledging the fecklessness of the deal Trump sought, the Taliban had repeatedly violated its terms. Why didn’t Biden act as though he was the current president and do something about it?

Mr. Biden might have renegotiated the withdrawal deal his predecessor, Donald Trump, cut with the Taliban. Certainly the Taliban’s repeated violations of that pact gave Mr. Biden a legitimate reason for doing so. A regional diplomatic push for a more sustainable political deal was outlined in February by the congressionally authorized Afghanistan Study Group.

The truth was that Biden wanted to get out of Afghanistan, a position he has held since 2009, long before Trump went into politics. That was an arguable position, and still is. However, the WaPo editors point out that such a plan required strategic and tactical thinking, not simply leaving without even bothering to pack up our materiel first:

But even if you reject all of these arguments — as Mr. Biden did, claiming any presence would have led to more combat for U.S. troops — the pullout need not have degenerated into catastrophic spectacle. He could have planned to leave maintenance contractors, who kept the Afghan military’s medevac helicopters and other crucial aircraft in flying shape, knowing that air support was critical to that army’s ability and willingness to fight. He could have foreseen the need to maintain some presence until Americans and allies had left the country.

In short, the president could have listened to the many seasoned hands — inside and outside his own administration — who advised him that there were alternatives to precipitous, unconditional withdrawal.

And finally and forcefully, the editors found Biden’s attempt to blame the betrayed Afghan military — bereft of air cover, thanks to Biden’s abrupt withdrawal of the contractors — disgusting:

Yes, the Afghan military’s demoralization and failure to fight came as a rude disappointment, as the president emphasized, but it’s fair to ask why, if he was sure the cause was lost, their quick surrender came as such a surprise to him. The blame-shifting is especially unseemly given that some 66,000 Afghan fighters have given their lives in this war during the past 20 years, alongside 2,448 U.S. service members.

There isn’t a hint of Republican pouncing or whataboutism in the WaPo’s condemnation of Biden. Nor is there any in the Wall Street Journal’s less-surprising editorial scourging of Biden over the Afghanistan debacle:

Like all good liberal internationalists, Mr. Biden thinks you can achieve a diplomatic outcome by diplomacy alone. Mr. Biden’s claim that the U.S. will continue to support the Afghan people and stand for human rights and the women of Afghanistan is the same kind of internationalist twaddle. The Taliban is taking the women of Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages, and the “international community” will do nothing to stop it. Mr. Biden’s words of “support” will be cold comfort when the Taliban knocks on the doors of women who worked in the Afghan government.

We had hoped that Mr. Biden would accept some responsibility and explain how he would fix this mess. He did none of that, making it clear that he himself is the main architect of this needless American surrender. It does not bode well for the rest of his Presidency.

The world has seen a President portraying surrender as an act of political courage, and retreat as strategic wisdom. As we write this, the world’s rogues are looking for ways to give him a chance to deliver a similar speech about other parts of the world.

Indeed. Look for Taiwan to be the next target, and Xi to welcome Biden’s remarks about how Americans don’t want to send their children to die to keep some small part of the Chinese people free. Jazz has more on that in our next post.

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On Afghanistan, Biden Says ‘Buck Stops With Me,’ Blames Everyone Else

“The buck stops with me,” said President Joe Biden in an address to the nation on Monday after blaming his presidential predecessors for continuing a long war in Afghanistan.

Biden gave the speech in response to criticism of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. After a weekend in which the Taliban effectively took over much of the country, Biden finally addressed the country.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said in his televised address. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

While Biden spent much time in his speech defending his decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, he did little to explain why the operation was such a mess, and was eager to shift blame to others. Even many in the mainstream left-wing press, like CNN’s Jake Tapper, noticed.

The images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over have been both harrowing and disturbing. A mob of terrified people were seen in videos scrambling onto the Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport runway on Sunday amidst rumors that the Taliban were swiftly advancing on the capital.

People were desperately clinging to an Air Force C-17 aircraft as it took off, and several videos have emerged of those people falling from the plane after it had ascended into the sky.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In July, Biden spoke at a news conference assuring the country that the drawdown in Afghanistan was “proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart.”

Biden said that there were more than 300,000 members of the Afghan National Security Force that the U.S. and NATO allies have trained to defend the country. He said the presence of this military force meant that a Taliban takeover of the country would not be “inevitable.”

On Monday, he blamed Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani for convincing him that the Afghani army would hold up and fight.

In July, when asked about intelligence services that warned that the country would fall to the Taliban, Biden denied that was the case.

And when asked about the comparisons between the Afghanistan withdrawal and the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Biden vehemently insisted that we would not see a repeat of helicopters pulling hordes of people out of the U.S. embassy.

“The Taliban is not the south—the North Vietnamese army,” Biden said. “They’re not—they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.  There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the—of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

After the events over the weekend, one can justly ask if what we are now seeing in Afghanistan is actually worse than the fall of Saigon. Was Biden’s July press conference the least accurate and most clearly and quickly debunked news conference in American presidential history?

This rolling catastrophe should hardly inspire confidence in an administration that billed itself as the one bringing the “adults” back in the room, the one that would “build back better.”

Instead, it’s one of self-made disasters and blame-shifting.

We were also assured that the border was secure, and that the surge in illegal immigration after Biden took office was seasonal. In July, typically a time when border crossings are down due to heat, we saw the highest numbers in over 20 years.

In a statement issued Saturday, Biden made the excuse that the Afghanistan withdrawal’s haphazard nature was a result of commitments made by the previous administration, despite the fact that he had already changed the withdrawal timetable.

He simply repeated this line in Monday’s speech.

The excuse beggars belief as Biden eagerly reversed other Trump policies as soon as he took office. If the “Garden of American Heroes” was worth the time to cancel almost immediately upon taking office, surely the conduct of a complex and dangerous military operation launched under a predecessor was worth adjusting depending on evolving circumstances.

Political scientist and foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead wrote that the Biden administration will now have to deal with the “worst-handled foreign-policy crisis since the Bay of Pigs and the most devastating blow to American prestige since the fall of Saigon.”

At least President John F. Kennedy took “sole responsibility” for the Bay of Pigs disaster rather than blaming his predecessor, President Dwight Eisenhower.

At this point, the best we can hope for from the administration is to control the damage of its blundering as best as possible. Biden’s refusal to accept responsibility is not the response of an adult in the room, and it hardly sustains confidence in an administration flailing on multiple fronts.

If anything, it affirms the weakness of a tottering regime unable to tackle the crises that beset the nation and unwilling to admit it doesn’t have the answers.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email [email protected] and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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Biden addresses Afghanistan catastrophe: ‘The buck stops with me’, but it’s also Trump’s fault

President Joe Biden on Monday said he “squarely” stands behind his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban wrested control of the country from the U.S.-backed government Sunday.

In a speech delivered from the East Room of the White House, Biden said his national security team has been “closely monitoring” the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. He acknowledged that what the world witnessed in the past few days was the “rapid collapse” of the Afghani government and military to Islamist Taliban militants and blamed Afghanistan leaders for being incapable of or unwilling to fight a civil war on their own.

“Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland,” Biden said.

“As president, I am adamant we focus on the threats we face today in 2021, not yesterday’s threats,” he added.

The president defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but offered few words about the disastrous way the U.S. withdrawal has unfolded.

“I stand squarely behind my decision,” said Biden. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

The president’s speech on the situation in Afghanistan was initially unplanned. Biden was spending time away from public view at Camp David when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Sunday. He was expected to remain at the presidential retreat but cut his time there short to return to the White House and deliver remarks on the horrific events taking place in Kabul as the U.S. continues evacuation efforts.

The only public image of Biden released during this time was a photo the White House published Sunday showing the president at an empty conference room table holding a video meeting with his national security team.

Biden changed his schedule amid mounting pressure from Democrats and Republicans to address the unfolding catastrophe in Afghanistan. The president was hammered by both sides for being silent as the U.S. failed to fully evacuate thousands of Afghani interpreters and others who had assisted U.S. personnel for decades during the war against the Taliban.

“Why is Joe Biden hiding?” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked Sunday. “He should immediately address the nation and answer for the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan. Conference calls between cabinet secretaries and senators don’t cut it in a crisis.”

“There’s no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin,” Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) said. “Withdrawal was never going to be easy but it didn’t need to come to this. The US must do everything in its power to help our partners & allies to safety & protect our national security.”

White House officials have publicly admitted that the administration was caught off-guard by the speed with which the Taliban seized control of Kabul after U.S. forces began withdrawing on Biden’s orders. A U.S. intelligence report leaked to Reuters last week estimated that the Taliban could capture Kabul within 90 days. But by Sunday, Taliban soldiers seized the presidential palace and overthrew the Western-backed government. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee the country.

The Afghanistan military, which received decades of training from U.S. forces, collapsed “more quickly than we anticipated,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN Sunday.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan echoed Blinken’s comments on Monday, telling NBC’s “Today,” “It’s certainly the case that the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans, including many of the analysts” watching the situation.

In response, the Biden administration ordered a total of 6,000 U.S. troops to return to Afghanistan to secure evacuation and withdrawal efforts from incursions by Taliban militants. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, met face to face with Taliban leaders Sunday in Doha, Qatar, to inform them that interference with U.S. evacuation efforts at the airport in Kabul would be met with force.

Desperate Afghani citizens have swarmed the Hamid Karzai International Airport seeking to board U.S. military flights and flee the country. Horrific videos posted to social media show the airport in utter chaos, with people clinging to departing U.S. aircraft and falling to their deaths after the planes took off.

The chaos forced U.S. troops to temporarily suspend evacuation efforts and fire warning shots to dissuade the crowd from surging at departing flights. Witnesses told Reuters that at least five people were killed at the airport as hundreds tried to force themselves onto U.S. aircraft. A U.S. official said said the military fired shots into the air in an attempt to scatter the crowd. It’s unclear whether the victims died by gunfire or by stampede.

Several former Obama administration officials have come forward to publicly criticize Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said Sunday the Biden’s administration had “a total lack of coordinated, post-withdrawal planning” and called the deteriorating situation a “self-inflicted wound.”

David Petraeus, who served as CIA director under President Obama, said in an interview that the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan was “disastrous” and “catastrophic” for the world.

“This is an enormous national security setback and it is on the verge of getting much worse unless we decide to take really significant action,” he warned.

Biden on Monday insisted that his national security team was “clear-eyed about the risks” of leaving Afghanistan, which included the possibility that the Taliban would overrun the Western-backed government, but he argued that continued U.S. military presence in the country wouldn’t have made a difference since the government in Afghanistan couldn’t stand on its own.

“Afghanistan’s political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight,” Biden said.

“If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he added.

“We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries,” Biden continued. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them the will to fight for that future.”

The president also laid blame on his predecessor, President Donald Trump, for negotiating a deal with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the first place. He said the choice he faced was to follow through with withdrawal or escalate the conflict in Afghanistan by sending thousands of U.S. troops into the nation’s third decade of war.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden declared.

Addressing his critics, he asked, “How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war when Afghan troops will not?”

Concluding, Biden accepted “my share of responsibility” for what is happening in Afghanistan.

“I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me,” he said.

“I’m deeply saddened by the facts we now face, but I do not regret my decision to end America’s war fighting in Afghanistan,” the president added. “I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war.”

After delivering his speech, Biden exited the East Room without taking questions from reporters. The White House announced that he will return to Camp David.

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