Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, August 28 through Friday, September 3, 2021 [Vol.3 No.7]
Afghan War Ends
The Week’s Most Notable
This week the 20-year U.S. war in Afghanistan ended. Throughout that grinding spread of time, the U.S. lost service members (more than 2,400 + 3,800 contractors), money (more than $2 trillion), and all sense of why we were in Afghanistan. The Afghans lost more than 180,000 fighters and civilians. All around, it was a lost war, especially after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. The war spanned four U.S. presidents, three party turnovers in Congress, two recessions, the beginning of the pandemic, and then an ending almost as ugly and shambolic as the end of the Vietnam War. Is there any wonder why in general Americans are more than willing to forget this war? Most of the time we were not conscious of it anyway. Now, unless the Taliban don’t care about forming a recognizable government and insist on committing atrocities the right-wing media can exploit, the issues of the Afghanistan war will have faded long before the 2022 midterm elections.
The decision (5-4) to allow the Texas antiabortion law to stand will not go away before the 2022 elections. The law will be in effect for at least six months. The Supreme Court has set the whirlwind in motion. In the months to come, other states will mimic the law, multiple cases will be generated to test it, and the media will thrash the narrative as often as possible. Abortion and its regulation were already the most divisive and sensitive issue in the country; the Texas law is perhaps the most bizarre and infuriating antiabortion legislation to ever receive Supreme Court attention. Abortion is not allowed after detection of the fetal heartbeat (about six weeks and likely to be a big legal bone of contention). The law provides no exceptions for rape or incest. The law uses vigilantism – anybody (not with the government) can track and report on cases of abortion, and the law provides for $10,000 in bounty for successful prosecution. The law is designed to target neither the mother, nor the father, but those who support the abortion. It avoids involving any level of government, which theoretically keeps it out of reach of the courts. It would be difficult to design something more devastating to the people involved, or to the rule of law.
Why did the conservative Supreme Court justices do this? So far, the only answer seems to be, because they can. It’s as if they were trying to find the most inflammatory, untenable, destructive case – and just didn’t care what happened. They could have put a hold on it, simply waiting for nearly a dozen other less draconian antiabortion cases to pass through the normal court procedures before ending Roe v Wade. But the conservatives on the court didn’t wait; they used the shadow docket mechanism, which was supposed to be a list of last-minute procedural decisions for routine court business; and they ruled at midnight with a skimpy memorandum on the most profoundly emotional, complex, and disruptive issue in the country. Bad case, bad ruling, terrible optics all around. They provided pro-choice proponents and the Democrats with enough highly emotional material to last for many months. It’s too early to tell, but it’s likely that the majority of American women, by the millions, are going to be outraged not only by this Texas case but by the prospect of something similar happening nationwide. It is also kicking loose much more vociferous arguing in favor of putting a bridle on the runaway court, such as by increasing the number of justices. That might not happen, but it’s going to be part of the debate from now until the midterm elections.
If Afghanistan and abortion weren’t enough to fill the topical platter, then add natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida, in both its Louisiana (hurricane) and New York (deluge) formats; the fires in California – particularly the Caldor Fire that threatens the Lake Tahoe area; and of course, the surge of COVID-19 cases in the South, thanks to the Delta variant and the Republican Party. Each of these would be sufficient for a major story in their own right, but taken together point to a situation where mother nature is throwing disasters at the human race, hard and fast, and we’re demonstrating a near-inability to deal with them. The problems are mounting not only at the local level, but the state and national levels, which is not even to mention global management. This was a week to appreciate how quickly one disaster turns into another, as, for example, the Louisiana storm turned into a record-breaking storm in New York, and the escape from Afghanistan turned from a comprehensible exodus into ad hoc chaos.
Saturday, August 28
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 39,723,754; Deaths: 657,354
[Coronavirus] Southern Hospitals Running Short of Oxygen, ICU Space, Critical Nurses and Doctors – The new wave of COVID-19 cases, caused by the radically more infectious Delta variant, has drained the resources of hospitals in the states of Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. Some hospitals are instituting forms of triage, selecting which patients will receive treatment, and calls have gone out for supplies, nurses, and doctors. In some locations, this has been an ongoing full-out emergency battle for more than a year and those involved are wearing out.
[Voting Rights] More Than 50,000 Demonstrate in D.C. Voting Rights March – Part of a larger national effort to draw attention to voting rights legislation now in Congress.
[Afghanistan] Biden Warns of New ISIS Attack near Kabul Airport – While military airlifts have resumed, with the Tuesday deadline looming U.S. intelligence services have detected a strong possibility of a renewed attempt at suicide bombing near the airport. [Update: U.S. forces thwart purported attempts at suicide bombing by using drones to destroy suspected vehicles.]