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Archive of Articles in the "Afghanistan" Category

Friday Talking Points -- Biden's First Two Years

[ Posted Friday, January 20th, 2023 – 18:27 UTC ]

Two years ago today, Joseph Robinette Biden Junior was sworn in as the nation's 46th president. So how is he doing at his job? His approval rating in public opinion polls has generally improved since the midterm elections, hitting numbers he hasn't seen in a year. But those numbers are still south of 45 percent (on average), which is fairly common for a first-term president but certainly nothing to brag about.

Biden has had some notable successes as president, and some notable rocky patches as well. He entered office as the COVID-19 vaccines were becoming widely and freely available, and things seemed rosy on this front for his first year, only to get a lot grimmer as the Omicron strain hit much harder than any of the previous variants of the virus. All of a sudden we weren't done with COVID-19 and life didn't return to normal as expected. But since then, the virus has become almost an afterthought and didn't matter much to voters in the midterms (even though it had been predicted that it would be a major issue).

Biden's legislative accomplishments are more impressive than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson. True, Biden did have a Democratic Senate and House to work with, but both of those had historically-slender majorities -- L.B.J., for instance, had as many as 68 Democratic senators to work with. Biden only had 50 -- including two who loved the media spotlight so much they didn't care if they torpedoed Biden's agenda in major ways. Biden also managed to pass some major bills with bipartisan support, which is almost miraculous, these days.

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Friday Talking Points -- Joe's Garage

[ Posted Friday, January 13th, 2023 – 17:43 UTC ]

With apologies to Frank Zappa, this week's big political story might be summed up as coming from "Joe's garage." But we'll get to all of that in a moment, down in the awards section (it shouldn't be any mystery which one he's going to get). First, though, let's take a look at the other momentous things that happened during the past week.

This column, of course, measures weeks from Friday afternoon to Friday afternoon. As we were writing last week, the House of Representatives was still deadlocked over who would become the next speaker. This continued far into the night, until Kevin McCarthy finally emerged victorious. Weakened, bloodied, diminished... but finally victorious.

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My 2022 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 16th, 2022 – 18:45 UTC ]

Welcome to the first installment of our year-end awards!

As always, we must begin with a stern warning: this is an incredibly long article. So long you likely won't make it to the end, at least not in one sitting. It is, as it always is, a marathon not a sprint.

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Friday Talking Points -- Trump's "Secret Telepathic Unilateral Preemptive Irreversible Declassification" Defense

[ Posted Friday, September 23rd, 2022 – 17:26 UTC ]

We do try to avoid it in general, but this week it is impossible not to lead our news wrap-up with the ongoing Donald Trump Follies. Spoiler alert: it wasn't a very good week in Trumpland.

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Things Are Getting Better

[ Posted Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 – 14:22 UTC ]

As we head into the dog days of August, Democrats have finally gotten some good news to spread, out on the campaign trail. Legislatively, things are definitely looking up, after Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema finally relented and allowed major portions of President Joe Biden's agenda to head to his desk. But it wasn't just the reconciliation bill, there has been a flurry of bills passing, from allowing Sweden and Finland into NATO to helping America's veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits during their service. Democrats in Congress are showing that they can indeed get things done, with or without the help of the obstructionist Republicans. But the good news doesn't end there, because the economic picture is getting better as well.

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Friday Talking Points -- The Midterm Ground Shifts In Two Big Ways

[ Posted Friday, August 5th, 2022 – 16:37 UTC ]

There were two major events in politics this week which will have a profound effect on the upcoming midterm campaigns. The first was the stunning victory in the Kansas primary of the anti-forced-birth position on an abortion referendum -- which passed with a jaw-dropping 59-41 percent margin in a very red state. The second was Senate Democrats finally achieving unity by all agreeing to the "Inflation Reduction Act" budget reconciliation bill. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has refused to let the Senate begin their month-long August vacation and is planning the first vote on the bill tomorrow, with all the other arcane floor events to follow, so the final passage could come early next week.

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We Need More Jon Stewarts

[ Posted Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 – 17:13 UTC ]

Jon Stewart, a television comedian, just did an amazing and powerful thing. He actually caused Senate Republicans to feel shame.

In this day and age, that is a rarity. The Republican Party has been taught many bad habits by Donald Trump, but one of the worst of all is utter shamelessness, which I would describe (politically) as the inability of your fellow citizens' opinions to sway yours in the least. Trump's "come Hell or high water" attitude and his absolute refusal to ever admit he was wrong about the slightest thing (see: Sharpiegate, et al) has caused Republicans like Ted Cruz (a shameless politician if there ever was one, even before Trump appeared on the scene) to completely divorce themselves from public opinion. They will just insist that down is up, that black is white, and that everyone else in the world is wrong while they have a secret line to the absolute truth (with zero evidence to back it up, of course).

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Friday Talking Points -- Democrats In Array!

[ Posted Friday, July 29th, 2022 – 17:18 UTC ]

That title, of course, is intended as a spoof of what some consider the most overused go-to headline in the Washington punditocracy's toolbox: "Democrats In Disarray!" For once, the absolute opposite seems to be true, and it is so glaringly obvious that even the political press's pooh-bahs have had to admit it (full credit where it is due: we got the title from a Politico article). Because Senator Joe Manchin (of all people!) just turned a very rainy day into some beautiful sunshine.

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Do We Need Another Emmett Till Moment?

[ Posted Tuesday, June 7th, 2022 – 15:17 UTC ]

There is a debate currently taking place within the editorial departments of some of the nation's biggest newspapers, on the subject of what their own professional ethics and standards should be when it comes to showing the aftermath of violent mass shootings. What it boils down to is this: "Does the country need another 'Emmett Till moment' -- a photo of a child's badly-mangled body who was killed by gunfire in a mass shooting?" Which is an interesting editorial question, seeing as how the American media has gotten more and more timid over time when it comes to showing the results of any violence, really.

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Fighting The Russian Army To A Draw

[ Posted Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 – 15:40 UTC ]

The Russian army has proven to be a lot less impressive than many (including myself, I must in all honesty admit) had previously thought. Ditto the Russian air force. A war of choice waged by an invader with what appeared to be overwhelming military superiority has just not played out as Vladimir Putin expected. They are bogged down, perhaps for good. Their advance has been halted almost everywhere in Ukraine. Today brought the news that Ukrainian forces are actually recapturing territory and pushing the Russians back. This is an astonishing turn of events. Could the war actually be at a turning point? It is likely too early to make such a declaration, but even the fact that there now exists the possibility of that being true gives both the Ukrainians and the rest of the free world hope.

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