I hadn't watched so much cable news since 9/11. Now I hope to make it another 20 years of CableLite. The most appalling and concentrated bullshit rained from the airwaves and onto our screens yesterday as unmistakable symptoms of America's rolling crackup — a national display of soulless psychoses mixed with poisonous partisanship seasoned with extraordinary stupidity, ignorance and every imaginable flavor of sheer pixilation.
Before me were elected officeholders, former public officials, military veterans and national security "analysts" pounding their Zoom tables and calling for a rejuvenation of the very hellhole of 20 years from which President Biden was finally extricating us.
The hysteria, as hysteria is wont to be, was nuts: calls for an abrupt cancellation of the withdrawal timeline; more Marines to expand Kabul airport's defensive perimeter; the reoccupation of the Bagram airbase; a landing of the 101st Airborne; an American-manned hunt for IS-K terrorists; necessarily massive redeployments to secure every last American and every last ally anywhere in Afghanistan. Essentially, a whole new war.
The number of the "stranded" and "Biden-abandoned," which last week was somewhere around 60,000, grew over the last few days to 90,000, then to 120,000, and by yesterday the number on cable news had grown to hundreds of thousands. Hysteria inflation.
Reports on two suicide bombings that killed 13 American troops swiftly morphed into screaming chyrons announcing that "President Biden has blood on his hands," though cable commentators wanted his head. Team Biden had warned of such bombings in Kabul's highest-risk areas, unlike the Bush administration's indifference to hijacked-airliner warnings that would kill 3,000, or Trump's knowing indifference to a global plague that would kill more than 600,000 Americans. By this morning the Washington Examiner, in full cable-news mode, would declare the war deaths of "at least 12 U.S. service members" to be "a historic catastrophe."
Throughout yesterday members of the Trump Party were demanding Biden's resignation, of course; that, or the president and vice president should "face impeachment and removal from office." Notes the Washington Post: "It’s now increasingly clear [that] if Republicans win the House majority" — and they will, because they're stealing it — "Biden is very likely to be impeached." And there you have it: a leading cable-news story for the next year and a half; a further unfolding of America's psychotic, partisan meltdown.
By yesterday's end I had decided against sound judgment to catch a minute of Chris Cuomo's CNN program, in which Chris himself was keenly advising Joe to just make everything peachy. There also sat as a guest the normally sane, usually reasonable military veterans advocate Paul Rieckhoff, now asserting with seeming earnestness that President Biden's sole responsibility Thursday was "to ensure that every one of our service members is safe." In a war zone. No dangers, no potential loss of life in a Taliban-ISIS-infested perimeter.
That's when I clicked off, clutching strands of my vanishing hair. I've yet to decide if today I'll click back on. If I do, I shall be chemically fortified, I think. No one should go unarmed into cable news' hell of soulless psychoses, poisonous partisanship and extraordinary stupidity.
Far-right Republicans have a long history of freaking out if one dares to suggest that violent White nationalism and White supremacy pose as great a terrorist threat to the United States as radical Islamists, let alone saying that they are an even greater threat. But facts are stubborn things, and the fact is that violent White nationalists and White supremacists have committed one terrorist attack after another in recent years — from the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building to a horrific plot to kidnap and possibly murder Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the anti-Latino massacre inside an El Paso, Texas Walmart in August 2019.
Wingnuts at Fox took notice when journalist David Rothkopf described the MAGA movement and White nationalism as more dangerous to the U.S. than the Taliban or Al Qaeda, but in a biting op-ed published by the Daily Beast on August 26, Rothkopf doesn't back down and stands by his argument
If you're looking for evidence of mounting, hawkish cynicism behind one national publication's declaration that the deaths of 13 U.S. service members in Kabul was a "historic catastrophe," look no further than Paul Wolfowitz's Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning.
He too notes the "terrible recent events in Afghanistan." The deaths that occurred "will hang like a dark cloud over the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11," writes George Bush's infamous deputy defense secretary.
But wait, was that number of U.S. deaths really so "terrible" — so "catastrophic" — in Wolfowitz's eyes? Turns out, no, not at all. For later he writes that had Americans "been told that U.S. combat deaths had been averaging around 20 a year since we switched to a largely advisory mission in 2015," well, we probably would have been fine with that. "[We] would have seen those 20 years of human and financial costs in a different light."