Second Thoughts: Dems Have A Few

As the pollsters across the board show President Biden’s support tanking rapidly (even among those whose polls regularly overweight Democrat support), the major media are having a hard time burying the story of administrative incoherence and stupidity and the consequences here and abroad.

The man who as a candidate promised to repair our international alliances has dealt NATO a significant if not fatal blow. The rush to bug out of Afghanistan left hundreds, probably thousands of persons who were citizens, green card holders, and allies behind. And our NATO allies have not been able to extract all their people either. Worse, for reasons that seem impossible to justify, we gave the Taliban the names of the people we wanted to extract and turned down their offer to guard the airport ourselves instead of turning that task over to them. Credible reports and videos at the site show how the Taliban refused entry to those entitled to leave.  Among others, busloads of American women and schoolchildren who made it to the airport gate were denied entry by our own troops and officials at the Department of State refused to intervene.

Afghans on those flights were not well vetted and it turns out a significant number of them are on terrorist watch lists and will have to be turned down.

Others are being flown to military bases for processing and then will be relocated to locations where local communities will have to bear the burden of providing for them as most of the noncitizens and permanent residents do not have Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status which entitles them to obtain work permits. That means most were not confirmed allies of ours in Afghanistan. 

letter to President Biden signed by 26 GOP senators Thursday estimated that more than 57,000 Afghans were evacuated who are not US citizens, green card holders or eligible for so-called Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). The lawmakers said they were “concerned by reports that ineligible individuals, including Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or serious, violent criminals, were evacuated alongside innocent refugee families.”

The Biden administration has not provided an estimate of the number of legal permanent residents or SIV applicants and holders who remain in Afghanistan, though The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the State Department believes the “majority” of the latter category were left behind.

We are also finding child brides in the mass of those seeking asylum and it’s a dilemma to know how to deal with this. Countries on Afghanistan’s border are refusing or severely limiting the number of refugees they will permit to enter. 

We left behind on estimated $63 billion worth of military equipment, some of which the Taliban is reportedly selling off to Iran to use against us and Israel and to undo the peace in the Middle East which President Trump so adroitly brought about in the Abraham Accords.

China is the likely real victor, having worked out agreements with the Taliban allowing them to mine valuable mineral resources there. If any of the abandoned  military equipment is state of the art, expect it to fall into Chinese hands one way or another to be reverse engineered for their own use.

In the Panjshir District, the Massoud forces, aided by Uzbekistan and others, are heroically preventing a Taliban takeover. With the Taliban forces gathered there in passes on the outskirts of the district, we might be able to aid the Massoud forces with airstrikes, but I should think our hands are tied against any defensive measures because we gave the Taliban the names of the very people they would hold hostage to torture and murder if we did.

It doesn’t take a genius in the face of all this to see why more sensible people who foolishly voted for Biden are having second thoughts. If you had any doubts, consider the last conversation Biden had with the Afghan Prime Minister Ashraf Ghani in which he urged him not to be honest about the situation on the ground to control perception -- the perception Biden hoped to create was that there’d be no adverse consequences for a rapid bug out. Clearly, he was setting up Ghani to take the blame when the Taliban quickly advanced, an alibi for his own refusal to acknowledge reality and lack of intelligent planning. Biden clearly wanted to create the perception on the anniversary of 9/11 that he, the wonderworker, had extracted us from an endless war effortlessly and without dire consequences to us, the Afghans and the world. Ghani got the message and fled in advance of the expected Taliban surge into Kabul.

Mark Ellis at PJ Media reports how Trump would have handled the withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

To analyze how things would have been different under Mr. Trump, a good starting point is the phone call then-President Trump made to Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. (Note: This analysis assumes that Trump intended to break clean, and not leave any residual force in the war-torn country.)

On the call, Trump made clear that should the Taliban launch any aggressions during what was to be a carefully planned and militarily sound pullout, Baradar’s village, his family, and Baradar himself, would be the initial target of any U.S. response.

Think of it, as Trump might say. This Taliban leader, licking his chops in anticipation of America’s withdrawal, must have paused to consider the high potential of his family being atomized by a drone or fighter jet strike before the ink had dried on the news of any pre-pullout Taliban incursions. If the hated Western invaders were soon leaving, why waste himself? He knew Trump would pull the trigger, and perhaps was not that eager to die for his cause.

From there we extrapolate what an actual military withdrawal under Commander-in-Chief Trump would have looked like. First off, the word would have been disseminated far and wide many months before any spurious deadline: We are going, and now is the time, if you want to leave, to make arrangements for departure while we still have the military wherewithal to cover your backs. Imagine Hamid Karzai International Airport under the protection of a fully operational U.S. fighting force both in the air and on the ground. Yes, there would have been an exodus, of U.S. citizens and of Afghans who worked in concert with our mission. True, lives might still have been lost in the neighborhoods and on the way to the airport. But once people were in proximity to the salvation of an airlift, theoretically the situation would have been orderly under the umbrella of U.S. armed forces. 

It’s not only Biden Democrat voters are having second thoughts about. It appears that Californians are having second thoughts about Governor Newsom. Both Biden and Vice President Harris cancelled appearances there to support him against a recall effort that looks to be growing. It would have only added to voter disgust to have them campaigning for the unpopular governor as the Afghan disaster was unfolding. The latest potential tragedy there, the Caldor fire, escaped being the largest fire in Californian history only by a providential shift of winds. These fires are but another result of poor California forest management by Newsom.

Mickey Kaus argues that perhaps if Newsom is recalled and Larry Elder wins the new election, we will see the kind of shift away from the left’s bloated infrastructure attempt that we saw when Dave Brat surprisingly defeated Eric Cantor and the amnesty bill died. 

Today, California is the new Virginia. Governor Gavin Newsom is the new Cantor. Conservative talk-show personality Larry Elder is the new Brat. The parallel isn't exact -- Cantor's loss was a bolt from the blue, while Newsom's possible loss has been widely bruited about for weeks.  Also, Republicans of 2014 worried about getting primaried. Today, Dems worry about losing swing districts in November. But the two cases are close enough. A Newsom loss -- let alone an Elder win -- would be shock treatment for vulnerable Democrats in Congress, indicating that.. well, voters, even in a superblue state, are really pissed off.

This time they wouldn’t be pissed off just about immigration: The recall largely reflects anger at liberal policies on crime, homelessness, political correctness, and COVID restrictions. What Democratic pol wants to make himself one of the Newsoms of 2022 by passing Biden's budget-busting agglomeration of even more liberal policy dreams (including, at the moment, another amnesty)?

That's why Elder's run is significant -- not because it will dramatically change California (which is only one state) or kill Newsom's career (which it probably would) or kill Biden's presidency (that's a stretch).  It's significant because it's a missile aimed at the Biden New Deal.

It would certainly damage Newsom’s chances if it were more widely known that under Newsom the state’s pension fund Calpers was significantly aiding China. Its former head, who had previously been a Chinese official, directed more than $3 billion of funds from Calpers into Chinese companies “including 14 state-controlled enterprises blacklisted by the Trump administration... Many of these companies are funding the Belt and Road initiative, a massive infrastructure project Beijing is using to expand its geopolitical and military influence.” This initiative is now extended to Afghanistan

The investments were criticized some time ago as risky and funding our most serious foe and yet Newsom spoke not a word against them. He concentrated instead on using the bully pulpit to urge Calpers to invest in green energy and to divest from Turkey because of its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian atrocities in 1915.

Like Biden, Newsom is not an intelligent or serious leader. Most polls to the contrary, I think, as does Michael Barone, that Newsom stands a chance of being recalled. 

Polls last spring showed just 36-40% favoring recall, much like the 2018 result. But the most recent three polls this summer show 46-51% favoring recall. Given that some Republican voters refuse to be polled, as the American Association for Public Opinion Research report on 2020 polling errors concluded, Newsom seems to be in the same kind of trouble as Davis was.

Why the switch? SurveyUSA polls showed Latinos, one-quarter of the electorate, moving from opposing to backing recall. Berkeley polls show a similar trend among Latinos and Asians. The most recent Emerson poll shows Latinos favoring recall by a 54-41% margin. On contrast, the exit poll showed 64% for Newsom in 2018.

Subgroup analysis is risky because of high margins of error. But as Auric Goldfinger told James Bond, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is enemy action." Similar trends in three different polls looks like something real.

This movement against liberal policies makes sense once you realize that even low-income voters are less interested in economic redistribution than in the maintenance of order. Newsom, in a testy interview with McClatchy newspapers, boasts of the state's large earned income tax credit, but his lockdown policies have kept California's unemployment rate at 7.7%, higher than all but three other states. (Texas is at 6.6%, Florida at 5.0%).

He deserves to be recalled. If he is, I expect to see Kaus’s predicted pullback on the Biden reset.

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