Monday, October 11, 2021

TALIBAN - The Clueless Do Not Know How to Govern Afghanistan

"Taliban face growing problems running Afghanistan as talks begin with the U.S.PBS NewsHour 10/10/2021

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SUMMARY:  U.S. and Taliban representatives met in Doha, Qatar, this weekend for the first direct talks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.  The talks will reportedly focus on terrorism, evacuations and a growing humanitarian crisis as winter approaches.  Wall Street Journal reporter Saeed Shah joins from Kabul.



CLEVELAND - Research On the Run

"Research on the run: How a Cleveland city planner is mapping his cityPBS NewsHour 10/10/2021

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SUMMARY:  Phil Kidd moved to Cleveland two years ago to work as a city planner.  In the midst of the pandemic, he decided to start an ambitious project to better understand his adopted city.  Kidd has started a project to run all 3,000 street miles in Cleveland, and he researches, and writes about each run on his blog, "Every Street Cleveland."  Special Correspondent Karla Murthy reports from Cleveland.



IRAQI POLITICS - 2021 Elections

Hay, Iraq has gerrymandering too.

"Iraqi protesters allege election corruption, vow to boycott pollsPBS NewsHour 10/9/2021

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SUMMARY:  Iraq’s elections will be held on Sunday, but members of the country’s protest movement are already planning on boycotting the event.  They say that the election process is corrupt, with paramilitary wings of incumbent parties attacking opposition supporters.  With low turnout, the Shi’ite Cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s party is expected to win a large share of seats and possibly control of the government.  Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn reports.



RACE IN AMERICA - Talking With Kids

"How to talk to kids about race and racismPBS NewsHour 10/9/2021

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SUMMARY:  As schools across the nation resumed in-person classes, teachers and students faced increased pressure from local school boards and organizations over how to teach and talk about race in the classroom.  Dana Crawford, a pediatric and clinical psychologist in New York who has developed approaches to reducing bias, prejudice, and racism, joins to share tips on how to talk to kids about race.

Diana Crawford:  ...racism is a socially transmitted disease.



OPINION - Brooks and Tumulty 10/8/2021

"Brooks and Tumulty on debt, social spending, Jan. 6 investigation, Supreme CourtPBS NewsHour 10/8/2021

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SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including debt ceiling negotiations in Congress, debate over President Joe Biden’s social spending bills, new revelations about former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and what's expected from the Supreme Court this term.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  It has been a whirlwind of a week here in Washington, with the U.S. Supreme Court kicking off its October session, a new report on election interference being issued by the Senate, and a temporary deal reached on the federal debt ceiling.

To help us make sense of it all, we are joined by Brooks and Tumulty.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Karen Tumulty, columnist for The Washington Post.

Very good to have you both with us.  Jonathan Capehart is away tonight.  Happy to see you both on this Friday night.

But let's talk first, David, about what they have done in the Congress, in the Senate.  They have kicked the can down the road.  Enough Republicans gave the Democrats the votes they needed to go ahead and move the debt ceiling decision to December.  Is it going to be any easier then?

David Brooks, New York Times:  No.

And this is what happens when politicians play hand grenade with the nation's solvency.  But it's as if the political campaign is running all year around now or all lifelong, because it's all about positioning for the next election.

So, the Republicans would love to see the Democrats on a straight party-line basis expand the debt ceiling, and then they could blame them for all the spending.  And Mitch McConnell was sort of backing them up to do it.  And then he sort of blinked.

And I think there are two main reasons he blinked.  One, there was some threat that the Democrats were so panicked by this they were going to change the filibuster, which the Republicans desperately do not want them to do.  [Two] There was some possibility they were just trying to ease some pressure on Joe Manchin, look after their buddy Joe Manchin, who is taking a lot of heat from more progressive Democrats, and then some possibility that Schumer didn't have 50 votes to raise the debt ceiling, in which case we would have gone into insolvency.

So we're going to go through all this again in December.

Judy Woodruff:  It — is December going to be different?

Karen Tumulty, Washington Post:  December is going to be different because they will also, in that same little window, have to vote on the continuing resolution.  This is the bill that keeps the government operating.

So we may have within a few days of each other these two difficult votes, one to keep spending and the other to keep borrowing.

Judy Woodruff:  And, Karen, what about — I mean, David mentioned this, that some people are saying, including former President Trump, saying Mitch McConnell folded.

What happened here?

Karen Tumulty:  I all along was a little skeptical that Mitch McConnell was going to be willing to take the fall for making the — essentially the entire world economy collapse.

He had some leverage.  As too often happens in Washington [DC], there's a deal right before the deadline.  But I do think we ought to think about whether we ought to even have this whole exercise of raising the debt ceiling.  It is something that is meaningless in the context of controlling spending, because you're basically paying bills for spending you have already done.

There's a budget process.  There's an appropriations process.  If you want to have fiscal discipline, that's where to do it.  I think they ought to just suspend the debt ceiling indefinitely.

Judy Woodruff:  And which is, I guess, an argument that the Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, has been making.

But, David, I mean, are there clear winners and losers coming out of this?  Or has it just muddied — is the picture just muddied even more?

David Brooks:  I'd say muddied.

I think each party got a little of what they wanted.  The Democrats got the Republicans to actually have a vote and produce some votes.  And the Republicans got the idea that we're just going to go through this again.

Everyone's a hypocrite on matters of procedure.  So whether you're for the filibuster or the debt limit, it all depends on whether you're in the majority or the minority.  The Democrats, I think, in 2006, it wasn't quite the same circumstance, a very similar circumstance.  They were very happy to let the Republicans take the fall and be the ones to pass the debt limit, including Joe Biden.

And now that shoe is on the other foot, so they have all 180-degree changed their positions.  And this is the way it always is on these procedural game-playing things, that you do what's in your best interests at this moment.  There are no actually principled players in any of this.

Judy Woodruff:  Does one side come out stronger or not in this?

Karen Tumulty:  No.

It is really a situation of — people seem to think this debt ceiling vote is some kind of political liability.  I have never heard any campaign where it becomes an issue or the subject of an ad.  The size of the social spending package that the Democrats are talking about, that is likely to be — figure in the 2022 campaign.

But I — this is just this Kabuki theater that they do over and over and over again.

Judy Woodruff:  All right, moving on to something.

We just heard Fiona Hill, the — who has written a book about her experiences, David.  And that is a number of developments this week about election interference in 2020.  You had this disturbing report come out from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the lengths former President Trump went to try to get the Justice Department to overturn the election result.

Then you have more — watching state after state say they want to reform the way they count votes, the way they run their elections.  How worried should the American people be right now about all of this?

David Brooks:  Pretty worried, on a scale of one to 10, seven-and-a-half or so.  That's pretty worried.

I'm not a worrying kind of guy, but I think worried about two things.  One, we keep learning more and more that Trump really wanted to overturn the election.  He wanted to take away the election.  And we also [two] learned that, throughout the administration, throughout some of the Republican secretaries of state, there were honest people that were not going to let him do it.

And so we have learned from the Senate report that he was threatening to fire the Attorney General.  And there were enough people in the Justice Department who said, we will all quit at once if you do this, and so he didn't really have a chance.

But the more dangerous thing is what's happening in the states now, is that we're setting ourselves up for this all to happen in 2024 if he runs again, and if he's anywhere close.  And, this time, he will have had not a couple of weeks to prepare to take the election away.  He will have had years.

And the party seems to be extremely focused on this process.  And so that's the things we're worried about.

Judy Woodruff:  Where should the concern be focused in all of — that there's so many moving parts to this.

Karen Tumulty:  Well, the pattern of the Trump Presidency is, with these revelations, you will always hear something else happened that is both shocking and unsurprising and even predictable about Donald Trump.

And there were a few people that stood in the way.  Dan Quayle, who talked to Mike Pence about his lack of powers to overturn the election on January 6, was not on my bingo card for the savior of democracy.

(LAUGHTER)

Karen Tumulty:  But, next year, we're going to have the midterms, and these races in the states where governors may be replaced by governors who would be fine with letting partisan hacks control elections, secretaries of state, election officials.

I think the danger in 2024 is going to be a lot higher even than it was in 2020.  And we may once again have Donald Trump back on the scene.

Judy Woodruff:  And I was going to say whether he's on the ballot.

I mean, David, you read that portion of the Senate report where it — for hour after hour, there was an argument inside the White House with then-President Trump, saying, we need to replace the Acting Attorney General in order to overturn the election.  I mean, they had to argue him down from this.

Karen Tumulty:  The most chilling quote — and that was Jeffrey Rosen, the Acting Attorney General.

"One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election."

That is what the President of the United States [Trump] said to his acting Attorney General.

David Brooks:  Right.

And so the good news is there were enough.  I guess what strikes me — and this is the underlying problem — is that any time Rudy Giuliani or anybody could come up with a crackpot rationale to do this, they seized on it without any evidence.  There was never a moment when people in Trump world said, that one, that theory is a little wacky.

They seized on absolutely everything.  And that is what happens when you're in a post-truth world.

Judy Woodruff:  And if President Trump is not on the ballot, Karen, there's still concern that people who espouse his philosophy and who deny the election result in 2020 could be pushing some of the same…

Karen Tumulty:  Exactly.

I mean, these are people running up and down the ballot.  It has become practically an article of faith in the Republican Party that, if you want to have a shot at elective office, that you have to say these things that really undermine the integrity of the electoral system.

David Brooks:  Fifty-nine percent of Republicans in one poll said that believing the election was stolen was an important part about being a Republican.  It's central to the identity.

It's not belief in free markets or being socially conservative.  From philosophical and principled positions has gotten to Trump positions.  And so the identity of the party has fundamentally changed from a conservative party to a Trump party, at least among, say, half of the Republican…

Judy Woodruff:  Last thing I want to make time for, Karen, and that is the Supreme Court reconvening this week, a lot of eyes watching this institution because they are taking up hot-button issues, abortion, gun rights, and others, maybe affirmative action.

What are you looking for from this term?  And people are starting to say, if the court does what we think it could do, this is going to look like a partisan court.

Karen Tumulty:  It certainly — I think this is the term in which the heavily conservative Supreme Court is going to truly show us who they are and what they think.

And I think the biggest issue on the plate is whether or not they overturn Roe vs. Wade, either with this case that is coming their way from Mississippi, or the new Texas abortion law is likely to land in their lap again pretty soon.

Judy Woodruff:  I mean, there's always — we're always watching the Supreme Court, David, but is this time different that way?

David Brooks:  I think it is a little.

There has been a 5-4 conservative majority, but John Roberts, the Chief Justice, really cares about the court and the dignity of the court and the legitimacy of the court.  He could now be in the minority in a lot of these cases, and he could be on the left side, because he is not — he's been hesitant to turn over precedents.

And there seems to be five at least who are much more willing.  And so he [Roberts] might turn out into be the minority player.  And there will be nobody to try to keep precedents just for the legitimacy of the court.

Public opinion polls on the court are not in freefall, but they're in serious decline.  The number of people who think it's a legitimate and trustworthy institution is at a low.  And the Supreme Court justices are all out on the road saying, no, we're not partisan hacks.

They're not.  But they're conservatives and progressives, and they vote like partisan hacks, so that — on the big cases, not on most cases, but on the big ideological cases, their votes are entirely predictable by who nominated them.

Judy Woodruff:  And at a time, Karen, when the country is so divided politically, it — I mean, it matters whether the court is seen as partisan or not.

Karen Tumulty:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

And, again, I mean, the fact that the — these justices are feeling that need to go out and say publicly that they are not partisans is — that, in and of itself, is extraordinary.  But we will see how these big cases on not just abortion, but some other hot-button issues, like guns.

And again, this is a relatively young court.  And this is the court that we're going to see basically for a generation potentially.

David Brooks:  It used to be people had faith in government and the governing institutions.

And when that faith goes away, everything is up for grabs.  And whether we're talking about the budget, the election or the court, they all grow out of the fact that people have lost faith in the legitimacy of their institutions.

Judy Woodruff:  That's a grim note to…

David Brooks:  Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  A really grim note for us…

(CROSSTALK)

David Brooks:  Just facing reality here.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  On this Friday night.

David Brooks, Karen Tumulty, thank you both.

Karen Tumulty:  Thank you.



CLIMATE CHANGE - Uneven Impact on Communities

"Climate change’s uneven impact on communities of color compounded by uneven flow of aidPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

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SUMMARY:  Hurricane Ida survivors are still facing a difficult road ahead, nearly six weeks after it battered Louisiana as a Category 4 storm.  And in Lake Charles, Louisiana, thousands are still waiting for relief from a string of natural disasters that began more than a year ago.  Some say it shows the climate change's disproportionate toll on low-income communities.  Community reporter Roby Chavez reports.



ABORTION BATTLE - Texas Clinics

"Texas clinics resume abortions past 6-week mark, but women fear access may be temporaryPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

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SUMMARY:  In his 113- page order blocking the enforcement of Texas' six week abortion ban law, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman called the law “an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”  But with the state of Texas appealing the order, long term abortion access remains in question.  Stephanie Sy reports from Austin, Texas.



AMERICAN POLITICS - The False Fraudulent Election Claims

Championed by Lier-n-Chief Donald Trump and supported by his GOP worshipers.

"As Senate examines Trump’s bid to overturn 2020 loss, GOP voters still buy fraud claimsPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

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SUMMARY:  It’s been nearly a year since voters cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election, but its results — and the violent aftermath — are still at the center of investigation and debate in Washington, D.C.  Amna Nawaz reports.

 

 

"How false fraud claims are eroding integrity of American election systemPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

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SUMMARY:  For a deeper look at the efforts to undermine election integrity in the United States — and what can be done to stop it — Judy Woodruff is joined by Rick Hasen, professor at the University of California Irvine, and author of the book "Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy."



A MAINE ARTIST - Robert Indiana

"The complicated life and legacy of Robert Indiana, artist behind iconic ‘LOVE’ sculpturePBS NewsHour 10/6/2021

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SUMMARY:  When most people think of the artist Robert Indiana, they think of the iconic “LOVE” sculpture with a tilted “O.”  While his art endures, a new book also paints a portrait of him as a troubled, isolated artist.  Maine Public’s Jennifer Rooks has a look for our arts and culture series, CANVAS.



ETHIOPIA IN CRISIS - Attempted Eradication of the People of Tigray

"Ethiopia’s ‘sophisticated campaign’ to withhold food, fuel and other aid from TigrayPBS NewsHour 10/6/2021

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SUMMARY:  Wednesday in the United Nations Security Council, the Secretary-General criticized the Ethiopian government for recently kicking out UN aid workers.  He urged the government to allow aid to flow into the northern region of Tigray, where for nearly the last year, Ethiopia and its allies have been fighting an ethnic, regional force.  Nick Schifrin reports.



BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Priti Krishtel

"A Brief But Spectacular take on the importance of creating a global health systemPBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  Priti Krishtel started her career working with low-income communities in India where she saw her clients suffering, and even dying, because they couldn't afford the lifesaving medicines they needed.  Now, she is advocating for a more equitable healthcare system in the U.S. and around the world.  She gives us her Brief But Spectacular take on the importance of building a system that works for all.



POLITICS OF COVID - Vaccine, Masks, Health Care, Jobs

"Politics of vaccine, mask mandates complicate return to normal on college campusesPBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  Millions of students returned to campus this fall for the in-person college experience, as the delta variant continues to impact parts of the U.S.  Some schools have strict mandates for vaccination, testing and masking.  In other places, that’s not an option.  Hari Sreenivasan begins the latest in our “Rethinking College” series at two of America’s flagship universities.

 

 

"New book shows how failure to implement quick, accurate testing compounded COVID’s spreadPBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  The United States has now passed yet another tragic pandemic milestone.  COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of more than 700,000 Americans.  William Brangham talks to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA Commissioner and author of new book "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic" about where the U.S. response failed and how it can do better next time.

 

 

"Overwhelmed by COVID patients, Alaska’s health care workers also face harassmentPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

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SUMMARY:  New COVID-19 cases continue to fall around the United States — down nearly 25% over the past two weeks, with deaths dropping by more than 10%.  But there are still far too many losing their lives, especially in Alaska where just 58% of the population is fully vaccinated and hospitals are implementing “crisis standards of care" because of a shortage of beds and staff.  William Brangham reports.

 

 

"The pandemic pushed millions of U.S. workers to join the ‘Great Resignation.’ Here’s whyPBS NewsHour 10/8/2021

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SUMMARY:  The September jobs report shows that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% and job openings are at a record high with wages increased again last month, as companies tried to attract new employees.  But more than 25 million people quit their jobs in the first seven months of this year.  And it's now called “the great resignation.”  Business and economics correspondent Paul Solman explains.



CALIFORNIA - Governor Newsom

From the governor that Republicans tried and failed to remove.....

"Gov. Newsom on $123B California schools plan, oil spill clean up and climate changePBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  A key focus of President Joe Biden's spending plan centers around addressing climate change and expanding universal pre-KCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a $123 billion bill that would, among other things, expand pre-K and provide an extra year of kindergarten for some children.  Judy Woodruff speaks with Newsom about these issues and how the California law plans to address them.



PRESIDENT BIDEN - Pitching Infrastructure Bill in Michigan

"Why Biden pitched infrastructure bill in Michigan amid congressional stalematePBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  President Joe Biden spoke in Michigan Tuesday on the need for his infrastructure and social spending plans, as negotiations over both bills are underway on Capitol Hill.  Yamiche Alcindor talks to two leaders in the state about what Michiganders need and the potential impact of the Biden agenda.



SOCIAL MEDIA - Facebook in the Spotlight

"What caused the Facebook outage and how it affected global users, businessesPBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

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SUMMARY:  Facebook and its group of apps and social media platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram were down most of Monday.  The outages come on the eve of another difficult congressional hearing for the social media giant.  The cause of the outages still has not been explained.  Sheera Frenkel of The New York Times reports on Facebook extensively and joins William Brangham to discuss.

 

 

"Facebook whistleblower asks Congress to regulate tech giant’s influence on usersPBS NewsHour 10/5/2021

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SUMMARY:  Facebook is under fire Tuesday following testimony by a former employee before a U.S. Senate committee.  Frances Haugen alleged the company too frequently turns a blind eye to potential harm for the sake of profit.  Facebook denied that in statements to the PBS NewsHour and said it is working to make its platforms safer.  William Brangham has our report.

 

WATCH LIVE:  Facebook whistleblower testifies to Senate on children and social media



U.S. SUPREME COURT - The First Monday in October

"Supreme Court resumes in-person arguments with abortion, guns, religious freedom on agendaPBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

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SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court returned to the courtroom Monday morning to hear its first oral arguments of the new term in-person.  The cases set for argument this term could make it one of the most contentious in many years.  Marcia Coyle, chief Washington [DC] correspondent for The National Law Journal, was one of the two dozen reporters in the courtroom and joins John Yang with more.



JOURNALISM - The "Pandora Papers"

"‘Pandora Papers’ expose how world leaders and the ultra-rich move their moneyPBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

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SUMMARY:  The “Pandora Papers," written by a worldwide consortium of journalists, reveal how world leaders and the mega-rich can hide billions of dollars in secret offshore accounts, which investigators say drain money from government treasuries and can undermine national security.  Nick Schifrin talks to Drew Sullivan, co-founder and editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, or OCCRP.



CALIFORNIA - The Oil Spill

"Southern California oil spill could be ‘ecological disaster,’ take weeks to clean upPBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

Personal note, my nephew and his wife own a home blocks away from Huntington Beach and have verified to the damage.

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SUMMARY:  Federal and state investigators are focusing on a 41-year-old pipeline as the cause of a massive oil spill off the Southern California coast.  The 126,000 gallon oil spill is threatening wildlife and prompting a robust cleanup effort in the Pacific Ocean.  But as Stephanie Sy reports, the scale and scope of the damage remains unclear.



U.S. TRADE - China

"Biden officials to enforce Trump trade deal with China, work toward ‘durable coexistence’PBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

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SUMMARY:  The Biden administration on Monday unveiled its long awaited approach to trade relations with China.  U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she would restart trade talks with Beijing, but maintain most Trump-era tariffs on China.  Nick Schifrin explains.



AMERICAN POLITICS - America's Debt Ceiling

Debt Ceiling:  "The United States debt ceiling or debt limit is a legislative limit on the amount of national debt that can be incurred by the U.S. Treasury, thus limiting how much money the federal government may pay on the debt they already borrowed.  The debt ceiling is an aggregate figure that applies to the gross debt, which includes debt in the hands of the public and in intra-government accounts.  About 0.5% of debt is not covered by the ceiling." - WikipediaWhich means today's Debt Ceiling has to do with Trump era spending and nothing to do with Biden's spending requests.

"Biden accuses GOP of playing ‘Russian roulette’ with economy in debt ceiling standoffPBS NewsHour 10/4/2021

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SUMMARY:  A high stakes standoff between President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans is unfolding in Washington over the country's debt limit.  It comes just two weeks before the United States is set to default on its debt, which could trigger damaging economic consequences for the entire country.  Biden on Monday called Republicans' position "dangerous."  Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff with more.

 

 

"Congress should raise debt ceiling for the long term, White House economic adviser saysPBS NewsHour 10/6/2021

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SUMMARY:  With a new but possibly temporary deal providing a potential pathway out of the impasse between congressional Democrats and Republicans over raising the federal debt limit, Judy Woodruff gets more on the state of play and what's at stake with Jared Bernstein, a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

 

 

"After public barbs, Schumer and McConnell on brink of agreement in private debt talksPBS NewsHour 10/6/2021

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SUMMARY:  There is a new offer on the table in Congress tonight — a potential pathway out of the impasse between Democrats and Republicans over raising the federal debt limit.  The consequences of a default would be severe.  Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports on the new offer and the possibility of it gaining traction.

 

 

"Some in GOP unhappy with McConnell over short-term debt deal with DemsPBS NewsHour 10/7/2021

Comment: Read title as "Trump worshiping GOP unhappy....."

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  After weeks of stalemate, Senators have reached agreement to temporarily raise the debt ceiling, shortly before Republicans prepared to block legislation to suspend the debt limit until December of next year.  The agreement averts a possible economic crisis — for now.  Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins explains the details of the agreement and what lies ahead.



AMERICAN POLITICS - The Hijack (a must watch)

America's Political System Has Been Hijacked

by Micheal Douglas



Sunday, October 03, 2021

ETHNIC MUSIC - Olena UUTAi

"Blessing of Nature" by Olena UUTAi

Hear the voice of Mother Nature and feel it’s healing love.

 

 

Olena UUTAi "The Call of Shaman"



Friday, October 01, 2021

U.S. MILITARY - Next Afghanistan?


"Our Next War in Afghanistan Is Already Looming.  And It May Be Even Harder." by Travis Tritten and Stephen Losey, Military.com 9/30/2021

The dangers that kept the U.S. in Afghanistan for so long are already accumulating again, little more than a month after the last troops left in a chaotic withdrawal.

The al-Qaida terrorist group that drew America into the country two decades ago is poised to come back under the ruling Taliban regime, or it never left at all, depending on whom you ask.

It may be only one to two years before the group could again threaten the U.S. homeland, according to a conservative estimate the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA disclosed in September.  Then, there was the last spasm of violence before the complete pullout of U.S. forces in Afghanistan -- a suicide bombing that killed 13 troops that was attributed to a competing terrorist group, the Islamic State-Khorasan [ISIS-K].

Under that looming terrorism threat, former defense officials, lawmakers and experts believe a new U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan is likely, maybe even inevitable, in what could be an echo of the withdrawal a decade ago from Iraq that cleared the way for the rise of the Islamic State and years of horrific attacks, killings and more war.

"We are going to have to send U.S. military forces back in some form to Afghanistan," said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank.  "I don't have a crystal ball -- I don't know if that is six months or six years -- but the disaster in Iraq took three years to unfold."

Then-President Barack Obama declared the Iraq war over in 2011.  Over the next three years, the Islamic State group grew into a Mideast regional power with control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.  It sponsored attacks in the U.S. and around the world, slaughtered ethnic minorities, and released videos of the beheadings of aid workers, tourists and journalists, including American James Foley, in a display of barbarity that swiftly drew recruits to form a pseudo-state before American forces returned.

Afghanistan, where more than 800,000 U.S. troops fought over four presidencies to ensure it wasn't a terrorist plotting ground, could be the site of the next war on terrorism.  But this time, the military may face even tougher conditions, with the region's remote geography, a lack of bases on the ground, a Taliban regime in control of government, and allies who led a quick initial invasion victory 20 years ago either missing or in exile.

The Pentagon insists it can take out terrorist threats with "over the horizon capabilities," or long-distance surgical strikes.  But there is skepticism over the effectiveness of such strikes, which would be carried out by troops and aircraft stationed more than a thousand miles away.  A botched drone strike on Aug. 29 as the U.S. evacuated Kabul showed how such strikes can go wrong -- 10 civilians, including seven children, killed by mistake due to bad intelligence collected from the air.

"I would love to say we have this magic ability to reach in and kill any bad guy, and maybe we'll kill a few of them," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran who served in the war in Afghanistan, said in an interview.  "But man, we run the real risk of just creating more enemies than we do killing them."

New World or Old Safe Haven

The White House sought to turn the page on the war and shift focus as the dust settled in Kabul, even as concerns grew.

President Joe Biden gave an address Aug. 31, telling the country that he "ended 20 years of war" and that the terrorist threat held at bay for so many years by a U.S. military presence had moved elsewhere.  It was an effort to explain a military-led withdrawal and evacuation that saw desperate Afghans clinging to a plane departing Kabul, the deadly suicide bombing, and finally the tragic U.S. airstrike that killed only civilians.

"This is a new world.  The terror threat has metastasized across the world, well beyond Afghanistan," said Biden, pointing to Syria, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.

Biden's top military adviser, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and the head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie would later testify on Sept. 28 to the Senate Armed Services Committee that they recommended maintaining troops in the country.

But the Pentagon would instead keep an eye on the region from afar, Biden said in his address.  Afghanistan was a priority, but no longer a top priority.

On the same day as Biden's address, al-Qaida released a statement praising what it called a Taliban victory over the "filth of the Americans," according to a translation posted by the Long War Journal, a publication of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The United Nations Security Council had reported in June that large numbers of al-Qaida fighters and other extremists aligned with the Taliban remained in Afghanistan.  The group was present in 15 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces but was laying low and minimizing communication with Taliban leaders to avoid international attention, the U.N. reported.

"In many ways, we're in the exact same place we were 20 years ago, and that is with a Taliban-al-Qaida safe haven in Afghanistan," Bowman said.

Top Pentagon officials acknowledged the terror group, which plotted the 9/11 attacks, still had a presence in Afghanistan during hours of questioning from the Senate committee on Sept. 28.  The group's original leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. special operations raid on a Pakistan compound in 2011.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said there were still "remnants" in the Taliban-ruled country, and Milley told the committee al-Qaida exists and wants to regroup from there to strike the U.S.

"Folks, we are going to pay for what we just did," Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said during the hearing.  "I got young kids, y'all got kids and grandkids, and we're going to be back in there fighting."

Few Levers Left to Pull

Any U.S. military return to Afghanistan would likely require a major emergency, something akin to the Islamic State group's surge through Syria and northern Iraq in 2014, said retired Gen. Joe Votel, who served as head of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, and also led Army Rangers in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Public horror and outrage fueled a years-long U.S. air campaign, which was assisted by a small number of ground troops working with local Syrian and Iraqi forces.  A military presence remains in Iraq, but Biden ordered the combat mission to end this year.

"I could definitely see us responding to a threat [in Afghanistan], and I would certainly hope that we would," Votel said in an interview.

But he said any military operations are likely to focus more narrowly on specific targets there, rather than trying to solve conditions in the country that created them.  The U.S. poured $2.3 trillion into rebuilding Afghanistan over the 20-year war in hopes of creating a functioning democratic government, according to Brown University's Cost of War project, though that government and its security forces crumbled within days during the Taliban advance over the summer.

Over-the-horizon capabilities, the airstrikes carried out from distant bases, are now the first line of defense, mainly because military options are otherwise limited following the withdrawal.

"We have very few levers in Afghanistan right now because we've completely pulled out," McKenzie said in his Senate testimony.

The U.S. military lost its ground base in Kabul, the partnership with elite Afghan commandos who were the most effective of the U.S.-trained troops, and much of its intelligence feed, making what was set to be a difficult mission over a remote, landlocked country even harder, said William Wechsler, senior director of the Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council.

"Whether we like it or not, we are now in a race, and the race is between the Salafi jihadists' predictable efforts to build external attack capacities and our efforts to establish an acceptably effective over-the-horizon counter-terrorism capability," said Wechsler, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism during the Obama administration.

Lack of Intel and Hard Geography

Austin told the Senate that the military's use of over-the-horizon strikes is fairly common and effective.  He pointed to a September airstrike in Syria that the Pentagon said killed an al-Qaida terrorist leader.

"Over-the-horizon operations are difficult but absolutely possible, and the intelligence that supports them comes from a variety of sources and not just U.S. boots on the ground," Austin told the Senate committee on Sept. 28.

But Retired Gen. John Allen, now the president of the Brookings Institution, said that type of intelligence is crucial for such operations.  Allen was the NATO International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan, and also served as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the U.S.-led group of nations that fought the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

"Over-the-horizon targeting implies that you have eyes on the target, you've got some form of boots on the ground or intelligence development capability that's on the ground," Allen said in a Middle East Institute discussion Sept. 16.  "We have none, we've basically given it up."

The last U.S. airstrike [video] of the Afghanistan war, which mistakenly killed 10 civilians in a home near the Kabul airport, illustrated how horribly wrong operations overseen from abroad can go.

After receiving conflicting intelligence about the home being used by ISIS-K for a planned attack drawn from video captured by six Reaper drones watching from above, a strike team located abroad launched a Hellfire missile that killed an aid worker as well as seven children.

"I would reject a parallel between this operation and an over-the-horizon strike against an ISIS-K target, again, because we will have an opportunity to further develop the target and time to look at pattern of life," meaning long-term monitoring of targets, McKenzie said in a Sept. 17 briefing admitting the botched strike.  "That time was not available to us because this was an imminent threat to our forces."

During the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, the presence of special operators on the ground was key to targeting the enemy.

But the withdrawal and the loss of the Kabul airport and Bagram airport, one of the most capable and advanced in the region, has hobbled the ability to insert troops if needed and has put any U.S. aerial operations up against the difficult geography of the country.

"The distances here are considerable, and it's hard to cover the distances and sustain these efforts when you have a dynamic threat on the ground," Votel said.

Iran airspace is a no-go for the military, and Allen said Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely try to block any attempts by the U.S. to set up operating bases in the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that box in Afghanistan in the north.

U.S. military strikes could then be dependent on Pakistan giving clearance to fly through its territory.  But Islamabad may feel pressure to ally with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, leaving access an open and troubling question as its relationship with the U.S. evolves post-withdrawal, according to Allen.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to say whether arrangements have been made with Pakistan for the U.S. to use its airspace for over-the-horizon strikes.

As intelligence and access have grown harder, the U.S. also faces a third challenge: the loss of local partners.  Indigenous forces were key in both the early days of the Afghanistan war and the operations against the Islamic State in the Middle East.

Afghanistan's Northern Alliance opposition in the Panjshir Valley proved capable in 2001 and gave the U.S. military a toehold.  A fledgling anti-Taliban resistance in Panjshir has now been snuffed out as would-be opposition leaders fled into neighboring countries.

The strategic difficulties with continuing military operations in Afghanistan, and the grim terrorism assessments, came as Congress and the Pentagon wrestled with the legacy of the 20-year war.

"I don't think it's pre-ordained that we're going to have to go back," Austin told senators.

The question is what would prompt the military to go back in, and whether it would take another attack on the U.S. homeland, Kinzinger said.  Or would it require a steady drumbeat of attacks and atrocities like those committed by the Islamic State in the vacuum left in northern Iraq and war-torn Syria during the last decade?

"I think it's one thing to reintroduce troops into Iraq like we did, but Afghanistan is a whole different thing," Kinzinger said.  "That's a frightening idea."



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

U.S. MARINES - Lt. Col. Stu Scheller



Please view the video linked below.

"Marine Officer Who Blasted Leaders over Afghanistan Withdrawal Is in the Brig" by Konstantin Toropin, Military.com 9/28/2021

Lt. Col. Stu Scheller, the Marine officer who posted a viral video demanding accountability from military leaders for the failures in Afghanistan, is now in the brig, Marine officials confirmed Tuesday.

Scheller is "currently in pre-trial confinement" while he awaits an [UCMJ] Article 32 preliminary hearing, Marine Corps spokesman Sam Stephenson said in a statement.

"The time, date, and location of the proceedings have not been determined," he added.

Marine Corps officials said there are no specific charges "preferred" or initiated against Scheller.  Instead, the hearing is to consider whether charges of contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey lawful general orders, or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman should be recommended to his commander for action.

The service did not provide details to Military.com of any orders that Scheller may have failed to follow, or officers he may have disobeyed.

Although an Article 32 hearing is often compared to a grand jury in the civilian legal system, legal experts note that the analogy is not entirely apt.  Defendants at these hearings have legal counsel present, who are able to preview and challenge the evidence against their clients.

Scheller has had a brief but tumultuous time in the public eye since his first video went up on social media on Aug. 26, 2021.  After being relieved of command, he posted a second, puzzling video three days later that featured cryptic threats to "bring the whole f---ing system down" and a public resignation of his commission.

The second video prompted concerns over his well-being.  After it was posted, the Marine Corps announced in a statement that it had taken steps to "ensure the safety and well-being of Lt. Col. Scheller and his family."

Scheller wrote on Facebook that, when he came to work following the second video, he "was ordered by my commanding officer to go to the Hospital for a mental health screening."

"I was evaluated by the mental health specialists and then sent on my way," he added in the post.

Since then, the Marine officer has continued to post videos, status updates and other musings on social media.  According to Scheller, he made those posts despite the advice of friends, family and lawyers.  In Sept. 16 posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, he wrote that he would make a public recommendation of charges of dereliction of duty against Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command.

A long post made Sept. 25 ended with the line, "Col Emmel please have the MPs waiting for me at 08:00 on Monday.  I'm ready for jail." Scheller's last post to date was made on Facebook the next day.

Public criticism of the military can cost officers their careers.  In May, a Space Force commander was fired from his post for comments made during a podcast promoting his new book, in which he claims Marxist ideologies are becoming prevalent in the U.S. military.  More recently, Lt. Col. Doug Hague publicly declared he was resigning from the Army over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.


Monday, September 27, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 9/24/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on Democratic infighting, raising debt ceiling, border crisisPBS NewsHour 9/24/2021

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the divide among Democrats over the $3.5 trillion spending bill, the looming debt ceiling deadline, and the Biden administration’s response to the Haitian migrant issue on the southern border.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  As President Biden's legislative agenda stalls in Congress, he has run into yet another issue, or, we should say, continues to run into the issue of turmoil on the Southern border.

For a look at this busy week and what it all means, we're joined by Brooks and Capehart.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Hello to both of you.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  You too, Judy.

Judy Woodruff:  Very good to see you…

Jonathan Capehart:  You too.

Judy Woodruff:  … on this Friday.

And there is so much to talk about.

So, David, it does look like there's real trouble for President Biden's domestic agenda.  And it's not the Republicans this time, at least on the part that he's run into, headwinds this week.  It's his own Democratic colleagues.  What is behind this?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes, it's just an intellectual difference.

The — and what strikes me is how so many people are drawing red lines.  The progressives are saying, we want $3.5 trillion.  We're not going under.  Manchin and others say $1.5 trillion, we're not going over.

And so that's a gigantic gap.  They can't even agree on when to vote on what.  And so I think what they need to do is look at, what is the key insight of each side?  The progressives are right that we need something big.  We're a nation in decline.  We're a nation — because of disunity.  Lots of people have been left behind by this economy.  And they're right to do something big to try to jolt us back to unity.

The moderates, in my view, are right that we're not going to have a European-style welfare state.  We're just not that kind of country.  We're an individualistic country.  We like to tie benefits to work and have a work obligation.  We're never going to give away as much money in taxes as the Europeans do.  The Norwegians give away about 46 percent of their GDP to taxes.  If this passed, it would get us up to 19.

We're just not that kind of country.  So, if you take the scope of the progressives and the values of the moderates, I think you can get a deal, but they're pretty far away from it right now.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, they both may have a point, Jonathan, but the President's — the future of his of his term in office could be in the balance here.

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, sure, it could be in the balance, but we don't know.

And I look at this as being the storm before the calm.  David's right.  A lot of red lines are being drawn.  And they seem to be being drawn since Wednesday, since they all went to the White House and had their respective meetings with the President.  And then they come out and then they state their positions again.

But I have been paying close attention to the language that they're using.  They're being very firm about what they're for and what they're not for.  But they're not attacking each other, the way they were during the summer.

And so I wonder if this is the usual Washington [DC] theatrics of just doing all of this performance, and then, at some point, when we're — when we least expect it, breaking news announcement, here's the deal.

Now, this is a different Washington.  Who knows if that moment is going to come?  I pray that it does, one, because what they're arguing over is very important for the American people.  Two, if they don't come to some sort of deal, the President's agenda goes from being stalled to dead.  And then, three, it means finally that Washington is completely broken if they can't come to some agreement here.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, it's a different — and then, meantime, there's another massive headache the President has.  And I don't know whether it's another Washington performance, but it's over the debt limit, David.

And this one is between the Democrats and the Republicans.  The Republicans are saying no way.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And when the shoe was on the other foot, they wanted the Republicans, when they were controlling things, to take it.  It's — what's changed is that, 10 years ago, people really used to care about debts and deficits.  It was ranked as a major issue by a lot of Americans.  Now, for whatever reason, some maybe dubious reasons, nobody cares, maybe just low interest rates.

So now there's much greater tolerance among both Republicans and Democrats to run up the debt.  And so voting to raise the limit is not as politically costly as it used to be.  I wish they would just get away with — do away with the whole thing.

We have committed to spend.

Judy Woodruff:  The debt limit, yes.  Yes.

David Brooks:  Yes.

We have committed to spend the money.  The debt limit just says, yes, we're going to borrow the money to spend the money we already committed to.  So they should raise it to a gazillion dollars.  And then we never approach the limit, hopefully.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  And then they should move forward.  It's a bit of ballet that we don't need.

Judy Woodruff:  Gazillion?  What do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

Jonathan Capehart:  Sure.  Gazillion is a great numerator.

But this is sort of a wonky thing, but it's super important for the American people to understand that raising the debt ceiling is not giving Washington a blank check.  It is allowing Washington to pay for the things that they have already bought.

If the government does not raise the debt ceiling, the Bipartisan Policy Center this morning put out their charts, and they have turned me into a huge debt ceiling nerd.  Started back in 2011, when Jay Powell, who was with Bipartisan Policy Center then, put this together.  He is now the Fed Chairman.

I just want the American people to understand this.  If the debt ceiling is not raised and the government can't borrow any money, it has to use the cash it has on hand.  And I have this chart here.  I don't know if the camera can get it, but I will just talk it through, that, on October 15, which they think might be the first day that we reach that X-date, the government will bring in $27 billion in revenues, but will have $43 billion in expenses.

And that's just on that first day.  All that debt that — all those things that aren't paid carries over to the next day.  I can't — we don't — I don't even have enough time to tell you the avalanche of harm that would come to the American people, to the federal government and to the global economy if that debt ceiling isn't raised.

Judy Woodruff:  And not to mention that, government shutdown and all the all the consequences of that, David.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And both the topics we have talked about so far that, the consequences of failure are cataclysmic.  And so I presume, in a normal, functioning democracy, that we don't walk over those cliffs, but who knows?

Judy Woodruff:  I'm just taking a deep breath here.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Another, of course, major issue the President had to deal with this week, again, Jonathan, was the Southern border.

In addition to what's already been happening there, and the Haitian migrants were starting to gather, in the past week, these images of Border Patrol using reins or other — whatever, belts to go after the migrants.

President Biden has come in from enormous criticism from fellow Democrats over this.  And here's how he commented this morning on what happened.

President Joe Biden:  Of course I take responsibility.  I'm President.  But it was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did, horses nearly running them over and people being strapped.  It's outrageous.

I promise you, those people will pay.  They will be — an investigation under way now, and there will be consequences.

Judy Woodruff:  And, today, we reported there are no Haitian migrants at that particular place.  We don't know whether more will be coming.

But, Jonathan, how is the President handling this?  And how much of a of a political hit is it for him?

Jonathan Capehart:  I will take the political hit first.  It's a huge hit.

And it's a huge hit.  One, with immigration, the President was already on squishy ground with the American people.  But those images that came out of the men on horseback and Black people running, it was just — is a little too close to home for a lot of us.

And for a President who campaigned on a more humane immigration policy, for a President who, on election night, said to African Americans, you brought me here and I will not forget it, that's why you had a lot of Democrats, particularly African American Democrats, saying to the President, what is going on here?  You must — you must do something about this.

And then, on top of it, what made it even more inhumane is that the President or the administration deported Haitians who had not lived in Haiti for more than 10 years to a country that is still dealing with an earthquake that happened and a Presidential assassination.

Judy Woodruff:  How can — immigration, every President counting back as far as we can count, this has been a tough issue.  Where do you see this going?

David Brooks:  Yes.

Well, we had our last successful Immigration Bill, comprehensive one, under Ronald Reagan.  That was a long time ago.  And, so, he's inherited a gigantic mess that nobody has had the solution for.  I think Biden did make it worse.

And part of the problem was, they promised, on day one, they would reverse all the Trump rules.  Reversing the Trump rules was a good idea.  But doing it all at once, on day one, people in the transition, in the White House were warning about that.  They were saying, we will be overwhelmed.  It'll be a big open door signal.  And we don't have the facilities to handle what's about to hit us.

And that turned out to be true.  And I think what bothers me, aside from what Jonathan was just expressing, was, it seems to be arbitrary, like who gets sent where.  It seems like it's just like, who knows who's being decided?  There's no methodology.  There's no procedure for a lot of people.

And so we're just overwhelmed right now.  And it's disturbing that we're overwhelmed after basically 40 years of this mess.

Judy Woodruff:  It's hard to see how this is an issue that gets resolved any time in the near term.

So, the last thing we want to bring up is, it was September 21, 2001, just a week-and-a-half after the 9/11 attacks, and here was the beginning of the "NewsHour" that night with Jim Lehrer.

Jim Lehrer, Co-Founder and Former Anchor, "PBS NewsHour":  And that brings us to Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, joined tonight by his new regular partner, David Brooks of The Weekly Standard.

Welcome, David.

David Brooks, Weekly Standard:  Thank you.

Jim Lehrer:  Formally, welcome.  You have been here many, many times before.

Judy Woodruff:  And that man has not changed one iota since September…

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  Yes, I wanted to point out I was 12 at that time.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  So, I'm — I don't know how old I am now.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, you joined — I mean, you had been on the "NewsHour," but you joined this program at a very sobering, difficult moment for this country.

It was, what, 10 days after 9/11.  And you have been through a lot of ups and downs with the country ever since.

But just talk a little bit about what it's meant to you to be here at this table every Friday night.

David Brooks:  Yes, I will tell you what it's been like.

Like, it's the end of the week.  And, often, I'm tired.  Sometimes, I'm under the weather.  Sometimes, I'm stressed.  I come in here a little low.  I walk out of here an hour later super charged up and super happy, because I get to work with the people I have worked with, and not only the people on set, but Leah (ph) in the makeup room.  Charlie's back there, our lighting guy.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  And so it's just — you feel uplifted when you walk out.

And then, when you think about 20 years, I think about the time and about '04, '05.  Mark and I were on with Jim.  And we showed a Marine funeral just before our segment.  And Jim started crying.  And Mark and I gave like 10 minute answers, so Jim could compose itself.

And so that — that was just like — that's something we're going through together.

I think about sitting with Mark and Jim when Barack Obama gave his 2004 speech, that first big speech, which was watching a star appear, but it was also about a version of America that he was describing.

I think about the day Gwen died.  And I go through all the e-mails that she sent me over the years, and some were just about our friendship.  But a lot were tough.  Like, Gwen demanded excellence.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  And if you didn't show up, Gwen was like, show up.

(LAUGHTER)

David Brooks:  And then with you, I mean, you're the hardest-working woman in show business.  Like, I — you have not had a day where you don't completely show up for this thing.

And so you get a sense of people who respect their job and mostly respect the audience.  And out of that derives a kind of patriotism.

And other networks talk a lot about patriotism, but I think we — we try to serve a certain kind of America.  And we try to exemplify that service in a way we do things, in the culture around here.

And it's just been an honor to be part of that for 20 years.  And my next 60 years will be just as good.

(LAUGHTER)

Judy Woodruff:  Next 60.

I mean, the "NewsHour" has been just incredibly fortunate and honored to have you with us and, of course, Mark for all those years.  And then Jonathan joined us almost a year ago.

And, Jonathan, you get to sit next to David on Friday nights.  It's not exactly like every other television show.

Jonathan Capehart:  No, it's not like every other television show.

And I knew that this was an important job to get, succeeding Mark Shields, the e-mails that came in from people saying:  Oh, my God, Mark Shields is gone.  I'm so upset.  I'm so sad.  We miss him.  But I'm glad you're there.

It was then that I realized how important this job is, how important it is, what we do.

But what makes this so much fun and why it's so wonderful to celebrate David is, we have been doing this in other venues for a few years now.  And I always look forward to being with David, because you're to the right of me.  I'm to the left of you, completely different backgrounds.

And yet, when I sit with David and talk with David, I feel like I have learned something.  I'm smarter.

The way David speaks about all the issues, it's inviting.  And that's what makes Brooks and Capehart, Shields and Brooks and all the other iterations of this so wonderful.  We come to the table to bring news, educate the audience on the inside, but then to do it in a way that invites the audience in.

Judy Woodruff:  There's clearly some magic that happens here.

David Brooks:  Thank you, Jonathan.  Thank you.

Judy Woodruff:  And we are grateful to both of you, to Jonathan Capehart and to David Brooks.

Congratulations on 20 years.

Twenty years more, 40 years more coming up.

David Brooks:  Shoot me.

(LAUGHTER)