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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Afghans Somber but Not Surprised as U.S. Calls Drone Strike a ‘Tragic Mistake’ - The New York Times

Afghans Somber but Not Surprised as U.S. Calls Drone Strike a ‘Tragic Mistake’

"Afghans expressed a familiar anger at the Pentagon’s admission that an attack killing 10 civilians was a mistake, one of many such errors during the 20-year war.

transcript

Pentagon Admits It Made a ‘Tragic Mistake’ in Kabul Drone Strike

Following a New York Times investigation, the Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on Aug. 29 was a “tragic mistake” that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.

A comprehensive review of all the available footage and reporting on the matter led us to a final conclusion that as many as 10 civilians were killed in the strike, including up to seven children. At the time of the strike, based upon all the intelligence and what was being reported, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport. Based upon that assessment, I and other leaders in the department repeatedly asserted the validity of this strike. I’m here today to set the record straight, and acknowledge our mistakes. I will end my remarks with the same note of sincere and profound condolences to the family and friends of those who died in this tragic strike. We are exploring the possibility of ex-gratia payments. And I’ll finish by saying that while the team conducted the strike did so in the honest belief that they were preventing an imminent attack on our forces and civilian evacuees, we now understand that to be incorrect.

Following a New York Times investigation, the Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on Aug. 29 was a “tragic mistake” that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The Pentagon’s public apology and admission of having made a “tragic mistake” in killing an Afghan aid worker and seven children from his extended family in a drone strike was broadcast Saturday on Afghan television, but appeared to bring little solace to the family members left behind.

Images on Afghan television and social media showed some relatives holding up photos of the lost children to reporters, including of a child as young as 2 who died in the blast. Another image showed several of the somber-faced relatives seated on the dusty, rocky hillside where the family members were buried. In total, 10 civilians were killed in the strike.

On social media, Afghans expressed anger and frustration, but little surprise, at the Pentagon’s mistake, although they demanded compensation for the family. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, said the military was discussing the possibility of payments.

For more than two weeks, the United States military had insisted the attack on Aug. 29 was warranted and that the aid worker, Zemari Ahmadi, who helped provide basic food items to impoverished Afghans, was connected to the Islamic State. One general called the attack “righteous” and insisted there had been secondary explosions, implying that explosives had been in the vehicle.

After a deeper review by the Pentagon, which followed a New York Times investigation casting doubt on Mr. Ahmadi’s connection to ISIS and on any explosives being in his vehicle, the military concluded that there had been a series of mistakes.

“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III in a statement.

Far from being an enemy of the United States, Mr. Ahmadi was hoping to emigrate there.

The aid organization he worked for over the past 15 years, Nutrition and Education International, or NEI, was based in Pasadena, Calif. It was founded by a nutrition scientist who had observed firsthand the malnutrition in Afghanistan’s Balkh Province while lecturing there in 2003, according to the organization’s website, and he started the nonprofit to encourage Afghan farmers to grow soybeans.

A relative of Zemari Ahmadi near the car that was destroyed in the U.S. air strike last month.
Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The organization helped establish processing facilities — Mr. Ahmadi worked on setting up 11 of them — so that the beans could be made ready for cooking. Staff members then distributed the harvest to needy families.

On its website, the organization has a tribute to Mr. Ahmadi noting that “Zemari was well respected by his colleagues and compassionate towards the poor and needy.”

Updates on Afghanistan  Sign up for a daily email with the latest news on the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

NEI had begun the process of filing refugee forms so that Mr. Ahmadi could emigrate with his family to the United States.

Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan


Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that came after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including floggings, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as rulers.

While the drone strike has received considerable attention, in part because it came in the last 48 hours the United States was in Afghanistan, it was a familiar sequence for Afghans and those who track civilian casualties.

Over much of the last 20 years, the United States has repeatedly targeted the wrong people in its effort to go after terrorists. While it has killed many who were connected in one way or another to organizations that threatened the United States, there is a well-documented record of strikes that killed innocent people from almost the very first months of its presence in Afghanistan, starting in December 2001 and ending with the death of Mr. Ahmadi and members of his family.

In the years in between, the United States killed dozens of civilians at a weddingand more than 100 civilians, many of them children, in Farah Province in 2009. In 2016, the military mistakenly bombed a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz Province that killed 42 doctors, patients and medical staff.

“The U.S. military has admitted to hundreds and hundreds of ‘mistaken’ killings over nearly 20 years of airstrikes, typically only after initially denying problems and then only investigating after public exposure by media or other independent observers,” John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a Twitter post on Friday, shortly after the military took responsibility for the mistake.

“The U.S. has a terrible record in this regard, and after decades of failed accountability, in the context of the end of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. should acknowledge that their processes have failed, and that vital reforms and more independent outside scrutiny is vital,” he said.

Sami Sahak, Wali Arian and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting."

Afghans Somber but Not Surprised as U.S. Calls Drone Strike a ‘Tragic Mistake’ - The New York Times

Pentagon acknowledges Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians.

Pentagon acknowledges Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians.


The US Pentagon finally admits it has been lying for a week about the fatal drone strike in Afghanistan which murdered 10 people including 7 children.  The government lied for a week calling it a legitimate attack.


transcript

“How a U.S. Drone Strike Killed the Wrong Person

A week after a New York Times visual investigation, the U.S. military admitted to a “tragic mistake” in a drone strike in Kabul last month that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.

[explosion] In one of the final acts of its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the United States fired a missile from a drone at a car in Kabul. It was parked in the courtyard of a home, and the explosion killed 10 people, including 43-year-old Zemari Ahmadi and seven children, according to his family. The Pentagon claimed that Ahmadi was a facilitator for the Islamic State, and that his car was packed with explosives, posing an imminent threat to U.S. troops guarding the evacuation at the Kabul airport. “The procedures were correctly followed, and it was a righteous strike.” What the military apparently didn’t know was that Ahmadi was a longtime aid worker, who colleagues and family members said spent the hours before he died running office errands, and ended his day by pulling up to his house. Soon after, his Toyota was hit with a 20-pound Hellfire missile. What was interpreted as the suspicious moves of a terrorist may have just been an average day in his life. And it’s possible that what the military saw Ahmadi loading into his car were water canisters he was bringing home to his family — not explosives. Using never-before seen security camera footage of Ahmadi, interviews with his family, co-workers and witnesses, we will piece together for the first time his movements in the hours before he was killed. Zemari Ahmadi was an electrical engineer by training. For 14 years, he had worked for the Kabul office of Nutrition and Education International. “NEI established a total of 11 soybean processing plants in Afghanistan.” It’s a California based NGO that fights malnutrition. On most days, he drove one of the company’s white Toyota corollas, taking his colleagues to and from work and distributing the NGO’s food to Afghans displaced by the war. Only three days before Ahmadi was killed, 13 U.S. troops and more than 170 Afghan civilians died in an Islamic State suicide attack at the airport. The military had given lower-level commanders the authority to order airstrikes earlier in the evacuation, and they were bracing for what they feared was another imminent attack. To reconstruct Ahmadi’s movements on Aug. 29, in the hours before he was killed, The Times pieced together the security camera footage from his office, with interviews with more than a dozen of Ahmadi’s colleagues and family members. Ahmadi appears to have left his home around 9 a.m. He then picked up a colleague and his boss’s laptop near his house. It’s around this time that the U.S. military claimed it observed a white sedan leaving an alleged Islamic State safehouse, around five kilometers northwest of the airport. That’s why the U.S. military said they tracked Ahmadi’s Corolla that day. They also said they intercepted communications from the safehouse, instructing the car to make several stops. But every colleague who rode with Ahmadi that day said what the military interpreted as a series of suspicious moves was just a typical day in his life. After Ahmadi picked up another colleague, the three stopped to get breakfast, and at 9:35 a.m., they arrived at the N.G.O.’s office. Later that morning, Ahmadi drove some of his co-workers to a Taliban-occupied police station to get permission for future food distribution at a new displacement camp. At around 2 p.m., Ahmadi and his colleagues returned to the office. The security camera footage we obtained from the office is crucial to understanding what happens next. The camera’s timestamp is off, but we went to the office and verified the time. We also matched an exact scene from the footage with a timestamp satellite image to confirm it was accurate. A 2:35 p.m., Ahmadi pulls out a hose, and then he and a co-worker fill empty containers with water. Earlier that morning, we saw Ahmadi bring these same empty plastic containers to the office. There was a water shortage in his neighborhood, his family said, so he regularly brought water home from the office. At around 3:38 p.m., a colleague moves Ahmadi’s car further into the driveway. A senior U.S. official told us that at roughly the same time, the military saw Ahmadi’s car pull into an unknown compound 8 to 12 kilometers southwest of the airport. That overlaps with the location of the NGO’s office, which we believe is what the military called an unknown compound. With the workday ending, an employee switched off the office generator and the feed from the camera ends. We don’t have footage of the moments that followed. But it’s at this time, the military said that its drone feed showed four men gingerly loading wrapped packages into the car. Officials said they couldn’t tell what was inside them. This footage from earlier in the day shows what the men said they were carrying — their laptops one in a plastic shopping bag. And the only things in the trunk, Ahmadi’s co-workers said, were the water containers. Ahmadi dropped each one of them off, then drove to his home in a dense neighborhood near the airport. He backed into the home’s small courtyard. Children surrounded the car, according to his brother. A U.S. official said the military feared the car would leave again, and go into an even more crowded street or to the airport itself. The drone operators, who hadn’t been watching Ahmadi’s home at all that day, quickly scanned the courtyard and said they saw only one adult male talking to the driver and no children. They decided this was the moment to strike. A U.S. official told us that the strike on Ahmadi’s car was conducted by an MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired a single Hellfire missile with a 20-pound warhead. We found remnants of the missile, which experts said matched a Hellfire at the scene of the attack. In the days after the attack, the Pentagon repeatedly claimed that the missile strike set off other explosions, and that these likely killed the civilians in the courtyard. “Significant secondary explosions from the targeted vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.” “Because there were secondary explosions, there’s a reasonable conclusion to be made that there was explosives in that vehicle.” But a senior military official later told us that it was only possible to probable that explosives in the car caused another blast. We gathered photos and videos of the scene taken by journalists and visited the courtyard multiple times. We shared the evidence with three weapons experts who said the damage was consistent with the impact of a Hellfire missile. They pointed to the small crater beneath Ahmadi’s car and the damage from the metal fragments of the warhead. This plastic melted as a result of a car fire triggered by the missile strike. All three experts also pointed out what was missing: any evidence of the large secondary explosions described by the Pentagon. No collapsed or blown-out walls, including next to the trunk with the alleged explosives. No sign that a second car parked in the courtyard was overturned by a large blast. No destroyed vegetation. All of this matches what eyewitnesses told us, that a single missile exploded and triggered a large fire. There is one final detail visible in the wreckage: containers identical to the ones that Ahmadi and his colleague filled with water and loaded into his trunk before heading home. Even though the military said the drone team watched the car for eight hours that day, a senior official also said they weren’t aware of any water containers. The Pentagon has not provided The Times with evidence of explosives in Ahmadi’s vehicle or shared what they say is the intelligence that linked him to the Islamic State. But the morning after the U.S. killed Ahmadi, the Islamic State did launch rockets at the airport from a residential area Ahmadi had driven through the previous day. And the vehicle they used … … was a white Toyota. The U.S. military has so far acknowledged only three civilian deaths from its strike, and says there is an investigation underway. They have also admitted to knowing nothing about Ahmadi before killing him, leading them to interpret the work of an engineer at a U.S. NGO as that of an Islamic State terrorist. Four days before Ahmadi was killed, his employer had applied for his family to receive refugee resettlement in the United States. At the time of the strike, they were still awaiting approval. Looking to the U.S. for protection, they instead became some of the last victims in America’s longest war. “Hi, I’m Evan, one of the producers on this story. Our latest visual investigation began with word on social media of an explosion near Kabul airport. It turned out that this was a U.S. drone strike, one of the final acts in the 20-year war in Afghanistan. Our goal was to fill in the gaps in the Pentagon’s version of events. We analyzed exclusive security camera footage, and combined it with eyewitness accounts and expert analysis of the strike aftermath. You can see more of our investigations by signing up for our newsletter.”

A week after a New York Times visual investigation, the U.S. military admitted to a “tragic mistake” in a drone strike in Kabul last month that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.By The New York Times. Video frame: Nutrition & Education International.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon acknowledged on Friday that the last U.S. drone strike before American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, after initially saying it had been necessary to prevent an attack on troops.

The extraordinary admission provided a horrific punctuation to the chaotic ending of the 20-year war in Afghanistan and will put President Biden and the Pentagon at the center of a growing number of investigations into how the administration and the military carried out Mr. Biden’s order to withdraw from the country. 

Almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, and then days, and then weeks after the Aug. 29 drone strike turned out to be false. The explosives the military claimed were loaded in the trunk of a white Toyota sedan struck by the drone’s Hellfire missile were probably water bottles, and a secondary explosion in the courtyard in a densely populated Kabul neighborhood where the attack took place was probably a propane or gas tank, officials said. 

In short, the car posed no threat at all, investigators concluded.

transcript

Pentagon Admits It Made a ‘Tragic Mistake’ in Kabul Drone Strike

Following a New York Times investigation, the Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on Aug. 29 was a “tragic mistake” that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.

A comprehensive review of all the available footage and reporting on the matter led us to a final conclusion that as many as 10 civilians were killed in the strike, including up to seven children. At the time of the strike, based upon all the intelligence and what was being reported, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport. Based upon that assessment, I and other leaders in the department repeatedly asserted the validity of this strike. I’m here today to set the record straight, and acknowledge our mistakes. I will end my remarks with the same note of sincere and profound condolences to the family and friends of those who died in this tragic strike. We are exploring the possibility of ex-gratia payments. And I’ll finish by saying that while the team conducted the strike did so in the honest belief that they were preventing an imminent attack on our forces and civilian evacuees, we now understand that to be incorrect.

Following a New York Times investigation, the Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on Aug. 29 was a “tragic mistake” that killed 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The acknowledgment of the mistake came a week after a New York Times investigation of video evidence challenged assertions by the military that it had struck a vehicle carrying explosives meant for Hamid Karzai International Airport. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III ordered a review of the military’s inquiry into the drone strike to determine, among other issues, who should be held accountable and “the degree to which strike authorities, procedures and processes need to be altered in the future.”

Congressional lawmakers, meanwhile, said they wanted their own accounting from the Pentagon. 

Senior Defense Department leaders conceded that the driver of the car, Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group, had nothing to do with the Islamic State, contrary to what military officials had previously asserted. Mr. Ahmadi’s only connection to the terrorist group appeared to be a fleeting and innocuous interaction with people in what the military believed was an ISIS safe house in Kabul, an initial link that led military analysts to make one mistaken judgment after another while tracking Mr. Ahmadi’s movements in the sedan for the next eight hours.

“I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference on Friday.

The general said the strike was carried out “in the profound belief” that ISIS was about to attack Kabul’s airport, as the organization had done three days earlier, killing more than 140 people, including 13 American service members.

Seven children, including this boy’s sister, were killed in the drone attack.
Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The general said the Times investigation helped investigators determine that they had struck a wrong target. “As we in fact worked on our investigation, we used all available information,” General McKenzie told reporters. “Certainly that included some of the stuff The New York Times did.”

The findings of the inquiry by the military’s Central Command mirrored the Times investigation, which also included interviews with more than a dozen of the driver’s co-workers and family members in Kabul. The Times inquiry raised doubts about the U.S. version of events, including whether explosives were present in the vehicle. It also identified the driver and obtained security camera footage from Mr. Ahmadi’s employers that documented crucial moments during his day that challenged the military’s account. 

Mr.  Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said the missile was launched because the military had intelligence suggesting a credible, imminent threat to the airport, where U.S. and allied troops were frantically trying to evacuate people. General Milley later called the strike “righteous.”

On Friday, General Milley suggested that he spoke too soon. 

“In a dynamic high-threat environment, the commanders on the ground had appropriate authority and had reasonable certainty that the target was valid, but after deeper post-strike analysis, our conclusion is that innocent civilians were killed,” General Milley said in a statement. “This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident.”

General McKenzie said the conditions on the ground before the strike contributed to the errant strike. “We did not have the luxury to develop pattern of life,” he said. 

Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer  A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Updates on Afghanistan  Sign up for a daily email with the latest news on the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon will work with the families and other government officials on reparation payments, General McKenzie said. Without any American troops in Afghanistan, he said that the task may be difficult, but that “we recognize the obligation.” 

Military officials said they did not know the identity of the car’s driver when the drone fired, but they had deemed him suspicious because of his activities that day: He had visited a suspected Islamic State safe house in a white Toyota Corolla, the same model that other intelligence that day indicated was involved in an imminent plot, and at one point he loaded the vehicle with what they thought could be explosives.

Military officials on Friday defended their assessment that the safe house was a hub of ISIS planning, based on a combination of intercepted communications, information from informants and aerial imagery.  Rockets were fired at the airport 24 hours after the U.S. drone strike, General McKenzie said. 

But after reviewing additional aerial video and photographs, military investigators concluded that their initial judgment about the driver and his car were wrong, an error that prejudiced their views of every subsequent stop he made that day while driving around Kabul.

Times reporting had identified the driver as Mr. Ahmadi. The evidence suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family.

“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed,” Mr. Austin said in a statement,  referring to an affiliate of the Islamic State.

Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan


Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that came after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including floggings, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as rulers.

The officials said on Friday that a subsequent review concluded, as did the Times investigation, that the suspicious packages were nothing more than water, and possibly a package the size of a laptop computer.

Senior Pentagon leaders, who were already preparing to brief lawmakers on the chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan, will probably face tough questioning on the last drone strike of that engagement. 

“I’m devastated by the acknowledgment from the Department of Defense that the strike conducted on Aug. 29 was an utter failure that resulted in the deaths of at least 10 civilians,” Representative Ruben Gallego, Democrat of Arizona, said in a statement.  “I expect the department to brief us immediately on the operation, focusing on a full accounting of the targeting processes and procedures which led to the determination to carry out such a strike.”

Civilian deaths from drone strikes have been a recurring problem in more than two decades of fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and are unlikely to go away as the Biden administration moves toward what officials call “over the horizon” operations in Afghanistan — strikes launched against terrorist targets in the country from great distances away. 

Since the Aug. 29 strike, U.S. military officials justified their actions by citing an even larger blast that took place afterward in the courtyard where Mr. Ahmadi, who worked as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International, a California-based aid group, made his final stop.

But an examination of the scene of the strike, conducted by the Times visual investigations team and a Times reporter the morning afterward, and followed up with a second visit four days later, found no evidence of a second, more powerful explosion.

Experts who examined photos and videos pointed out that, although there was clear evidence of a missile strike and a subsequent vehicle fire, there were no collapsed or blown-out walls, no destroyed vegetation, and only one dent in the entrance gate, indicating a single shock wave.

Military officials said investigators now believed the second explosion was a flare-up from a propane tank in the courtyard, or possibly the gas tank of a second vehicle in the courtyard.

While the U.S. military initially said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, officials now say that 10 people, including seven children, were killed. The military reached that conclusion after watching aerial imagery that shows three children coming out to greet the sedan, one of them taking the wheel of the car after Mr. Ahmadi got out.

When Mr. Ahmadi pulled into the courtyard of his home, the tactical commander made the decision to strike his vehicle, launching a single Hellfire missile at 4:53 p.m.

Military officials defended the procedures the drone strike commander made in deciding to carry out the strike, with “reasonable certainty” there would be no civilian casualties, even as they described the badly flawed chain of events that led to that decision.

The commander overseeing the drone strike, an experienced operator whom the Pentagon did not identify, faced a difficult decision in his mind: Take the shot while the sedan was parked in a relatively isolated courtyard, or wait until the sedan drove even closer to the airport — and denser crowds — increasing the risk to civilians.

In the end, however, officials said on Friday, tragically, it was the wrong call.“

Thursday, September 16, 2021

'We deserve justice': McKayla Maroney testifies at hearing on handling of Larry Nassar investigation

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Pence sought way to hand election to Trump; Dan Quayle advice saved U.S. democracy: book

 

Opinion: Joe Manchin repeats a dangerous myth about government benefits and work

Opinion: Joe Manchin repeats a dangerous myth about government benefits and work

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) departs a briefing on Afghanistan on Sept. 14. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

“But Manchin’s greatest howler came on Sunday, when Dana Bash of CNN specifically asked whether he supported making the expanded child tax creditpermanent. “Let’s make sure,” he said, “we’re getting it to the right people. … There’s no work requirements whatsoever. There’s no education requirements. … Don’t you think if we’re going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?”

It’s a dangerous myth, this idea that government help causes some people to just loaf off. It’s also untrue.Reminder: Before the pandemic, most working-age people receiving benefits like food stamps worked. They just didn’t earn enough money.

The belief that people receiving aid from the government do not — but should — work both plays to and encourages stereotypes that people living in poverty are lazy, irresponsible and looking to get something for nothing. It serves to rationalize letting those in need go without, their economic failures viewed as a failure of morals.

Yet the temporary child tax credit signed into law this year by President Biden demonstrates the opposite. It is an extraordinary success. Almost 90 percent of families with children under age 18 are eligible to receive a monthly check from the federal government through the end of the year. Census Bureau data reveals that within a month of the first checks going out in July, the number of families with children reporting they’d gone hungry within the past month fell significantly. Households also appeared to spend the extra money on things most of us would consider rather important, not to mention virtuous, like buying school supplies and paying down debt.

Nonetheless, there is forever a seductiveness — at least to Americans — to adopt Manchin’s way of thinking. It certainly sounds like common sense. A majority of us want to believe anyone can get ahead in our society if they work hard enough. A poll conducted two decades ago found that a majority of Americans actually believed the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” was in the Bible. It’s not. It is, however, in Benjamin Franklin’s aphorism-heavy, "Poor Richard’s Almanac." Self-help, as I’ve been known to observe, is the American state religion. We almost all worship at its altar, at least some of the time.

Republican pols love to promote the canard that government aid discourages paid employment. Former president Donald Trump — who, let’s remember, inheritedhis real estate fortune — was also a fan of work requirements. His administration attempted to impose them on non-elderly, non-disabled recipients of Medicaid. Seema Verma, who served as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Trump’s administration, claimed the move would help the people set to lose benefits. Work requirements for non-disabled adults, she said, would improve self-esteem, well-being, health and self-sufficiency.

So it was no surprise that when Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a joint statement in opposition to the initial Biden child tax credits, they also couched it as a way to help families. “This kind of universal basic income makes more Americans dependent on government and severs the vital elements — work, marriage, community, and beyond — required to raise healthy families.”

This kind of thinking is garbage in, garbage out.

Many other developed nations offer almost all residents a child allowance of some sort. And the evidence, here and abroad, shows that such an allowance can increase paid work by recipients. An expansion of the child allowance in Canada raised the employment rate of single mothers. An unpublished paper by the economist Wei Zheng, highlighted late last year by the Niskanen Center, found the same was true for the more limited earned income tax credit in the United States. In fact, most people receiving the current child tax credit are employed; the Treasury Department estimates that over 97 percent of recipients are working families.

If anything, an argument can be made that the children of the irresponsible deserve more support from us, not less. Children can’t push their parents to get with the work-and-education program. As a result, you’re not “helping” children if you insist on financially punishing their parents for not making an “effort.” You are, instead, punishing children for the sins of their caretakers.

Money makes a difference. Studies of the earned income tax credit reveal it results in improvements in infant healthSchoolwork and grades improve. Children in households receiving the benefit are more likely to attend college. All of this, in turn, helps make the United States a wealthier, more prosperous country.

The next time Manchin is tempted to repeat stale and discredited talking points, he might want to remember that human infrastructure matters too.“

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark A. Milley holds a news briefing at Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 18.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark A. Milley holds a news briefing at Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 18. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

“President Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

On Sept. 15, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden had “complete confidence” in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley. (The Washington Post)

According to the book from Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa, Milley spoke with Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army twice: once in late October and again in early January, after Trump’s supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn his election defeat. The domestic upheaval had shaken the government in Beijing, where leaders, according to the book’s authors, worried that Trump appeared to be acting so erratically that he might order an attack on China, triggering a war.

In their calls, Milley sought to reassure Zuocheng that things in the United States were “100 percent steady,” according to the book, even if “democracy can be sloppy sometimes.” But he later instructed Pentagon officials that he had to be involved in any discussions about launching nuclear weapons, even though it is the president who would give such an order, the authors wrote.

The blowback was instantaneous, with critics of Milley complaining he undercut his commander in chief and violated the principle of civilian control over the military. Trump, in denying he had ever contemplated attacking China, called the general’s actions “treason.”

Long-running tension between the world powers, fueled by the United States’ objection to China’s expansionist posture in the South China Sea, worsened under Trump as a result of his often-belligerent rhetoric toward Beijing and threats to pull the countries into an economically ruinous trade war.

Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, issued a statement Wednesday largely confirming what’s disclosed in the book, “Peril,” set for release next week, and sayingthat Milley had acted constitutionally and within his established responsibilities. The general, Butler said, “continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.”

Milley’s apparent efforts to go outside the chain of command have angered not only the former president andhis supporters but even some of his critics.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top-ranking Republican, demanded in a letter to Biden that he fire Milley for having “worked to actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief” and having “contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information” to the Chinese government, an apparent reference to reporting in the book that Milley promised Zuocheng he would alert him beforehand if U.S. forces were ordered to attack.

Alexander Vindman, a retired Army officer who was one of the key witnesses against Trump during his first impeachment, also called for Milley’s removal because he “usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military.”

“It’s an extremely dangerous precedent. You can’t simply walk away from that,” Vindman said on Twitter.

Chris Miller, Trump’s acting defense secretary at the end of his administration, told Fox News on Wednesday that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Milley to have “secret” calls with his Chinese counterpart. Miller, too, called on the general to resign.

But the Pentagon — while refusing to comment on the veracity of the book’s claims — defended Milley’s actions Wednesday as “not uncommon at all.”

“I see nothing in what I’ve read that would cause any concern,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding that “it is not only common, it’s expected” that Milley or any chairman of the Joint Chiefs would have conversations with his counterparts in adversary nations “to reduce the risk of miscalculation and conflict.”

John Bolton, who served as national security adviser under Trump, also came to Milley’s defense.

“His patriotism is unquestioned,” Bolton said in a statement, noting that Milley would have been under enormous pressure after November’s election as Trump refused to accept his loss. He said he would be “very surprised” if others in national security roles “were not fully aware of General Milley’s actions” and “fully concurred in them.”

Among the revelations in the book is a Jan. 8 conversation between Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in which she opined that Trump was “crazy” and ought to be arrested for his role in inspiring the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Milley responded: “I agree with you on everything,” the authors wrote.

The controversy has amplified the scrutiny facing Biden, Milley and other senior military leaders over the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Republicans and some Democrats have criticized as chaotic and disappointing. Milley is due to testify about the deadly evacuation effort at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee later this month, where he is also certain to face questions about his conversations with the Chinese general.

Though Republicans have echoed Rubio’s sentiments that Milley’s actions constitute a fireable offense, leading Democrats have called them defensible and necessary.

“It is breathtaking to think of the lengths that Milley and others went to avert the disasters Trump was creating at the end of his presidency,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters, adding that he was “not at all” concerned if Milley had overstepped his authority.

“It is a shame we reached that point in America’s history that’s necessary, and I think he did the responsible thing to keep America out of war,” Durbin said.

Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.“

Democrats Continue to Struggle With Men of Color

Democrats Continue to Struggle With Men of Color

Alex Majoli/Magnum Photos

“The big headline is that the California recall failed. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom gets to keep his job. He handily fought off the Republican challenge.

But there is a worrisome detail in the data, one that keeps showing up, one that Democrats would do well to deal with: Black and Latino men are not hewing as close to the party line as Black and Latina women.

There are, of course, issues with exit polls, and results often change as more votes are counted. But that said, the California exit polls do seem to reflect what polls have shown for some time now.

In CNN’s exit poll, nearly half of the Hispanic men surveyed and nearly a quarter of the Black men voted to support the recall. The largest difference between men and women of any racial group was between Black men and Black women.

Even if these numbers are later adjusted, the warning must still be registered.

For many of these men, saying Republicans are racist or attract racists or abide racists isn’t enough.

For one thing, never underestimate the communion among men, regardless of race. Men have privileges in society, and some are drawn to policies that elevate their privileges.

For instance, many Black and Hispanic men oppose abortion.

Some men liked the bravado of Donald Trump and chafed at the rise of the #MeToo movement. Some simply see trans women as men in dresses and want to carry guns wherever they want.

The question for Democrats is how do they lure some of these men back without catering to the patriarchy. From a position of principle, the party can’t really appeal to them; it must seek to change them.

Add to the patriarchal issues a sense of disillusionment with the Democratic Party and its inability to make meaningful changes on the issues that many of these men care most about, such as criminal justice reform and workplace competition. Democrats often resort to emotional appeals in election season, telling minorities that they must vote for liberal candidates as a defense, to prevent the worst. But many of these men believe that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans.

The idea of always playing defense and never offense is, well, offensive.

Instead, Democrats have to craft a message of empowerment and change. They have to say to these men that they don’t have to operate from a position of weakness and pleading, holding back the forces that would otherwise overwhelm them.

To be honest, a robust, offensive messaging campaign would resonate with all people who tend to vote Democratic — men and women.

The truth is that in a two-party system, voters have only two choices, so protest votes are self-defeating, as is sitting out elections or supporting the opposition to scare your favored side into better behavior.

In a two-party system, if you don’t want the Trump Republicans to win, you must vote Democratic. You are trapped in that way, and no one likes the feeling of being trapped.

But “trapped” is not an inspiring campaign message, particularly to people who spent a lifetime feeling trapped and have tired of it, as these men have.

Yelling at them isn’t going to work, neither is shaming them or thinking that you are “educating” them.

My fear is that these men will continue to drift away from the Democratic Party, not because the Republican Party is the most welcoming of spaces, but because Democrats cannot or will not do more to appeal to Black and Latinomen.

To my mind, the Democratic Party must do a few things:

  • Admit that it makes many promises to Black people in election seasons that it not only doesn’t accomplish, but sometimes doesn’t even take up.

  • Acknowledge that many of these men feel that the system itself has failed them, that the status quo has failed them.

  • Give the plight of Black and brown men the same prominence that both parties have given the plight of working-class white men.

Black and brown men need to feel that they are being seen as more than victims of a predatory justice system or part of the so-called immigrant crisis. They need to be rendered in full and seen as whole.

When they are not, it leaves an opening for Republicans to exploit, and conservatives have done a clever job of doing just that in recent elections.

If you are like me, you are thinking: These men should know better. They are voting in ways that invite injury or not voting at all. They shouldn’t be coddled. The world is sick of coddling selfish men.

But we, too, are stuck in this two-party system, and as such, we must do whatever it takes to prevent calamity and eek out progress.

In that world, when men of color vote against the interests of people of color and out of the male ego, we must gingerly talk them down rather than aggressively chant them down.“