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Liz Theoharis, Making Sense of the Eviction Crisis

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The “Supreme” Court? Honestly, we may have to change its name. From abortions to evictions, it could soon lay this country low. So maybe it should be known as the SDC, or Supremely Dangerous Court? Or maybe the CTEIA, the Court That Ends It All? Or perhaps just the SPC, or SubPrime Court? You certainly know we’re in a far less courtly world when that none-too-judicious body puts its stamp of approval on vigilante justice vis-a-vis women’s bodies and hardly hesitates to throw untold numbers of Americans into the street at the very moment when the Delta strain of Covid-19 is running wild. In other words, it’s helping to make this country (and its hospitals) into a hell on Earth. In case you hadn’t noticed, for instance, the official count of pandemically dead Americans — the real number is undoubtedly far higher — recently broke the 660,000 mark and will soon pass the estimated 675,000 American dead from the 1918-1920 “Spanish” flu pandemic.

So, congratulations to that “Supreme” Court, or perhaps that SPC (Supremely Pandemic Court). After all, as a recent study by MIT researchers showed, ending an eviction moratorium, as that court recently did, is essentially guaranteed to increase the spread of the Delta strain of the pandemic, already multiplying rapidly, especially in less vaccinated parts of the country. In fact, according to that study, “on average, when a state lifted its moratorium and let evictions resume, the hazard of contracting Covid-19 was 1.39 times greater after five weeks and 1.83 times greater after 12 weeks, rather than if the moratorium had continued.”

So, in the space of just weeks, that very court ensured that more unwanted children would enter the world and more wanted ones would depart it. How grim our all-American world is these days, as TomDispatch regular Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and author of the soon-to-be-published book We Cry Justice, suggests in her usual striking fashion today. Too bad she can’t get the attention of our SUC, or Supremely Uninterested Court. Tom

The Land of the Free, Where So Many of the Brave Are Homeless

Resisting Evictions Amid a Pandemic

Over the past weeks, multiple crises have merged: a crisis of democracy with the most significant attack on voting rights since Reconstruction; a climate crisis with lives and livelihoods upended in the Gulf Coast and the Northeast by extreme weather events and in the West by a stunning fire season; and an economic crisis in which millions are being cut off from Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, even as August job gains proved underwhelming. There’s also a crisis taking place in state legislatures with an ongoing attack on women’s autonomy over our own bodies. The Supreme Court let a law go into effect that makes abortions nearly impossible in Texas and turns its enforcement over to vigilantes. And then, of course, there's the looming eviction crisis that could precipitate the worst housing and homelessness disaster in American history.

Indeed, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Texas abortion ban was hardly its only horrific decision this summer. Its willingness to end a moratorium on evictions instantly put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of eviction, with tens of millions more in danger in the weeks to come. With an unequal economic recovery, surging Covid-19 cases (thanks to the highly infectious Delta variant), and poor and homeless people disproportionately suffering the effects of fires and floods, this decision could truly prove catastrophic. Nor is it the only one likely to impact poor and low-income communities of color drastically. That stacked court, the Trump court (if you want to think of it that way), is offering a remarkably vivid demonstration of just how connected voting rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and poverty really are.

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Rajan Menon, Wars of Unintended Consequences

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TomDispatch began with the Afghan War — with a sense I had from its earliest moments that it was a misbegotten venture of the first order. Here, for instance, is a comment I wrote about that disaster in December 2002, a little over a year after the U.S. began bombing and then invaded that country:

“This week, two wounded American soldiers and a dead one brought some modest attention to the American situation in Afghanistan. [The Toronto Sun‘s Eric] Margolis reminds us that the Soviets, too, were initially triumphant in Afghanistan, installed a puppet government, declared the liberation of Afghan women, and churned out similar propaganda about their good deeds. Where the analogy breaks down, of course, is that there is no other superpower left to fund and arm a resistance movement against an American Afghanistan. Still, we declared victory awfully early and didn’t go home. It’s likely to prove a dangerous combination. (The word to watch for in the American press is ‘quagmire.’ When you see that and Afghanistan appearing in the same articles, you’ll know we know we’re in trouble.)”

Unfortunately, when it came to the American media, that Vietnam-era word never made a serious appearance, even as the Afghan War stretched on, year after year, ever more quagmirishly. In a sense, on a planet without another superpower, America was left to play the roles of both the Soviet Union during its disastrous war of the 1980s in Afghanistan and of the United States in those same years when it put such effort into creating a crew of extreme Islamist fighters to take the Russians down. In other words, in a world of one, all the imperial roles were ours and it couldn’t be clearer now that we did indeed take ourselves down in a fashion that, in its final moments at Kabul’s airport, proved all too desperately dramatic.

Today, TomDispatch regular Rajan Menon considers just what lessons Washington might now draw (but undoubtedly won’t) from those endless decades of involvement in Afghanistan. Tom

Be Careful What You Wish For

The True Lessons of the Afghan War

Disagreements over how to assess the American exodus from Afghanistan have kept the pundits busy these last weeks, even though there wasn’t much to say that hadn’t been said before. For some of them, however, that was irrelevant. Having overseen or promoted the failed Afghan War themselves, all the while brandishing various “metrics” of success, they were engaged in transparent reputation-salvaging.

Not surprisingly, the entire spectacle has been tiresome and unproductive. Better to devote time and energy to distilling the Afghan war’s larger lessons.

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Alfred McCoy, Washington Strikes Out

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What is it about this country and enemies? It can’t even pretend to do without them. Of course, it just lost one enemy, the Taliban, in a humiliating fashion, even as President Biden bragged that no country had ever airlifted itself out of a losing war quite so brilliantly. (“No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and ability to do it, and we did it today.”) In the process, he also announced that the forever wars of the last 20 years were finally ending. But don’t panic — not, at least, if you happen to be a failed commander from those wars or a CEO in one of the many companies that make up the industrial part of the military-industrial complex. There’s so much more to come. As Biden said, “The world is changing. We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia.”

Keep in mind that, in these last two decades, the U.S. has spent an estimated $8 trillion just on our forever wars (and the care of the veterans of those conflicts). Worse yet, possibly $21 trillion went into those conflicts and the militarization of American society that went with them. That scale of investment can’t continue without an enemy. Of course, from its earliest moments in office, the Biden foreign-policy team has been focused on “pivoting” from war-on-terror targets to provoking China. That’s included threatening naval gestures in the Strait of Taiwan and the South China Sea, a calling-together of allies to confront Beijing in an ever-more-militarized fashion, and greater support for Taiwan.  It all adds up to an enemy-filled future in which Congress must continue to invest ever more staggering sums in the military-industrial complex rather than in this country’s true infrastructure or genuine needs.

In fact, the House Armed Services Committee promptly endorsed a plan to add an extra $24 billion (above and beyond the staggering $715 billion the Biden administration had requested for the 2022 Pentagon budget). The equivalent Senate committee had already given a thumbs up to a similar sum, indicating that the next Pentagon budget will be in the range of $740 billion dollars. California Representative Ro Khanna was among the few who gave the measure a thumbs down. (“We just ended the longest war in American history, now is the time to decrease defense spending, not increase it… We are already spending three times as much on our military as China did.”)

In that context, let historian Alfred McCoy, author of the soon-to-be-published groundbreaking imperial history, To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change, tell you what full-scale defeat in Afghanistan really means for this country. He considers how, as taxpayer dollars are put into yet more militarization (and the global failure that goes with it), China has proven so much cannier about its investments on a planet that itself needs some genuine human investment before it becomes a gigantic Kabul. Tom

The Winner in Afghanistan: China

A Debacle Marks the Decline of Washington’s World Leadership

The collapse of the American project in Afghanistan may fade fast from the news here, but don't be fooled. It couldn't be more significant in ways few in this country can even begin to grasp.

“Remember, this is not Saigon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a television audience on August 15th, the day the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital, pausing to pose for photos in the grandly gilded presidential palace. He was dutifully echoing his boss, President Joe Biden, who had earlier rejected any comparison with the fall of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, in 1975, insisting that “there’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

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