Leaving Afghanistan after two decades

“It’s hard to deny the evidence in front of you.” – General Mike Mullen

AfghanistanI wrote what I thought about the US leaving Afghanistan back in May. But if I noted what I felt about the country ENTERING the war, I don’t recall. I thought it was…inevitable. If it had been tied to the limited mission of capturing Bin Laden and his accomplices, that’d be “reasonable.”

Here’s the really weird thing about our totally unnecessary war in Iraq – which I’ve documented often in this blog – including here and here and here and a bunch of other places. When we entered the Iraq war, it was as though it slipped the collective minds that we were in Afghanistan.

I’m not just talking about the American people. The US government under W was sharing its assessment of its “success” in Iraq but saying relatively little about Afghanistan. Did they… forget?

Anyway, I was going to write something more about the end game in Afghanistan, but all I could find was a quote from the movie The Princess Bride: “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia.'”

And a quote that Mark Evanier cited: “A friend of mine spent several years in Afghanistan working as a doctor attached to the U.S. forces. He told me some pretty harrowing tales about his tour o’ duty here but the thing I remember most is when he said, ‘Staying there is a disaster. Leaving there would be a disaster. Nothing about the country is not a disaster.’ I think that’s proving to be the case.”

I agree with much of is linked to here, even when they occasionally contradict each other.

Linkage

Bloomberg: Why Both Russians and Americans Got Nowhere in Afghanistan. If you’re not going anywhere no matter what happens, or what price you’re forced to pay, you can outlast superpowers. (You may recall that the US and other Western countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because of the Soviet incursion.) On one of the news programs recently, a general suggested that American hubris was the reason the US thought it would succeed when the USSR failed.

Alan Singer in Daily Kos: “Nation Building” Fails in Afghanistan

Nation of Change: Why did a military superpower fail in Afghanistan? This external approach, based on military occupation, to promote democracy in occupied foreign countries was “doomed to fail.”

Daniel Larison: Biden’s Prudent Decision to Withdraw from Afghanistan. It doesn’t say much for our political culture that it takes far more political courage to end a pointless war than it does to start one.

Matthew Yglesias. Biden (and Trump) did the right thing on Afghanistan
The war was lost long ago — if it was ever winnable.

Fred Kaplan of Slate: Trump’s New Big Lie: Afghanistan. Biden has handled the withdrawal very badly. That doesn’t mean Trump would have done better.

Seth Meyers

The “liberal press”?

Weekly Sift: Afghanistan, Biden, and the Media. “What struck me about that discussion, though, was how one-sided it was. Even ordinarily liberal MSNBC shows, or newspaper outlets like the Times and the Post, were unified in their denunciation of the Biden administration and its plan to withdraw our troops. I haven’t seen that level of unanimity since the post-911 era, when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started. A lot of bad ideas sneaked into the discussion around that time, and didn’t get criticized because there was no room for criticism.”

Fred Kaplan in Slate: A Top U.S. Military Officer Finally Admits He Was Wrong About Afghanistan

The Atlantic: What I Learned While Eavesdropping on the Taliban

Cartoon: Leaving Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy: Two Talibans Are Competing for Afghanistan. The gap between the group’s international leadership and its rank-and-file fighters has never been wider. (This is why the messaging about Taliban 2.0 seems inconsistent.)

Afar: The Organizations Aiding Afghans and How Americans Can Help

The independence to be boring

“boring in the best possible way”

joebidenThere are lots of important, vital things that this country still needs to address. Climate change, failing infrastructure, social justice, economic inequity, increasing violence – the list is too long to note here.

Yet I’ve been feeling independence from a certain level of stress much of this year, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. That is until I saw this in the Boston Globe.

Joe Biden stays out of our face. Isn’t it great? For the first time in decades, America has a president who avoids the limelight.

“Five months into his presidency, it is clear that Biden… isn’t gripped by a desperate craving to be seen and heard and talked about. After four years of a president whose narcissism was bottomless and exhausting, and, before him, eight years of a president who also didn’t suffer from any lack of vanity, Biden’s willingness to stay largely behind the scenes is not just refreshing, but downright admirable.”

I would be exhausted by the daily barrage of tweets and off-the-cuff comments at press conferences by his predecessor. In fact, I’m convinced that if he had avoided those COVID briefings, or said nothing, he might have been REALLY reelected.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby doesn’t necessarily agree with “Biden’s policy agenda. From his gargantuan spending bills to his outreach toward Iran to his embrace of woke racial ideology, I think he is on the wrong track.”

Not dominating every news cycle

However, “Biden is content to stay out of public view and not make himself or his thoughts each day’s top story. He doesn’t comment on every political development. He doesn’t give daily briefings. And he doesn’t weigh in on every Washington dispute.” The silence is refreshing.

As Peter Nicholas wrote in The Atlantic, the Biden White House has made the “conscious calculation that people don’t need — or want — to hear from the president on an hour-by-hour basis.”

As one anonymous former Biden campaign aide told Nicholas: “He’s boring in the best possible way. We need boring. We want boring.” He’s an antidote to an in-your-face presidency.

Joe Biden “endured a fair amount of ‘Where’s Joe?’ mockery” during the 2020 campaign. “But it didn’t keep him from winning the election. Perhaps he and his advisers have concluded that staying out of the spotlight will continue to work to his benefit, both by demonstrating how different he is from Trump and by minimizing opportunities for the gaffes to which he himself says he is prone.”

 

Doctor Jill Biden turns 70

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in 2007

Jill BidenI noted before the 2020 election that Jill Biden would hit the big 7-0 this year. Frankly, I wasn’t sure there was enough I wanted to say about her. Others helped.

First, there was that op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that she “should think about dropping the honorific” of Doctor, since she is not a medical doctor. The guy suggested that her using the title “feels fraudulent, even comic.”

“In 2007, she received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.” Lots of non-physicians use the title. I don’t if it’s snobbishness or sexism.

Here’s something clearly sexist. The hypocrisy of the invented scandal of Jill Biden’s fishnets. The horror! The number of articles on this non-issue, sometimes dragging Melania into the discussion for reasons that bore me, is quite staggering.

Eldest child

Jill Biden is fairly normal, in a good way. Here’s the White House bio. “Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey, to Bonny Jean Godfrey Jacobs and Donald Carl Jacobs. The oldest of five daughters, she grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. She graduated from Upper Moreland High School in 1969, then graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1975.” She has taught at various institutions.

Jill had married Bill Stevenson, a former college football player, in February 1970; she had a turbulent divorce from him in May 1975.

In March 1975, she met Joe Biden, widowed US Senator with two young boys, Beau and Hunter. They married on June 17, 1977, at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City. Joe and Jill’s daughter Ashley Blazer was born on June 8, 1981.

“As Second Lady, Dr. Biden focused on advocating for community colleges, military families, and the education of women and girls around the world. As First Lady, Dr. Biden continues her work for education, military families, and fighting cancer. The professor of writing at Northern Virginia Community College is pushing for free access to community college and training.

Joe and Jill Biden released their taxes! You can do that? They earned just over $600,000 in 2020. Their effective federal income tax rate of 25.9 percent after donating about 5 percent of their income to charity, paying about $157,000. For 2019, the Bidens had an adjusted gross income of $985,000 and paid federal income taxes of nearly $288,000.

Check out the page on Politico about her.

Joe Biden’s Prez, hasn’t fixed everything yet!

$7.25? Really?

joebidenI suppose I should be really upset. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. has been President of the United States for a whole month. And 46 hasn’t fixed everything yet! What is WRONG with him?

He’s only overturned SOME of 45’s awful positions. For instance, he reversed a Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military. He has reinstated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “the Obama-era program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation since it was created in 2012 through an Obama directive. The previous guy issued his own executive order to undo DACA in 2017.

“Other orders targeting foundational policies of the last administration include a Biden directive to reverse Trump’s ban on travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, executive action to rejoin the Paris climate accord, and a proclamation stopping construction of his predecessor’s border wall.” But there are a whole bunch of others that need to be obliterated.

Oh, yeah, he’s helped to ramp up production of the COVID vaccines. But I don’t have MINE yet! It’s not scheduled until March 31! Yeah, he did that mask mandate on federal property, increasing food aid, and protecting those on unemployment because of the virus. But we want more, MORE!

Is this Cabinet process slow, or what?

Joe Biden has picked a diverse group to be in his Cabinet, but a bunch of them haven’t been confirmed yet. What gives? C’mon, Joe, whip those Senators into shape!

I’m particularly waiting for North Carolina regulator Michael S. Regan, his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, his pick for interior secretary. Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, the “powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations.”

Maybe they can address the environmental racism that Full Frontal with Samantha Bee highlighted recently.

Seriously, though

I find myself, on a daily basis, less stressed. Former governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) probably is too. He said that he spent the last four years having to explain every comment, every tweet 45 issued, and now he doesn’t. I suspect that those Republicans who complained about Twitter’s “overreach” in banning 45 are not-so-secretly relieved.

Will the COVID relief package pass with bipartisan support, or with just the Democrats? I suspect that the bill could pass with some modification, but now I’m just spitballing.

Here’s an observation that some of my more liberal friends will hate. The $15/hour wage is not going to make it, even though it has been pushed for so long, it probably should be $22/hour by now. The conservative senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) offered a raise of the federal minimum wage from $7.25, which is still the law in about 20 states, to $11/hour. If he’s really for that, maybe DE Joe should suggest WV Joe that he actually  propose it, or maybe $13.

Yes, I know it’s grossly inadequate. But the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in a dozen years. That doesn’t mean that the half loaf is the end goal, only a starting point. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”

January rambling: dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ

Ameristan

The UN Security Council’s Counterterrorism Committee says there’s been a 320 percent increase in right-wing terrorism globally in the five years prior to 2020.

Confronting Two Crises: The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Opioid Epidemic, and the IH by Jonathan Rosen and Peter Harnett.

Martin Luther King Jr. Defended Democracy Against Racism and So Must We.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali’s Surprising Secret Friendship.

The Quest to Unearth One of America’s Oldest Black Churches. First Baptist Church was founded in secret in 1776. It’s been hidden under a parking lot in Colonial Williamsburg for decades—a metaphor for the failures of archaeology and American history.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom draws a direct line from the Bible to the blues.

Why Do People Keep Going to Church? — Even during a pandemic, it’s important to realize why worship is essential.

Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

The Sycamore Tree – John Green.

There’s a right and wrong way to be bored.

The Happiness Project: Finding Joy in Tough Times.

NOVA  – Secrets in our DNA.

parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet
From https://wronghands1.com/2021/01/08/parts-of-the-skeleton-in-the-closet/

Wikipedia at 20: last gasp of an internet vision, or a beacon to a better future?

The Orwellian Misuse of Orwellian.

JEOPARDY!: Ken Jennings Get Trolled by a Recent Contestant and the Guest Hosts Scheduled in 2021 So Far.

The Hollywood Con Queen Who Scammed Aspiring Stars Out of Hundreds of Thousands.

The best Gibson guitars were made by the ‘Kalamazoo Gals’.

Now I Know: The Imagination Library and The Blessing of Overpriced  Orange Juice and A Bridge With Some Firepower and The Bridge That’ll Flip You and Why Harriet and Duncan Weren’t Allowed in Iceland and The Internet Scammer Who Won.

What makes for a good flag!

dn ǝpᴉs ʇɥƃᴉɹ, created by the upsidedown text site.

ON THE WAY OUT

One Last Trump Dump, all of the folks he insulted on Twitter; why it’s clear Biden won; his campaign promise tally; the full list of the last-minute pardons; and more

Chomsky: Coup Attempt Hit Closer to Centers of Power Than Hitler’s 1923 Putsch.

Ameristan: Did He Bring the War Home?

Republican House members who voted for impeachment: Liz Cheney (WY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Peter Meijer (MI), Dan Newhouse (WA), Tom Rice (SC), Fred Upton (MI), David Valadao (CA)

US Reaches Grim Milestone of 400K COVID Deaths.

Never Happens Here – Lincoln Project.

Jaquandor: Dear 45.

Cartoon: The end of an error.

Yes, He Can Be Convicted by the Senate After January 20.

Music

Seasons of Trump – Randy Rainbow.

With a Song in Her Heart – Laura Benanti as Melania.

One Day More  – James Corden.

Bye Bye Bloatus – Rufus Wainwright.

K-Chuck Radio: Some 45s  for 45

Right side up!

Transcript of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem

Joe Biden: “We Must End This Uncivil War”

Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census

Executive Order: 1776 commission rescinded.

I watched this year for Nigel.  

Enjoy the world’s greatest palindrome: 1 20 2021

MORE MUSIC

I Need You – Jon Batiste.

Fanfare on Amazing Grace composed by Adolphus Hailstork.

A Musical  from Something’s Rotten.

I Say A Little Prayer – H.E.R.

Coverville 1342: The Madness Cover Story II and 1343: The Motels and Sam Cooke Cover Stories.

Close To You – MonaLisa Twins.

Seasons of Love – Broadway stars.