9/11

The No Surprises Taliban


It didn’t start with imaginary WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Our national war of insanity began years earlier.

The Supreme Court decision following the 2000 election was led by Republican Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who stopped the vote count in Florida. He disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters and gave the election and the presidency to the candidate who actually lost the state by 537 votes and who would have come in second in the Electoral College vote had all Florida votes been counted.

That got us the silver spoon cowboy, an illegitimate president. He was the same guy who managed to avoid service in Viet Nam by joining the Texas Air National Guard. He spent his active duty having a good time flying jets around Texas. Nobody ever shot at him, so he didn’t know the first thing about the horrors of combat. He later declare that he wanted “to be a wartime president,” as though war s just a toy for his self-aggrandizement.

I don’t recall Bush ever expressing a believable concern for those who would prosecute his wars, leaving us to speculate that he saw it like a movie, where everyone goes home after a day’s shoot or like a video game and it’s just pretend. But it doesn’t work that way in real wars.

He went on to ignore warnings of 9/11 and then, having failed that national security test, declared he’d get the varmint what done us wrong.

After 9/11 the CIA had Osama bin Laden bottled up in the caves at Tora Bora and asked for additional resources to smoke him out, but Bush refused. The Taliban offered to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S., but once again Bush refused. Instead, he lied to Congress and the American people. He asked for and received the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which amounted to Congress ducking its Constitutional responsibility regarding declaring war. They chickened out and gave that power to Bush, exactly as the Founders DID NOT intend, because they knew full well what such power could lead to.

Bush got his authority and sent American troops to invade Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden and his band of terrorists. He managed to disrupt al Qaeda, but never got bin Laden. Bush could have ended the invasion then, but, of course, he didn’t.

The goal in Afghanistan was changed to eliminating the Taliban, not bin Laden. Bush failed at that, too. Later the goal of that war was to set up a central government and modern democracy – nation building – something we had failed at again and again elsewhere. We used to say that the goalposts kept getting moved, but it’s probably more likely that there never were any goalposts.

A strong central government and democracy are things the Afghans had never had, didn’t understand and were culturally unable to accept, so there was never even a remote possibility of creating a modern democracy in that place where empires go to die. All the world knew that except Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. But the failure of that unwinnable war is what all the lies about that war and the one in Iraq, the hypocritical Mission Accomplished banner and all the pseudo-patriotic chest thumping got us. There was just war so that a cowboy could be a wartime president.

The one positive outcome of the Viet Nam war was Colin Powell’s Powell Doctrine. According to the doctrine, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before going off to war.

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Click me for the story

Decide for yourself whether any thought was given to any of those questions before sending our military into harm’s way.

We spent 20 years, thousands of American lives, trillions of American dollars and an unknowable number of Afghan lives pursuing that no-goalpost war. We were lied to for 20 years about what was really going on there, as we refused to heed the obvious and painful lessons from our debacle in Viet Nam.

To be clear, we got bin Laden, but that had nothing to do with our war in Afghanistan.

A year and a half ago Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that said that we would leave Afghanistan. All the Taliban had to do was to promise to not attack U.S. troops as they depart and not allow al Qaeda or other extremist groups to operate in Taliban controlled territory.

Trump left the Afghan government completely out of the discussions and kept them out of the deal. The message to the Afghan security forces was clear: the Taliban now had tacit approval from the U.S. government to take over the country. Plus the Taliban almost immediately began to assassinate Afghan provincial leaders.

As bad, we have absolutely no way to ensure the Taliban won’t let al Qaeda ramp up again in Afghanistan, leaving us exactly where we were on September 10, 2001. The common notion among our talking heads and many politicians seems to be that this end was unforeseeable.

Nonsense!
.

We saw this exact thing happen in Viet Nam, another unwinnable war and failed nation building, and there was yet more foreseeable evidence.

The speed that the Taliban would retake that country was clear from the moment Trump announced we’d be out by May 2021. Were you in the Afghan military, what would you do, as leaders of province after province cut deals with the Taliban or just cut and ran? The central government dissolved in hours and fighters trained by us shed their military garb, hoping to look like civilians. The Taliban overran what was left of the Afghan security forces and secured all the major cities in that country in just days.

As of this writing the process of evacuation continues. We can hope that we didn’t manage to drag feet long enough to avoid keeping our word to those to whom we pledged our undying loyalty and our sacred promise of protection. The fate of any Afghan who collaborated in any way with western forces, be they interpreters, workers with NGO agencies or anything else will be death. The fate of women who had the audacity to become educated or who educated their daughters will be cruel, dehumanizing and eventually lethal.

Survivors will be relegated to a medieval life in the tribal feudalism the area has always known. Its main export will still be opium. In the end our efforts will have accomplished nothing but death and destruction. We knew all of this because that is what the Taliban did in the 1990s before we showed up to make war under false pretenses.

So, you can stop listening to anyone who says that the disaster at the end of our 20-year invasion and occupation of that country was unforeseeable. Anyone with two eyes and a memory has known all along that this is exactly what would happen. The Taliban holds no surprises

Once again, the only surprise is our boundless and willful ignorance.

Something Special For Our Partisan Critics

This is from Professor Heather Cox Richardson:

Some of the same people worrying about the slowness of our evacuation of our Afghan allies voted just last month against providing more visas for them, and others seemed to worry very little about our utter abandonment of our Kurdish allies when we withdrew from northern Syria in 2019. And those worrying about democracy in Afghanistan seem to be largely unconcerned about protecting voting rights here at home.

Most notably to me, some of the same people who are now focusing on keeping troops in Afghanistan to protect Americans seem uninterested in stopping the spread of a disease that has already killed more than 620,000 of us and that is, once again, raging.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
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JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Food Insecure


Reading time – 2:37; Viewing time – 3:30  .  .  .

I’ve been a dad for a long time and for some time my children have been adults for years with children of their own. I’ve been so very fortunate to never have had serious worries about providing for my family.

But I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve become semi-numb to statistics. 200,000 new cases and 2,800 dead every day – these are statistics. It became a little easier to understand the meaning of those numbers when I heard someone say that we are having a 9/11 every day.

I can still see those awful pictures in my head, the airliner crashing into and through the second tower and exploding in a huge orange fireball, people jumping out of the towers to their death, the collapse of the buildings, the smothering fallout of dust and debris and the disoriented, confused New Yorkers wandering in the streets, and the shuffling, stunned, silent foot parade across the Brooklyn Bridge. You have those same pictures in your head, too. I know you do.

That’s when I finally got it. That we’re doing that every day. Our friends and family are dying every day in numbers as large as the 2,977 who died on 9/11. We were right when we called it a tragedy then. What do we call it when this happens every day?

They talk about Americans who are food insecure and just after seeing those images in my head is when I finally got what that means, too. I projected back years ago to when my kids were little ones and I imagined the horror of not having food for them. My babies could go to bed hungry and go to school hungry. That’s what “food insecure” means.

We’re on our way to 50 million Americans, including 17 million children – 1 in every 6 kids – who are hungry. That means there are 33 million moms and dads who aren’t able to feed their kids. Moms and dads who, just like you and I, want to protect their kids and who surely are horrified that their kids are hungry. Just like you would be. Just like I would be.

You have to see that in your mind’s eye: children; toddlers; 10-year-olds; teens who are growing fast and have voracious appetites – all now food insecure. Hungry. And those moms and dads are frustrated and humiliated because things were okay just a few months ago, but they cannot properly care for their kids now. That’s not how it was supposed to be.

The big picture talk about the pandemic, the economy and unemployment statistics isn’t about the numbers we’re shown. It’s about real people like you and me, with real kids like yours and mine and for whom hunger long ago passed the point of being just a concept. It’s an every day reality for them. So is the threat of homelessness. So is the threat of death by pandemic.

The president has gone totally AWOL and Congress has gone demonically stingy and glacially slow. But, no worries. None of them will be going without a  meal. 50 million others will.

Contact your local food bank. Today. Ask them for at least 3 ways you can help.

Hurry. Our kids are hungry.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Sent to a Libertarian Friend on 9-11


Reading time – 2:44  .  .  .
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This was sent to a friend on 9/11. The message informs our present moment.
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I’ve been thinking about what you labeled my “way too much certainty of how events would have played out if something had happened that didn’t happen.” I understand your skepticism of my views, yet consider the likelihood of these “didn’t happen” events:
·
1. The Florida election in 2000 requires no speculation, because the full count has been done multiple times. Gore won. Not by much, but he got more votes than Bush. Then there was Bush’s slimy lawsuit.
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2. If Gore had been president, I really don’t think he would have blown off the intelligence on an imminent terrorist attack as Bush did, like dismissing the FBI agent who warned him of an attack. He told the agent, “Okay, you’ve covered your ass,” then did nothing to protect our nation.
·
3. There isn’t a remote possibility that if 9/11 had happened on Gore’s watch that he would have conflated religious extremist al Qaeda with secularist Saddam, who never attacked the U.S. in any way, so there would have been no invasion of Iraq and no war and thousands of our troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive. Plus, a major piece of the middle-east would not be in ongoing chaos, so there wouldn’t have been a crush of refugees into Europe.
·
4. If the 9/11 attack had occurred during a Gore presidency, Gore would have captured bin Laden at Tora Bora, where our CIA had him trapped. They needed the military to finish the job, but Bush refused to send help, allowing the bad guys to escape, which led to a war in Afghanistan. And yes, the protracted mess in Afghanistan was predictable. Just ask the British, the Soviets and others about their experience there. Seventeen years later we’re still trapped in that country. Stunning how we could be so blind and foolish.
·
5. Trump cheated his way into office. Had Hillary won instead (i.e. had she not been a terrible campaigner, had she not used a private server, had there not been 11 Benghazi hearings, etc.) she would have been president. I don’t think it’s even a remote possibility that she would have blown off the pandemic, so a lot fewer people would have become sick and died.
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What all that has in common is fallout from cheating and it continues, as you know.
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Trump’s constant cheating, starting with his birther slime to his “Russia, if you’re listening” to his begging China to interfere in the 2020 election and his abandonment of We the People in this pandemic have brought us nearly 200,000 dead Americans [ed. note: 34 days later there are over 217,000 dead], and you and I are in the center of the bulls eye for this disease. Plus, his “good people on both sides” has encouraged vigilantes in our streets. Plus, he’s promoting – even arranging – voter intimidation. None of this would have happened absent Trump’s cheating, lying, fraud and the rest.
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Is there a certainty that these events that didn’t happen would have happened absent the cheating? Of course not. But this looks pretty likely to me. And just maybe 3,000 people wouldn’t have died suddenly 19 years ago. And about 3/4 of the people who have died from COVID would still be alive – see the Oxford study. All of that and more is why our upcoming election is so very critical. As in: clear and present danger.
·
We probably can’t stop all the cheating but we can overwhelm the bad guys with votes.
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Watch this space this Sunday for “This Most Consequential Moment.”
·

VOTE IN PERSON EARLY

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Best Way Forward


Reading time – 3:59; Viewing time – 6:28  .  .  .

Ronald Reagan is remembered for declaring the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” He first said that during the campaign for governor of California in 1965. It was and remains a pretty good directive.

The Democrats’ job now is to name the person most likely to win the November 2020 election and that won’t be accomplished with more circular firing squads like we’re witnessing in the debates.

Democrats have to stay focused on beating Trump, not on beating up one another. They diminish their case to the American people with nit-picky carping about whose program is a smidgen better, not only because of the discord it sows, but also because that in-the-weeds talk makes everyone’s eyes glaze over.

And Democrats, wise up about extreme plans. The word “radical” seems to evoke sensations of power for many on the left, but radical ain’t gonna sell in the general election. Even the Wall Street Journal has warned how self-defeating extreme lefty stuff is. So has Bret Stevens at the New York Times. Stop giving the election to Trump.

So, candidates, state your case (not the negatives about other candidates) and prepare to beat the snot out of Trump. Thou shalt not speak ill of any Democrat.

That’s a campaign best way forward. Now it’s time to examine the key question of our time and the best way forward with it.

Long ago I had had enough. A bellyful. It wasn’t just the outrages and the spewing of hate and the non-stop assault on reality and truth. It wasn’t just the flicking off of our allies and the cozying up to tyrants and murderers, or the denial of science and intelligence itself. It was the blatantly illegal stuff that came into plain sight. That’s when the line was permanently crossed.

I was right there: impeach the criminal bastard. Then I thought about it some more and the issue wasn’t quite that clear or simple.

If Trump were successfully removed from office, Pence would become president and he’d pardon Trump and his family of all their federal crimes. Definitely not good.

If Pence were to become president we would have a smarmy, self-righteous bible thumper telling lies in the Oval Office every afternoon following attempts at gay conversions in the Reflecting Pool in the mornings. Definitely not good.

If Trump were impeached in the House but protected by the spineless Republican Senate that has completely lost its true conservative way, that would give him a flag to wave to help him get re-elected. Very definitely not good.

All of that and more are why the issue hasn’t been that clear. Here’s what is that clear now.

Trump has committed multiple felonies, has stonewalled the rule of law and has flagrantly assaulted the pillars of our democracy (scroll down to The Real Reason For Impeachment). This hasn’t been mere misdemeanor stuff; these are high crimes.

The House should start impeachment hearings – an investigation to determine if they should start formal impeachment proceedings. They should do that because it’s the right thing to do to protect our democracy and the rule of law, and because I don’t think our democracy can withstand another four years of Trump’s lawlessness and assaults on what we hold dear.

It will take months to go through all the material they can subpoena. If Trump and his team stonewall subpoenas, the courts will slap them down every time. Besides, if they stonewall, it will stretch out the process even longer so we can keep the wrongdoing of Trump and his crime family in public view all the way to election day. Think: Benghazi.

The Republican Congress held seven sequential hearings into the tragic events in Benghazi, each one repeating all the same information. They found absolutely no Hillary Clinton guilt or wrongdoing. But the Republicans kept her in the center of the bulls eye with shame-on-you fingers pointed at her and snarls of disgust super-glued to their faces for so long that the public forgot about her exoneration and just assumed she was guilty of something.

That’s what Ken Starr did to Bill Clinton. He investigated all things Clinton for over four years. All he accomplished legally was to catch him lying to avoid being found out an adulterer. But he did keep his shaming finger publicly pointed at Clinton all that time.

That’s what the Democrats in the House should do – non-stop investigation into all things Trump.

Let Trump and the Republicans hypocritically howl at the unfairness, the abuse of the system and all the rest of the (did I mention “hypocritical?”) whining they can conjure over an impeachment inquiry.

An impeachment inquiry is both the politically useful thing to do as well as the morally, Constitutionally right thing to do. You just can’t beat that combination.

So, I’ve evolved over this issue. From impeach to don’t impeach, now at the sensible middle ground of impeachment inquiry as the best way forward. File those contempt of Congress charges, Jerry Nadler, and let the subpoenas fly!

From the New York Times:

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration.

That is what a million people in the streets can do. It’s a critical step in creating the change you want to see. Maybe you belong in the streets demanding an impeachment investigation.

Late Addition

The third mass shooting of the week took place in El Paso, TX on Saturday. The young gunman with an AK-47 assault rifle killed and injured dozens of shoppers in a mall.

94% of Americans want there to be required background checks for the sale of all firearms and a large percentage of us want a ban on assault weapons and extended magazines. Meanwhile, our politicians steadfastly refuse to take any action whatsoever. The good news is that our politicians have an inexhaustible supply of thoughts and prayers to spew ineffectively.

Once again the murderer in a U.S. mass shooting is a white supremacist. We ignore those guys at our peril and instead focus on Muslim extremists.

“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.” – Eric Hoffer. Thanks to M.G. for the quote.

Clearly, the best way forward is to start to deal with the real problem – angry white guys – and stop blaming others. That shouldn’t take enlightened leadership, but in the U.S. today, it will. Find and elect those people.

Final thought:
As on 9/11, thousands of people were running out of the Cielo Vista Mall fleeing the threat of imminent death. Our first responders – police, fire, EMTs and the rest – ran into those buildings to save lives. They did what every cell in their bodies told them not to do and they did it for you and me.

Go thank a first responder.


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Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,

YOUR ACTION STEPS:

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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