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Monday, September 20, 2021

Recap: September 20, 2021

 

You can't trust the government! 

You can't trust big pharma! 

You can't trust for-profit business!

But most of all, you can't trust government!

I'm not anti-vax per se, buuuuuut you can't trust ...

Right? 

First thing in my feed this morning is Sarah Palin looking like she's about two weeks into her third Rehab, doing some interview, wait, people still interview Sarah Palin, why? She was describing how she's not anti-vax per se mind you, but she's not vaccinated for reasons that sounded a lot like if you took the text of a Trump COVID speech and had it transcribed by a monkey working its way through a couple tabs of acid. 

Do your own research, she says.

And, of course, you just can't trust the government. 

I mean, this what I hear from both Republican politicians and right-wing anti-vaxxers.  You just can't trust the government. You can't trust Big Pharma. You can't trust anybody.

They'll trust some anonymous troll on the Internet. 

They'll trust their idiot uncle or some blowhard pundit or that one blonde with the big tits on Fox News. 

They'll listen to some rap star who's got a cousin who knows a guy with swollen nuts. 

But you just can't trust the government, you know, man? 

These people they couldn't wait for Trump's Warp Speed vaccination. He's so smart, he's so handsome, he knows what he's doing, he knows more than the doctors ... well, according to Trump anyway. 

But the minute Trump was out of office they stopped believing in that vaccine and so did Trump. 

You can't trust the government says Trump, and he should know, shouldn't he? 

We'll come back to that. 

Don't trust the government say people who blindly take every word Donald Trump says, no matter how bizarre, insane, or obviously wrong it is, as gospel. 

This has become Republican ideology, you can't trust the government. It's literally the only thing they believe in. 

And why? 

Why can't you trust the government? 

Well, I mean, look at history. 

Richard Nixon, for example. That guy didn't just lie his way into office, he actually colluded with Henry Kissinger -- who betrayed the administration he was supposed to be working for -- who sent Kissinger's pal Anna Chennault to sabotage the Paris Peace talks and prolong the Vietnam war so that Nixon could get elected. That little maneuver prolonged the war by years and cost us another 20,000 American lives. And then the greasy son of bitch committed even more crimes to get re-elected and got caught. And was impeached. And then resigned. 

See? You can't trust government.  

But I know people to this day, who think Nixon didn't do anything wrong. Or, well, okay, maybe he did, but hey, you wouldn't have wanted a liberal in office would you? And not just a liberal, but George McGovern! 

Better a crook than a fucking hippy, right? 

Or how about Reagan? You'd never guess the people who worked for Nixon and pulled his strings were right there doing the same for Ronald Reagan a few years later, would you? Same people backdoored Jimmy Carter with Iran just like they did in Paris. All's fair in love and war. Anything to get elected. But, then once Reagan was in office he had to make good on that deal. So, he sold weapons to our enemies and financed a secret illegal war in Central America. And when it all went sideways he charmingly forgot everything, left Ollie North to take the fall, and CIA director William Casey died before he could be subpoenaed. How convenient! 

Man, you just can't trust that government. 


Still, as crooked as Reagan was, maybe even up to committing actual no shit treason by selling weapons to our enemies, man, you know, he loved America! Hero. Cowboy. Man's man. A real president. Better than that wimp, Jimmy Carter. I mean, sure, Carter actually lives the life Americans claim to admire, honest, humble, truthful, hardworking, godly, selfless... 

Reagan might have been a senile traitor, but you wouldn't want Carter, would you?

Well, at least George H. W. Bush was a decent guy, right? Never mind he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the worse years of the Nixon Administration, literally in charge of the GOP's Dirty Tricks operations when "ratfucking" actually became an accepted mainstream political term. Or that as such, he tried to use that position to influence the corruption investigations of Spiro Agnew and later Nixon himself. Or that part where he was the head of the CIA running Operation Condor and directly assisting military dictatorships in Central America. And those ratfuckers who were behind Nixon and Reagan? Guess who George put in charge of everything? Yeah, but in fairness, he kinda owed them. Anyway, the guy who promised not to raise your taxes did anyway. 

Can't trust government, right? 

Couple years later and it's George W. Bush and who was it pulling the strings? You guessed it. Same old dirty ratfuckers from the Nixon Administration, same ones who worked for his dad, name for name. And sure enough, they lied us into two wars that would go on for 20 years and cost us another generation -- and that was maybe the least horrible thing that came out of that administration of secret laws and waterboarding and indefinite detention and rendition and ... well, you get the idea. 

You just can't trust these people. 

But hey, at least we didn't end up with that stiff, Al Gore, right? Mr. "I invented the Internet." Boring! That guy couldn't commit a crime if you gave him a thousand bucks in cash and dropped him off in Vegas at the Adult Video Network Awards after-party. 

And then they elected Trump. 

The you-can't-trust-government crowd elected the single least trustworthy human being in America.

Maybe the world.

This guy broke every promise he made -- and then lied about it right to our faces. 

This guy lied about every minute of every day he was in office, clumsy stupid lies like a child would tell -- and then he went golfing and lied about that. 

This guy hired crooks and liars and grifters and they proceeded to steal, lie, and grift -- and they didn't even try to hide it, they're still doing it. 

And all the while, Republicans cheered. 

Ha ha, they sneered like mean rotten brats. Cry more, liberals! Owned! Fuck your feelings! 

They were proud of it. 

And now? 

Now they say, well, you know, you just can't trust government. 


Well, no shit

When you keep electing worse and worse people, crooks and traitors and imbeciles, sometimes all at once, when you repeatedly elect people who are patently untrustworthy and you know they are untrustworthy, well no shit you can't trust them

Look, I'm not trying to say that the other side is all that great either. Lyndon Johnson lied us into Vietnam with that Gulf of Tonkin bullshit. And Bill Clinton, well, yeah, I'm not going to defend Bill Clinton. But Obama was as upright a president as we've likely ever had, with the exception of Carter. None of them were perfect, but at least they didn't sell weapons to our enemies or attempt an insurrection or tell people to inject bleach for fuck's sake.

And at least Democrats believe in good government -- even if they often fall short.  

Not only do Republicans not believe in good government, they actively hate government altogether. 

Reagan himself said it: "government isn't the solution, government is the problem" -- and then America elected him and he proceeded to prove it. 

And Republicans have been proving it ever since. 

We have to stop electing people to run government who don't believe in government. 

We have to stop electing people to run America who don't believe that America is for everyone. 

We have to stop electing people to run government who think government is the problem. 

We have to stop electing people who don't believe in democracy. 

You don't trust government? Then stop electing people you can't trust. 

In America, if you can't trust your government, well that's more a reflection on Americans than it is on government. 

If you want a better nation, you have to better a better citizen. 





Saturday, September 18, 2021

Recap September 18, 2021

 


The inaugural crowd here at Trump's reinstatement is yuge.


It's the Million MAGA March. 

Well, if you use bible math. You know where the earth is only 6000 years old, this could totally be a million people. Totally.

That's today, right? 

Sure! That's today. The election declared invalid. The insurrectionists vindicated. Trump reinstated. Hillary Clinton dragged off to jail and Mexico sent us a check for the Wall...

I mean, if it's not today, then when

Look, I don't want to be a pessimist, but I'm starting to seriously doubt if that Pillow Guy knows what he's talking about.

Capitol Police estimated turnout was only 400 to 450 people. And from the pictures I think they're probably being generous. 

The Proud Boys didn't show up. 

The Oathkeepers didn't show up. 

The usual Republican rabble-rousers, Gaetz, Greene, Cawthorn, Giuliani, didn't show up and those vultures never miss an opportunity -- or a free lunch. 

Hell, they couldn't ever book Sarah Palin and she ain't got nothing to do these days. 

I mean, goddamn, Bristol Palin could have drawn a bigger crowd. 

Look at these pathetic dipshits.

(photo credit Dana Milbank WaPo)

These same racist morons scream about a black man kneeling during the national anthem, but here these same flabby dickless hypocrites are, vandalizing that very same flag. 

III% 

More like 3% of the normal number of brain cells. 

These people literally cannot be kicked when they are down enough. 

They're not soldiers. They're not Minutemen. They're for damn sure not patriots. 

They're just a bunch of overfed self-important privileged assholes too damn stupid to see they've been used. Same as the dumb violent goons who rally to any authoritarian cause, from the Brown Shirts to the Bolsheviks to the goddamn Confederates. 

They couldn't articulate what their own complaints are if you paid them. 

All they know is that they're mad. That's right, they're mad. The politicians and the pundits and the news shows told them to be mad and by the Angry White Christian God they are. They've been mad for years now, hell, they can't even remember the last time they weren't mad. 

At this point, mad is embedded in their genes and they don't know how to feel anything but rage anymore. 

And yet, these people live in the most prosperous nation in the world. 

As revolutionaries go, these assholes, they can't even say they're hungry. They're not trying to overthrow the government because they're starving. Or because they've been deprived their rights and property. Or because the government won't let them worship their god in their own fashion. Or because they've been imprisoned without due cause. Or because they've been pressed into military service to fight an unjust war in a foreign land. Or because they're being overtaxed or under represented. Or even because the government is housing soldiers in their homes without just compensation.

They cannot point to a single grievance outlined in the Declaration of Independence that they must endure. 

Not one. 

No, in fact they have so much leisure time and so much extra income they can drive to Washington D.C. in their $50,000 trucks and spend all day on the Washington Mall shouting about how oppressed they are by a government that's trying to give them healthcare, civil rights, good jobs, clean water, clean air, and a decent place to live, all while doing its damnest to keep these unvaccinated dolts from getting a preventable disease on purpose and killing themselves from deliberate stupidity. 

Ultimately, these people were rallying for Donald Trump. 

And Trump? Well, he fucked over the organizers by telling his supporters not to go...

... and then he went golfing. 

Which is either hilariously ironic or a testament to MAGA masochism. 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Recap: September 17, 2021

 

Seriously, I'm not going to get any credit for NOT mentioning the whole Hi I'm a rap star and my cousin knows a guy who has swollen nuts so anyway do your own research thing?

No?

Okay, well, then let's get right to it. 

Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, 

Seventeen years of service. From what I can see of his decorations he must have been a fairly decent Marine. 

He's right now busy destroying his entire career in a very public manner. 

The guy lost his shit over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

A lot of us wish it had been done better, but as I've repeatedly noted: those who quit and retreat from the battlefield don't get to dictate terms. 

Biden could have done a better job. 

So could have Trump. 

So could have Obama.

So could have Bush. 

This is the nature of war. This is the nature of leaving a war you haven't won. I know they teach Marines about Vietnam, this guy should have paid more attention. 

I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I'm saying this is how it is. 

You don't have to like it. I don't have to like it. Lieutenant Colonel Scheller USMC doesn't have to like it. But the difference is that you and I can say whatever we want, publicly, privately and there's not much anyone can do about it.

But the rules are different for Scheller. 

He's an active duty Marine. An officer. His job is to lead by example. Period. No exceptions. No excuses. 

And so long as he's wearing that uniform, his job is to shut the fuck up and soldier. 

He doesn't have to like it. 

When I was an active duty officer, I served under George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and I'm going to tell you that it was very, very personal to me. Rumsfeld, that son of a bitch, lied us into this war. I watched him do it. As an intelligence officer, I knew those fuckers were lying. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, all of them. I knew it. We all knew it. We knew those dirty rotten fuckers were full of it. But my job was to shut and soldier. To do the best I could with what I had and lead my people in accordance with military law, custom, and tradition. 

And I did. To the very best of my ability. Without complaint. Every minute of every damn day. 

What's that? 

Oh, I see. 

That bit about "the military doesn't have to follow illegal orders."

Heh heh.

Yeah, about that, the orders weren't illegal. 

See, the Constitution doesn't say shit about the President or the Vice President or the Secretary of Defense or any of the people in charge having to tell the truth. 

Go look for yourself. 

No where in our laws does it say that the President and Congress can't start a war on a lie. 

In fact, the way this works if you're in the military is that the President and Congress get to define what truth actually is. And trying to correct them on it has very unpleasant consequences. 

Cynical? 

Oh, you damn right I'm cynical. 

You have no idea how cynical I am. 

But that's how it is. You can maybe think otherwise if you're a junior troop, all shiny and new. But a Lieutenant Colonel with 17 years of service? Yeah, that guy knows better. There is no way that he doesn't. He knows what his job is. The Marine Corps is damn good at making sure you know. 

We work for the President of the United States of America. 

He says invade, we invade. 

He says retreat, we retreat. 

And it's our job -- literally our job -- to lead our troops in either direction with equal skill and fidelity. 

Shut up and soldier. That's the job. 

As an officer, you can't live with that? Then resign. Resign first.

As enlisted, wait to the end of your enlistment. 

Those are your options. 

Then you can say whatever you like. 

If you go back to the beginning of this blog, the very first day I started writing professionally, you'll see that it started the day after my retirement from the service. And not one minute before. I couldn't stand the son of a bitch in the White House and I despised what he had done to the country I had sworn to give my life for. But so long as I wore the uniform I did my duty, I led by example, and I carried out his lawful orders with fidelity, skill, and enthusiasm. 

Because that's the job. 

You know, I see an awful lot of former military say that their oath never ends. And then I see those same folks say things that aren't all that dissimilar from the insubordinate actions of Lieutenant Colonel Scheller -- if indeed their oath is still in effect. 

You say your oath is for life?

Really? 

Which part of your oath? All of it? Or just some mumbling about enemies foreign and domestic and you get to define who those enemies are? 

Because if your oath, all of your oath, is still something you consider yourself bound by, well, fellas, I guess you'd best shut the hell up about your elected officials. 

There comes a day when you are no longer bound by that oath. 

I spent two and a half decades living up to that oath every day, and that's enough. 

The day after my retirement was official, I started writing publicly about politics, because then I was a civilian and I had the right to say as I please. Just like any other civilian. And that's when I could call the president a son of a bitch to his face. And did. 

Nowadays, I'll say as I please. And do. 

Lieutenant Colonel Scheller has every right to detest his Commander-In-Chief. 

However, so long as he's wearing that uniform that's where his freedom of expression ends. 

His public statements, his appearance on Fox News and various other broadcasts, disparaging the elected government of the United States, his Commander-in-Chief, his superior officers, that is gross insubordination and a violation of half a dozen articles of the UCMJ. 

He's a disgrace to the Corps.

He has dishonored his uniform and his oath.

And more than that, he has pissed on the very ideals of the Constitution he claims to uphold. 

Now, some have suggested that this officer has suffered a mental break. 

I don't know about that. I'm not a mental health expert.

He might appear irrational to you, but the problem is with MAGAs and some officers like this is that it's hard to tell. Some of these guys are wrapped so fucking tight and are so utterly gung-ho that outside of a very specific environment they appear to be insane. 

But inside that environment, well, they are what you need when the job is war. 

Guys like this, some of them, they can't function outside of war. 

They can't return to civilian life. 

I think that's what you're looking at here. 

That's why their marriages fall apart. That's why they end up estranged from their kids. That's why they drink and turn to drugs and maybe put a pistol in their mouths. That's why they sign up with some thinly disguised mercenary outfit while pretending to be a "security contractor" and spend the rest of their lives murdering people for money in a foreign land. Or become a cop here

That's why they end up smashing their way into the US Capitol, in the middle of an insurrection, in the name of some wannabe fascist. That's how a guy who spent his whole life sworn to the defense of the nation finds himself beating a cop to death with the American flag.

Insane? 

Sure. Probably. I dunno. When everyone is insane, what's sanity? 

Like I said, I'm not a mental health expert. But war is by definition insane. And when you spend your entire life in it, well, maybe some of it rubs off. 

Doesn't matter. It's not an excuse. 

This kind of gross insubordination cannot be tolerated in the ranks. 

Scheller, whatever his mental state, he knew what the consequences of his actions would be. 

And it's time to pay the price. 


See you tomorrow. 








Jailbreak


Hello Facebook Followers.

(Also, various and assorted others)

You're wondering where I've been all week, aren't you? 

Well, I was suspended. From Facebook. 

Again. 

For the last several years, it's become tradition for me to be suspended on or about the anniversary of 911 and this year is no different. 

Facebook's idiot mechanical brain decided a post from two weeks ago (which I suspect was targeted by people mad about my annual 911 post but who couldn't flag that any more because I've taken it down and moved it here, so they picked a target of convenience) about a new law in a certain state, a post that literally mentioned not one single human person, political party, gender, identity, or ideology in any fashion whatsoever, was somehow a violation of its "harassment and bullying" policy. 

And I was suspended.

Formerly, when this happened, there was some sort of appeal process. But I was not offered such this time because Facebook claims to be "shorthanded during the COVID pandemic" (which I suspect is shorthand for "we just don't want to spend any money on actual people and we don't really give a shit how that works out for you, Zuckerberg needs a new mansion) and thus unable to review anything their mechanical brain flags. 

Basically, they're letting software make judgement calls regarding the subtleties of human expression and interaction without any human oversight and those judgement calls are final and absolute. 

No chance of error there, eh? 

You could write an entire scifi subgenre of horror stories about all the things that could go wrong with this idea. 

Nevertheless, here we are and it's impossible for me to modify my behavior to prevent this sort of thing in the future, because I have absolutely no idea what part of the two-line throwaway post violated the policy. 

What terrible thing did I say? 

This: "Really not surprising a bunch of Dollar Store cowboys who worship the idea of manifest destiny, rough frontier justice, and some idiotic heroic mythology of a lost cause as their own Thermopylae would once again legalize vigilante-style justice and the open carry of six-shooters."

That's it. 

That's what I said. 

Now how is that harassment and bullying? 

Harassment? Who did I harass? Literally who does that comment harass? How does it harass them? 

Bullying? Who did I bully? Texas? I bullied the entire state of Texas? Like the entire state. All those big tough giant hat wearin' beefsteak-eatin truck-drivin' pistol-packin' shitkickers. I made them cry. Stonekettle is bullying us! We are emasculated! We'll never be able to wear our pointy-toed boots in public again! We might as well be Vermont! 

They've been bullied. By me. 

I did that. 

I guess that's what Facebook is saying.

I mean, I'm going to just go ahead and interpret it that way, because it amuses me to do so. But, I don't really know, because there is no way to know. 

There are no guidelines, no explanation, no feedback, no appeal, no help

Nothing. Facebook provides nothing in the way of support whatsoever. So there is literally no way to know. Thus there is no way to do better. No way to learn. No way not to do it again

You literally cannot comply with Facebooks policy, because there is absolutely no way to know how you violated it. 

And yet, every single day my Facebook DMs are literally full of people calling me all sorts of horrible things, threatening violence. One guy literally threatened to show up and rape my wife and son while I watched. I got in contact with the police, they went to his house and arrested him and he's in jail right now, but when I reported it to Facebook they said it didn't violate their policies and, hey, if you don't like it, just ignore him. 

Because those things are not, apparently, harassment or bullying according to Mark Zuckerberg.

But, Goddamn, don't bully Texas. 

Again, I don't know. 

This is the third time this year and it's likely to keep happening. And every time I'm suspended, it's for a longer and longer timeout. 

Facebook doesn't care how much time and effort you've put into their platform.

They don't care if you're actually trying to comply with their idiotic and arbitrary rules. 

They don't care. 

And because Facebook does not care, the company has given over management of the platform to software, to machines and algorithms, and removed human training and judgement from the loop.

And you can't argue with machines. 

Sooner or later, I'm going to get suspended permanently. It's inevitable at this point. Especially since the robots are crawling backward through my timelines and going after posts that didn't violate policy ten years ago, but somehow do now -- even though they are about subjects long gone. 

Facebook does not care and will not listen. 

Twitter isn't any better, just different in its terribleness. 

The rules of social media are applied arbitrarily and there's just not one damn thing you can do about it. 

I think eventually social media will have to be regulated like any other utility. Maybe not eventually, maybe pretty soon and right now. 

And when that happens -- and it will just as soon as Republicans are back in charge and they come for those platforms that booted their demigod Donald Trump -- it's going to cost Facebook and Twitter billions

And they will have no one to blame but themselves. 

These companies are not going to get a whole lot of sympathy from me, even if it is Republicans who stick it to them for their own selfish reasons.

There is no point in complaining about it though I obviously am, or talking about "fairness" or anything else. Social media isn't fair. Despite the vaunted appeals of Zuckerberg and Dorsey to "free speech" and "public dialog" social media isn't about those things and never has been. 

It's about profit. 

And I will say these platforms are a pretty good example why the free market cannot be trusted to manage itself. Facebook and Twitter, and their various technological vassals and satellites, don't give a good goddamn about you and why should they? 

If they actually did, they'd treat you like people instead of like an insurance company denying a claim.

It's as simple as that, really. 


But until that regulation happens, if it does, you're just shit out of luck. 


I can't work this way. 

It's just not possible. Literally. Even if I wanted to, Facebook won't let me. 

So here's what we're going to do: 

I'm going to move political commentary back to my own website, here. 

No. No. Stop screaming. This is a good thing for me and for you

Why me? I'm hoping that becomes self evident by and by. 

Why for you? Well, for starters, you keep telling me how much you miss long form. Okay. Here it is. Also, no comment limit. Comments are limited on my Facebook page. Not everyone can comment on my page, that's the most common complaint I get. But, over here, well, anyone can comment so long as they obey the rules. Blocking. I can block you from my Twitter and Facebook pages, or at least make it difficult for you to see my content. Here? Even if I don't let you comment, you can still see the posts.  Also vastly better formatting, higher resolution. Etc. Etc. Also, a bunch of other cool stuff that will eventually become apparent.

Now, does this mean I'm going to completely abandon Facebook? Or maybe Twitter? 

Nope. 

Not unless Zuckerberg and Dorsey kick me out of their worlds permanently, which is of course entirely possible at any random moment for totally arbitrary reasons. You pays your money and you takes your chances. 

What I'll do is post mostly non-political content on Facebook, hopefully things that won't get me afoul of the Faceborg Collective. And political commentary will be summarized every day on Stonekettle Station and a link posted on Twitter and Facebook and in the Facebook Stonekettle Station Group. 

Meaning you can comment here on Stonekettle Station directly, you can comment on Twitter, you can comment on Facebook as you always could, and if you're a member you can participate in the resulting comments in the Stonekettle Station Facebook Group. So, you get more options to post your voice and opinion, you get more content, and you get it more often and in more detail.

And if I do get suspended permanently, and my Facebook or Twitter pages taken down, or I go silent on those social media sites, well, you don't lose anything because it'll here on my website. If you don't hear from me on Facebook, come here and see what's going on.

This will also make sharing content easier -- as you can just post a link to the article on Stonekettle Station instead of trying to figure out how to share Facebook and Twitter posts to various platforms and forums.  

I've also updated Stonekettle Station to make every page a secure connection, which should fix access for those of you working through corporate connections. 

And I'm making other updates as I go. 


Anyway, that's how it is. 


First daily summary went up on September 15th

Second one yesterday on the 16th

I'm working on today. See you around. 




Thursday, September 16, 2021

Recap: September 16, 2021

 

Thursday began in the usual fashion.

With me walking into the kitchen in the dark, barefoot, and stepping into ... liquid? 

What the hell?

It's pouring rain outside and has been for weeks. Is the roof leaking? Are we sinking? Women and beagles first! Get to the boats, Rose! 

Turn on the light, ah it's a coffee machine malfunction and there's a half a gallon of this morning's brew dripping off the counters onto the floor. So, I got to clean that up before I had coffee. On the other hand, the dogs thought me crawling around on my hands and knees, cursing, and mopping up the mess with paper towels was hilarious.

I put them out in the rain. Not so funny now, is it, assholes. 

They don't care. They like the rain and ran around gleefully peeing on things as is their wont.


So, that's my morning. We're all fine here. How are you? 


Let's start with some feedback on yesterday's post: 


I'm thinking somebody maybe did little too much LDS back in the 60s.

It's always fascinating (get it?! Fascinating. Huh? Huh? Raises one eyebrow) to me what will set people off. I made a fairly innocuous generalization yesterday about how conservatives and liberals have more or less swapped roles over the years...

...and a bunch of people who claim pot makes you mellow got all kinds of soggy and hard to light about it. 

DMs this morning are like the Klingon/Federation Neutral Zone.

Look here, my comments weren't "definitions." 

They were generalizations that were supposed to be exaggerated. That's often how humor works. And humorous hyperbole used to illustrate and convey an idea is a common writing technique.



Yeah, nothing gets by you. Except maybe all the clues. 

Literally nothing I said yesterday was aimed at you personally. Any of you. 

Unless, of course, you want it to be. 


Eventually I got coffee. But things did not improve...


Lot of people mad today.

Fox News this morning madder than hell about California. 

Specifically that anyone should be happy about the vote in California, such as the majority of people who live in California and voted the way they wanted to. Like, you know, democracy and such.

I mean, how dare people be happy about their win? 

MAGAs would never do that. No, Sir!

Or post about it on social media. Endlessly. 

Or hold rallies to cheer their victory. Or dedicate entire news shows to it. Or listen to their politicians crow about it. Over and over. 

Never. 

They are so much better than us. Less emotional. Reserved. 

Stoic even.





Meanwhile...

Here in Florida, Republicans are suing in federal court to halt mask, social distancing, and vaccine mandates. Basically Florida Republicans oppose any measure that would halt or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in any fashion, and nowhere is this stance more hardline and outspoken than in Tampa -- well, I mean outside of the governor's office in Tallahassee. 

Today, however, the head of the Hillsborough Country Republican Executive Committee informed the FEC that they would likely be late in filing their paperwork -- which as a Political Action Committee they are required to do on a monthly basis. 

They will be late in filing the paperwork because the committee member responsible for doing so is unavailable. 

The committee member is unavailable because he's dead. 

He died from acute irony.


And in true job security fashion as taught in all the finest American business schools, the dead guy was the only guy who knew how to do the thing and he didn't give anyone else access to the software or train anyone as his backup. It just don't get any more Republican than that.  And that guy, the linchpin, the critical guy in the process, that guy wouldn't wear a mask or get vaccinated or stay away from public places because, goddammit, you're not tellin' me what to do! 

But then, these guys are perfectly willing to sacrifice their own kids (and yours too), so I guess it's not any great stretch to find them leaving their entire organization in the lurch with their stubborn selfish stupidity. 

I see these guys and they idolize this ridiculous fake version of history and this weirdly twisted version of freedom, like Mel Gibson, an American playing a Scotsman, dressed in a kilt that the Scots wouldn't wear for another five centuries, face painted in woad that the highlanders hadn't worn in a thousand years, fighting a famous battle on a bridge with no bridge, having sex with a woman he probably never actually met, seeking revenge against tyranny what killed his father who was actually still alive and totally not dead, shouting Freeeeeeeeeedom! And somehow missing the fact that Braveheart's insurrection was an abject failure (warning, possible metaphor) and the guy ended up being convicted of treason (ominous foreshadowing music here) and for murdering civilians "sparing neither age nor sex, monk nor nun" and then was dragged naked through the streets of London behind horses, hanged, cut down before he could fully strangle, castrated and disemboweled alive, beheaded, and finally cut into pieces and had his head dipped in tar and placed on a pike over London Bridge. (I didn't say it was a great metaphor, but maybe we could play that part for those currently in jail awaiting trial for the January 6th insurrection just, you know, for fun).


Of course, it's not just America. 


Hai Shaulian, a prominent Israeli anti-vaxxer died Monday. From COVID. 

His final Facebook message Saturday explained to his readers how he couldn't breathe and that his condition was "extremely critical." 

He said he was sure he'd recover "with God's help." 

He was right on first two accounts, wrong about the last one. 

Shaulian repeatedly called on his followers not to get vaccinated and said of his antivax stance, "It has nothing to do with the coronavirus. It has nothing to do with vaccines. It has to do with coercion" and "There is no epidemic. The vaccine is unnecessary and dangerous."

Turns out, it had everything to do with the virus and vaccines are pretty damn necessary.

Being smothered to death in your own snot is a hell of way to find out your god thinks you're an idiot, isn't it? 

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. 

As I've previously noted: maybe it makes me a bad person but I've just run out of any sympathy for these people. Everyday I read about yet another "prominent antivaxxer who died of COVID" and I smile. I shrug and say to myself, "welp." Look, it's bad enough they're killing themselves, but their boneheaded malicious libertarianism is putting us all at risk. 

This pandemic would be over if it wasn't for these goddamn selfish assholes.

It's not the vaccines that are dangerous, it's the guy who refuses to get vaccinated. 


This isn't freedom, it's deliberate stupidity.


Meanwhile...

Over at Fox News, the people who think they're qualified to count all the ballots and audit all the elections demonstrate their facility with basic math


Joe Biden kicking some ass here, I mean did Trump ever put in 101% on his best day? 


But I digress. 


Meanwhile...

And we circle back 'round to California.


I suppose this needs a bit of introduction. 

A few days ago, the governor of South Carolina tweeted this: 


A nightmare! 

Naturally, I said something about this on my various social media feeds. Because that's what I do.
Really? A nightmare? Like: Oh my god, America is a nightmarish dark radioactive wasteland of deprivation and devastation were capitalists are hunted in the streets like starving animals by radical gay socialist mobs waving torches made from burning copies of the Constitution and George Washington's powdered wig. A nightmare! It's a madhouse! 
I might have been somewhat sarcastic. 

And invoking Charlton Heston was probably uncalled for. 

There was more. More sarcastic remarks about saving poor endangered capitalism and such like that. You get the gist. 

Various readers weighed in and eventually the conversation worked its way around to California, as any discussion of the state of America that begins with "A nightmare!" inevitably must. 
"Ca has the highest welfare takers highest poverty rate highest taxes highest homeless population. Failed state propped up by high tech"
Of course, the account that posted that particular observation is very likely a troll, software and not even an actual meaty human being. But the sentiment, that's a common meme, a common idea, pushed by Republicans (some of which are actually from California) and Russian bots alike -- and thus eventually by my MAGA hat wearing neighbors in a display of the only form of trickle down economics that actually works. 

California is a hellhole of homelessness and taxation, a dark radioactive wasteland of deprivation and ... well, yeah. You know. You've heard this. Right?

But let's take a closer look, shall we? 

If you actually care to pull the actual numbers, it turns out that California's welfare recipient statistics are basically the same as Texas, Florida, and New York. 

Liberal states, conservatives states, all have about the same numbers of welfare recipients, those using SNAP benefits, homelessness as a percentage of their large populations, etc. 

That is: states with larger populations tend to have a larger number of people. 

Yeah, I know, but try to keep up. 

And more people equals more homelessness, more people who need assistance, more crime, and more of, well, pretty much everything. This isn't a conspiracy. It isn't any pithy observation. It's just statistics. 

If you want to talk real numbers that actually matter, like the ratio of people on welfare and SNAP to people who don't need government assistance then take a look at the poor conservative South where the per capita rate of government assistance is much higher than California on its worst day. And while you're at it, look into what states pay into the system. Because the amount states like California contribute is vastly higher than, oh, say Alabama. Something I note California's critics rarely, if ever, mention.

Saying California has more homeless people is like saying California has more electoral votes. 

No shit, Einstein, you don't say? 

California has the largest population of any state. Larger than the next most populous state, Texas, by 10 million. California also has the most benign climate (in every sense of the word: weather wise, politically, and economically) of any state. And that combination attracts the highest number of migrants (both domestic and foreign, including both legal and undocumented foreign immigrants) of any state. As such, California's large homeless population isn't so much a condemnation of its policies (which are essentially the same as any other state) as it is the predictable end result of several intersecting curves. 

Homelessness, poverty, the need for assistance is a national problem that affects every state. 

It's easy to point to California's homeless population as some political statement, because you see California on the news everyday. 

No one broadcasts pictures of homeless camps in Iowa. Or Alabama. Or here in the Florida Panhandle, but they're there and they are the same exact problem here as in California, but you won't hear my asshole congressman Matt Gaetz complaining about them and demanding Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi do something. 

Taxes pay for civilization. 

More taxes, more civilization (yes, yes, up to a point). 

California's large diverse population (most especially including its immigrant population) and its vast modern infrastructure and climate are what attract those high tech industries. 

High tech industries with high paying jobs in cutting edge fields attract more high tech industry, more immigrants, more population, more infrastructure, more innovation, and more supporting satellite jobs like food, housing, transportation, energy, communications, education, entertainment, emergency services, government, etc. 

AND also the associated problems of any large population -- such as taxation and homelessness to name just two. 

California is the exact opposite of failed. 

It's a major economy that literally drives technology trends, innovation, culture, entertainment, education, and so on, worldwide. 

Not to mention California feeds about half our country and several others. 

The very problems outlined here, "Ca has the highest welfare takers highest poverty rate highest taxes highest homeless population. Failed state propped up by high tech" are literally proof of this. 

Again, you don't see this same guy shouting "Alabama has the highest percentages of farm subsidy takers highest rural poverty rates highest teen pregnancy rates highest COVID infection rate. Failed state propped up by NASA jobs in Huntsville..." 

But you could. 

You could say that, and it would be just as dumb as shouting about California. 

High tech doesn't "prop up" California any more than agriculture does. Those industries, and many more, are part and parcel of the state. They are what help to define it. Just as cotton and peanuts do here in this part of the South or fishing, mining, and oil do in Alaska or cattle does in Texas.

The problems this meme points to are the problems of any large population.  Because those are the problems created by success

You don't hear about poverty and homelessness in Iowa, trolls and pundits don't point to it as some sort of gotcha, because the population -- and thus the resulting culture -- isn't large enough to drive national and global trends. And so no one gives a fuck about Iowa. But the state's problems are the same as anywhere else in America. Drugs. Homelessness. Poverty. Taxation. Infrastructure. Etc. 

Civilization is complicated and messy and fraught with unexpected outcomes. 

Go ahead and point to a "successful" state without the problems of taxation and homelessness and poverty around the edges of that success. 

Go on. Where is it? 

You certainly can't here the US. Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not in New York. Not in Iowa. Not in Alabama. Not in any state. 

You can in other nations, however. 

But the solutions to those problems in those peaceful nations are the very systems conservatives today here in America decry as "socialism" and "tyranny." 
"Ca has the highest welfare takers highest poverty rate highest taxes highest homeless population. Failed state propped up by high tech"

You can squint your eyes and maybe agree that everything this post says is correct. From a certain point of view. 

But it's not the pithy gotcha the people pushing it think it is. 

Instead it's a demonstration of a blustering ignorance and a shallow incurious mentality incapable of comprehending even the most basic complexities of modern civilization.

Bluster isn't intellect. 

Soundbites aren't wisdom. 

Ignorance isn't a virtue and rage isn't patriotism no matter how self-righteous. 

You want to do something about poverty? Homelessness? Taxation? Do you really?

You want a better nation? Do you? 

Be a better citizen. 


Here's a picture of a hummingbird making a highspeed approach with his eyes closed. 



See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Recap: September 15, 2021

The day begins in the usual fashion:

With perpetually enraged morons shouting for blood.

Apparently the official Republican Party position this morning is: An unhinged president who lost an election should absolutely be allowed to start a global nuclear war if he wants to and anyone who tries to stop him is a traitor.

I mean, let me get this straight, the Republican position is that a lame duck president should not be allowed to appoint Supreme Court Justices because "the people have spoken..."
...but should be allowed to start a nuclear war?

Yeah, they should totally put that on the 2024 campaign bumper stickers.




"Marshal."

Court Marshal.

Lest you think that a typo and not ignorance:



There it is again, court marshal.

Oh boy, we got us a real military law expert here, don't we?

Greene, or more likely some poor intern on her staff, later deleted the first tweet and reposted it with the correct phrasing. The second one is still up. Goddamn, are these people stupid. A republic is resilient. It can survive a lot of things, but when those elected to run it become an endless parade of blustering angry simpletons cheered by the proudly ignorant shouting mob, well, then the end isn't far away. Lot of these dimwits are throwing around the word "treason" today in the wake of reports General Mark Milley called his counterpart in China and assured him that Trump would not be allowed to start a nuclear war as some sort of petulant revenge for losing the election.

That's not treason.

Treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

First of all, China isn't our enemy.

Second, we're not at war with China.

China is, in point of fact, one of our largest economic trading partners. And assuring the military commanders of a country that we are not at war with that we won't let the raging unhinged madman who just lost an election start a nuclear war isn't treason.

It's sanity.

And maybe this about fixing the utterly insane system that led to this situation in the first place. Right? I mean, goddamn, Folks, when it's the Generals who have to go around the president to prevent nuclear fucking war instead of, you know, trying to start one, maybe that's the wakeup call right there.
The problem wasn't the generals, it was Trump.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I do have a problem with the fact that the general warned China, but didn't tell us.

Think this guy needs to testify. I think he needs to tell America what happened in detail and why he did what he allegedly did.

BUT

But, it was an unhinged, insane, petulant, child-man with his dirty sticky finger on the fucking button, that was the problem.

It was the fact that the Joints Chiefs, those with the inside track and direct observation of the situation on the ground inside the last days of the Trump administration, thought they had to take this action. That's what we should be concerned most about here. That, right there. Because those guys aren't prone to panic, or hyperbole, or even adverse to war. So if they were concerned enough to risk accusations of treason then there has to be a damn good reason.

And it is every American's duty to know what those reasons were.

And if you insist on trying General Milley for treason, then I will expect you to likewise demand the heads of every single Republican who aided and abetted and signed Senator Tom Cotton's letter to Iran undercutting President Obama and five other allied nations during the Iran nuclear talks in direct violation of the Logan Act. And I'll remind you here that Iran is our enemy.

Otherwise, shut the fuck up. 

Heh. Do Mike Flynn next.

Here's the thing:

1. Milley should be neither condemned nor praised for his (alleged) actions.

2. We don't really know if this story about Milley is actually true, and 3. if it is, then the WORLD needs to know the full details of what led Milley to take such action. We need full and complete transparency of the last days of the Trump Administration. All of it.

and 4. We need to sit down and carefully, logically, and rationally figure out how to prevent any such situation in the future. What should happen here is a thorough review and revision of the power and protocols for any president to push that fucking button. Because if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks the president is about to start a nuclear war because the president is acting insane, we need to address how to handle that.


ONE MAN SHOULD NOT HAVE THE POWER TO ARBITARILY END THE WORLD


Meanwhile...

During a hard hitting interview on steely-eyed Sean Spicer's Newsmax show ... okay, even in jest I can't keep typing that, anyway, Trump was on Newsmax last night predicting the end of the United States.



Trump's brain is like a diseased rat trapped in a hot empty box, going frantically 'round and 'round, faster and faster, little claws scrabbling madly against the bone of his skull. Trump also predicted the stock market would crash if he lost the election and that Mexico would pay for his idiotic wall and that COVID would one day vanish like magic. Trump has made a lot of predictions, none of which panned out.
Maybe this guy doesn't actually know what the fuck he's talking about?

For example: Trump predicted California Governor Gavin Newsom would be unseated in a landslide recall.

And it was a landslide yesterday.

Just not for Republicans.

But honestly, I can't believe famously diverse and liberal California voters didn't totally embrace the guy who said slave owners should get reparations for losing their property after the Civil War, that we should get rid of the Americans With Disabilities Act, who thinks George Zimmerman is a hero and we should have more like him, that sawed-off Henrich Himmler wannabe Stephen Miller should be president, minimum wage should be $0 (which does go hand-in-hand with the idea that slavery was a good thing, so at least he's consistent), and that we should just let the free market sort out who lives and who dies from a completely preventable disease.

I can't believe California didn't elect that guy, right?

(Note; Given the state of this country, the previous comments are only mostly sarcasm)

At this point: Republicans have tried blatant fascism.

They tried cheating, they tried to disenfranchise voters, they tried to limit voting, they tried voter IDs, they tried to cull voting lists.

They tried to frighten voters with "communism" and "socialism" and "Antifa" and the "BLMs" and "They're comin' to take ur gunz!"

They tried audits.

They tried lawsuits.

They tried a recall.

They tried to violently overthrow an election via sedition and armed insurrection.

They failed over and over. 

I dunno, maybe they should try democracy?

Seriously though, well done, California.


But like the man said: Great shot, Kid. Don't get cocky.


Meanwhile...

A Bunch of bumbling dipshits in discount camo who can't even get laid are going to "hunt" people who've been at war for their entire lives?

Yeah, ooookay. Let's see how that goes. And what kind of person would "hunt" those seeking refuge from a murderous regime?

Think about that. Think about how goddamn shitty you have to be, how much like the fucking Taliban itself you have to be, to even joke about something like that. I'm happy to welcome Afghans as my neighbors.


And the Proud Boys can fuck off.


Meanwhile...

A prominent male Republican member of Congress called a congresswoman "young lady" in an attempt to dismiss and belittle her and conservative pundits are losing their shit over the dress that same congresswoman wore to a costume gala to help raise funds for an ... art museum?

Oh, yeah, wow. Boy, we better get on that.

The economy, healthcare, climate change, infrastructure, a global pandemic, forget that stuff. Congress should focus on some junior congresswoman! Seriously, you gotta wonder here because all day, every day, it's Republicans shouting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez IS A JUST A KID, A YOUNG LADY, A STUPID STINKY GIRL! LOOK SHE DRIVES A FANCY CAR! SHE'S WEARING A FANCY DRESS! SHE'S GOING TO A FANCY BALL! BUT ALSO SHE'S LIKE TAX THE RICH! OOK! OOK!
Yet those same Republicans obsessively follow and comment on everything AOC does, her dress, her car, her tweets, where she goes, her friends, everything. Every day. Not a day goes by they aren't tweeting about her. Sure seems like Republicans got a bit of an obsessive crush, but like every immature socially awkward schoolboy they don't know how to handle their raging hormones. So they pull her hair and call her names.

That dress? Donated by the designer.

The tickets? Paid for by the sponsors.

The gala? The Met Ball? A fundraising event for Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. Lot of famous people show up wearing designer apparel that makes a political statement, that's kind of the whole point.

The political statement? Consistent with AOC's political ideology. And so is the car she drives by the way. And if you think there's some hypocrisy going on here, well, maybe you don't really know what that ideology is.

Maybe you should shut up and go find out.


And while you're at it, maybe grow the fuck up and learn how to talk to women without being an ass.


Meanwhile...

Antivaxxers have taken to gargling ... betadine? 

Betadine. 

Also, I saw an article yesterday about how people are flocking to abandoned uranium mines in the American northwest to breathe in radioactive gas and to soak in radioactive pools of water as some sort of fountain of youth. 

Because radioactivity works like in comic books. I guess.

It's the 2nd decade of the 21st Century and Americans are gargling topical disinfectant, soaking in radioactive hot tubs, consuming horse deworming paste, speed-balling Lupus meds, shoving lightbulbs up their butts, injecting bleach, chugging aquarium cleaner... but won't get vaxxed.

Won't take a safe and effective vaccine. Won't do it.

You know, I'm old enough to remember when conservatives were the clean-shaven serious men in dark suits and brush cuts, the scientists and doctors and engineers and steely-eyed missilemen who took us to the moon and back home again...

...and liberals were a bunch of moony-eyed hippies who smelled of cat piss and burning rope daydreaming about the Age of Aquarius, magic crystals, and Pyramid Power. Peace, love, and drugs, man!


What the fuck happened? 


Anyway, here's a picture of a hummingbird tongue:




Monday, August 16, 2021

Bitter Pill





“We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard and quick. Rebuild the US first"
-- Donald Trump, August 2017


Kabul has fallen. 

The Taliban have taken the country.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is an unbridled disaster.

The Afghan government we created and propped up has collapsed and the Afghan president has run away to another country. The Afghan military we created and supported didn't hold for even a week, they've thrown down their arms, abandoned their posts and their duty, and are now killed, captured, or fled. And our erstwhile Afghan allies are now going to die, a lot of them anyway. Children are going to die, women are going to be raped, the men are going to be lined up and shot. 

That is inevitable at this point. 

The ragged American forces left in-country are in full retreat, falling back and back to the airplanes that will maybe get them out of the carnage. No time to destroy their equipment. No time to destroy classified materials. No time to save our allies. No time left but to run. And it's the fall of Saigon all over again. All it needs is a sad Billy Joel ballad and some helicopters being pushed into the sea on the Six-O-Clock news. If Joel was still writing ballads and we still had such a thing as the evening news anyway. 

And it's all Joe Biden's fault

Yes it is. 

But that's not surprising, is it?

No, that's not surprising at all. 


Because that was the plan. 


That was the plan. 

Trump ran for president on the idea of pulling American forces out of Afghanistan. He had a lot of fiery rhetoric that appealed to the Isolationists in his party and oh how they cheered him. Get us out! No more war! 

Trump was against the whole thing right from the start -- well, according to Trump, anyway. 

When Obama was president, Trump was on Twitter nearly every day, calling for the withdrawal of American Troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Take the oil, take the minerals, take the treasure, and get out. 

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

"We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first."

"Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA."

"I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!"

"We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!"

"Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!"

Those are Donald Trump's words, verbatim

Donald Trump ran for president on those words, and his followers cheered him. Get us out! No more war! No more blood and treasure, right? Rebuild the USA. 

You remember, don't you? 

Trump never told you how he'd actually do it. 

Trump was never much for details or plans and those who cheered him aren't the kind of people who ask. Just, get out and make America great again … somehow. 

Then Trump was elected President. 

For the first time he had to face the horrible complexity of Afghanistan. 


And he couldn't do it. 


Trump was not equipped in any fashion, not by temperament or training, to manage the terrible, complex reality of Afghanistan. 

In fairness -- though I am loathe to be fair to Donald Trump in any manner whatsoever no matter how small -- the truth is that few presidents actually are equipped to deal with the complexity of war, especially one like the conflict in Afghanistan. 

That's why the decision to go to war, or to abandon one, was supposed be made only with the steady and duly considered advice of Congress and a Presidential Cabinet who base their recommendations on the expertise of professional diplomats, the military, and the intelligence community -- among others.

But over the years, Congress abandoned its Constitutional duty and vested more and more of its power in a single man. 

Until one day that man was ... Donald Trump.

And there are few things Donald Trump despises more than expertise. 

"I know more about courts than any human being on Earth."

"I understand politicians better than anybody."

"Nobody knows more about trade than me."

"I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth."

"I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world."

"I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me."

"I understand money better than anybody."

"I think I know more about the other side than almost anybody."

"I think I know about [the economy] better than [the Federal Reserve]."

"Technology, nobody knows more about technology than me."

"I know more about drones than anybody."

That's Trump. He knows it all, better than anyone. 

"I know more about ISIS than the generals do."

Trump claimed he knew more about war than those fighting it. As if war was something that should be left to amateurs. As if war isn't a profession, one that takes decades to master -- and even then, it's an iffy thing.

As if diplomacy isn't the same. 

Trump is a fraud. His alleged knowledge is bravado and bluster. And so there are few things Trump despises more than professionals, more than those who've spent their entire lives becoming experts, those who might show him for what he really is. 

Trump calls expertise "elitism" and his supporters cheer and jeer because they feel diminished and belittled by the idea that there might be those who know more than they do. 

Once in office, Trump did what he always does: surrounded himself with toadies and fops and fools whose primary function was to tell Trump how smart he is instead of offering actual expertise. 

Remember Trump's first cabinet meeting?

It was staged in front of the Press. Trump began by praising himself, "Never has there been a president, with few exceptions . . . who has passed more legislation, done more things. We’ve achieved tremendous success. I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be and at a just about record-setting pace." 

And then, Trump demanded each Cabinet member say a few words about how great Trump was, "Start with Mike" he ordered, pointing to Vice President Pence. 

And Pence, of course, obliged, "It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as the vice president to a president who is keeping his word to the American people!" 

Jeff Sessions went next, "It’s an honor to be able to serve you."

Alex Acosta, “I’m deeply honored and I want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the American workers.” 

Rick Perry, "My hats off to you."

Nikki Haley, “It’s a new day at the United Nations. We now have a very strong voice.”

Mick Mulvaney, “At your direction, we were able to also focus on the forgotten men and women who are paying taxes, so I appreciate your support on pulling that budget together.”

Tom Price, “What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can’t thank you enough for the privilege that you’ve given me, and the leadership you’ve shown.”

Elaine Chao, “Thank you for coming over to the Department of Transportation. Hundreds and hundreds of people were so thrilled to hang out, watching the whole ceremony. I want to thank you for getting this country moving again, and also working again.”

Robert Lighthizer, “I apologize for being late for work. For about four months, I got bogged down in that swamp you’ve been trying to drain.

Sonny Perdue: “I just got back from Mississippi. They love you there.”

Steven Mnuchin, “It’s been a great honor traveling with you around the country for the past year, and an even greater honor to be serving you on your Cabinet . . .”

Around the table it went, all the while Trump sat there, basking in the praise of his sycophants, grinning hugely for the cameras. 


 But there was one group missing. 


The military. The generals. The experts. 

"I know more about ISIS than the generals do."

It enraged Trump that the military experts and the diplomats wouldn't kiss his ass like the rest of his cabinet. Wouldn't do what he wanted, just get out of Afghanistan, quit the war and bring the troops home. You're so smart, Sir! So handsome and brilliant! 

No, instead the military experts told Trump what would happen if we just pulled out. They told him how it would go, just like it's going right now. He didn't care ... until his handlers, Bannon, Miller, maybe Ivanka, told him how it would look. 

It would be a disaster, it would be Saigon, and it would be all on him.

He couldn't keep his promise. 

Now, all presidents learn this. 

All presidents discover pretty quickly that they aren't going to be able to keep their campaign promises. 

It happened to Obama. He promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. He couldn't. Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, wouldn't let him. He had to eat it and he did. Obama learned, like the presidents before him, that the political realities of the office are vastly different when you're actually sitting behind the Resolute Desk. 

But not Trump. 

Trump seethed. He wanted it -- not because it was or was not the right thing to do. Not because the experts did or did not advise it. Not because it was, or maybe wasn't, politically expedient. 

No, Trump wanted it. 

He wanted it the way a spoiled selfish child wants.

Trump raged and threw tantrum after tantrum, usually on Twitter, like a child who doesn't get his way.

I know more than the generals! I do! I do!

But he didn't have the guts. 

Trump couldn't get us out of Afghanistan because it would have ended just exactly like it's ending right now and Trump never had the kind of moral courage it takes for that buck to stop at his desk. 


And that's the thing, you see, it was always going to end this way. 


That's how America's war in Vietnam ended. 

Two decades in the jungle, 58,000 American lives, trillions of dollars later and it all ended on 29 April, 1975, on the roof of a building at 22 Gia Long Street, Saigon. 

Many, many others are making that comparison today, and it's a fair one. 

Kabul has fallen just as Saigon did 50 years ago and we have learned not a goddamn thing. 

Why were we there? 

What was the objective? What was victory? 

Those who ran that war, they'll tell you. They'll tell you why we had to go, why the best part of a generation had to die or be damaged forever, haunted by the ghosts of that terrible conflict.

Oh, they'll tell you what victory was. 

Yeah, they'll tell you, all right. The Domino Theory, remember? We had to stop the commies. Fight them over there or we'll have to fight them over here. That's what the politicians said. If South Vietnam falls, the rest of Indochina will follow like dominos and pretty soon they'll be here. Besides, they're just savages. We can win this thing in a month. Don't you believe in America? 

And so we went. 58,000 of us died there. 

And then, we just left. 

April 29th, 1975, the last helicopters flew away and we left. 

And Saigon fell to the communists. 

And same sons bitches who'd told us we had to go, now declared victory at our retreat. Well, maybe not a military victory, but, you know, a moral one. And they washed their hands of it and were never held to account. 

Oh, but it doesn't end there. 

No, it doesn't end there. 

Because, you see, three decades later, the men responsible, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al, all the crooked sneaky bastards who'd been lurking in the shadows of that failed war, well, now they were running things. 

Nixon, Cheney, Rumsfeld, 1970
Image by Byron Schumaker, Nixon Library

That's right, the same men who presided over the fall of Saigon, well, by and large they were the very same men who sent America to war in Afghanistan thirty years later. 

And again they had no objective. No definition of victory, despite what Joe Biden said today on Twitter. No, it was the same old same old. The War on Terror! We gotta fight 'em over there, or we'll have to fight 'em over here. If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, why other countries will fall, one by one, like dominos...

Besides, they're just savages. 

We can win this thing in a month. 

Don't you believe in America? 

Oh, they had a plan for war, yes indeed. They knew how to blow things up. They knew how to kill. After all, they'd killed 58,000 Americans once upon a time. 

But, again, they had no plan for what comes after the killing.

They're great at starting wars, not so good at ending them. 

They're great at destroying a nation, but they have no idea how to build one. 

Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden, twenty years, thousands dead, trillions of dollars, there was never any plan or any will to build civilization. You can't bomb people into democracy. You can't kill people into civilization. Hell, we can't even convince our own citizens to stop hating each other, to work together for the greater good, to build a better nation -- I mean, hell, some of them just tried to overthrow our own democracy. How would anyone expect us to do it in Afghanistan? 

There was never going to be any way out but what is happening right now. 

The architects of this war, those who lied us into it, they never had any idea of how to end it. 

And why should they? 

Not only was there never any consequences for their lies and their failures in Vietnam, or their cowardice in avoiding that conflict themselves, they were rewarded with wealth and power. 

What was to stop them from doing the very same thing again? 


It was always going to end this way. 


It was only a matter of when. 

Trump promised to end this war. 

"Blood and Treasure" made a great campaign slogan. 

Like his father and his sons, Trump never served. He has no vested interest, he made no personal sacrifice, it wasn't his life risked. It was easy, just pull out. After all, Trump knew more than the generals, remember? 

And his supporters cheered, blood and treasure! Ironically, these were the very same people, by and large, who demanded war in the first place, back in 2001, and shouted down any who dared oppose it. Of course, a number of those Trump supporters were also Vietnam Veterans, who, again ironically, voted for a draft dodger who told them to their faces that they were suckers and losers. 

But he couldn't make good. 

For four years, Donald Trump could not make good on his promise to pull America out of Afghanistan. And he couldn't do it because Trump was not capable of the kind of moral courage that would have been required to make good on his promise. 

Because it was always going to end this way.

And Trump would never take responsibility for that. 


But then, Trump lost the election.


Joe Biden won.

Trump lost the White House and Republicans lost the Senate. 

And that's when Donald Trump could finally make good on his promise. 

As soon as it became certain that he would have to leave office, Trump ordered American forces out of Afghanistan. Trump and Pompeo invited the Taliban to Camp David -- not the actual government of Afghanistan and our alleged allies, but the Taliban. And he turned thousands of Taliban prisoners loose, one of which is now the de facto president of Afghanistan. 



Trump didn't try to hide it, he bragged about it. 

Here's Donald Trump at a "Save America" rally in Wellington, Ohio, on June 26, 2021, taking credit for pulling US Forces out of Afghanistan and giving Joe Biden no options at all:

(quote starts at 1:19:05Afghanistan, where, by the way, I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn’t stop the process. Twenty-one years is enough, don't we think ... twenty-one years. They couldn’t stop the process. They wanted to, but ... it was very tough to stop the process when ... other things were ... Yeah, thank you, thank you ... it's a shame, twenty-one years by a government ... that wouldn't last. The only way they last is if we're there. What are we gonna say? We'll stay for another twenty-one years, then we'll stay for another fifty? The whole thing is ... ridiculous. So we're bringing our troops back home from Iraq! We're bringing the troops back home ... from Afghanistan ... 

Republicans not only bragged about it, they posted the details to the GOP webpage:


For some reason, that entry was scrubbed from the GOP website last night and conservative media pundits have today conveniently forgotten all about it. 

And now, Joe Biden owns this disaster. 

Because that's how it works. 

I didn't say it was right. I didn't say it was fair, because it most assuredly is not.  I said that's how it is. That's how public perception and politics work. The buck stops at the Resolute Desk and America will remember this as Joe Biden's disaster. 

Trump, with the support of the most radical elements of the Republican party, finally made good on his promise and left Joe Biden holding the bag. 

That was the plan. 


When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier
-- Rudyard Kipling