voting rights — how fucked are we?

Yesterday I was…let’s call it challenged…for not being sufficiently outraged by the Republican assault on voting rights. A Facebook friend suggested I wasn’t taking the threat of voter suppression seriously enough, that I didn’t fully comprehend the severity of the issue, that I was naive. Why? Because I disagreed with this:

Will Joe have the cajones to install voting rights / election law changes even if it takes declaring Martial Law?

I’m not convinced that the willingness to invoke extraordinary military power to seize control of a civil election is a valid metric of my commitment to voting rights. I mean, the US military is brilliant at blowing shit up and killing people, and they’re really great at responding to humanitarian disasters. But martial law isn’t a remedy for our voting rights problems. It’s not the answer for any number of reasons, beginning with 1) the president doesn’t have any Constitutional power to substitute military authority for civilian control of the US election system, and moving through 2) the reality that no election could be considered valid if one candidate is the Commander-in-Chief of the military and the military is in charge of the election process, and ending with 3) an authoritarian act committed with good intentions by a POTUS I agree with is STILL an authoritarian act–and no authoritarian government in history has remained benevolent.

Martial law is just fucked up. I like Uncle Joe Biden, but he’s no Abe Lincoln. Look at what happened to Lincoln after he imposed martial law in some border states during the Civil War. Not only did SCOTUS spank him for violating the Constitution, but his military commanders became so accustomed to ruling without civilian interference that when Lincoln realized he’d made a mistake and tried to unwind martial law, his generals were reluctant–even actively resistant–to giving up their authority. It was so bad that Lincoln, a few months before he was assassinated, had to send General John Pope with another army to dismantle the martial law system.

Still, the fact remains that representative democracy in the US is in danger. It’s threatened by the Republican slide into authoritarianism and their concentrated assault on voting rights. It’s important to ask what’s being done to save democracy. What can be done about preserving our voting rights?

Ideally, the Senate would pass the pair of voting rights bills that have already passed in the House–the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The former is as dead as Dickens’ door-nail because of the Manchin and the Sinema issues (which are two totally different though equally fucked up issues). The latter, however, has support from Manchin (as well as at least one Republican–Lisa Murkowski), so it’s still a possibility.

The John Lewis bill basically restores the power to the Department of Justice that SCOTUS stripped away in the Shelby County v. Holder decision. It would require DOJ pre-clearance before states can change voting laws involving redistricting, voter ID requirements, changes to precinct locations, changes to early-voting access, or changes to how voter rolls are purged. It wouldn’t end gerrymandering, but it would seriously limit it. The John Lewis Act wouldn’t heal our wounds, but it would help stop the bleeding.

IF the John Lewis Act is passed, then it’s all up to Merrick Garland.

“Help us, Obi-wan, you’re our only hope.”

I fucking hate to trust government officials. Even the ones I like. I don’t entirely trust them because there’s always other shit going on. And let’s face it, every government official I’ve ever counted on has, in some way, let me down. And it’s always for the same reason (that ‘other shit going on’ I mentioned a moment ago). Merrick Garland, as the US Attorney General has SO MUCH other shit going on that you’d need an abacus the size of the St. Louis Gateway Arch to keep count of them. I mean, in addition to voting rights, he’s also got the matter of possibly prosecuting the former president to deal with. That’s a full plate, right there.

But in his speech last week, AG Garland said he was doubling the size of the staff of the Civil Rights Division “within the next thirty days.” They’re the folks who’d handle the voting rights cases. So that’s…promising? Even without John Lewis, a doubling of the staff suggests the DOJ is serious about voting rights.

So that, in my opinion, is where we are. Hovering in the null zone between Totally Fucked and Semi-Fucked. We will almost certainly remain Fucked In Some Fashion so long as the GOP continues to hold fast to authoritarianism and SCOTUS continues to be held hostage by unqualified conservative hacks. The degree to which we’re Fucked will depend a lot on the future of our voting rights.

i read the news today, oh boy

The cat and I have checked the perimeter; it’s secure. I’ve got my coffee, the cat has her kibble, there’s enough light outside to suggest the sun still exists above all the cloud cover, but it’s like the sun just isn’t willing to invest the effort needed to show itself. I understand the sun’s perspective and mostly agree.

So, onto this morning’s news feed. What’ve we got? Chris Cuomo got fired by CNN for doing something unethical (I haven’t bothered to read about it) to help his unethical brother in his futile and unethical fight to remain the unethical governor of New York. I’m with Melania on this — I really don’t care.

What else have we got? Pro-Trump counties in the US have far higher Covid death rates than counties that voted for Uncle Joe. Could it be because Trump supporters are refusing to get vaxxed? Of course, it is. I should care more than I do, because 1) by refusing to get vaxxed, these fuckwits are not only putting others at risk, they’re also giving the Covid virus the opportunity to mutate multiple times into variants that are more resistant to treatment, and because 2) that whole John Donne thang:

Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Well, it tolls mostly for fuckwits who won’t get vaxxed, but the fucking bell keeps tolling regardless because that’s what bells do. I care for the vaxxed folks who get infected by fuckwits. I should care more for the fuckwits…and I try, honest…but they don’t make it easy.

Then there’s this headline: Why Moderna is the Biggest Winner from Covid Boosters So Far. Well, that’s a pretty fucking heartless take, isn’t it. And what’s the deal with that ambivalent ‘So Far’ business? I guess Pfizer investors are huddling and thinking, “We’ve still got a chance!” I’m thinking Big Pharma investors would benefit from a visit by Marley’s ghost.

Let’s see, what else is in the news? Cryptocurrencies are apparently crashing. That’s presumably bad. Maybe tragic? I don’t know. Hell, I’m trying to decide if I should keep paying US$7 for BritBox now that I’ve seen the new season of Shetland, or if I should cancel that service and invest those funds in beer futures. I mean, Firetrucker Brewery has a seasonal Black Walnut brown ale (100 pound of local walnuts in every batch brewed). The money I save from cancelling Britbox would buy…well, a pint at the bar, but almost a four-pack in cans. I care more about the ale than about cryptocurrenies.

What else…ah, here’s something. Alec Baldwin gave an interview about the shooting that…oh, lawdy, his wife also apparently gave an interview. Why? Who is the audience for this? Are there really people out there who are concerned about what Alec Baldwin’s wife feels about the shooting? Maybe let’s put more effort into getting legislators to pass some sensible firearm safety legislation. And not just on movie sets, but in the homes of regular people. For fuck’s sake, people. Ignore Alec Baldwin’s wife. Ignore him too. This isn’t anything remotely like news.

Ah, here’s a headline: Bowl Projections: Will Alabama or Michigan be the #1 seed? I don’t know. Has anybody checked to see if Alec Baldwin’s wife has an opinion on this?

Surely there must be SOME news I’m interested in. Oh, wait. Here’s an article about twelve colorful holiday cookie recipes to illuminate the season. Okay, cookies are NOT a reliable source of illumination, but we’re mature enough to look beyond that. Besides, who doesn’t love cookies? There’s a Tamarind Mantecadito cookie recipe, which looks improbable but is probably tasty. I was completely ignorant of mantecaditos; they’re basically shortbread cookies. This particular recipe is a tad too precious for my tastes (I could probably find some frozen tamarind paste somewhere, but the ‘edible gold leaf’ and the ‘fresh edible flowers’ are over the top). The cookie that inspired it, though, is right in my wheelhouse. That said, I abandoned the article as soon as I got to the recipe for Fig and Ginger Terrazzo Tiles with Disco Sugar. I don’t even want to know what those are. I’m sure they’re tasty, but fuck me with a chainsaw, no.

So, that’s today’s news. The cat is insisting I go park my butt in a chair so she can sit on my lap. She considers herself to be the #1 seed AND the winner of the Covid booster challenge. Who am I to argue with her?

pissing in the soup

I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired.

I worked as an election official on Tuesday. I suspect the local election (mayor, city council, school board) was pretty similar to most other elections in the US. Our small election team (five of us plus a precinct captain) had worked together before, so everything ran smoothly. We arrived at our polling station at 6AM and worked until 9PM. We’d expected a decent turnout; I figured we’d get 400, maybe 500 voters. Enough to keep us modestly busy.

We had over 1200 voters. I only had time for a short 30 minute break all day–just enough time to eat a sandwich. As far as I could tell, we had a representative sample of the local population–mostly white, with a broad spectrum of age, gender, and political perspectives. There were voters wearing ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ t-shirts and voters wearing NRA trucker hats, we had a young woman with a ‘Merry Meet’ Wiccan pin and one beefy guy in camo pants wearing a III% t-shirt. Nobody wore a MAGA hat.

The election was fair; it was busy, but went exactly as planned. Every registered voter got to vote. If somebody showed up and wasn’t registered, we registered them on the spot and let them vote. If a voter came to the wrong precinct, we printed them a map with directions to the correct polling station. I’m proud of the way we handled the voting process.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not.

Although the city council and school board positions are technically non-partisan (there were no political affiliations listed by the candidate’s names on the ballot), Republicans won across the board. Democrats ran campaigns based on compassion tempered by science. Republicans ran campaign based on misinformation, lies, and fear. Democrats supported mask and vaccine mandates; Republicans said parents know more about their kids’ health than scientists. Democrats said education should be diverse and prepare students for the world they live in; Republicans said Critical Race Theory taught white students to hate themselves and trans kids would destroy sports.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not; the reporting was stenographic. Reporters presented the candidate’s positions accurately, but without presenting any factual support. If a candidate said, “Leading scientists say vaccines are dangerous and I only want to protect the children” then that’s what was reported, without any indication that it was fatuous bullshit. If a candidate claimed that CRT was dangerous and shouldn’t be taught in school, that’s what was reported, regardless of the fact that CRT isn’t taught in any public high school, junior high school, or grade school–and not even in most undergraduate college courses. If a candidate lied, reporters just relayed the unfiltered lie to the public.

Looks good, looks healthy — but is it?

If campaigns are allowed–even encouraged–to be dishonest, then an honest election has little practical relevance. I’m proud to have helped facilitate a fair election process, but I can’t help being disappointed. Not because it’s not the outcome I wanted, but because the outcome is tainted. It’s like running a spotless, orderly, professional kitchen that allows some cooks to piss in the soup. The kitchen is clean, the soup looks good, but it’s still got piss in it.

So I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired. Tired physically and emotionally, disappointed in a system that fails to require candidates to speak honestly, and angry that our system favors liars, con artists, and fear mongers. I’m tired and disappointed and angry, but today I’m still mostly tired.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being angry.

you can’t trust the soup

Today the Supreme Court of the United States begins its new term — and it’s going to be a goatfuck rodeo. We’re talking abortion rights, gun rights, religious rights. To make matters worse, these cases are all coming at a moment when the reputation of SCOTUS as an independent apolitical institution is at its lowest point in history.

And the justices on the Court — particularly the conservative majority — know it. They’ve spent the last couple of months making a preemptive attempt to repair the Court’s reputation. Last Thursday, Justice Samuel Alito gave a speech defending the Court’s refusal to act on the new Texas abortion law. He claimed that the tsunami of criticism faced by the Court was, in effect, an effort “to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution.”

A month ago, Justice Clarence Thomas gave a speech in which he stated the Court doesn’t base decisions on their personal feelings or religious beliefs. He warned that the people who criticize the Court risked “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want when we want it.”

A week or so before Thomas’ speech, Justice Amy Coney Barrett gave a speech claiming any divisions on the Court were a result of differing judicial philosophies, not partisan motivations. She said, “[T]his court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”

Four Supreme Court Justices and five Partisan Hacks

When three of the most conservative judges on the most conservative Supreme Court in modern history all feel compelled to defend the Court against claims of being driven by partisan political ideology rather than by the law, you’re almost forced to quote William Fucking Shakespeare. The Court doth protest too much, methinks.

(Okay, sorry, short tangent…wait, two short tangents. First, I’ve come to despise that archaic term, methinks. A lot of people use it in a way that sounds ironic, but it usually comes across as cute. Cute and irony go together like corn flakes and okra. Second, for some reason, people who quote that line tend to put ‘methinks’ at the beginning. That’s not how Shakespeare wrote it. At least quote it accurately, people.)

In Hamlet, that line is delivered in response to a play that takes place within the play itself (look, it’s Shakespeare, everything is complicated in Shakespeare). Queen Gertrude is commenting on an actor’s performance; she’s basically saying the actor’s declarations of love and fidelity are too excessive to be believed.

That applies to the speeches made by these three judges. Their declarations of independence and political objectivity are too excessive to be believed. Alito, Thomas, and Coney Barrett can claim SCOTUS is an independent institution not comprised of partisan hacks who act on personal religious beliefs or political ideology — but nobody believes them. Because that’s exactly what they are, and that’s exactly why the GOP put them on the goddamned bench. Uh…in my opinion.

Tuscan soup — it looks good, doesn’t it.

Here’s an analogy: if a chef secretly poured an ounce of urine into six quarts of Tuscan soup and served it to you, you’d eat it. You wouldn’t be able to taste the urine, and it wouldn’t do you any harm to eat it. But if you SAW the chef pour an ounce of urine into the soup, you wouldn’t eat it. Wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t taste it, or that it wouldn’t harm you, you’d push the bowl away. Not only that, you wouldn’t trust that chef to cook for you again.

We all SAW Trump and the GOP Senate pee in the SCOTUS soup. Doesn’t matter if the conservatives on the Court tell us there’s nothing in the soup that can harm us, there’s no way we’re going to trust that soup.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Yes, we ‘eat’ soup. The reason we don’t ‘drink’ it is because many (maybe most, I don’t know) soups have solids in them that require chewing. Eating involves chewing and swallowing; drinking is swallowing without chewing. So stop fretting about it.

aid and comfort

I haven’t read the book. I mean, it hasn’t even been released yet. But like a lot of news enthusiasts (that sounds a lot nicer than ‘news junkie’) I’ve heard a lot about Peril, the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. One of the book’s revelations is that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so concerned about Comrade Trump’s emotional instability during the closing days of his administration that he called his Chinese counterpart (General Li Zuocheng) to assure him the US wasn’t planning to attack China. Milley also apparently assured Li that IF the US was going to launch any sort of attack, he’d call Li first to let him know.

Gen. Mark Milley

Republicans, of course, are calling this treason. Republicans, of course, are fucking idiots. Just to be clear, treason is a crime and like all crimes, it has to be defined. Here’s the definition of treason as written in the US Constitution (Article III, section 3):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

That’s it. The Constitution outlines treason, but in order to make it a criminal offense, Congress had to pass a law against it, and the law had to articulate the elements of the crime. And hey, Congress did just that. Title 18 of the US Code § 2381, which reads as follows:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

So, back to Gen. Milley. Does he owe allegiance to the US? Damn right, he does. Did he levy war against the US? Nope. Did he adhere to the enemies of the US? Under law, adhere refers to the act of joining or being in league with. Did Milley join China? Was he in league with China? Nope. Did he give aid and comfort to China? Aid, nope; comfort, yeah, probably.

Now some folks will be thinking Lawdy, General Milley gave comfort to CHINA! Traitor!. Nope. Every politician or military figure or corporate CEO who has gone to China and said stuff like “We want to be partners, we want to be friends, we want to work together” has given comfort to China. As far as that goes, every corporation who has opened a factory in China has given them aid and comfort. Every US business who buys Chinese products is giving them aid and comfort. Look around your house or apartment and you’ll find stuff made in China.

Dude, you done gave aid and comfort to China.

But you didn’t commit treason, did you. (Wait…did you? Just asking.) But buying products made in China isn’t treason because…and this is the thing all those GOP fucking idiots either forget or ignore…China isn’t the enemy of the US. We’re not at war with China. Hell, despite what Trump used to bellow, we’re not even in a trade war with China. In fact, China is our biggest trading partner.

What Gen. Milley did was inform a worried trading partner who was being threatened in speeches by an emotionally labile and irrational POTUS (who, if you’ll recall, was openly suggesting China had deliberately unleashed a global pandemic and promising some sort of retaliation) that the US had no plans to launch an attack. And IF an attack was planned, he’d let Gen. Li know about it.

Now that last bit sounds dodgy, doesn’t it. I mean, why would we warn somebody we’re going to attack them? We do it because we’re not monsters. This is actually a pretty common practice in modern international warfare. Retaliatory strikes tend to be made against structures rather than people. Radar sites, command and control facilities, chemical plants, armament factories, aircraft hangars, stuff like that. The intent is to punish the enemy by degrading their military capabilities. The targets are usually announced in advance to give personnel a chance to leave. Basically, it’s a warning, a statement. It’s saying, “Dude, we just blew the everlasting fuck out of these buildings, but we could have done that when there were people inside. Do NOT fuck with us. Next time we might not be so nice.”

Gen. Milley wasn’t committing treason. He was being a professional military leader. He was basically telling Gen. Li that even if Comrade Trump was unstable, the government of the United States was…well, less unstable. What Milley did — reassuring China that POTUS wasn’t out of control — wasn’t alarming. What’s alarming is the fact that the nation’s highest-ranking military officer and principal military advisor to the President thought it was necessary to reassure China.

cane toads of politics–part 2

Back in June of 2014–that’s 20fucking14, people–I wrote about the cane toads of politics. I was talking about the way the Republican Party was deliberately encouraging fuckwits and conspiracy theorists to disrupt healthy political discourse as a tool for gaining and staying in power. My point was….wait. Damn it. Hold on.

Okay, cane toads–a quick and dirty primer: they’re a species of truly massive, voracious, ridiculously fecund toads that are also poisonous to predators. These gargantuan bastards will eat anything, including each other if no other food is handy. Greedy industrialist farmers who wanted a cheap, easy way to control insects introduced cane toads to sugar cane fields in places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and now–because cane toads ARE such massive, voracious, ridiculously fecund, poisonous toads–the cane fields are overrun with cane toads.

Every Republican governor in the US.

Right. My point, as I was saying, was that introducing and promoting cane toads (or any invasive species) into an environment inevitably results in the destruction of other species that are actually helpful to that environment. When you introduce the cane toads of politics–the gun toads, the climate toads, the religious toads, the abortion toads, the conspiracy toads–into local and national politics, you create the conditions that inevitably degrade and destroy a healthy political environment.

Right now Texas is a cane toad state; it’s overrun with cane toads. Florida is just about there. Almost every state with a Republican governor and legislature is heading in the same direction. Right now, today, Texas is a state where almost anybody can openly carry a gun in public–no need for a license, no need for training, no need to obtain a permit, no need to undergo a background check. Sure, you’re supposed to legally obtain that gun, but nobody is going to check to see if you did.

Right now, today, Texas is a state that has deliberately and systematically made it more difficult for Black and Latino citizens—citizens of Texas–to cast a vote to determine who will govern them and make their laws. Right now, today, Texas is a state in which it is almost impossible for a person who is pregnant to obtain a legal abortion, even if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

How is that possible? It’s possible because cane toads eat their own. Like I said back in 2014, Cane toads don’t stop being cane toads just because the beetles are gone. They’re still hungry and they’re still poisonous, and they don’t stop. This is why there are no longer any moderate Republicans. This is why there are no pro-choice Republicans, no Republicans who believe in climate change or reasonable firearm safety legislation, this is why we have anti-vax and anti-mask Republicans, this is exactly why there are Republicans who support insurrectionists. There aren’t any moderate pragmatic Republicans anymore because the cane toads ate them.

If we want to preserve the cane fields of representative democracy, we have to drive out the cane toads.

yeah, it did

You know what’s annoying? You probably do, but I’m going to tell you anyway (which is undoubtedly annoying). What’s annoying is folks who ought to know better–and maybe actually do know better–repeating the same stupid shit. They continue to claim to be absolutely shocked at the completely predictable outcome of the US/NATO adventure in Afghanistan.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” they say. And yeah, they have a point–but it’s a very narrow one. The moment the Bush administration decided to step beyond its simple, achievable objective of eliminating the influence and capabilities of the al Qaeda network, they created an inevitable monkeyfuck situation.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–as soon as we decided to ignore 1700 years of history, it had to be this way. When we decided to engage in a conflict against multiple ethnic and tribal cultures we don’t understand, that operate on traditional rules and norms unknown to us, that have values and ethics that are often alien to us, and that have goals that are foreign to us, it had to be this way. We didn’t understand Afghan Rules, and we were too lazy/arrogant to bother to learn about them. I said this back in April, when President Uncle Joe announced the withdrawal date: Forget it Joe, it’s Afghanistan.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–when we implemented a style of combat that was heavily dependent on sophisticated technology and massive firepower in an environment that’s hostile to any machinery more complex than a Toyota pickup and has a mountainous terrain that moderates the effectiveness of firepower. Military tech is great, but that shit is expensive and it breaks. We made it all worse by training the Afghan army to fight an American-style high tech war, then failed to train them to maintain the tech required to support it.

This terrain is fucking nightmare for an invader.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it really did–when we decided to impose a Western style centralized democracy on a diverse group of tribes and clans that have zero experience with democracy. In fact, many/most of them reject the notion that they all belong to a single nation. They don’t think of themselves primarily as Afghans. The Tajiks speak Farsi and generally identify as Tajiks, not as Afghans; the Balochs speak Balochi and identify by any of dozens of local tribal or clan affiliations, not as Afghans. The same is true of the Uzbeks and the Hazara and the Kyrgyz and all of the other tribal groups. (See the Editorial Note at the end.)

Various ethnic/tribal/clan groups that make up Afghanistan

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–when we brought an American football mindset to fight against a fútbol mindset. In football, orders are given by a coach who isn’t on the field of play. Those orders are sent to a single player who relays the commands to the others and controls the ball. The other players each have a specialized skill set and very specific roles to play; they wear complex specialized gear and follow their orders. Most of the players never touch the ball, only a very few can achieve the goal. After each play, the action stops, the team regroups and waits for the next set of orders. In fútbol, the play never stops, the players don’t depend on gear to protect them, the players learn to recognize situations and adapt their play to the immediate situation, they shift roles easily and often as the situation changes, no single player controls the ball, at any given moment any player can assume temporary control, and they’re all capable of scoring. Football is about a rigid centralized command structure, and following strict orders. Fútbol is about decentralized flexibility and quick idiosyncratic responsiveness to changing situations.

It didn’t have to be this way? Yeah, considering all the bad choices we made, it did. It was a monkeyfuck almost from the start.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m too lazy to count and categorize the various ethnic and tribal groups that comprise what we like to call Afghanistan, but the CIA collected a list in 2005. Many of these groups speak their own language, have their own unique identity, have their own cultural norms, have their own conflicts/feuds/vendettas with other groups. There is no United States of Afghanistan; anybody who thought we could create one was an idiot.

mission accomplished

Hey, remember that time we won the war in Afghanistan? No, no…not the one when President George W. Bush hitched a ride on a Lockheed S-3 Viking (and yeah, okay, the S-3 was originally an anti-submarine aircraft…but c’mon, there wasn’t a single successful submarine attack against US forces while Bush was POTUS, so there), landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and almost announced ‘mission accomplished.’ That was the time we won the war in Iraq. (I know, I know…Iraq, Afghanistan, what’s the difference, tomato, tomahto, and all that.) That was in May. Of 2003.

Mission almost accomplished.

Yes, there was a banner that said Mission Accomplished, but that was just a goof by some enthusiastic public relations johnny. Bush never said the mission was accomplished. What he actually said was this:

“[M]ajor combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed…. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave.”

So no, not that time. I’m talking about the time we won the war in Afghanistan, which is a whole nother country than Iraq. I’m talking about the time President Bush (yes, the same guy) flew into Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar and actually said the mission was accomplished.

“America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished…. In Afghanistan, forces directed from here from Qatar, and headquartered in Tampa, you delivered decisive blows against the Taliban and against al Qaeda. And now the people of Afghanistan are free.”

That was back in June. Also of 2003. An entire month after that business on the flight deck of the USS Abe Lincoln. That’s right, it took us a whole nother month to win the war in Afghanistan. Because winning a war in Afghanistan is hard.

Okay, mission accomplished now.

But a war doesn’t just end after you’ve given the ‘thumbs up’ sign. No sir, there’s always a lot of tidying up to do. President Bush continued to tidy up Afghanistan and Iraq for another five years. After which President Obama tidied up for eight years. Then President Comrade Trump tidied up for four years.

Well, not quite four years. On Groundhog Day in 2020 (no, I am NOT making that up) Comrade Trump signed an initial peace treaty with the Taliban. It was formalized on 29 February as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America (you probably know it as the AfBPtAbtIEoAwinrbtUSasaikatTatUSA treaty).

Now, you may be wondering “What exactly did the Trump administration agree to in the AfBPtAbtIEoAwinrbtUSasaikatTatUSA treaty?” That’s a good question and I’m glad you asked. They agreed to:

  • “Withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within fourteen (14) months.”
  • “Up to five thousand (5,000) prisoners of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and up to one thousand (1,000) prisoners of the other side will be released by March 10, 2020.”
  • “[T]he Taliban commits that its released prisoners will be committed to the responsibilities mentioned in this agreement so that they will not pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies…the Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa’ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
  • “The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive.”

There it is. The US agreed to 1) pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan by April of 2021 and 2) release 5000 Taliban prisoners, and in exchange the Taliban promised 3) those released prisoners would behave themselves and 4) the Taliban wouldn’t attack the US or let terrorist groups in Afghanistan attack the US. And then both sides agree to 5) be BFFs.

Ain’t diplomacy grand?

Okay, maybe there’s still some tidying up to do. But it’s important that we remember to give credit where it’s due. We can thank George W. Bush for winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we can thank Comrade Trump for signing the peace treaty making the US and the Taliban BFFs. But lawdy, now here comes President Uncle Joe Biden trying to grab all the headlines, when all he did was stand around an win an election.

If that isn’t just like a Democrat, then I don’t know what.