Tag Archives: U.S. politics

Curtain

Pigeons fly as a policeman guards residents praying outside the Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque during the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr in Kabul on Aug. 30, 2011. Photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

Hyenas are one of the oldest species of canine on Earth.  Indigenous to Africa and more closely related to felines, they exist in four subspecies: spotted, brown, striped and aardwolf.  Despite these slight differences, hyenas are carnivorous creatures.  They’re also basically scavengers; waiting until a larger animal dies or is severely incapacitated before ripping it to pieces.  And – depending on the victim – they leave little behind, except horns, hooves and tails.  All subgroups of hyena boast another attribute – they can’t be tamed.  They’re not like domesticated dogs, which have become one of humanity’s truest non-human companions.  The hyena mindset is too rudimentary to allow it to sit and stay.  They’re just too savage and wild to conform to human-induced pleasantries and commands.  You really don’t want one as a pet.  Hyenas just need to be left alone.

Afghanistan is a hyena.  It’s savage and wild.  We really don’t need it as an ally.  Unlike a domesticated dog, it doesn’t return the love.  We just need to leave it alone.

This landlocked pocket of mountains sits at the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East; languishing in another realm, a universe unto itself.  Its current borders were established in the 19th century, but Afghanistan bears an ancient history.  Its geographic location made it a principal feature of the storied Silk Road, which carried travelers and traders between Southern Europe and China.  Excavations throughout Afghanistan prove that humans populated the region as far back as 52,000 years ago; when Neanderthals were the dominant bipedals.  Archaeologists have shown that more stable, urbanized societies began developing by 3000 BCE.  With its history closely tied to neighboring countries, such as Iran and Pakistan, the Afghanistan of millennia ago was part of two of the earliest and largest civilizations on Earth – Indus Valley and Mesopotamia.  Mesopotamia is notable for evolution of one of the first writing systems in the world.

For almost as long as its relatively modern existence, Afghanistan has been subjected to one barbarous onslaught after another.  It fell to the Achamenid Empire, after Darius I conquered it around 515 BCE.  Alexander the Great stormed into the region around 330 BCE and defeated Darius III.  The Maurya Empire took control of most of the region where it further entrenched Hinduism and introduced Buddhism.  A variety of successive conquerors and empires descended upon Afghanistan and surrounding areas.  Islam arrived in the 7th century CE via Rashidun Arabs coming from the Byzantine Empire.  In 1221 CE, Mongols invaded Afghanistan under their founder Genghis Khan who oversaw unbridled destruction of towns and villages.

All of these invaders had to battle a common enemy: Afghan tribesmen, gangs of nomadic and uncultured warriors who had little more than determination and grit as guiding forces.  Even when the British first arrived in the 1830s – hoping to annex Afghanistan and protect the latter’s position as a vital trade route from the Russian Empire – they were confronted with bands of ruthless fighters.  Great Britain tried three more times to conquer Afghanistan, resulting in a 1921 treaty to…well, leave them alone!

The most recent invasion attempt came with the former Soviet Union in 1979.  While the Soviets had been able to swallow up much of Eastern Europe throughout the 20th century, the seeming backwater of Afghanistan proved to be more formidable than others.  The Soviets may have easily overrun such nations as Hungary, but Afghanistan tribesmen fought harder than even the great Russian bear anticipated.  The United States likes to claim it helped Afghans defeat the Soviets and drive them out before they could mark a full decade of their presence.  But one thing remained certain.  Afghanistan just couldn’t be tamed; that is, it couldn’t be conquered.

Afghanistan’s remote location has made it as difficult to study as it has been to conquer.

U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is only recent; dating to the 1980s.  Before then, most Americans couldn’t point it out on a globe of the world.  Many probably still can’t.

But in the modern schemes of geopolitical events, the fact the U.S. promised to help Afghanistan rebuild after defeating the Soviets and then failed to do it gets lost in translation.  It’s this failure that led to the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s.  The Taliban rejuvenated antiquated views of how the world should function, including a more brutal version of Islam – which is akin to evangelical Christianity: narrow-minded and filled with more hate than love.  What infrastructure remained in Afghanistan collapsed, and women became relegated to a status one step above cattle, driven from schools and forced to walk around dressed like beekeepers.  It was this bloodthirsty atmosphere that spawned the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which in turn, culminated in a 20-year occupation of this ragged bunch of mountains and its disoriented tribal factions by the U.S.

And, as of August 31, we’re gone.  The U.S. has left the region; exiting as a construction company forgoes building a skyscraper in quicksand.  It’s not that America is wimping out and giving up.  We’re tired of this place.  Just as some people can’t pinpoint Afghanistan on a map, some Americans were surprised to know we were still there.

And now, we’re gone.  Good riddance!

I have no qualms about leaving.  Afghanistan wasn’t worth the trouble.  The U.S. couldn’t maintain its place over there.  We can’t always be the ones to protect people from themselves.  We’ve spent trillions of U.S. dollars (taxpayer dollars) and have nothing much to show for it.  The Afghan Army, for example, surrendered to the reborn Taliban as soon as the Americans started leaving.  All that time, effort and money spent to train the locals to fight against the more brutal elements of their own society evaporated.  It’s like training nurses to work in the emergency room and then watch them pass out at the first sight of blood.

So what now?  Nothing!  Once we beat back the Taliban and helped move Afghanistan into the 21st century, the Afghan people should have been able to take control at that point.  Instead tribalism and that vehement version of Islam swarmed over the country.

Afghanistan donned the hyena mentality once again.  But that seems to be its true nature.  It’s wild and can’t be tamed.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 26, 2021

“You know after they said penetration in the end zone they lost me.”

Joy Behar, regarding Carl Nassib becoming the first openly gay active player in the NFL, on “The View”

In all fairness, Behar has apologized for her comment.

“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!  I’m not doing that.  That’s extortion!  I’m not going to do that.  The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, on President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan

“President Donald Trump is also one of a kind.  He too disrupted the status quo, he challenged the establishment… and now, as then, there is no going back.”

Former Vice-President Mike Pence, comparing Donald Trump Ronald Reagan

Pence went on to say, “Under President Trump’s leadership we were able to achieve things Republicans have been talking about since the days of Barry Goldwater.  It’s true.”

For the record, Goldwater lost the 1964 U.S. presidential election to Lyndon B. Johnson in the largest landslide in U.S. election history.

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Best Quotes of the Week – June 26, 2021

“They’re trying to rig the system to stay in office as long as they can, try to suppress the vote to make it harder – especially for Black and brown communities to vote in Texas – and we’re not going to let them.  We’re going to fight back. We’re going to say no, and we’re going to show up.”

Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, during a rally for federal voting rights legislation in front of the Texas Capitol

“Tucker Carlson didn’t serve.  His biggest achievement is having nine lives in the world of cable news.  Making a bowtie famous, and getting away with promoting conspiracy theories, night after night after night.”

Brianna Keilar, responding to Tucker Carlson’s criticism of Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and noting the FOX News host didn’t serve in the U.S. military

Keilar added, “That isn’t just a dog whistle.  It’s a white whistle…He is white rage!”

“I want to understand White rage, and I’m White.  What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?  What caused that?  I want to find out.”

Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the January 6 Capitol Hill riots and the U.S. military’s efforts to push for more diverse and inclusive standards

Conservative critics have painted the new military policies as Marxist and generally anti-American.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 19, 2021

“Strangely, some of the key people who participated on Jan. 6 have not been charged.  Look at the document. The government calls those people unindicted co-conspirators.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that in potentially every single case, they were FBI operatives.”

Tucker Carlson, insinuating the FBI was part of the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill

“But these people are running around saying, ‘There is no vote fraud because, well, there’s no prosecutions.’  Well, have you gotten the gist of how hard it is to get a stinkin’ prosecution?  Have you gotten that yet?  So, it’s really hard to get one.”

Jay DeLancy, a former U.S. Air Force colonel and executive director of North Carolina’s Voter Integrity Project, lamenting his failed efforts to highlight voter fraud in the state

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 12, 2021

“I miss Trump.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, in an interview with Laura Ingraham on FOX News

“I want to go in and be a thoughtful disrupter in Sacramento. We need to change the system, and I want to change the system for the positive.”

Caitlyn Jenner, in a June 10 appearance on “The View”

During a tense exchange with the show’s hosts, Jenner criticized California Gov. Gavin Newsome, ranted about immigration and refused to agree that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 5, 2021

“Are Peter Daszak and Tony Fauci under criminal investigation?  We can only hope they are. They certainly deserve it. At this point, we can’t say for sure. We do know that Fauci hasn’t simply lied about the origins of COVID, pretending to know things he could not know. He has also lied about vaccines in key ways.”

Tucker Carlson, in response to newly-released emails showing that Dr. Anthony Fauci had tried to work with Chinese health officials to learn the origins of the COVID-19 virus

Dr. Peter Daszak is a British zoologist who focuses on disease ecology.

“As I said that day, Jan. 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.  You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”

Former Vice-President Mike Pence, speaking at the Hillsborough County Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in New Hampshire

Pence went on to say, “I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans. Or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on further dividing our country to advance their radical agenda.”

It’s important to note that the Capital Hill rioters were chanting to kill Pence, as they invaded the Capital on January 6.

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Best Quotes of the Week – May 29, 2021

“The bills, which seek to abolish critical race theory, were more important than expanding Medicaid; maintaining federal unemployment benefits; enlisting more Texans to get COVID-19 vaccinations; or overhauling the state’s electric power grid.  The bills are also part of a backlash against growing efforts to bring more accuracy and inclusion to historical texts and a wider movement to whitewash U.S. history.  Old, racist approaches to education are new again.”

Elaine Ayala, columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, on the Texas Legislature’s ill-timed ban of discussions of racism in Texas classrooms

“Some people have no shame.”

President Joe Biden, criticizing Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) and other Republicans who opposed his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, but are now taking credit for it

“I think the perception is on the part of the public that the January 6 Commission just trying to get to the truth of what happened, and that Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out.  I don’t believe that’s what’s the motivation, but I think that’s the perception.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, about the reluctance of his fellow Republicans to support a bipartisan commission to study the actual causes of the January 6 Capital Hill riots

“What are you afraid of?”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, after Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan commission intended to study the actual causes of the January 6 Capital Hill riots

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Tweets of the Week – May 22, 2021

Rep. Liz Cheney

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

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Most Hysterical Quote of the Week – May 15, 2021

“You don’t care about the American people! Why do you support terrorists and antifa?”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

According to two Washington Post reporters, Ocasio-Cortez was headed towards an exit in the Capital building when Taylor-Greene shouted “Hey, Alexandria!” twice and proceeded to follow the New York congresswoman.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – May 15, 2021

“We’re not talking about eight-year-olds’ soccer.  We’re talking about post-puberty sports. We’re talking about girls who’ve worked their whole lives to earn a scholarship and not have to worry about being outplayed by a boy.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert, about the proposed Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender and gender identity

Boebert also claimed the bill would lead to “women getting in an MMA ring and having their skulls crushed by a man,” among other things.

“Let’s be honest with the American people – it was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R – GA), on the January 6 Capital Hill riots

A gun dealer in his first term in Congress, Clyde compared the riots to a “normal tourist visit”.

“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), presenting his version of the January 6 riots

Painting the rioters as victims, Hice noted that four of them died, including Ashli Babbitt who was fatally shot.  The other three suffered medical emergencies while part of the crowd laying siege to the Capitol.  Another victim is Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick.

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