Pet Issues and Precedent

I’m watching in fascination, both the various legal analyses of the newly implemented Texas abortion law….and the even newer pursuit of one-upsmanship on the part of a couple of other states.

Whether it’s the Left on issues like gun control or the Right with abortion……one wonders if they ever stop to calculate the second and third order effects……as well as the very real fact that their legal victories…..can serve as precedent when tables are turned, or in jurisdictions where they aren’t in the majority.

To this end, an OpEd in the WSJ notes:

“This one delegates exclusive enforcement to private citizens, who are authorized to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks. Citizens who prevail in their civil lawsuits are entitled to at least $10,000 per abortion along with legal costs.”

The law sets an awful precedent that conservatives should hate. Could California allow private citizens to sue individuals for hate speech? Or New York deputize private lawsuits against gun owners? Texas argues that abortion providers don’t have standing to challenge the law because the state isn’t enforcing it and neither at this point is any private citizen. Thus there is no case or controversy, which is what courts are supposed to settle. This is technically correct and it is why the five Justices declined to enjoin the law.

The entire article is behind a paywall, but this and another snippet can be found here.

I have little doubt that this law will be struck down, not because it effectively skirts settled law, but for the manner in which it does…..and the horrible precedent it sets. Snitch lines/website? Blanket legal standing for unaffected Citizens to sue?

This is a dangerous road that political myopia built.

The Media Gets off it’s Ass, at least for one Falsehood *Updated*

*An even better article was just published today at LawfareBlog, outlining the myth-making occurring over divested equipment in Afghanistan.*

The media should consider it a duty, to dispel false political myths and memes….but it so often doesn’t.

Everyone by now has seen, I’m sure….the long and illustrious list of U.S. military equipment that “we” “left” behind. Below is what I posted on a fellow Blogger’s site:


Nonsense.

In almost every instance, when we essentially invade a foreign nation and rebuild their military from the ground up…we equip them. We sometimes take different approaches with regard to standardized equipment [as in Iraq, where we tended toward ‘Soviet-bloc’ items*].

In AFG, we leaned heavily on U.S. equipment, and a smattering of Czech and Russian, especially with regard to airframes.

This equipment, again over the past almost 2 decades, has been Divested through the Foreign Military Sales Program [which ensures that only our export models of equipment is eligible]. The equipment left behind, for the most part anyway, was divested to the ANSF. We no doubt left some ancillary gear when we withdrew from various Forward Operating Bases and Bagram…nothing of great import.

All of this equipment was dropped in place by the surrendering and running ANSF….and now the Taliban are able to kit themselves out like westerners, on the cheap.

We saw this as well in 2014 in Iraq, where ISIS took control of the vast amount of equipment we had divested to them, and gifted by running and surrendering ISF.

Our media has generally done a poor job, as they always do…of educating our public on issues such as these, and this…they become fodder to be trafficked by folks who want. to try and score political points.


Today, the WaPo finally ran the claim being made by the Right, regarding this equipment….with the full implications that the current Administration simply ‘leaving it all behind’.

U.S. military equipment was given to Afghan security forces over two decades. Tanks, vehicles, helicopters and other gear fell into the hands of the Taliban when the U.S.-trained force quickly collapsed. The value of these assets is unclear, but if the Taliban is unable to obtain spare parts, it may not be able to maintain them.

But the value of the equipment is not more than $80 billion. That’s the figure for all of the money spent on training and sustaining the Afghan military over 20 years. The equipment portion of that total is about $24 billion — certainly not small change — but the actual value of the equipment in the Taliban’s hands is probably much less than even that amount.

Reasons Why I Carry – Example#….OK, I Lost Count

“I’m going in there with 20 strong men, I’m going to speak to the school board and I’m going to give them an option. They can leave or they can be removed ” said Steve Lynch who is running for PA Governor, “Make men men again”, he said during Freedom Rally today.

And….

At protest in Santa Monica today before the vote on mask-mandate, Jason Lefkowitz has the home addresses of each LA City Council member on his sign. He says they are going to the homes of whoever votes for it, and if it passes, it’s “civil war, get your guns.” From @chadloder

Soon is coming the time for patriots to grab muskets from over the mantle, secure shot and ball, and prepare to defend our nation from the Cult of the Unmitigated Asshole. Those self-aggrandized snowflakes who allow their impotent rage to convince them that they’re victims because of <insert baseless reason here>.

A reckoning is indeed coming, but they mistakenly reckon that the cause of Patriots is on their side.

They will be proven wrong.

Gilbert and Sullivan Come to Afghanistan

Having several conversations online with multiple people of differing perspectives and ideologies, regarding Afghanistan….one theme has struck me as consistent: Most Americans don’t really understand the factors of our involvement [from invasion to regime change to nation building to peace negotiations to withdrawal]. Most have no knowledge of Divestment and Foreign Military Sales [much of the reason behind the boon of armaments that the Taliban found in their lap]; or the tribal/clan culture in the region [not necessarily the nation] of Afghanistan; or the tactical and operational considerations behind our actions, for better or for worse.

Part of this can be easily explained away…..our media [both Left and Right oriented] do a consistently abysmal job of education our society on that which our government and military does in it’s name. But the blame shouldn’t just lie there. There are plenty of sources to dive into, to gain a comprehensive understanding, from the layman’s point of view. And plenty of Veterans to query. It takes a bare modicum of effort to increase one’s knowledge on a given topic these days.

But, as to be expected, political narratives usually win the day….exemplified in the photo meme I posted the other day. Sad, but not unexpected.

Over at the Unz Report, there’s a long comparative article, illustrating both Saigon and Kabul, and our social view of overseas military engagements. I’ve left out the Vietnam analysis as not being strictly germane to the current issue, but am posting the following, as I think it’s pretty insightful.

America invaded a country of another race, utterly different culture, practicing religions GIs had never heard of, speaking a language virtually no Americans spoke, a country exceedingly sick of being invaded by foreigners, most of them white. in Afghanistan the designated evil was terrorism, in in Viet Nam communism, but the choice of evils doesn’t matter. You have to tell the rubes at home something noble sounding.

Then the Americans did as they always do, training the ARVN, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, to fight the communists to impose democracy, which the Viets had not asked them to do. But when you ask some Viets (Bodes, Laos, Iraqis, Afghans) to fight other Viets (Bodes, etc.) to kill their own people for the benefit of the invaders, they are not greatly charmed. With a predictability that makes sunrise seem chancy, they desert, fight lackadaisically, with officers charging the US pay for soldiers who do not exist, and probably go over to the other side en masse when the collapse comes. Which latter the Afghan army just did. Duh, as the kids say.

The speed of the Taliban advance took Americans by surprise because officers are liars and had been hiding the deplorable state of the “Afghan” army, its numbers, morale, degree of training, and phenomenal rates of desertion. Often the American officer corps thinks that if it can just have a little more time, they can win, so lying is a part of the war effort. Biden bought into this, announcing that the Afghan army vastly outnumbered the Taliban and was better armed and trained and the insurgents couldn’t possibly do what they proceeded to do.

Another reason is that the American style of war recruits its enemies. Soldiers are not the Boy Scout defenders of civilization that so many like to imagine. They kill a lot of civilians, many tens of thousands in the bombing of cities such as Baghdad and Hanoi. Ground troops come to detest the natives whom they designate gooks, zipperheads, sand niggers, camel jockeys, and the like. They commit war crimes that, when discovered, are called “isolated incidents,” when in fact they are common.

Fragmentation bombs produce such things as a little girl crying with her belly torn open and intestines falling out while her mother goes stark raving bugfuck mad watching her daughter bleed to death and she can do nothing about it. But it is for democracy and American values, and anyway the ragheads breed like flies, and besides, CNN won’t air it. Today drone strikes hit weddings and other gatherings. When you kill people in a village, the young men join the insurgents, wanting revenge. When a few thousands were killed in Nine-Eleven, Americans exploded in rage. Three thousand is a small fraction of the numbers killed in, say, the attack on Baghdad. The Iraqi soldiers killed in a hopeless attempt to defeat the Americans were sons, fathers, husbands, brothers of other Iraqis. How much love do we think it engendered in Iraqis? This seems not to occur to Washington.

Militaries at bottom are amoral. Afghans know of the torture operations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Americans seem to dismiss such things as minor. They are not. Afghans seeing Moslems lying in pools of blood at Abu Ghraib, or being paraded around naked in hoods, are going to want to kill someone. Guess who.

American wars last a long time because no one has an incentive to end them. American casualties are low, especially now with the killing mostly done from the air against peasants with no defenses. No important American ever gets killed. American wars are all class wars, with the dying being done by blue-collar suckers from Kansas or the deep South, not by Bush II, Hillary, the other Clinton, Bolton, Bannon, Obama, Blinken, Biden, Cheney, Kamala, Trump, and the rest of those not required to fight. The US public has little idea of what goes on in its wars because the corporate media hide them. the Pentagon having learned that the media are their worst enemy, not the Taliban. It would not surprise me if one unfettered camera crew, filming the corpses and mutilated children and devastation, could force an end to such a war.

Americans are not heartless but calculatedly uninformed. Wars are also extremely profitable for those who provide the bombs, fuel, vehicles, and so on. If the US loses a war, the contracts stop, and equally if it wins. Keeping it going for decades provides a steady revenue stream. What’s not to like?

Finally, or as much as I am going to worry about, there is the 1955 Syndrome, the engrained belief that America is all powerful. This is arrogance and self-delusion. In the Pentagon you encounter a mandatory can-do attitude a belief that the US military is indomitable, the best trained, armed, and led force in this or any nearby galaxy. In one sense this is necessary: You can’t tell the Marines that they are mediocre light infantry or sailors that their aircraft are rapidly obsolescing, their ships sitting ducks in a changing military world, and that the whole military enterprise is rotted by social engineering, profiteering, and careerism.

But look around: The US has failed to intimidate North Korea, chase the Chinese out of its islands in the South China Sea, retrieve the Crimea from Russia, can’t intimidate Iran, just got run out of Afghanistan, remains mired in Iraq and Syria, failed to block Nordstream II despite a desperate effort, and couldn’t keep Turkey from buying the S-400. The Pentagon plans for the wars it wants to fight, not the wars it does fight. The most dangerous weapons of the modern world are not nukes, but the Ak-47, the RPG, and the IED. Figure it out.

And now the US comes home, leaving Afghanistan in ruins for decades. Use and discard.

*Post title from the sub-title of the linked article

Seems a Simple Idea…..

What’s the solution to this “culture war” between the 1619ers and the 1776ers? I’m a historian, and I’ve taught U.S. history. The solution is easy. You teach both. America is a land of contradictions. Any U.S. historian worth her salt is going to talk about genocide and the Native Americans; is going to talk about the violent and bitter legacies of slavery; and is also going to talk about the ideals and idealism of the founders, however imperfectly they put them into practice, and the promise of the Constitution and the spirit of liberty. To ignore slavery while singing the praises of the founders would be as flawed and one-sided as focusing entirely on slavery without ever mentioning the proud achievements of those same founders.

America is a complex and contradictory place — and any historian is going to address those complexities and contradictions because that’s precisely what makes history interesting, fascinating, enthralling. Few students want to be comforted by feel-good history or assaulted by feel-bad history. They want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, and historians should be able to teach the same. There’s simply no need for a culture war here over the content of history.

I said there’s no need, but that doesn’t mean a culture war isn’t wanted. Polemicists love culture wars, and so too do the already privileged and the powerful. For if we’re fighting each other, if we perceive we’re divided and simply can’t find common ground, we’ll forget we have so much in common, like our desire for a living wage, affordable health care, and politicians who’d actually represent us instead of the special interests.

Bracing Views

My pessimism won’t allow mew to think this will ever come to pass. Too many people are emotionally invested.

About Damn Time

OK, it’s still just a threat of a slap on the wrist….but one that is long overdue:

In an act of bipartisanship that is as rare as a Chief Warrant Officer 5 sighting, a group of senators from both sides of the aisle are proposing a new incentive to get the Pentagon to finally pass an audit: Punishment.

The Audit the Pentagon Act of 2021 would require any Defense Department component that fails an audit next fiscal year to forfeit 1% of its budget, which would be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“For decades, the Defense Department has been losing the battle against wasteful spending,” Grassley said in a May 19 statement.  “We’ve seen example after example of excessive and inefficient spending by the Pentagon, and every dollar squandered is a dollar not being used to support our men and women in uniform. After 30 years to get ready, this bill pushes the Defense Department to finally achieve a clean annual audit — a requirement that every other federal agency is held to.”

Task & Purpose

Maybe, just maybe….we can also wean the armchair commandos of of the idea that quantity beats capability.

The Everlasting Lure of Victimhood

An interesting piece from Damian Penny, who pens the Damnation! Direct blog on Substack.

“You guys know he lost, right?”

So asks Kevin Williamson in National Review, who expresses his befuddlement at the Republican Party swearing Jonestown-level loyalty to a man who led them to a catastrophic defeat – not catastrophic enough, in my opinion, but still pretty bad – in the last election. Wasn’t the whole point of backing Trump was because he supposedly won at everything he ever tried?

Walter Mondale, who passed away not long ago, didn’t have Democrats scrambling to lick his boots in 1985. Bob Dole’s run as a Republican power player pretty much ended after his unsuccessful challenge to Clinton in 1996.

And, of course, we’ve seen what the GOP now thinks about its previous two Presidential election losers, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

But Trump’s iron grip on the party appears stronger than ever, and yet another assumption we made these past few years has been proven wrong. I figured the GOP would have tossed him overboard after losing the White House and the Senate (the latter by losing both Senate seats in freaking Georgia).

I underestimated just how powerful and intoxicating the feeling of victimhood can be. (Bolding mine)

When we talk about the weaponization of victimhood and trauma, we usually think about woke college kids, and not without reason. (The latest example: students at a university right here in Atlantic Canada pressuring the school to suspend and pledge to re-educate an Lebanese-born professor for expressing doubleplusungood opinions on her website.)

But it’s very much a phenomenon on the right, as well. Trump might be wrong about almost everything else, but he was deviously smart to identify growing dissatisfaction among the white working class in rural America and tell them that all of their problems were someone else’s fault. And the “stolen” election of 2020 is just the latest example of how the elites are screwing them over.

The thing is, many parts of America that went for Trump really have had a rough go of it these past few decades. I support free trade and drug legalization, but I cannot deny that the former has caused some real pain in some sectors of the economy, and the scourge of opioid addiction has made me reconsider some of my assumptions about the latter. If you’re in some rural county without well-paying jobs, what would you have to lose by voting for the guy who promises to shake things up?

The flip side, of course, is that a responsible politician – as opposed to a loudmouthed populist – sometimes has to tell even his own base hard truths they won’t want to hear. The world has changed and the good old days just aren’t coming back.

It might not be fair, but life ain’t fair. That’s what conservative Republicans used to think, isn’t it?

I didn’t include Kevin Williamson’s National Review excerpt, but it’s worth a read too.

Hiatus Break: Syria “Invasion”? No

Just no. Rightwingers are trafficking a narrative that on day 1 of the Biden Administration, we apparently “invaded Syria”. They rest this false narrative on a news article that spoke of a convoy travelling from Iraq to Syria.

It is adorable however, if somebody thinks that the DoD can move so quickly on a such an endeavor. But sadly for the surface-skimming types…..this was a regular logistic convoy to our current and well-established bases in eastern Syria [where we are, I might add, without the consent or invitation of the host nation government].

Much was made of Trump’s previous announcement of a “withdrawal” of forces from Syria a while back…..but less seem educated on his reversal and stated intent to use our blood and treasure to “protect the eastern Syrian oil”. So, this apparent ignorance [in the age of Google], coupled with a single news report that they can shoehorn into their partisan narrative……and viola! We have a “Biden invasion”……

The simple fact of the matter, as Google will easily confirm, a National Guard Brigade is currently taking over from the 82nd ABN Brigade that has been here for the last 9 months. These handover/takeovers, or Reliefs in Place [RIP]….necessitate incoming and outgoing equipment and personnel moves. Convoys, air traffic, etc.

Period. Don’t think we should be in Syria? Great! I agree. And if Biden doesn’t divest us from Iraq & Syria, shame on him. But shame on his predecessor as well. Quit making the most rational issues hyper-partisan because you have the sadz that your guy didn’t win re-election.