On Afghanistan

I don’t know a Goddamn thing about Afghanistan.

Well, okay, that’s not quite true. I probably know more about Afghanistan than most Americans. But that is a perilously low bar, and does not really imply anything worth bragging about, and if the bar is not compared to other Americans but is my knowledge of this country useful or sufficient, well … it ain’t, on either count.

I saw someone suggest on Twitter earlier today that the one thing we could have done to avoid what’s going on right now in Afghanistan would have been to elect Al Gore in 2000, and I have some sympathy for that argument. I saw another that suggested that Biden has simply decided to be the President who takes the hit for a result that was going to be inevitable whenever we decided to leave, and that the main thing the policies of the Presidents between him and Dubya have done has been kicking the can down the road so that the disaster after the withdrawal was someone else’s problem.

We have been in Afghanistan nearly half my life. The Taliban has simply … waited. They are more patient than us. They always have been. No matter which President chose to leave, the Taliban were still going to be there, waiting. And I don’t think that the regular Afghans were especially happy to have us there either. One way or another, they were still going to be there when we left.

I do, however, feel like it’s not unreasonable to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should have done something more to help those who helped us. America should have been welcoming of Afghan refugees for decades, and we haven’t, and I have to believe that the number of people we’re looking to evacuate– I’m seeing the number 3500– is sorely insufficient. There are apparently just short of 100,000 Afghans in the United States right now. I feel like after 20 years of occupying their country that seems like a very small number.

We spent two trillion dollars and lost over six thousand soldiers there in twenty years, and in the end it was for nothing. We probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, or maybe we should have just kept paying attention after we got there— Afghanistan has always been our forgotten war even just after it started, when our attention immediately turned to Iraq. I don’t know. I don’t know how things could have gone better. I’m not sure how they could have gone much worse, either.

I suppose we’re about to find out what the results of 20 years of shitty policy looks like one way or another.

Syria and the limits of my knowledge

SIRIA_-_TURCHIA_-_RUSSIA_-_pace_paese.jpgI’ve kinda had my head in the ground for the last couple of days; I’m sort of still there, as it’s taken me a good five or six minutes just to write this sentence.  It’s been a shitty few days to be an American, or at least to be a sane one.

(It’s been a worse few days to be a Syrian; I hope that I didn’t need to clarify that, but I’m going to anyway.)

I’ve been very clear here on multiple occasions about how I feel about how this country should treat Syrian refugees.  What I’ve been less clear on– in fact, I don’t know that I’ve really addressed it at all– is how we should treat Syria.  There’s a good reason for that; I know when I’m in over my fucking head, and this is absolutely one of those times.  Even before we get into “Should America take a side in the Syrian civil war?” there is the very important “Can America do anything about the Syrian civil war?”  There is also the minor fact that the Russians are involved and anything we do with Syria runs the risk of provoking Russia, which is something I suspect all of us would like to avoid.

I don’t know what to do about this, except for the part that is both relatively uncomplicated and morally clear: we should accept every refugee from this conflict that we possibly can.  Period.  I don’t have the tiniest idea what the hell to do about the rest of it.  I don’t feel bad about that.  I’m a fucking furniture salesman from Indiana.  There are people for whom figuring this shit out is their jobs.

Which, speaking of that: another thing I am absolutely certain of is that none of the gang of scam artists, poltroons and quarterwits currently occupying the White House have the vaguest fucking clue what to do, and I don’t trust them even the tiniest little bit to get any aspect of this shit right.  Barack Obama went to Congress to authorize military action and they turned him down; the shitgibbon fires fifty Tomahawk missiles at an airport, warning the Syrians and the Russians first but not bothering to notify Congress, and somehow fails to even disable the airport.

That is a failure of such epic proportions that it simply had to be intentional.  The point was to make a bunch of noise and waste a bunch of money but not to actually do anything worthwhile.  I suspect when Obama asked for Congress to authorize military action this was not what he had in mind.  Was what he wanted the right thing to do?  I have no idea.  I know that I trust Obama’s judgment infinitely more than I do the shitgibbon’s.  But that doesn’t mean he was right either.  For all I know there may very well be no way to cut this particular Gordian knot.


Fuck ’em for the stolen Supreme Court seat, too.  Which doesn’t really fit in this post but I’m including it anyway because it’s my blog.

On refugees and Christianity, again

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On the right, Rouwaida Hanoun, a Syrian five-year-old who is, as far as I know, still alive.  On the left, Anne Frank, who is not.

There are– it is horrifying to think, but it is true– people who believe that the orange fascist currently occupying the White House is a Christian.  Many of these people are the same people who believed Barack Obama to not be a Christian, so it’s immediately and apparently clear that when they say “Christianity,” what they mean is “White supremacy,” and they have little to no idea of what Jesus actually preached, what he might have believed, or– rather importantly– what he looked like.

I noticed this morning that the post I wrote about refugees last year is spiking in page views again, which is not surprising.  The monster in the White House has chosen to ban desperately frightened and endangered people– the “least among us” who Jesus spoke of– from our country, has deliberately decided to let children die rather than incur even the slightest risk to people who look like him.  He has, of course, excluded his business partners from these calculations; if  you are wealthy enough for him to have business dealings with, you are a Person, of course; Rouwaida Hanoun is not.  When I wrote the post last year we had a President who, while he made bad decisions in any number of ways, I believed fundamentally cared about people.

Unfortunately, that is no longer remotely true, and the man who was trying to keep Syrian refugees out of my state at the time is now Vice President.  Most of the time, I have trouble believing our current President is actually human.  It takes every bit of moral strength I have to recognize that the demented narcissist in the White House deserves as much compassion and dignity as anyone else by simple virtue of having been born a person.  Somebody or something fucked this man up; I don’t believe he was born this awful.

But that’s beside the point.  When I wrote that post last year, I was trying to be nice and trying to be the voice of reason.  You may recognize the tone; I use it around here from time to time when I’m writing something I want to be taken more seriously than usual.  At this point, I’m going to take a different tack: if you don’t think these people should be allowed into the country, if you think refugees (and people with green cards!  People who have been here, and are now separated from their families simply by virtue of having been somewhere else when the ban went into effect!) should be banned from the United States simply because of their religion, you’re a fucking monster.  You’re not a Christian.  Christ himself would rebuke you– he already has, in fact, in clear terms in the Bible you claim to believe is divinely inspired and true in its every word.

You are a bad person if you agree with this ban.  You are a racist and a monster and a coward and every bit as much of a piece of shit as the people trying to keep the Jews out of the country in the 1940s were. You are the exact same people saying the exact same things for the exact same reasons, only with “Jew” crossed out and “Muslim” written in.  And while I don’t want this to be true and I try to be a better person, I really wish there was a Hell so I could see the look on your face when you end up there. Because Jesus has been clear on your responsibilities in this matter.  If you’re not a Christian, you don’t have to follow Jesus.  I certainly don’t.  But he was perfectly clear on this, and you are the bad guys.  


As I was writing this, word came through Twitter that the ACLU has won a stay against this executive order, which is good, as it was wildly illegal from the start.  I set up recurring monthly donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood today.  You should too.

It continues (morning blogwanking)

Yesterday was the highest-traffic day in the history of the blog, including the time where I was Freshly Pressed:

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You’ll note that I had more individual visitors than I had pageviews the day before, and I’m pretty sure the day before was the 2nd or 3rd best day I’ve ever had.  That’s pretty impressive.  As of now, 8:17, I’ve already got 160 views, so thus far the pace hasn’t slowed down any.  And check this out:

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That’s all time ranked posts, using the old stats editor.  Leaving out the home page and the “About” page, which aren’t posts, that means that a post I wrote less than 48 hours ago is now the 7th highest-traffic post I’ve ever written.

Dag.

I don’t think it’s going to catch the Snowpiercer post, which has five times as many hits as its closest competitor, but it’ll be really interesting to see how far it gets before interest fizzles out.  Another interesting detail: right now, traffic appears to be driven almost exclusively by Facebook referrals.  As of this second the page has been shared on FB 759 times and 31 on Twitter, but I got 671 referrals from FB yesterday and only 13 from Twitter. Not one click through StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr, or any of the other usual suspects.  My autoshare on FB has reached 907 people and the Tumblr share doesn’t have a single note on it.  Less than ten from Google +, which I think is funny, since those might be my first G+ referrals ever.

I’m actually kind of scared to see what will happen if Reddit gets ahold of the post.  Which I suppose you can take as an invitation if you’re a Redditor.

Still no trolls, either.  Amazing.

Now (again) if I can just get these people to buy books.  🙂

So that’s going well

rusnrd6jsjs4njnofritThat little post about Christianity and the Syrian refugees yesterday got 636 pageviews, a single-day record for any post not involving Freshly Pressed.  The site in general had 890, with 620 unique visitors.  As of this exact second, 6:33 in the AM, we’re looking at the fourth most popular post written in 2015 (total 733 views) and absolutely the fastest-moving thing I’ve ever written for this space– remember, this is still in less than a day— because even the Snowpiercer post took a minute to get moving.

Also as of right now: 347 shares on Facebook, a number that has changed while I’ve been writing this and is close enough to half the total number that Snowpiercer has amassed that it’ll probably be there by the time my son wakes up in a few minutes.  (EDIT: It got six more before I hit “post,” so it’s there.) It’s already at nearly 100 views today, and it is, again, 6:36 in the morning.  I can’t quite call it “viral” yet, but it’s definitely doing quite well.

Also amazing: I haven’t had to slap any trolls around yet, although I don’t expect that to last.

Maybe I’ll get my 100K pageviews for the year after all.

Now all I gotta do is get these folks to buy some books.  Good morning, Internet.