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  1. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Simon in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Was glad to see that come through -- on a local level, I _just_ managed to get the historic society to say that we're going to require masks at the forge and museum starting tomorrow, so this was good timing.
  2. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to GM Joe in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Lots of things suck right now, but I'm happy my state is re-instituting the indoor mask mandate.
    Too bad the Dem governor waited until a 20-county region was at 3% ICU capacity, but at least it got done.
  3. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to DShomshak in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    A recent discussion on the public radio program On the Media suggested all the voter suppression is just Plan A, or even a smoke screen to keep Democrats distracted. As Plan B to control elections -- or perhaps the real plan -- is all the laws giving state legislatures the power to annul elections that they deem "marred by fraud." Which, as we have seen, is any election whose outcome goes against Republicans. But On the Media is not the most reliable source,as its guests may be, hm, excitable or biased in scholarship.
    One of my friends suggests that many Republicans may think that all this maneuvering to control election outcomes is "just part of the game." Dems try to manipulate elections by increasing voter turnout in their reliable constituencies; so Republicans are justified in trying to reduce that turnout. This line of reasoning makes several ugly assumptions; of which perhaps the most honest is that Republican policies are hostile to large segments of the population, and always will be. If there was any chance that young people, minorities, the poor, etc. might look at a Republican candidate's platform and say, "Yeah, that's good for me and my country" -- why, the more voters, the better, right?
    I also hear claims that blue states are generally adopting nonpartisan means of redrawing voting districts while red states go all in for gerrymandering, which if true puts the lie to the both-sidesism. One party wants to win elections by getting votes; one party does not.
    Dean Shomshak
  4. Sad
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    A man accused of helping to coordinate a self-styled militia’s incursion into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was released Monday to home confinement after arguing his wife would keep him from falling back into extremist views.
    “She has no tolerance for that kind of talk,” federal public defender Angie Halim said.
    Only after a federal judge agreed to release Joseph Hackett did a prosecutor mention that his wife, Deena, hosted a political podcast. While the prosecutor did not describe the show’s content, a Deena Hackett co-hosted two episodes of a podcast called “A&D’s Patriot Battle Cry (Rub THAT In!!)” in which she described her husband as a “political prisoner” who was “trying to preserve … this country.” The podcast also includes references to far-right conspiracy theories.
    That's a novel legal defense for the Trumpsters to try....
  5. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    There's a marked difference between "some innocents dying" and someone made choices so that the result would be that "some innocents died" plus "your friends died" plus "the guy who saved your life, repeatedly, died".
    The first is a tragedy. The second is a very, very personalized tragedy.
    Also note there's a difference between "personal" and "personalized". "Personal" is that it means something to you.
    "Personalized" is that someone intentionally did this so that it means something to you.
    Innocents die in the Kobiyashi Maru, it's a test of character.
    Failing the Kobiyashi Maru so spectacularly that you personalize the tragedy for the cadets under your command and vigorously defending your very flawed decisions without apparently learning anything from them would be an unforgivable flaw in a command candidate.
    Finding that unforgivable flaw before you make the mistake of giving that person command is the apparent reason, in-universe, that test is given toward the end of the cadet's command training rather than at the beginning
    Unfortunately we don't live in Star Trek. And Trump's host of flaws outweighs Biden's, even at this point, by several orders of magnitude.
  6. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Lord Liaden in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    To be fair to Joe Biden, Trump's announced deadline was in May 2021. Biden extended it to August. Even that was a stretch, because he was under tremendous political pressure both domestic and foreign, to make it happen. His plate was also full with COVID vaccination, the virus relief funds, and the infrastructure package.
    That said, this evacuation should have been conducted sooner and more efficiently. The experts anticipated these problems since Trump's announcement. That should be laid at Biden's doorstep. But the situation was always going to be awful, the best he could have done would be to make it less awful.
    What I'm more concerned about is how the right-wing media are framing the situation, that "our side" could have done better, it would never have happened if we were in charge, it's like Vietnam where we would have won if "they" allowed it, etc. I'm concerned the public-relations ground work is being laid for America to return militarily to Afghanistan under a future administration. Probably in more of a token capacity, but again putting American lives at risk and generating international bad blood to score political points at home.
  7. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    What are you spending the year doing?
    If you were to spend the next year doing what we've been doing the past year, which was pretty much nothing, then waiting another year wouldn't have accomplished a thing other than letting a large number of people continue living for another year.
    On the other hand, if we spent the next year arranging permanent places of refuge internationally for women and girls who wanted to get out...
    Arranging for teachers and journalists to get out...
    And above all, arranging for the translators (and their families) who've been helping our military, journalists, and charities to be able to function in the country to get out (as our government had promised to do for them), in that case, another year could have made a tremendous difference over the long run.
    Right now, the 500 members of the Afghan military who are still working with us inside the Kabul airport haven't even been guaranteed a seat on one of the evacuation flights, much less all of the people who are stranded at various places outside the airport gates, inside Kabul, and across the country.
    Heck, forget about another year. What if that effort had been made just from inauguration day through today, how many thousands or hundreds of thousands would we not be worrying about right now?
  8. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Pariah in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Attention Democrats:
    All you have to do, literally all you have to do to keep Trump and his cronies out of Congress and/or the White House for the next 2-4 years is not screw anything up as badly as the COVID-19 fiasco. Any measure of competence will do, no matter how limited.
    *sees Afghanistan situation*
    Never ******* mind.
  9. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Ragitsu in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Why complicate a simple matter? Arms manufacturers were making a profit; that is the key reason why we wasted all those lives and all that time.
    In any case, we can either play world police while indirectly raising the next generation of terrorists or we can get our shit together at home (e.g., strengthen public education, fix civil infrastructure, institute socialized healthcare, retool the immigration process, lead the way in green energy, decouple the military-industrial complex from the economy, et cetera). Our budget isn't infinite...nor is our manpower. Some people - however - want their Schrodinger's Cake.
  10. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to DShomshak in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Thank you: Useful research material for the mindset of my billionaire supervillains, especially the ones who control my setting's HYDRA/VIPER analogue.
    Dean Shomshak
  11. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Pariah in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I am in no way, shape, or form qualified to offer helpful insight into the Afghanistan situation. I'm not a political scientist; I'm an actual scientist. But I can't help but ask, if only to myself, a few bothersome questions:
    When we (as a nation) went into Afghanistan in 2001, what was the mission objective? Was it ever clearly defined? What were the stated victory conditions for the mission? How were we to know when we were done? What was the exit strategy? How did we plan to get out of Afghanistan? There are other questions I have, though they seem perhaps less earnest. (How long did we really think this was going to take? Why didn't we leave after Bin Laden was killed? Why did we think we could win after the Soviets flopped in Afghanistan? Where did all the money go? Was no one aware that getting involved in a land war in Asia is one of the classic blunders?) But the three above are the real issues. Does anyone know the answers?
  12. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Lord Liaden in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    You are correct. The conditions in Afghanistan did not mirror those in Germany and Japan. And America did spend a lot of money in Afghanistan. Over two decades. There was no plan for rebuilding at the start of the invasion. The goals were constantly changing. Efforts were haphazard, and often handed out to private contractors. There was little central coordination or oversight. The coalition was eager to hand over as much responsibility as they could to the proxy government they installed, which as you say, anyone local could have told them was corrupt and incompetent.
    The mission was bungled from Day One, and the more time passed without addressing its fundamental flaws, the more intractable the situation became.
  13. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I mentioned the No One Left Behind organization earlier. Among other things, they help interpreters make their way through the special visa application.
    Their website directed me to an official General Accountability Office graphic showing how the process is intended to work when working at maximum efficiency (not that it operates at maximum efficiency, but what the government thinks of as optimal speed for getting these people out of Afghanistan like we promised).

  14. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    MSNBC's Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace was absolutely brutal on the analysis of Biden's Afghanistan speech this afternoon.
    MSNBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel called Biden's assurances that we were going to evacuate Afghans who'd worked for us "a fantasy". Then he went one to tell about one translator he talked to this week who'd been waiting four years for the State Department to verify that he'd actually worked for the US military. Engel then pointed out that the translators were entered into a biometric database used by the military so positively identifying that he'd worked for the military was as simple as putting his thumb on a scanner and looking at his picture.  
    Engel said that it took his staff, which didn't have access to the biometric database, 45 minutes to verify the guy's identity and that he'd worked for the US military as a translator.
    The Matt Zeller, the leader of a non-profit No One Left Behind https://nooneleft.org/default.aspx?, who came after Engel was even more brutal as he detailed how the government ignored the database his NGO compiled of the identity and current location of 14,000 former military translators as he tried over and over for months to find anyone in government who would take the information from him.
    48 hours ago, they contacted him and asked him for the information.
    The analysis of the president's speech was beyond brutal and I'm not doing a good job of relating how brutal it was. And honestly, if a Democrat president loses the support of MSNBC staff and the liberal-leaning guests they invite to their shows, that's a sign of how badly the president has screwed the pooch on this one.
  15. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    We spent a LOT of money building schools, hospitals, police stations, electrical systems, water systems, etc.
    We spent loads more hiring and training police and military. 
    Much of the problem was that there was an active enemy who was opposed to schools, hospitals, and police stations. They didn't seem to have as much problem with water or electricity. And they were violently opposed to police and military.
    Also we gave the Afghan government money to pay their soldiers. But there were consistent reports for years that pay didn't actually reach the soldiers either in full or on time.
    There were also scattered reports for years that the government deployed the military without food or water and without adequate amounts of ammunition.
    We did a lot of the right things for "nation-building" (if you believe in the concept). But the Afghan government wasn't cooperative in trying to run a functional country and the Taliban wasn't interested in having a functional country.
    When we went in originally, we put the last elected leader in Afghanistan back into power and let him form a government (he'd also been the leader of the Northern Alliance government-in-exile).
    That was fine in theory and would have been fine if our intent was to immediately declare victory and leave. 
    But the guy was part of the old mujahedeen freedom fighter coalition which had kicked out the Soviets then formed a government and mismanaged it to the point that a bunch of religious students (Taliban) from Pakistan was able to come and oust them from power.
    Fighting skill is great and being a military leader is great. But that kind of leadership skill doesn't necessarily translate into skill in running a large bureaucracy in a country which has no tradition of an organized and competent government which the populace supports.
    Say what you will about the war era Germans and Japanese governments. But the concept of "a government which runs the whole country" had widespread support in both places. So replacing one government with another government was much easier there than trying in Afghanistan to replace loosely-organized chaos of Taliban rule with a competent government.
    When the Taliban took over in 1996, they were for the most part literally a bunch of kids. They had 16 and 17 year olds taking over and being senior government officials. Somewhere around 2010 I saw one of them in the news who after years of running their foreign affairs office had left Afghanistan behind to go to college in the west.
    He was 29 years old.
    Not when he took over the senior Taliban government post in 1996 but he was 29 when he was going to college in 2010.
    And the scary thing was that the people of Afghanistan by and large in 1996 thought that a government run by a pack of kids (from religious schools funded by Osama bin Laden) could do a better job running their country than their government was doing.
    The pack of kids proved the people of Afghanistan wrong. But the margin of competence between the two was very close.
    So when we invaded, we put the formerly elected bozo back into power. We didn't have much choice since he was the internationally-recognized leader of the country already.
    But that was the starting point that we had to work with: seven years of incompetent government by the mujahedeen from 1989-1996 then six years of incompetent government from 1996-2001 by primarily run by a bunch of kids who had no formal education beyond learning to read the Koran.
    That's not a large talent pool from which to draw competent government officials.
  16. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    US State Department this evening issued a statement.
    They're planning to evacuate the non-citizen employees of the US embassy as well as the citizens "over the coming days".
    The few translators and their families who've completed the application process will be evacuated to the US. The rest, well, the State Department says it's going to be looking for additional locations where they could be evacuated to. (And while all of this looking around at various international locations is happening, I suppose the Taliban is going to go on vacation for the next few months rather than capture the airport.)
    The statement doesn't say how those people will be evacuated. But since the civilian flights are already full and probably not going to continue while the airport is under siege, either the State Department is lying or they're expecting the military to provide transportation.
  17. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Iuz the Evil in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    The Taliban now have our hardened military sites, vehicles, abandoned weaponry (all intended for the Afghanistan peacekeeping allies we had there)… they’ve occupied Kabul, control every major city in the nation. Nothing short of major military action would seem likely to change the current situation, and maybe that would only be a holding action at best. This is the culmination of four United States administration efforts, extending over 20 years.
     It’s appalling. I’m not suggesting any other outcome than a reversion to autocracy and a terrorist state was possible, I don’t know enough to competently opine on the likelihood of that. But the manner in which we exit, after the sheer quantity of blood and ordinance expended, leaves much to be desired. These folks are not going to be our friends, to put it lightly.
    The “forever war” is just not really paying off in any meaningful way in my opinion. It’s depressing.
  18. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to archer in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Yeah, things are moving fast.
    The Taliban has announced an interim government and a new head of government.
    Taliban forces have entered Kabul to "prevent looting". And not just Kabul in general but occupying the presidential palace (which is kind of the facepalm event for an enemy force entering your capital city).
    The US embassy has announced that it has ceased all operations. The military is trying to figure out how to evacuate the embassy personnel since the airport is taking fire. 1400 of the embassy employees are US citizens, 2600 embassy employees are not US citizens. No word on whether non-citizen employee will be evacuated or not. 
    Since the city is invaded and the airport is taking fire, expect commercial airlines to cease operations. Over the past week, every seat on every commercial flight has been full as anyone with a valid passport has been fleeing the country.
    There were approximately 71,000 Afghan translators who worked for the US military (that number including their families) still in Afghanistan waiting endlessly on US embassy personnel to process their visa paperwork. Thousands of that number have been waiting years for the embassy to process their paperwork.
    Two weeks ago, the administration announced that we would also evacuate Afghan translators and their families who had worked for US non-profits and US news organizations. There's no official tally announced about how many people that was but I'd estimate they were talking over 100,000 people...who are still in Afghanistan because there wasn't even an existing program to, in theory, start getting them out of the country.
    The 3000 troops Biden announced last Friday to be sent to Afghanistan to secure the embassy and the airport have started to arrive. Since the embassy has already lowered its flag and ceased operations, if those troops are used for embassy purposes at all, it'd be to run around the city and fighting the Taliban while collecting embassy personnel who haven't managed to get themselves to the airport on their own. (The embassy in one of its last acts warned Americans to shelter in place and not try to make it to the airport since there were Taliban out on the streets shooting people.)
    The 5000 additional troops Biden announced yesterday to be sent to Afghanistan to stabilize Kabul during the evacuation...if they still deploy, they'll be landing in a Taliban-controlled airport and city. 
    The embassy personnel had started yesterday destroying hardware and paperwork in anticipation of having to abandon the embassy some time in the next couple of weeks. Considering that the fall of the embassy seems to have come slightly ahead of schedule, I'm wondering if the destruction is complete or whether random bits of embassy hardware and software will be finding its way into the hands of everyone who we wouldn't want to have it.
  19. Sad
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Tom in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Afghanistan conflict: Taliban push into Kabul as president flees https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-58223231
    Well, this seems to be collapsing totally. The Taliban look to be in control before we even complete our withdrawal.  
  20. Sad
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Iuz the Evil in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    20 years of war…
    What the heck?! This is such a total disaster… 
  21. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest got a reaction from Ragitsu in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Still waiting for an administration waiting to even attempt to build a future for our civilization because of climate change
  22. Like
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Lord Liaden in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I still maintain my "mainly," but I don't doubt that all sectors are feeling the crunch. Health care must be particularly stretched for personnel now, after the stress and extreme conditions everyone in that sector has been dealing with for over a year. The upheaval in our lives during this pandemic has a lot of people reevaluating their expectations from a job.
  23. Thanks
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Iuz the Evil in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Yeah for sure, and we have a lot of folks who don’t want to work remotely. They want a partition between work and home, or the home environment isn’t conducive to work… or work is a social outlet for them. It’s pretty complicated and still evolving.
  24. Like
    TrickstaPriest got a reaction from Iuz the Evil in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Yep, and I have friends who do jobs that can technically be done remotely, but have big cohesion issues with team members.
  25. Sad
    TrickstaPriest reacted to Iuz the Evil in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    Yes there’s definitely a desire from staff for more telework options, and we’ve offered some significant incentives in that area. Hard to give injections over Zoom though… or take vitals, run a jail, or respond to community disasters like fires. I don’t want the sheriff on Zoom or Teams if I call 911.
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