ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points -- War's End

[ Posted Friday, August 20th, 2021 – 16:00 UTC ]

This has been a rather historic week, so we are dispensing with our regular format to spend our entire column discussing the withdrawal of United States military forces from Afghanistan, and the emergency airlift operation now being undertaken to get every American and every interpreter and translator and other Afghan ally of ours out as well.

"Historic," of course, is a neutral term. It can be positive or negative -- it really just means "we will remember this time in the future for what just happened." To put this another way: Barack Obama winning the presidency was historic, but then the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January was also historic, for very different reasons.

So we won't be presenting our usual awards or offering up our usual spin. Instead we're going to take a sober look at where we are now, how we got here, what mistakes were made, and how President Joe Biden has been handling it all so far.

We will return to our regular Friday Talking Points column format next week, we promise.

 

The Bitter End

Whether President Joe Biden wants it to or not, this week will go down in history filed right next to the week of April 30, 1975 -- the date Saigon fell. The photos of helicopters taking off from the roof of the Saigon embassy will be contrasted with the photos of people falling off a transport plane as it leaves the Kabul airport -- because they were so desperate to leave, they suicidally clung to the side of the plane as it taxied. The two will forever be linked, under the subject heading: "This is what it looks like when America loses a war."

Nobody likes to lose, Americans more than most. But lose we did. We expended an enormous amount of (as they used to say) "blood and treasure," and here at the end of the entire experience we really don't have a whole lot to show for it. When we arrived, the Taliban was in complete control. Before we're even completely gone, the Taliban is back in complete control. They swear they've changed, but no one in their right mind truly believes that.

Right after September 11, 2001, the Taliban reportedly tried to contact us to offer a deal: they would help us hunt down Osama Bin Laden. We could have cooperated with them and perhaps brought him to justice years before a special-teams raid killed him. We could have avoided not only the war in Afghanistan but also the war in Iraq as well. We would have saved trillions of dollars, and many thousand American soldiers -- as well as uncountable thousands of civilians and enemy soldiers -- would still be alive as well. The whole thing could have been over in months, or perhaps a year or two (at most). Saddam Hussein and the Taliban would have retained control of their countries, but this would have avoided other things such as the Islamic State taking over their "caliphate."

Hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to look back and see where we could have chosen a much different route and had much different results. It wasn't so easy at the time, when the American people were thirsty for revenge and looking for a convenient target to vent their rage upon. Speaking out against the first war (in Afghanistan) was considered tantamount to treason, at the time. Speaking out against Iraq was slightly less contentious, but not by much. We had to take the fight "to the terrorists" so we could fight them "over there, not here at home."

That was all 20 years ago. This week marked the end of America's longest war -- so long it took on the label of the "Forever War." And it wasn't an easy thing to see. President Biden was convinced (assumably, by his military and intelligence advisors) that the Taliban would take a minimum -- a minimum, mind you -- of six months to consolidate control over the entire country and win their civil war. The paper tiger of the Afghan military forces was taken at face value and it was assumed that even though they might be doomed to fail that they'd put up a good fight and at least provide a buffer period so America could take its leisurely time about getting all of its citizens, soldiers, and in-country allies out through a thoughtful and systematic process. After all, we had six whole months to achieve it, so there was no overwhelming hurry to even begin.

The soldiers (except for around 600 of them, who would be left to guard the U.S. Embassy) would go first, according to the arrangement with the Taliban that was originally struck by Donald Trump. They'd all be out by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a convenient milestone on the calendar. Then all the Americans and our Afghan interpreters and other allies could leave in an orderly fashion, over the next few months.

That was the plan, at any rate.

It was woefully inadequate. It was tragically optimistic. It was the recipe for the disaster we have all seen unfold in Kabul, all week long.

This was a massive failure, and it was so big there's plenty of blame to go around. It was, first and foremost, a failure of intelligence. Some people in Afghanistan (including some State Department employees) were warning of the imminency of disaster, many weeks ago. Their voices were either not heard or not believed. Instead, as Biden characterizes it, the "overwhelming consensus" among his advisors were that the Taliban would not take over the country for anywhere from six to twelve months. One week before the fall of Kabul -- even with the Taliban rolling up the entire countryside in classic blitzkrieg fashion -- the consensus only changed to "perhaps Kabul will fall, but it will take at least 90 days, no need to panic." One week before it fell, that was the official government line. Still later, this shrank to "perhaps 30 days," but it never even approached the reality of what was about to take place. The intelligence on the developing situation in Afghanistan was a monumental failure, plain and simple.

Some have been saying the decision to pull all our troops out was another failure. But there really was little else we could do after Trump signed a deal with the Taliban (one in which we released 5,000 Taliban prisoners to them) to do exactly that. So if you do argue the pullout was a failure, that one has to land at Trump's feet.

It was a failure to act swiftly and decisively, and that is largely Biden's fault. To his credit, when the inevitable became obvious, Biden did send in thousands of troops as quickly as he could -- more than had actually been in Afghanistan for a while, in fact. If they hadn't been en route and already arriving, things might have turned out even worse (if, for instance, the Taliban had taken control of the Kabul airport).

But the real failure to act came months earlier. Why would you pull all the soldiers out before evacuating everyone else, after all? Why wouldn't you start the civilian evacuation a lot sooner? Perhaps not the embassy, but the Americans living in the country and all the interpreters and translators and other support staff that have helped America throughout the past 20 years all should have at least begun the process of getting out. This didn't really happen at all. According to Biden, this was at the request of the Afghan government, who "didn't want to cause a panic" among their own population.

This was a critical mistake. It was compounded by the fact that the Trump administration had essentially broken the bureaucratic process to certify translators and all the rest for a "Special Immigrant Visa," or "S.I.V." The backlog and glacial pace of getting these visas was a problem that really should have been fixed months ago -- but was not. The processing did not speed up in an appreciable way even after Biden took over. This was a failure that many Afghan allies may pay for with their lives. And now we are (according to reporters actually on the ground) pretty much flying planeloads of people out and it now seems that the only real criteria for boarding one of those planes is physically getting to the Kabul airport (one reporter noted that a planeload of unaccompanied children had just made it out, and it is highly doubtful they all had the proper paperwork and visas. This was a failure of organization, and a perhaps-lethal failure of too much red tape.

Whether you agree or disagree with the overall goal of fully withdrawing our military after 20 long years of war in Afghanistan or not, we can all pretty much agree that this was not the way it should have happened. We got caught with our pants down. We looked foolishly naive. We were unprepared for the worst case scenario, perhaps because those who make and advise such decisions were loath to admit they had gotten it wrong. Even right up to the end, they predicted a laughable 90 days of safety ahead. In reality, this lasted a little more than 90 hours. That's a failure that can be chalked up to sheer American hubris, most likely (these sorts of details will doubtlessly be revealed in time).

The biggest failure, of course, happened at the very start. As one very sage piece in the Washington Post put it:

Afghanistan may have fallen, but the delusions and deceptions that brought the United States to this day have not. While some would like to blame this tragedy on military decisions, or on intelligence failures, or on Afghans themselves, or on President Biden -- the fourth president to preside over the disaster -- the roots lie deep in the ideology we have been taught and retaught over decades.

Just as before, there will be an effort to unlearn Afghanistan's lessons so its mistakes can be repeated.

That ideology is about what the United States does and represents to the world. It says that we can accomplish anything, including remolding other countries in our image. It says not only that our motives are always pure but that even when we are breaking down doors and raining down bombs, those on the other end will crawl from the rubble of their homes and thank us for delivering them "freedom."

. . .

These wars, their promoters assured us, would not only bring the blessings of liberty to the lands we invaded, they would set off a cascade of freedom spreading from one country to another until much of the world rested comfortably in our beneficent shadow.

That was the plan, at any rate. It was doomed to failure from the start, and it dragged on for far too long. And, as usual, the American people were continually lied to about the reality of the situation in Afghanistan, throughout the entire conflict. President Biden is right about one thing -- this was always going to be a very bitter end, no matter when it took place.

 

President Biden's response

If we were handing out awards this week, we would have to give both the "most impressive" and "most disappointing" awards to President Biden. His response to the crisis has been very last-minute and ad hoc, but so far he has avoided total disaster (he keeps pointing out not a single American has been killed in the evacuation yet -- which is a pretty low bar -- but it does remind everyone that things could have been even worse).

Throughout it all, Biden has remained adamant about fully withdrawing our forces, no matter how messy the situation has gotten. He put a statement out last weekend where he made his case:

When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor -- which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 -- that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces. Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice -- follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies' Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan -- two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.

Another president might have backed down from this, as things headed south. Biden didn't. His view is that it was always going to be chaotic to pull out, and it would have been chaotic no matter when it happened:

One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me.

Biden's been making this case for a while. From a speech he gave last month:

So let me ask those who wanted us to stay: How many more -- how many thousands more of America's daughters and sons are you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay? Already we have members of our military whose parents fought in Afghanistan 20 years ago. Would you send their children and their grandchildren as well? Would you send your own son or daughter?

Fully owning the core withdrawal decision is impressive, which is why we have to credit Biden for his resolute insistence on achieving his goal of total military withdrawal, even in the face of scathing criticism and disastrous execution. Once the civilian evacuation is complete (whenever that happens), one assumes that those 6,000 American soldiers will turn out the lights, board the last planes out, and exit the Afghanistan stage for good.

But President Biden has also been pretty disappointing, too. His rosy-tinted predictions were not only proven tragically wrong, they exposed how dangerously incompetent the assumptions behind Biden's plan of action truly were. At the start of July, Biden confidently predicted: "There's going to be no circumstance when you're going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy. It is not at all comparable [to Saigon].... The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely." And then we saw precisely those things occur. The most egregious misread of the situation was that "90 days" prediction -- even when the chaos was fast approaching, the U.S. government was still blithely assuring everyone that there was plenty of time -- no need to panic or speed up the withdrawal plans or anything like that.

President Biden has now addressed the country twice this week on Afghanistan, once on Monday and then again earlier today. In both appearances, Biden seems at least partly in a state of denial about just how bad the situation has gotten. The closest he got to admitting how flat-footed he was caught was:

There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement [negotiated by Donald Trump and the Taliban] to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.

I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.

That's why we were still there. We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency.

But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you. The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.

Towards the end of his address, Biden forcefully tried to take responsibility:

I'm now the fourth American President to preside over war in Afghanistan -- two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibly on -- responsibility on to a fifth President.

I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference. Nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here.

I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.

However, this would have been a stronger line if Biden hadn't already passed quite a few bucks earlier on in his remarks. This began with a blunt summation: "Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight."

Biden later returned to this theme:

There's some very brave and capable Afghan special forces units and soldiers, but if Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, there is no chance that 1 year -- 1 more year, 5 more years, or 20 more years of U.S. military boots on the ground would've made any difference.

And here's what I believe to my core: It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan's own armed forces would not. If the political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people, unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the chips were down, they would never have done so while U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the fighting for them.

Biden also placed the blame with the Afghan government, who seemed to have a better withdrawal plan than we did -- they fled the country before the chaos in Kabul even arrived. Biden pointed out they had previously given assurances that they just could not back up:

When I hosted President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah at the White House in June and again when I spoke by phone to Ghani in July, we had very frank conversations. We talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to fight their civil wars after the U.S. military departed, to clean up the corruption in government so the government could function for the Afghan people. We talked extensively about the need for Afghan leaders to unite politically.

They failed to do any of that.

I also urged them to engage in diplomacy, to seek a political settlement with the Taliban. This advice was flatly refused. Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong.

But the most tone-deaf part came when Biden addressed why the evacuation didn't start a lot sooner:

I know that there are concerns about why we did not begin evacuating Afghans -- civilians sooner. Part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier -- still hopeful for their country. And part of it was because the Afghan government and its supporters discouraged us from organizing a mass exodus to avoid triggering, as they said, "a crisis of confidence."

But as the president of the United States, Biden should have placed the safety of Americans far above domestic political troubles for the Afghan government. Undoubtedly it would have caused a crisis of confidence and even a widespread panic. But is that any worse than what we are seeing now? This was really Biden's weakest buck-passing of them all. At least slamming the Afghan army and government was based on conditions completely beyond Biden's control. But the timing and pace of the withdrawal is really his to own.

In today's remarks, Biden insisted that Americans in Kabul are not having any problems getting to the airport. He stated that the Taliban had agreed to let anyone with a U.S. passport through their checkpoints, and when he took questions at the end he was directly asked about this (since we've all seen the chaos outside the airports in recent news reports). Biden insisted:

We have no indication that they haven't been able to get -- in Kabul -- through the airport. We've made an agreement with the -- with the Taliban. Thus far, they've allowed them to go through. It's in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are -- carrying an American passport -- are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport.

Biden did refuse to pass one particular buck, to his credit. He had originally stated that everyone (all his advisors) had all been in agreement that the Taliban wouldn't take over Kabul for at least six months. But after a State Department cable was leaked, this was no longer "operative" (as they say in Washington). So Biden amended it a little:

No one -- I shouldn't say "no one" -- the consensus was that it was highly unlikely that in 11 days they'd collapse and fall, and the leader of Afghanistan would flee the country.

Later, Biden tried to more fully own the error of believing this consensus opinion (when asked directly about the State Department cable, which was sent to express the opinion that the Taliban was going to move a lot faster than Washington believed):

We've got all kind of cables, all kinds of advice. If you notice, it ranged from this group saying that -- they didn't say it'd fall when it would fall -- when it did fall -- but saying that it would fall; to others saying it wouldn't happen for a long time and they'd be able to sustain themselves through the end of the year.

I made the decision. The buck stops with me. I took the consensus opinion. The consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it occurred, until later in the year. So, it was my decision.

This was a bad decision, plain and simple. It's painfully obvious how wrong it was. And this is what Biden hasn't fully copped to quite yet -- the fact that if the "consensus opinion" had been more pessimistic (or, as it turned out, "realistic"), then the evacuation plans would doubtlessly have been better. A blitzkrieg was never planned for, and yet it happened all the same. That's a pretty big planning error to make, and it is at the heart of all the rest of the chaos we now see nightly on our television screens.

 

Conclusions

Biden seems to be gambling on a few benchmarks that will be true right up until they are not. The first is "all Americans are being let through the Taliban checkpoints." All it will take is one person taken prisoner by the Taliban or one person shot dead, and this will be chalked up as a failure for Biden.

Which brings us to the second one -- the fact that (so far) no American has died in the chaos. Again, this will be true right up until it isn't.

To be fair, though, the news media lives a little too much in the moment, without ever considering a slightly longer viewpoint. The fact is that we have not so far abandoned our allies in Afghanistan. We are still there, and the evacuation airlift is underway in a big way now. We have the capability to get people out, and we have a shaky agreement with the Taliban that they'll allow us to do so.

But even if Biden's right about Americans being able to get to the airport, what is missing in all of this is any assurance that our Afghan allies will also be able to get to the airport. The Taliban has not agreed to any sort of thing. They are the ones being turned away by these checkpoints. They are the ones being systematically hunted and rounded up by the Taliban. They are the ones who are too fearful to even attempt to make it to the airport.

And, so far, we just don't have any answer on how things are supposed to work out for them at all. Biden was directly asked this by a reporter from PBS: "are you considering rescue operations to recover Americans and Afghan allies stuck behind Taliban checkpoints?"

Biden answered: "The last answer is yes -- to the last question. We’re considering every opportunity and every means by which we can get folks to the airport." But you really have to wonder how true that is, and Biden didn't say he would help Afghans get to the airport, he just said he's "considering" it. That's not very reassuring to them, to be blunt.

The hard reality is that this situation with Taliban checkpoints would not have even arisen if the U.S. had gotten all the translators and other allies out of Afghanistan long before now. Most of them have been waiting a very long time to get permission to come to America -- waiting on an endless amount of paperwork, red tape, and bureaucratic delays. If that problem had been solved months ago, then the current predicament would never have even happened.

The verdict of history really still hangs in the balance, though. If the rest of the evacuation and airlift goes a lot more smoothly and the stories of people not being able to get out stay at an absolute minimum, then Biden could emerge from this in a whole lot better political shape than may even seem possible, right now. But if anything goes wrong with this plan in any major way, then Biden will indeed own a lot of the failure. He already owns the fact that it happened on his watch, but if he manages the next few weeks perfectly, then perhaps the public will wind up agreeing with his basic premise: this was always going to be chaotic, that's why other presidents didn't have the guts to do it, and better it be done now (chaos and all) than in one year, five years, or 15 years.

The last thing history will judge us on is whether Afghanistan returns to being a terrorist safe haven or not. Biden is putting a lot of stock in the plan to manage this from "over the horizon" (a favorite phrase of his in all this), much like we do in places like Yemen. If this works as designed, then Biden will be able to look back and know he was right to get all our soldiers out as soon as possible. But if a group like Al Qaeda sets up shop in Afghanistan with the Taliban's blessing, then the hawkish argument for extending the Forever War for another few decades might sound a lot more reasonable.

No matter what happens, it's going to take more time to properly evaluate the end of the Afghanistan war -- for Joe Biden, for America's interests, and for the Afghanistan people. Please keep that in mind as you follow the minute-by-minute story over the next few weeks.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

 

84 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- War's End”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I had a very long and exhausing day and I'm sure I don't have the energy or stomach for this column today .... but, I 'll be back tomorrow, with any luck. :)

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Should it come with a warning? Not the day I had, this column ...

  3. [3] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Mark Steyn has been saying for years about our Afghanistan adventure that "Five minutes after we leave, it will be as though we were never there".

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    OK, I know it's Friday and all, but this really rambles and tends to repeat itself. Kind of rubbing it in, it felt like. For of it being a history screw-up in framing an end-game, I tend to agree with those commenters who are already projecting that, in a few months or years, no one will really remember this episode except that it was part of the lastingly unpopular Forever War. Biden is playing his hand as honestly as he can, especially in refusing to weasel out of the core decision that he made. I suspect that will be to his benefit in the coming year.

    Finally, you wrote near the beginning:

    "The paper tiger of the Afghan military forces was taken at face value and it was assumed that even though they might be doomed to fail that they'd put up a good fight and at least provide a buffer period so America could take its leisurely time about getting all of its citizens, soldiers, and in-country allies out through a thoughtful and systematic process."

    I am surprised that a student of history would make a blunder like this. We don't say "a buffer period" -- the term of art is "a decent interval".

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, it's tomorrow.

    Afghanistan was a mess before 9/11. It was a mess during the US invasion and occupation. I will be a mess after the Americans leave. It will always be a mess.

    None of the above should be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention.

    A complete withdrawal from this God-forsaken country was and will always be the only option, damn the consequences. That was also completely predictable.

    Getting out of Afghanistan is not something weak leaders would have ever done. And, that includes Trump, in spades.

    My humble advice is to be careful about handing out any MDDOTW awards with respect to how Biden's withdrawal has been executed until all the dust settles.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I won't be a mess ... at least for long. But, IT will surely be a mess after the Americans leave ... long after, in fact. Ahem.

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Would y'all agree that:

    1- Getting out after twenty years of "just give us a little more time" is a good idea, and Joe is courageous for doing so?

    2- Noone expected the 11 day thing. But then again, these are the same folks who have been telling us to "just give us a little more time" so should we really be all shocked, shocked I tell you?

    3- You have to hand it to the Afghanis for being smarter than us Infidels. We blew two decades and a trillion plus and at least gave urban Afghanis a taste of the 21st century. It wasn't worth it.

    When we were mostly gone the Taliban and the village/city/provincial capitals negotiated a bloodless exchange of power because fighting anymore was pointless.
    'Murica was bailing, so why in the world fight and die to cover our retreat?

    Shouldn't we actually be happy for Afghanistan's people for saving lives and property?

    4- Trump screwed our allies the Kurdish in Syria, a stain on America's honor. Doesn't Joe need to do whatever it takes to get everyone who's in danger out, to avoid another hit on our reputation?

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    SUMMARY

    Joe did right to get out and deserves kudos for his courage. But he bought in to fanciful thinking and botched it. IMO Joe tried to not take full responsibility but he deserves kudos for honesty for at least taking some responsibility. Trump never would have.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    5- that the return of terrorists to Afghanistan wouldn't mean much because there are so many other places on Earth to choose from, right?

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    *sigh*

    It's pretty quiet me all by myself working the night shift.

  11. [11] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Mtn caddy (7)-
    "...these are the same folks who have been telling us "just give us a little more time"".

    They are also the same folks who having been telling us "just give us a little more time" to tackle Medicare for all, income inequality, the War on Habitat, big money corrupting our political process, etc.

    If you are really worried about our "reputation" then you should be opposing those folks as our leaders and join One Demand to begin the process of removing them and replacing them with something better.

    As most of you consider me to be no one, maybe there would be better results if this time you actually listened to no one instead of just admitting after the fact that no one was right.

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Omfg don, give it a rest already. Everyone knows Afghanistan fell because we didn't teach them about pie.

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Nypoet (12)-
    Actually Afghanistan "fell" because we broke it more than it already was and didn't put it back together properly.

    What would be the purpose of giving it a rest?

    What would that accomplish?

    Nothing but giving the Deathocrats and Republikillers "just a little more time".

    It's actually time for you to give the Deathocrats and Republikillers a rest as just a little more time for them will only result in a LOT more destruction and death at home and around the world.

  14. [14] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Don,

    COVID has proven voluntary measures don't work and OD has aged like milk. Reducing money in politics is a good goal but OD is not the answer...

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [14]

    He's right, Don. You refuse to engage on OD's myriad problems and are wasting your (and our) time. Go away.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [13]
    [14]
    [15]

    We agree about the problem of big money in politics, so let it go. But you have failed to make the case for OD, so either engage or else simply drop it.

  17. [17] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Where's KICK when I need her?

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    so typical of you all to focus on some unrelated money issue and ignore the problem from which all the others stem, namely lack of sufficient access to pie.

  19. [19] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Alright that is quite enough...

    Why can't everyone see the bloody wisdon in DonQui's strategy of "if enough voters throw away their votes the political class will learn their lesson"?

    If we ignore some of the fundamental flaws, we might see just how well his idea could work.

    We all just need to chill, and give it a try. It could work.

    What's everyone say to giving OD a chance?

  20. [20] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Bashi-
    Well, waiting for politicians to voluntarily stop taking big money sure hasn't worked.

    The Deathocrats have aged like feces and decades of evidence PROVE that voting for Deathocrats doesn't work and is not the answer.

    Continuing to do something that doesn't work is a guarantee of failure.

    The only way to find out if One Demand is the answer is to try it.

  21. [21] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Mtn Caddy (15)-
    A 100% pants on fire lie and projection.

    When I answer the bullshit posted here by other commenters multiple times and then the bullshit is repeated again with claims of it never being answered and I do not answer it again that is not refusing ti engage.

    That is refusing to be trolled.

    You and other commenters are the ones that have refused to engage except to troll and dodge.

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Mtn caddy (16)-
    I have made the case for One Demand.

    You and others here have not refuted my arguments and have not made the case for voting for Deathocrats.

  23. [23] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Goode Trickle-
    Good example of showing how the commenters here change what One Demand is into something it is not and then arguing against that instead of arguing against One Demand because you can't make a rational argument against One Demand.

    Voting for big money candidates that will represent the big money interests as they have done for decades is throwing away your vote unless you are a big money interest.

    Finding out if something that hasn't been tried will work is the pragmatic choice when what you have been doing has not worked for decades.

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @gt,

    yet again you cleave to the stale and crusty demands of some guy, and ignore the abject brilliance of voting based on pie.

    if you don't believe this, click don's name and click my name, then compare our respective political visions. i guarantee mine wins every time.

    JL

  25. [25] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    nypoet22-

    Access does not seem to be a problem. Any store I walk in to has plenty of pie options. Now quality vs price is the hill to die on.

  26. [26] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Don,

    You are approaching a decade of this silliness. You have gone from a high of 10 supporters to 4 (according to your website). OD has been tried and has failed in the worst way: no one is interested. You talk about getting positive comments from more progressive communities but have those turned in to supporters or are they just blowing smoke up your ass? 4 supporters says it's just smoke...

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Hey Elizabeth, at this very moment my Detroit Tigers are playing a baseball game in Toronto and slugger Miguel Cabrera just tied the game with a 400 foot home run to center.

    I bring this to your attention because Canada in general and Ontario in particular were graced by this being Mr. Cabrera's 500th home run!

    BTW suggested theme for Sunday Night Canadian* Music Appreciation and Dance Party

    *and other countries

    I can only assume that the love that I've personally experienced over many visits to Toronto (and especially CNE) no doubt aided Mr. Cabrera in his quest to join a very select club. Thank you, Canada!

  28. [28] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Suggested theme:

    The tunes that have been stuck in your head lately as well as your all-time favorite tunes.

  29. [29] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Ok DonQui lets try it this way....

    I go to the One demand website and hand over my PII to an individual / organization that is not a registered non-profit and has no disclaimer / legalese about how my PII will be used or not used, CHECK.

    I check off one of the 4 blood oath boxes and give you money. CHECK.

    Election cycle happens, no candidates pass the DonQui purity test, I write my own name in. CHECK.

    Despite various issues with writing yourself in, in 33 states and the 9 that out right don't allow it somehow One Demand will get all of those ballots tallied. CHECK.

    Once the large number of invalid ballots have been "tallied" a message/statement will somehow be delivered that will cause the people who get elected by the minority of valid ballots to either change their ways and run small ballot campaigns or it will cause people to get into politics running strictly a DonQui small donor campaign after they check the blood oath list at the one demand website. CHECK

    What am I missing? All of the above is based off of your words on your website, past comments, and actual election laws.

    There is a simple immutable reality that govern our elections. Only valid ballots (or votes, if you will) are counted and those valid counted ballots elect people. It does not matter how many ballots total are cast, it only matters that valid ballots are counted.

    Until you can fix that whole valid ballot electing people problem, your solution is doomed to failure.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Caddy, I like that theme! And, congrats to Miguel - it's always nice to have these fun things happen here ... oh, and just to be clear, the Blue Jay don't play at the CNE statium anymore - they play at the Skydome ...er. Rogers Centre. Ahem. Well, it will always be the Skydome to me. Heh.

    Okay, just got home from work and have to eat and then, it's party time! :)

  31. [31] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Special thanks to Joshua for kicking things off this evening - and I love listening to Tracy Chapman's voice ...

    And, welcome everyone to yet another CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party - it's 'Our Favourites' edition! Which means everyone gets to play their favourites, right!? Well, alriiiiiiiiiiiiiight! I can't wait - it's gonna be a fun one. :)

    Here is one of my all-time favourite rock songs - the fourteen minute plus version of the Guess Who doin' it right ...

    This tune's unforgettable riff was born right here in Kitchener!!!

    American Woman

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The artist, by the say, is not Bachman/Turner but the incomparable Burton Cummings et al.

    I hope you guys are able to watch this video ... sometimes, video of the original American Woman is not available in the US??? Heh.

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Lonely Nights

    I just can't stand another lonely night so come on over and save me!

  35. [35] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Nope, no problems watching the vid.

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Excellent!

  37. [37] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [32]

    Excellent!

    ...okay, everybody's gained twenty pounds but gawd they can still rock...we got a pre American Woman bonus song but I didn't catch the name...day-yam he's playing that guitar with drumstick tap-ons...

    Yep, I lasted the whole 14 minutes, Darling! But then again I'm used to lasting at least 14 minutes. Heh.

  38. [38] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I'ma listen to [34]...

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It only took about twenty years for this now favourite BonJovi song to grow on me ... couldn't even stand to look at them back in the day. Now, love singing and dancin' to this one ... among many others!

    Livin' On A Prayer

  40. [40] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Meh. They sure broke the bank shooting that video, eh?

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Just listen, silly ...

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, got some videos coming up that will make Bon Jovi seem like Lionel Ritchie et al ... what I was listening to way back when ... well, ya know, along with the Guess Who and, of course, PRiSM. :)

    Don't go away!

  43. [43] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Now, nobody is sensoring Canadian music videos down here in the states. We think the quality of our music can stand the competition.

  44. [44] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I ain't going nowhere, Darling. The liquor store closes early on Sundays 'round heah.

  45. [45] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I'm just hoping that you took a break to freshen up with a nice, relaxing shower...and that you have the place all to yourself...

  46. [46] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oh, c'mon Elizabeth! Its just you and me in Weigantia tonight.

    And its been so looking since I've "been with" a Canadian Liberal...

  47. [47] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    ...so looong since...

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Cheers!

    Speaking of x-rated, here's a band from right here in Kitchener. Helix started out in 1975 and this hit is from 1984 and they are still touring around. Can't wait 'til they come back here - probably wouldn't recognize them, though. Ahem.

    Yeah, I started getting into hard rock and even a little metal just recently. What the heck took me so long!?

    Rock You!

  49. [49] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Just to tone it down a bit ... :)

    I haven't quite decided yet but this tune and video could very well be my favourite by the Rolling Stones ...

    Gimme Shelter

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, don't forget about UNZIPPED!

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [48]

    It wouldn't be considered x-rated down in the States, but definitely r-rated.

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh ... yes, my Caddy, I have made myself clean for you and now, feel like making love.

    You know, the British rocker, Paul Rogers of Bad Company is a Canadian citizen since 2011. He married a former Miss Canada - 1984 edition, as it turns out.

    This is by far my most favourite Bad Co. tune. :)

    Hey, Caddy ... are you sure we're alone here?

  53. [53] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    How'd they get away with releasing that vid?

  54. [54] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Waiting for a Friend isn't necessarily my fave Stones tune, but its on my short list.

  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My absolute number one favourite Gowan tune and video is captured in this powerful performance from the 2009 Canadian Music Week, with his sixteen year old son, Dylan on drums!

    A Criminal Mind

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I like Waiting on a Friend, too! There are so many ...

    Thanks to JFC's recommendations on which Stone's albums I should buy (I had none) in preparation for the phenomenal UNZIPPED exhibtion, I'll soon be listening to A LOT of Stones ...

  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Where is JFC, anyways!? Hope everything is okay with him ...

  58. [58] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, speaking of powerful performances, Fleetwood Mac did a concert for PBS and made me a true blue - ah, true blue, that reminds me of what's in store for next week! - fan of this beautiful song - it was quite an emotional moment for Stevie and Lindsey ...

    Landslide

  59. [59] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Often times, a great guitar player is not the greatest singer and vice versa. But, with Ric Emmett of Toronto's Triumph, you get the best of both worlds ...

    Lay It On The Line

  60. [60] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Tom Lavin is a PRiSM original but, in 1978, he left and formed a big favourite of mine, the Powder Blues Band ...

    Doin' It Right (on the wrong side of town!)

  61. [61] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ron Tabak of PRiSM (1977-1980) is my favourite singer but, Nick Walsh could very possibly be tied for first.

    Here's Nick and Slik Toxik from their fun 1992 debut album, Doin' the Nasty ... Nick has a new project going now - aside from his stint as lead singer for Classic Albums Live, that is - and it's called Famous Underground. More about that another time ...

    Helluvatime

  62. [62] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    More Nick Walsh ... my favourite hard rock singer but his versatility knows no limits. See Classic Albums Live!

    White Lies, Black Truth

  63. [63] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This one is just for you, my Caddy ...

    So the (un)official theme song for the Canadian premiere and only Canadian stop for that matter of the phenomenal Rolling Stones' UNZIPPED exhibition should be none other than a most favourite PRiSM tune ...

    "I turned on my boy scout smile; I stood up and gave her my seat. I winked my eye and UNZIPPED my fly and later we went up to her penthouse suite!"

    Here is the definitive five and classic PRiSM lineup - Ron Tabak on vocals, Lindsay Mitchell on guitar, John Hall on keyboards, Rocket "Lost in Space" Norton on drums and the incomparable Al Harlow on bass, live from the Royal Oak Music Theatre in the heart of Detroit, Michigan...

    Nickels and Dimes

  64. [64] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My favourite April Wine tune ... surprise, surprise. :)

    I Like To Rock!!!

  65. [65] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There are so many favouites, no?

    Come on ... don't be shy. I might even like some of them.;)

  66. [66] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    One of my favourite covers is KD Lang singing this wonderful Leonard Cohen song ...

    Hallelujah

    See if it isn't yours, too ...

  67. [67] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm pretty much done for the night and I'm thinking this might be a good one to end on, featuring the late and great Ron Tabak ...

    Night To Remember

    Have a lovely rest of the evening, my Caddy! Pleasant dreams, parting is such sweet sorrow ... sigh.

  68. [68] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Let's do this again, some time, eh? And, the more, the merrier, I always like to say!

  69. [69] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Bashi (26)-
    It has been tried and failed?

    Nonsense.

    No one is interested?

    What a surprise that all the people that never heard of it don't support it.

  70. [70] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    GT (29)-
    What you are missing is that it is a multi election cycle strategy.

    You are basing your argument on the this election is the only one that matters lie.

    Just because some states don't allow or count the write in votes doesn't matter because it is a multi election strategy, the votes are not to elect a candidate but to send a message and build support for future elections so that small donor candidates can win in those future elections and they can be counted for that purpose.

    And when there are people that have voted that way it will help to change the unconstitutional write-in laws.

    There was a time when women and blacks were not allowed to vote. It took more than one election cycle to change that.

    If proponents of those things used your "logic" they would have just said we can't vote under current law so we should just accept that and they still would not be allowed to vote.

    Yes, One Demand is registered as a non-profit and i only ask for REQUIRED INFORMATION THAT EVERYBODY ELSE ASKS FOR.

    While you can give money to One Demand also, you particpate in One Demand by contributing directly to the small donor candidates and not through One Demand.

    As little as !0% of voters in 2022 participating in One Demand voting for small donor candidates or using a write in vote (to vote none of the above) can change the dynamic for 2024.

    10% of voters in a congressional district in 2022 easily covers the difference in some congressional districts and candidates in 2024 may decide to run small donor camoaigns so that this 10% does not cost them an election that is gerrymandered for them to win or they could win an election in 2024 that is gerrymandered for them to lose as happened to some in 2022.

    More citizens will participate in 2024 when they see how it affected some elections in 2022.

    All you can do is repeat the nonsense that is based on the this election is the only one that matters lie that is as multi election strategy designed to prevent change no matter how many times I explain that it is nonsense.

    You've got nothing.

    Do you really think that the bullshit you spew is going to convince me you are right when One Demand is designed to counter the nonsensical lies that make up your argument or are you just trolling?

  71. [71] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Don,

    If OD hasn't been tried then what the hell have you been doing the last 7 - 8 years? Either OD is an abject failure or you are. Same thing really...

    No one is interested?

    No one.

    What a surprise that all the people that never heard of it don't support it.

    I would think the larger issue is that those who have heard of it also don't support it...

  72. [72] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    DonQui...

    How predictable, given the jumble spewed forth I musta touched a nerve.

    First things first, I want you to go back and find where I say that this is the only election that matters. Don't worry we all know you won't, and more importantly you can't.

    While none of us here can match your intellectual brilliance, I think it is safe to say most of us grasp your whole multi-election strategy BS.

    What you seem to gloss over with "Just because some states don't allow or count the write in votes doesn't matter because it is a multi election strategy" is that 84 percent of the states do not count ballots that have write in candidates that are not registered to be either on the ballot or are valid write in candidates. The last time I checked that is a numerically significant number that is more than "some".

    As much as you want to try and claim I am using "nonsensical lies" to argue against One Dumbmand. The cold hard truth is that you are unable nor are you interested in addressing the cold hard reality that A) only valid ballots elect people, B) there is no voter statistic tracked in the 42 states that do not allow unregistered write-in voting of "x number of ballots were not counted due to invalid write ins" (you kind of need that for your whole "solution" to work), and lastly C) while your "message" is being sent people are still being elected because there is no requirement for a plurality of total ballots cast. No matter how many elections this is not going to change.

    While you may try to equate OD to the voting rights extended to women and blacks through their hard work and marching in the streets, it should be pointed out that none of us sees people marching for OD...The former empowers people to vote, the latter causes people to waste their vote. In either case you know what was the same back when those rights were extended? Only valid ballots elected people, and rules and regulations on write-ins. The only thing that changed is that more people were allowed to vote (for brevity we will ignore the myriad of laws created to restrict those two groups once they could vote).

    At the end of the day no matter how much you close your eyes and stomp your feet a ballot uncounted is just a ballot uncounted, only valid ballots elect people, there are rules and regulations for write-in voting, and no message will continue to be sent.

    I do have to say this caused me to fall off my stool with laughter, "Yes, One Demand is registered as a non-profit and i only ask for REQUIRED INFORMATION THAT EVERYBODY ELSE ASKS FOR." If you are in fact a non-profit you will not have a problem providing your EIN so we can verify it's status. Secondly, your legendary reading comprehension is showing again, my problem isn't with "REQUIRED INFORMATION" it's that unlike "EVERYBODY ELSE" you do not explicitly tell us how our information will be used, sold, traded, and safeguarded.

    In order for me to have nothing you have to have something more than a fatally flawed concept that you fully address it's problems...

  73. [73] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, what do you guys do for fun?

  74. [74] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Ya know what ... don't answer that.

  75. [75] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, I'll try again next week. It's who I am ... :)

  76. [76] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Bashi-
    What I have been doing is trying to get people like CW and Ralph Nader to inform people about One Demand so it can be tried.

    I have not failed. I just haven't succeeded YET.

    The people here that used to support it (or discuss it without trolling and dodges) have been chased away by trolls like Kick.

    People commenting at CommonDreams and the Ralph Nader Radio Hour have expressed support for the idea.

  77. [77] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    GT-
    When you say that only votes for candidates are counted to elect candidates that is the this election is the only one that matters strategy.

    The states that do not count the ballot in the official totals to elect candidates will still have the information on ballots that were not counted due to their write in rules or any reason those votes were not considered valid for counting to elect a candidate and can be obtained through freedom of information.

    As the purpose of those votes is not to elect a candidate in the current election cycle they can be counted for the purpose they were cast.

    The only way for the powers that be to prove that the people that participate in One Demand by registering at the One Demand website that they are using the write in for this purpose is to provide the information on the votes that were cast and not counted and for that to come up way short of the people registered at the website.

    So if you can't check up on the non-profit status without having the EIN of One Demand provided to you then the idea should not be discussed?

    You've still got nothing no matter how many times you repeat your flawed argument that I have addressed and debunked.

  78. [78] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    11

    If you are really worried about our "reputation" then you should be opposing those folks as our leaders and join One Demand to begin the process of removing them and replacing them with something better.

    There is no one alive that meets your lunatic purity test as defined by you... so there is no one better based on your own stated criteria.

    Also, you are now soliciting the readers of the blog on an individual basis to join your bullshit; is that even allowed on this forum? If this type personal solicitation is allowed, I kindly request that you keep your One Demand to yourself, shove it up your backside where it belongs and from whence it undoubtedly came... but not before removing your head, of course.

  79. [79] 
    Kick wrote:

    MtnCaddy
    17

    Where's KICK when I need her?

    I'm always here... sometimes less verbal than others. :)

  80. [80] 
    Kick wrote:

    goode trickle
    19

    This is a masterpiece. Unicorn farts exactly sums it up. :)

  81. [81] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    23

    Finding out if something that hasn't been tried will work is the pragmatic choice when what you have been doing has not worked for decades.

    Oh, really? Well, your bullshit has been tried here over and over ad nauseam, and your solicitations on this blog and your website haven't worked for a shit-ton of years either. Time to make the "pragmatic choice" and stop trolling this forum and just generally STFU about your failed "One Damn Man" crusade. Props to Russ.

  82. [82] 
    Kick wrote:

    goode trickle
    29

    Heh... another masterpiece.

    Until you can fix that whole valid ballot electing people problem, your solution is doomed to failure.

    Exactly. :)

  83. [83] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    70

    There was a time when women and blacks were not allowed to vote. It took more than one election cycle to change that.

    Are you so painfully ignorant that you don't understand that NOW is that time? There are multiple states where legislation has been enacted and multiple others where legislation is pending that will make it harder for women and minorities to vote. Also, you don't actually give two shits about people's right to vote if you would happily have everyone disenfranchise themselves. No one needs your help to NOT cast a valid vote.

    It takes a special kind of asinine and bone-deep ignorance to equate the act of casting a valid vote with throwing away your chance to vote because some poor dumb uneducated rube in New Jersey told you to.

    It is stunning how utterly ignorant you are regarding what constitutes a functioning democracy. Refusing to cast a valid vote doesn't gain you power, it forfeits it to the people not stupid enough to burn their vote.

    If proponents of those things used your "logic" they would have just said we can't vote under current law so we should just accept that and they still would not be allowed to vote.

    Under your purity bullshit scenario "logic," they aren't actually voting either because no candidates exist that pass the unicorns fart rainbows purity test... so what the hell is the difference when "they still would not be allowed to vote"? Rhetorical question.

    As little as !0% of voters in 2022 participating in One Demand voting for small donor candidates or using a write in vote (to vote none of the above) can change the dynamic for 2024.

    Incorrect when write-in votes are not allowed in the vast majority of the country; allow yourself to let that fact permeate your bone-deep ignorance. No one needs any help to NOT vote.

    All you can do is repeat the nonsense that is based on the this election is the only one that matters lie that is as multi election strategy designed to prevent change no matter how many times I explain that it is nonsense.

    All you can do is repeat your nonsense ad nauseam... right back at you. Also, you're putting words in his mouth that he never said. The vast majority of elections do matter... all the more reason not to eff around and cast an invalid ballot/vote.

    You've got nothing.

    You've got nothing... otherwise you wouldn't need to troll this forum and the commenters here with your repetitive asinine bullshit trying hysterically and frantically to make something out of your total nothingness.

  84. [84] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    76

    What I have been doing is trying to get people like CW and Ralph Nader to inform people about One Demand so it can be tried.

    Trolling this forum and its commenters. Nothing is stopping anyone from trying it. You've failed miserably at promoting your shitty idea because it's a shitty idea that cannot work because (among multiple other reasons) write-in votes aren't allowed in the vast majority of states, and your bullshit calls for de facto self-disenfranchisement via write-in voting that isn't allowed. The concept is flawed because it's not possible (among multiple other reasons).

    I have not failed. I just haven't succeeded YET.

    Don Harris admits he's failed SO FAR. Sssshhhhhhhhhhhh... no one explain to Dumbass Don that the definition of failure is "lack of success."

    The people here that used to support it (or discuss it without trolling and dodges) have been chased away by trolls like Kick.

    Liar! Name one person who supported it who has been chased away by me. That's ridiculous.

    People commenting at CommonDreams and the Ralph Nader Radio Hour have expressed support for the idea.

    But they're obviously not supporting it, are they? Otherwise, you wouldn't be trolling here incessantly and begging the author to shill your bullshit, would you? Rhetorical question.

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