Who’s to blame for the mess in Afghanistan? Mostly, you and me.

Republicans (and some Democrats) are blaming Biden. Democrats are blaming Trump. The truth is we all — including you and me — share blame for the brutal Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.


Here’s the facts:

  1. Biden inherited a horrible deal the Trump administration made with the Taliban in which we agreed to pull out all our troops by summer 2021. With that said …
  2. Biden did not need to honor that deal. He’s the U.S. President now. He’s reversed several other Trump policies (as Trump did with Obama’s Iran deal), and could’ve done so on this one.
  3. Biden decided to honor the deal and pull out of Afghanistan, a decision supported by Trump, the majority of Congress and 73% of Americans at the time. It was a bold decision after 20 years of the status quo. However …
  4. Biden completely botched the American withdrawal. And his explanations to us have been horrible, casting the blame to Trump. The world is watching, and the U.S. looks really bad and unreliable.
  5. The Taliban not only has power and will undoubtedly return to its inhumane treatment of its citizens (especially women), but also billions of dollars of military equipment that the U.S. gave to Afghanistan.
  6. Russia has already assisted the Taliban fight the previous Afghan regime, and they will likely become allies now. China likely will, too. This will be a huge problem for the U.S.
  7. Trump, Biden and 73% of Americans — including myself — were wrong about Afghanistan. For the future protection of our own country, the U.S. should not have pulled out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately …
  8. We can’t turn back time. However, our country owes asylum to the Afghan people who helped the U.S. over the years. Not only should we maintain control of the airport, but troops should enter Kabul and rescue the dissidents, who will most likely be executed by the Taliban.
  9. This horrendous situation is not just the fault of the Biden and Trump administrations. They were both acting on the will of their constituents (remember that 73% of Americans wanted troops pulled out). It’s our fault. It’s one of the few issues that united us. The overwhelming majority of Americans, including myself, did not bother to educate ourselves on the nuances of the Afghanistan situation. We saw things in black and white. We were ignorant. But how could we have known? …
  10. The media (broad term) failed as well. Our news media is so focused on conflict and immediacy with “click-bait” headlines so stories can be shared easily on social media feeds. There’s no room for nuance. Our politicians have adapted to this, and if something can’t be explained in a headline, a 10-second soundbite or a funny meme, then it’s not a point worth arguing. Americans have rewarded this type of “journalism” with clicks and views. Our social media-driven short attention spans can’t handle more. Shame on us.

Afghanistan is Biden’s fault. And Trump’s fault. And the media’s fault. But ultimately it’s our ignorance that allowed this to happen.

Why are you angry?

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

I get that you’re scared.

You’re bombarded with photos of thousands of angry, mostly Black people marching in the street chanting words like, “Black Lives Matter.”

You’re seeing videos of violent protestors vandalizing statues, destroying property and looting stores.

You’re watching live coverage of your city streets turned into war zones as police resort to military tactics to protect your town.

You’re hearing people spewing hatred on our President.

It’s infuriating.

On May 25, police in Minnesota suspected a 46-year-old Black man of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. From a combination of security camera footage and citizens filming the incident, we see George Floyd was handcuffed and sitting in the backseat of a police vehicle when he was forcefully removed by a police officer and pinned facedown to the ground with an officer’s knee lodged in the back of his neck — a tactic banned by most police departments and only authorized for use in this department if a person is actively resisting arrest.

Floyd was handcuffed and in the police car, before he was dragged out and pinned to the ground by an officer.

We can hear Floyd say, “I can’t breathe,” and “Please, please, please.”

We know the police heard him, because we can hear one officer tell Floyd to, “Relax,” and another officer ask, “What do you want?”

Floyd replies, “I can’t breathe. Please, the knee in my neck, I can’t breathe.”

Minutes later, with the knee still lodged on his neck and two other officers surrounding him, he dies.

An officer who is sworn by law to protect George Floyd murdered him, while three other officers sworn to protect George Floyd did nothing to prevent his death.

Shortly after midnight on March 13, three non-uniformed police officers in Louisville executed a “no-knock” warrant and raided the apartment of a 26-year-old Black woman because they suspected her boyfriend was storing drugs for a dealer down the street. Asleep at the time, Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker were awakened by the sounds of a battery-ram pounding at their door. Taylor yelled multiple times, “Who is it.” No answer was given. Thinking they were being robbed, Walker — a licensed gun carrier — armed himself and as soon as the door was finally knocked down, Walker fired and hit one of the officers (in plain clothes) in the leg. The officers responded by firing 20 rounds around the apartment, hitting Taylor eight times, instantly killing her.

No drugs were found in the apartment.

A legal system in place to protect law-abiding citizens resulted in the murder of Breonna Taylor.

George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the latest instances of Black people being killed by police. From 2013-2019, 1,945 Black people have been killed by police. Of course, police work is a dangerous job and officers should defend themselves. However, in 336 of these cases, the Black person was unarmed. That’s roughly one unarmed Black person killed every week.

It’s infuriating.

Think again about the protests, the people vandalizing buildings, the looting and those hating on the President.

Now ask yourself, “Why am I angry?”

Be honest.

Is it that our justice system has allowed people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor to be unjustly killed?

Or is it the protestors, the vandals, the looters and the Trump haters?

If the answer is the latter, then you should really explore those feelings. You’re valuing property and partisanship over human life.

Your rage is severely misplaced.

Rambo is real, killing Americans by the dozen with an AR-15

Rambo-like bloodshed is happening with legally available weapons

Originally published on Patriot Not Partisan

In 1985, Sylvester Stallone single-handedly killed 58 people over 96 minutes. Of course, the deaths were onscreen in the movie, “Rambo: First Blood, Part II,” which was critically-panned and labeled unrealistic because there’s no way a single person could to take out an entire army.

More than 30 years later in America, there’s real-life, Rambo-like bloodshed, only the death toll is higher, and the people being killed are innocent. Rambo’s once seemingly unrealistic death toll of .60/kills per minute, pales in comparison to the 17 killed by the Parkland shooter in just six minutes, a rate of 2.8/kills per minute, or the 58 people killed in under 10 minutes by the Las Vegas shooter, a rate of 5.8/kills per minute.

In six of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, the gunman used an AR-15, which allows the shooter to fire off dozens of shots in under 10 minutes. The Las Vegas shooter fired a whopping 1,100 bullets in 10 minutes, an average of 110 bullets in one minute – that’s roughly two shots every second.

These murderers attained the weapons, magazines and accessories to complete their killing sprees legally. Our government believes the Parkland shooter, who was 19 at the time of his killing spree, wasn’t old enough to purchase a beer. But he is old enough to purchase an AR-15 and enough ammunition to kill hundreds of people.

Weapons like the AR-15 serve one main purpose — to kill multitudes in a short amount of time. They’re not used for hunting. They’re not used for self-defense. They’re used to kill as many people in as little time as possible.

Politicians continue to offer “thoughts and prayers,” either saying “it’s too soon” to talk about solutions or using mental health as their scapegoat (as if mental illness is a new development in the last decade). But past history indicates there is a solution that has worked in this country just 25 years ago.

In 1994, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the federal government passed an assault weapons ban that made guns like the AR-15 illegal to own. The ban expired in 2004. During the 10 years the law was in place, there were a total eight mass shootings resulting in 51 deaths. Six of the eight massacres involved semiautomatic weapons purchased legally before the assault weapons ban took effect in 1994. The two mass shootings featuring illegally acquired weapons — Columbine in 1999 and Edgewater Technology in 2000 — resulted in 20 combined deaths.

The assault weapons ban worked. Obviously, assault weapons and the ease of purchasing them is not the sole reason for the spike in mass casualties. However, the link between the spike in mass killings and the expiration of the assault weapons ban is undeniable.

We never thought the mass murder Rambo inflicted could be possible, but with assault weapons like the AR-15 easily attainable, Rambo has become real. And he’s after our children.

“What Happened” … and much more

Originally published on audible.com

I was hoping this book would provide unique insight into the 2016 election. It did, but it steered in many different directions, from Hillary’s childhood to her love of her grandchildren. That made the book a little disjointed.

Critics of “What Happened” complain that Hillary shuffles blame for election defeat. That is flat-out wrong. In the book, Hillary is constantly playing the “what if I ….” card and acknowledges her errors. However, she correctly points out the many factors she had no control over — the constant Comey conferences, Russian interference, the continuous “fake news” stories circulating on social media, the endless Benghazi hearings. Criticizing her for pointing out these unprecedented attacks on her character are unfair. They definitely had an impact on the election.

Hillary ends the book with a call to readers to work Onward Together, and promises to keep fighting. This offers members of the “Pantsuit Nation” some inspiration after a devastating defeat. Hopefully, though, it won’t be too late.

Joe’s Judgment: 3.5/5.0

I just wanted to swim with the other kids

Originally published on Patriot Not Partisan

Me in 1980 – 4 years old.

When I was growing up, our neighbor had an above-ground swimming pool, a rarity in the tiny backyards of the homes on the Southside of Chicago. We could see the pool from our kitchen window.

I often played with the kids who lived in that house and considered them friends. But come summertime, they naturally spent their days in the pool. On any given day, lots of neighborhood kids could be seen playing in that pool. I wanted to play, too. After all, I was a neighborhood kid. But my parents said it would be impolite to ask — I needed to be invited. I watched them play from our kitchen window, sometimes even wearing my swimming trunks just waiting … but that invitation never came.

That’s the first time I learned that I was different from the neighborhood kids. Chicago was — and in many areas still is — highly segregated.  We lived in a white neighborhood. As a half-Filipino, half-white child, I was generally tolerated in my neighborhood, but never fully accepted (outside of my best friend and his family). At my Catholic elementary school, a few of my classmates would call me a “Filipino fart.” In high school, the kid who sat behind me in homeroom would often tell me to “go back to your country, wherever that is.” When I told the teacher about this, he told me to “just ignore it” and asked if I had finished my work. He completely dismissed my concerns, instead of addressing the situation.

Although I brushed off the racist rhetoric and actions, it did significant damage to my soul. I was severely wounded. I would bury myself in writing poetry, listening to heavy metal and dabbling in whatever substance I could get my hands on. One day, I wanted to end it all. And I almost did.

Twenty years later I found myself surrounded by people who accept me — and even celebrate me — for who I am. Of course, I knew there was still hate in the world. I wasn’t naive. I knew many people, especially blacks, Hispanics and gay people, still faced significant discrimination. And I always tried to stand with them. Although an ally against racism, I no longer felt like a victim. The wounds I endured in childhood were permanently healed, I thought.

Then Charlottesville happened, and more specifically, President Trump’s response. Like most Americans, I was shocked and saddened by the events of Saturday. And I was stunned by the tepid response given by the President. But I dug into my diversity training playbook and gave him the benefit of the doubt. As someone who has always been rich, white, straight and male, he cannot possibly understand what racial discrimination feels like. And on Monday, Trump at least made an effort to say the right thing.

Then his press conference on Tuesday happened. And the wounds in my soul that I thought were long healed began to flare up. When President Trump said, “there are bad people on both sides,” that little boy in his swimming trunks staring out the window occupied my mind. When the President said, there are “many fine people” among the neo-Nazis calling for an ethnic cleansing of our nation, the faces of the boys calling me a “Filipino fart” appeared. And when Trump promoted his winery in Charlottesville — “one of the largest wineries in the United States” — that teacher who dismissed my concerns was back.

In my diversity training, I learned there are actually very few racists in the world. Most people are just ignorant. I always thought our President fell into the latter category. But after his passionate statements Tuesday, and his continued unwillingness to consider the hurt his words have caused, it’s difficult not to consider him a racist.

And if you’re willing to overlook this fact and still support him, then you are no better than my high school teacher.