Undeserved criticism

See update for August 30, 2021, at end of post.


I’m in the early middle of moving, so I’m going to try to keep this brief.

Yes, Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been awful.[1] There are specific reasons this happened.[2] And yes, the future certainly appears bleak and terrifying in Afghanistan.[3] (I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the potential for Afghan resistance to Taliban rule;[4] I know it exists but I cannot foresee its future.) Read more

  1. [1]Associated Press, “The Latest: Pentagon asks airlines for help moving evacuees,” August 22, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-kabul-evacuation-3e03946e8f84540927761d0b83efd769; Anne Gearan, “Biden blames others for swift collapse in Afghanistan, defends his decision to withdraw troops,” Washington Post, August 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-afghanistan-speech/2021/08/16/1bdff5e6-feaf-11eb-ba7e-2cf966e88e93_story.html; Susannah George and Bryan Pietsch, “Taliban enters Kabul, leaving Afghan government on brink of collapse,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-taliban-kabul-embassy-jalalabad/; Susannah George et al., “Afghan government collapses as Taliban sweeps in, U.S. sends more troops to aid chaotic withdrawal,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-taliban-kabul-embassy-jalalabad/; Sayed Ziarmal Hashemi et al., “U.S. presses on with evacuations despite fears of more attacks,” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-27/evacuations-resume-after-kabul-airport-attack-bombings; Greg Jaffe, “From hubris to humiliation: America’s warrior class contends with the abject failure of its Afghanistan project,” Washington Post, August 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-hubris-afghanistan-humiliation/2021/08/14/47fb025a-fc67-11eb-9c0e-97e29906a970_story.html; Ellen Knickmeyer, Robert Burns, and Matthew Lee, “Biden to address chaotic Kabul evacuation amid criticism,” Associated Press, August 20, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/business-health-coronavirus-pandemic-kabul-taliban-d036db0b190acba68087f3d46ffae146; Kevin Liptak, “Biden decides to keep August 31 deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan as evacuations accelerate,” CNN, August 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/24/politics/joe-biden-g7-afghanistan/index.html; Ezzatullah Mehrdad, Dan Lamothe, and Kareem Fahim, “Chaos persists at Kabul airport, imperiling Afghanistan evacuation effort,” Washington Post, August 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/airport-kabul-taliban-state-department-karzai/2021/08/19/5de79f4a-0105-11ec-87e0-7e07bd9ce270_story.html; Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, and Adam Taylor, “Taliban doubles down on Aug. 31 deadline, says Afghans no longer allowed to reach Kabul airport,” Washington Post, August 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/24/afghanistan-kabul-taliban-live-updates/; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “U.S. Airlift From Kabul Gains Speed As Afghans Defy Taliban In Several Cities,” August 19, 2021, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/taliban-blocking-airport-independence-day/31418029.html; Ahmad Seir, Rahim Faiez, and Jon Gambrell, “Taliban seize Jalalabad, cut off Afghan capital from east,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/taliban-seize-jalalabad-cut-off-afghan-capital-from-east/2021/08/14/131e00aa-fd75-11eb-911c-524bc8b68f17_story.html; Ahmad Seir et al., “Taliban fighters enter Kabul, await a ‘peaceful transfer’ of power,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-15/taliban-fighters-enter-kabul-then-pledge-not-to-take-afghan-capital-by-force; Barbara Starr et al., “ISIS terror threat forces US military to establish alternate routes to Kabul airport,” CNN, August 21, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/21/politics/kabul-airport-terror-warning/index.html; Times of Israel, “Afghan government set to hand over power to Taliban in stunning collapse,” August 15, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/afghan-government-expected-to-hand-over-power-to-taliban-in-stunning-collapse/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Afghanistan’s Taliban Seize Jalalabad as Panic Grips Kabul,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/afghanistans-taliban-seize-jalalabad-as-panic-grips-kabul-11629005282; Yaroslav Trofimov, Nancy A. Youssef, and Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Kabul Airport Attack Kills 13 U.S. Service Members, at Least 90 Afghans,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/afghanistan-kabul-airport-explosion-11629976397
  2. [2]Susannah George, “Afghanistan’s military collapse: Illicit deals and mass desertions,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-military-collapse-taliban/; Danielle Pletka et al., “What Went Wrong in Afghanistan?” Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-went-wrong-in-afghanistan-11629472600; Heather Cox Richardson, “August 16, 2021,” Letters from an American, August 16, 2021, https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/august-16-2021; Alia Shoaib, “Why the US-trained Afghan National Army have been defeated with ease by the Taliban,” Business Insider, August 14, 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/afghan-forces-havent-been-able-to-hold-off-the-taliban-2021-8; Fareed Zakaria, “We lost the war in Afghanistan long ago,” Washington Post, August 16, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/16/we-lost-war-afghanistan-long-ago/
  3. [3]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Afghanistan: Taliban ‘tortured and massacred’ men from Hazara minority,” August 20, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-58277463; Larisa Brown et al., “Planes leaving half empty after Taliban set up ring of steel,” Times, August 19, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/planes-leaving-half-empty-after-taliban-set-up-ring-of-steel-6rdvp2wdb; Naomi Conrad, Masood Saifullah, and Birgitta Schülke-Gill, “In Kabul, terrified Afghans wait for the call to safety,” Deutschewelle, August 18, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/in-kabul-terrified-afghans-wait-for-the-call-to-safety/a-58894365; Ben Doherty, Warren Murray, and agencies, “Afghanistan: reports emerge of Taliban beating Afghans seeking to flee Kabul,” Guardian, August 18, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/18/afghanistan-reports-emerge-of-taliban-beating-afghans-seeking-to-flee-kabul;
    Charlie Faulkner and Ben Farmer, “Desperate Afghans plunge to deaths from departing US planes as Kabul airport overrun,” Telegraph, August 16, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2021/08/16/kabul-airport-chaos-thousands-overrun-tarmac-desperate-bid-escape/; Susannah George, “The treacherous journey into Kabul airport to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan,” Washington Post, August 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/20/kabul-airport-journalists-evacuation/; Christina Goldbaum and Najim Rahim, “A Week Into Taliban Rule, One City’s Glimpse of What the Future May Hold,” New York Times, August 15, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/15/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kunduz.html; Guardian, “‘There are no women in the streets’ – the day life changed in Kabul,” August 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/16/there-are-no-women-kabul-street-stayed-home-fear-beaten-taliban-fighters; Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge, “UN rights boss says she has credible reports of Taliban executions,” Reuters, August 24, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-rights-boss-says-has-credible-reports-taliban-executions-2021-08-24/; Monique Rivalland and Georgina Roberts, “How Afghanistan’s ambitious young women feel now,” Times, August 19, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-afghanistans-ambitious-young-women-feel-now-k7t6swgtk; Joyce Sohyun Lee et al., “With the Taliban now in control, here’s what Afghans are seeing in Kabul,” Washington Post, August 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2021/videos-afghanistan-kabul-taliban-arrival/; Yaroslav Trofimov, Dion Nissenbaum, and Margherita Stancati, “‘Saigon on Steroids’: The Desperate Rush to Flee Afghanistan,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saigon-on-steroids-the-desperate-rush-to-flee-afghanistan-11629071999; Phillip Walter Wellman, “US Woman Under Taliban’s Watch Won’t Leave Kabul Without Her Staff and Hundreds of Rescue Animals,” Military.com, August 25, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/08/25/us-woman-under-talibans-watch-wont-leave-kabul-without-her-staff-and-hundreds-of-rescue-animals.html; Graeme Wood, “What Comes Next in Afghanistan,” Atlantic, August 27, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/kabul-airport-bombing-afghanistan/619906/; Tom Yun, “What is ISIS-K? A look at the Afghan-based terrorist group that threatens both Taliban and U.S. forces,” CTV News, August 26, 2021, https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/what-is-isis-k-a-look-at-the-afghan-based-terrorist-group-that-threatens-both-taliban-and-u-s-forces-1.5562085
  4. [4]Steve Hendrix et al., “Taliban sends hundreds of fighters to final province beyond its control,” Washington Post, August 23, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/taliban-resistance-panjshir-massoud/2021/08/23/8741bf9c-0411-11ec-b3c4-c462b1edcfc8_story.html; Ahmad Massoud, “The mujahideen resistance to the Taliban begins now. But we need help,” Washington Post, August 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/18/mujahideen-resistance-taliban-ahmad-massoud/; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “U.S. Airlift From Kabul Gains Speed As Afghans Defy Taliban In Several Cities,” August 19, 2021, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/taliban-blocking-airport-independence-day/31418029.html

No more excuses. Mandate the vaccine now.

See updates through September 16, 2021, at end of post.


I continue to wear the cloth masks my mother began making for me early in the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly only in situations where they’re required.

Being fully vaccinated, I know that my risk, even from the delta variant of COVID-19 is minimal.[1] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to wear masks in areas of substantial or high transmission[2] is not really about vaccinated people. It is about unvaccinated people in the U.S., many of whom are actively refusing the vaccine,[3] even as case counts soar mostly among unvaccinated people;[4] even as hospitals face being overwhelmed; even as medical workers (often thanklessly, often even worse) put their lives on the line—because even full vaccination is not 100 percent effective—trying to save people’s lives;[5] even as people die.[6] Opposition to vaccines is largely ideological, particularly among supporters of Donald Trump.[7] Read more

  1. [1]Brianna Abbott, “CDC Says New Mask Guidelines Informed by Cape Cod Outbreak,” Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-says-new-mask-mandate-informed-by-cape-cod-outbreak-11627664465; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond, and Adam Taylor, “CDC urges vaccinated people in covid hot spots to resume wearing masks indoors,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/27/cdc-masks-guidance-indoors/; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Carolyn Y. Johnson, and Joel Achenbach, “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/29/cdc-mask-guidance/; Anne Flaherty and Arielle Mitropoulos, “CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak,” ABC News, July 29, 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cdc-mask-decision-stunning-findings-cape-cod-beach/story?id=79148102; Carolyn Y. Johnson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts coronavirus outbreak were vaccinated but few required hospitalization,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/provincetown-covid-outbreak-vaccinated/; David Leonhardt to Morning list, “A confusing message,” New York Times, July 28, 2021, https://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2?abVariantId=0&campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20210728&instance_id=36411&nl=the-morning&productCode=NN&regi_id=97793637&segment_id=64604&te=1&uri=nyt%3A%2F%2Fnewsletter%2F12f5196d-ad87-5d92-8259-21654fdb0c86&user_id=087ade925ce15f15a24824418c4789ce; Justin Miller and David Wallace-Wells, “What If Vaccines Don’t Really Stop the Virus From Spreading?” New York, July 28, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/covid-vaccines-may-not-totally-stop-delta-from-spreading.html; Luke Money and Faith E. Pinho, “Wary of ‘breakthrough’ infections, some vaccinated people eye another shot. Is it needed?” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-07/with-breakthrough-infections-some-vaccinated-people-look-for-more-protection-are-boosters-needed; Aparna Nathan, “Delta-plus and lambda variants don’t yet warrant panic for vaccinated people, Philly experts say,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4, 2021, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/delta-plus-lamda-philadelphia-vaccinated-what-to-know-20210804.html; Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, “CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-to-urge-vaccinated-people-to-resume-wearing-masks-in-public-indoor-spaces-11627399286; Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, “White House blasts Covid coverage,” CNN, July 30, 2021, https://view.newsletters.cnn.com/messages/1627696990899989e7b7635dc/raw
  2. [2]Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, “CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cdc-to-urge-vaccinated-people-to-resume-wearing-masks-in-public-indoor-spaces-11627399286
  3. [3]Democracy Now! “‘We Can’t Trust the Unvaccinated’: Dr. Leana Wen on Vaccine Mandates & How to Stop the Delta Variant,” July 29, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/7/29/covid_19_delta_variant_leana_wen; Leana S. Wen, “The CDC needs to make clear: The problem is the unvaccinated,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/29/leana-wen-cdc-mask-guidance-unvaccinated-problem/
  4. [4]Brianna Abbott, “Delta Variant Accounts for 83% of Known U.S. Covid-19 Cases,” Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/delta-variant-accounts-for-83-of-known-covid-19-cases-11626807019; Associated Press, “U.S. now averaging 100,000 new coronavirus infections a day,” Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-06/u-s-now-averaging-100-000-new-coronavirus-infections-a-day; Joseph Ax and Nathan Layne, “Delta variant surges across U.S. South; political leaders clamp down again,” Reuters, August 3, 2021, copy in possession of author; Chandelis Duster, “Fauci: ‘We’re going in the wrong direction’ on Covid-19 cases,” CNN, July 25, 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/25/politics/anthony-fauci-covid-19-unvaccinated-cnntv/index.html; Aya Elamroussi, “‘This is starting to look really ominous in the South,’ expert says, as US is among nations with highest rate of new Covid-19 cases,” CNN, August 14, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/14/health/us-coronavirus-saturday/index.html; Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/unvaccinated-covid-19-hospitalizations-11626528110; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/covid-19-us-delta-variant-unvaccinated; Brad Reed, “Georgia county shuts down all of its schools for two weeks after mass COVID-19 outbreak,” Raw Story, August 13, 2021, https://www.rawstory.com/georgia-schools/; Greg Sargent, “A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/19/vile-new-trump-gop-claim-about-vaccines-suggests-trouble-ahead/
  5. [5]Brianna Abbott, “Covid-19 Rise, Vaccine Hesitancy Frustrate Doctors in Hospitals Saturated by the Delta Variant,” Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-rise-vaccine-hesitancy-frustrate-doctors-in-hospitals-saturated-by-the-delta-variant-11628760602; Rhys Blakely, “Double Covid vaccine doesn’t stop symptoms for half of Delta cases,” Times, August 19, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/double-covid-vaccine-symptoms-delta-variant-cases-8jfxkzp03; Justine Coleman, “Pfizer vaccine effectiveness drops to 84 percent after six months: data,” Hill, July 28, 2021, https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/565282-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-effectiveness-drops-to-84-percent-after-six-months; Jacqueline Howard, “Pfizer data suggest third dose of Covid-19 vaccine ‘strongly’ boosts protection against Delta variant,” CNN, July 28, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/28/health/pfizer-third-dose-data-bn/index.html; Carolyn Y. Johnson, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Joel Achenbach, “CDC study shows three-fourths of people infected in Massachusetts coronavirus outbreak were vaccinated but few required hospitalization,” Washington Post, July 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/30/provincetown-covid-outbreak-vaccinated/; Oliver Laughland and Jessica Glenza, “Inside a Tennessee hospital grappling with Delta and vaccine hesitancy,” Guardian, July 24, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/24/tennessee-coronavirus-covid-delta-variant-cases-vaccines; Natasha Lindstrom, “Out-of-state covid hot spots ‘desperate’ to transfer patients to Western Pa. hospitals,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 12, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/health-now/out-of-state-covid-hot-spots-desperate-to-transfer-patients-to-western-pa-hospitals/; Justin Miller and David Wallace-Wells, “What If Vaccines Don’t Really Stop the Virus From Spreading?” New York, July 28, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/covid-vaccines-may-not-totally-stop-delta-from-spreading.html; Paige Williams, “Mississippi’s Hospital System Is Rapidly Approaching Statewide Failure,” New Yorker, August 17, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/mississippis-hospital-system-is-rapidly-approaching-statewide-failure
  6. [6]Edward Helmore, “Rightwing radio host and anti-vaxxer dies of Covid,” Guardian, August 8, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/08/rightwing-radio-host-dick-farrel-anti-vaxxer-dies-covid; Rob Stein and Selena Simmons-Duffin, “The Delta Variant Will Drive A Steep Rise In U.S. COVID Deaths, A New Model Shows,” National Public Radio, July 22, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/22/1019475669/delta-variant-will-drive-a-steep-rise-in-covid-deaths-model-shows
  7. [7]Aaron Blake, “The GOP is losing the argument on coronavirus mandates,” Washington Post, August 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/18/gop-is-losing-pr-battle-coronavirus-mandates/; Dan Diamond, Hannah Knowles, and Tyler Pager, “Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens,” Washington Post, July 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/covid-vaccines-biden-trump/2021/07/15/adaf6c7e-e4bd-11eb-a41e-c8442c213fa8_story.html; Michael M. Grynbaum, Tiffany Hsu, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “On Fox News, Vaccination Pleas Intensify, but Skepticism Persists,” New York Times, July 20, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/20/business/media/fox-news-covid-vaccines.html; Jenny Jarvie, Richard Read, and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “With Delta surging, America is dangerously divided over vaccines,” Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-05/united-states-covid-vaccines-divisions; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/the-willfully-unvaccinated-are-the-newest-republican-martyrs.html; Hannah Knowles, “DeSantis sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch as new coronavirus cases near highest in nation,” Washington Post, July 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/13/desantis-fauci-florida/; Hannah Knowles, “A Texas GOP official’s covid-19 death went viral. Then came calls for vaccination — and bitter divides,” Washington Post, August 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/08/21/scott-apley-covid-death-vaccine/; Jeremy Kohler, “GOP Legislators in Missouri Oppose Vaccine Efforts as State Becomes COVID Hotspot,” Pro Publica, July 21, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/missouri-legislators-oppose-vaccine-efforts-as-state-becomes-covid-hotspot; Summer Lin, “Got your COVID vaccine? Stay out, says California restaurateur decrying ‘stupidity,’” Sacramento Bee, July 26, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article253039643.html; David Litt, “Republicans used to laud ‘personal responsibility’. Not with Covid,” Guardian, July 30, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/30/republicans-used-to-laud-personal-responsibility-not-with-covid; Jaclyn Peiser, “Evangelical pastor demands churchgoers ditch their masks: ‘Don’t believe this delta variant nonsense,’” Washington Post, July 27, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/07/27/tennessee-pastor-greg-locke-masks/; Bryan Pietsch, “Twitter suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading covid-19 misinformation,” Washington Post, July 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/20/marjorie-taylor-green-twitter-suspended-covid/; Hannah Wiley, “‘No masks. No vaccines.’ Battle is brewing over coronavirus immunizations in California,” Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243381501.html

Why do ‘they’ hate us?

The rapid collapse of Afghan government forces[1] should eviscerate any imagination that Afghans would mount a serious defense against, yet alone repel the Taliban. Yes, there are the lessons of (not) “nation-building” and U.S. military (non-)superiority.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Tameem Akhgar and John Gambrell, “Taliban complete northeast Afghan blitz as more cities fall,” Associated Press, August 11, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-taliban-e2c0e7b46c03cebb4fdddca309e005e8; Al Jazeera, “Taliban seizes eighth Afghan provincial capital in five days,” August 10, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/10/taliban-seizes-farah-seventh-provincial-afghan-capital-in-five-days; Ehsanullah Amiri, Alan Cullison, and Saeed Shah, “Taliban Seize Capital of Afghanistan’s Nimroz Province and Kill Official in Kabul,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-seize-capital-of-afghanistans-nimroz-province-11628259499; Jon Lee Anderson, “The Return of the Taliban,” New Yorker, August 13, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-return-of-the-taliban; Deutschewelle, “Afghanistan: Taliban take control of Herat in major victory for militants,” August 12, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/afghanistan-taliban-take-control-of-herat-in-major-victory-for-militants/a-58836723; Karen DeYoung et al., “Biden authorizes additional troops to Kabul as Taliban closes in on capital,” Washington Post, August 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/14/afghanistan-taliban-advance-humanitarian/; Kathy Gannon and Tameem Akhgar, “US vows to isolate Taliban if they take power by force,” Associated Press, August 10, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-taliban-e5288f8c0a5d48677f703dbc40c22d3a; Susannah George, “Pace of Taliban advance quickens as militants overrun three major cities in a single day,” Washington Post, August 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/08/taliban-kunduz/; Susannah George and Bryan Pietsch, “Taliban enters Kabul, leaving Afghan government on brink of collapse,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-taliban-kabul-embassy-jalalabad/; Susannah George and Aziz Tassal, “Taliban advances into major Afghan cities for first time in two decades,” Washington Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/01/taliban-attacks-afghanistan/; Susannah George et al., “Mass Afghan government surrenders as Taliban fighters overrun three key cities in sweeping territorial gains,” Washington Post, August 13, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/13/afghanistan-taliban-advance/; Greg Jaffe, “From hubris to humiliation: America’s warrior class contends with the abject failure of its Afghanistan project,” Washington Post, August 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-hubris-afghanistan-humiliation/2021/08/14/47fb025a-fc67-11eb-9c0e-97e29906a970_story.html; Dan Lamothe et al., “U.S. officials warn collapse of Afghan capital could come sooner than expected,” Washington Post, August 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/08/10/afghanistan-intelligence-assessment/; Stephen Losey et al., “More US Troops Heading into Afghanistan as Taliban Conquest Approaches Tipping Point,” Military.com, August 12, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/08/12/more-us-troops-heading-afghanistan-taliban-conquest-approaches-tipping-point.html; Melissa Mahtani et al., “US to send troops to help evacuate personnel in Afghanistan, as Kandahar becomes latest city to fall,” CNN, August 13, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/afghanistan-taliban-us-troops-08-12-21/h_75f8d8c2a81923885b9a0fe6d7e00f7a; Akhtar Mohammad Makoii and Luke Harding, “Taliban capture sixth provincial capital in northern Afghanistan,” Guardian, August 9, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/09/taliban-capture-aibak-sixth-provincial-capital-northern-afghanistan; Roland Oliphant, “Will the Taliban take over Afghanistan? Here’s what we know so far,” Telegraph, August 13, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2021/08/13/will-taliban-take-afghanistan-know-far/; Reuters, “Taliban flashpoints in Afghanistan,” August 10, 2021, https://graphics.reuters.com/AFGHANISTAN-CONFLICT/FLASHPOINTS/lbpgnrazjvq/index.html; Ahmad Seir, Rahim Faiez, and Jon Gambrell, “Taliban seize Jalalabad, cut off Afghan capital from east,” Washington Post, August 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/taliban-seize-jalalabad-cut-off-afghan-capital-from-east/2021/08/14/131e00aa-fd75-11eb-911c-524bc8b68f17_story.html; Ahmad Seir et al., “Taliban fighters enter Kabul, await a ‘peaceful transfer’ of power,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-15/taliban-fighters-enter-kabul-then-pledge-not-to-take-afghan-capital-by-force; Ishaan Tharoor, “Afghanistan’s rapid collapse is part of a long, slow U.S. defeat,” Washington Post, August 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/12/afghanistan-taliban-biden-moment/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Afghanistan’s Taliban Seize Jalalabad as Panic Grips Kabul,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/afghanistans-taliban-seize-jalalabad-as-panic-grips-kabul-11629005282
  2. [2]Greg Jaffe, “From hubris to humiliation: America’s warrior class contends with the abject failure of its Afghanistan project,” Washington Post, August 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-hubris-afghanistan-humiliation/2021/08/14/47fb025a-fc67-11eb-9c0e-97e29906a970_story.html

The wages are injury enough; the insult in some ways even worse

Finally, somebody asks the right question.[1] It seems that, in Pittsburgh and, I’m betting, a lot of places,

The thing that I hear the most is that everything’s service-related You know, “I’m looking for a job that’s gonna utilize more skills than making a hamburger or wiping down a toilet.”[2]

Read more

  1. [1]Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-workforce-covid-unemployment-hiring-worker-shortage/
  2. [2]Jamaal Craig, quoted in Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021, https://www.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-workforce-covid-unemployment-hiring-worker-shortage/

To be an international human rights rogue and to spread the contagion

It seems there’s this pesky detail that a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices did not explain their reasoning[1] when they refused to lift[2] the eviction ban that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had imposed[3] and repeatedly extended. The ban was almost certainly to avoid forcing evicted tenants to move in with friends and family, increasing crowding, and exacerbating COVID-19 contagion.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Brent Kendall, “Eviction Moratorium Left in Place by Judge Despite Legal Doubts,” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-judge-leaves-new-eviction-moratorium-in-place-11628870224
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Supreme Court rejects plea by landlords to lift federal eviction moratorium,” Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-06-29/supreme-court-leaves-cdc-eviction-moratorium-in-place
  3. [3]John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/
  4. [4]Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/

Consider a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

Afghanistan is almost certainly falling to the Taliban and I think the U.S., British, and other governments know it:

Senior US officers and White House officials insisted before the withdrawal began in May that the Afghan police and army were up to the job of defending themselves.

They were clearly wrong. . . .

While special forces units continue to fight, regular troops in many places appear to have withdrawn voluntarily or accepted offers to surrender, allowing Taliban fighters to roll into towns unopposed.[1]

Read more

  1. [1]Roland Oliphant, “Will the Taliban take over Afghanistan? Here’s what we know so far,” Telegraph, August 13, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2021/08/13/will-taliban-take-afghanistan-know-far/