No More DADT

Earlier this week the policy that prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about current relationships including their marriage while serving in the military was eliminated.

In 2010 with the support of President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen a Defense Authorization Bill which would have removed this restrictive policy was approved by the House of Representatives, but was stopped in the Senate with a successful filibuster led by Senator McCain.

I’m hopeful that a few years from now people will look back at policies like DADT and say this is not the kind of thing that represents America. Unfortunately there will be those that disagree, but this is the kind of change I voted for that I wouldn’t have gotten from John McCain.

Please Say it Ain’t so O(bama)

So now that I have a laptop at home and I am semi-retired I spend most of my daylight hours reading by the pool or working at the Windward Passage and when I come home at night I like to surf the internet.

Tonight while surfing the internet I was quite disturbed when I came across the following article US-troops-may-stay-in-Afghanistan-until-2024.html. If this article is in fact true it looks as though we are in talks with Afghanistan to sign a contractual agreement that would supposedly allow American military trainers, American special forces and American air power (estimates of 25,000 American soldiers) to remain in Afghanistan until 2024.

One of the biggest reasons I voted for the current president and the change he was offering was because I was hopeful that he would get us out of the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan once and for all. My thinking was there was a much better chance of that happening with Obama as president as opposed to McCain. To my dismay this hasn’t happened yet.

From what I have read our current cost right now to support 100,000 troops in Afghanistan is $1 billion per day. So if we agree to  keep 25,000 American troops in Afghanistan until 2024 you can do the math, we’re talking about a lot of money that we quite frankly don’t have.

I think the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said it best when he said “Afghanistan needs many other things apart from a permanent military presence. It needs economic help and it needs peace, military bases are not a tool for peace”. Well said Mr ambassador. When I see a picture like the one above I am outraged that we are doing what we are doing, isn’t anyone else outraged ?

Can any Republican, Independent or Democrat, anyone for that matter give me a logical reason as to why we need to be in Afghanistan for thirteen more years ? Bin Laden is dead and we need to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. If this deal is signed I will have no choice but to write in Ron Paul for President in 2012 since he is the only candidate who has promised to bring all of our troops home.

Token Drawdown

Within the next few weeks the President will make what I believe is a very important announcement as to the number of troops he plans to have brought home from Afghanistan. Currently we have approximately 100,000 troops there and we have been fighting the war there since October 7, 2001.

It is hard to believe that this October we will have been there ten years and the estimated final date of withdrawal has now been pushed back to 2014. If all goes according to plan we will have been in Afghanistan for a minimum of thirteen years, but I have my doubts and we will probably be there longer.

I saw where John McCain weighed in and said he believes we should bring home only 3,000 of our troops and that we can still win this war. I understand the fact that we don’t want the loss of life of our soldiers that have died there to be in vain, but does anyone honestly believe that we are winning anything ?

Last week the Congress held a vote which would have attached a mandate to the $690 billion supplemental defense bill spending (estimates are that being in Afghanistan is costing us $3 billion a week) for 2012 requiring the negotiation of a political solution and reconciliation in Afghanistan along with an intelligence estimate as to the number of al Qaeda we are still fighting. Its been reported that most of al Qaeda have moved into Pakistan over the past ten years.

The house vote was mostly along party lines with 178 Democrats supporting the bill with 26 Republicans joining them. All opposed were of course Republicans. Recent polls show that 70% of Americans believe it’s time for us to get out and I am one of that 70%. The frustrating thing is that if 70% of Americans believe this why can’t we get a simple majority in Congress to force the mandate I have mentioned above. The problem I think is no moderate politicians.

I was listening to a conversation last night between two individuals and one said to the other, it’s not like we are losing thousands of American lives over in Afghanistan we are only losing a few every couple of days. Have we become so callous that most of us now think this way ? I hope not.

Whenever I read in the paper of more war dead I think of the picture above, some ones mother, some ones father, some ones aunt, some ones uncle, some ones sister or some ones brother. It’s only my humble opinion, but I am comfortable that our mission / objective in Afghanistan is done so the faster we bring our troops home the better.

How do we Know the Squirrels will Cross the Bridge ?

Go to fullsize image

We keep hearing about the number of state governments that are going to have to make some serious decisions in the coming year about what programs they can and can’t fund. Here’s an article with the corresponding video that addresses what’s going on in Arizona, a state that is facing a $1.5 billion dollar deficit. The governor decided to cut funding for low income people who need transplants.

Enter Steven Daglas an Illinois party committeeman who took countless hours to review the Arizona state budget along with state auditor documents in an effort to try to find funds to cover transplants for those who aren’t lucky enough to have medical insurance. 

http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/abolishing-arizona-s-transplant-death-panels/6nllqkp

So your are probably wondering what does this have to do with squirrels crossing the bridge – Daglas set up the following website showing twenty six options that the Arizona governor has that will not take money away from others.

One option is to use funds previously set aside for a project where Arizona was going to spend $1.25 million to build rope bridges over the road for the thought to be extinct red squirrels to cross. By doing this project it was estimated that it would save five squirrels a year. Are you kidding me ?

When asked about whether the squirrel bridge was a good use of goverrment funds John McCain said “How do we know the squirrels will cross the bridge ?” Fortunately more level heads prevailed and the project has been cancelled.

Presidential Elections Are A Choice, Not A Referendum

UJ’s post about what might have happened if John McCain were elected makes a good point.  Although I don’t agree with all of UJ’s conclusions, his comparison is the kind of analysis that voters engage in when they decide how to vote for President.  I think many voters decided McCain wasn’t up to the job when he was knocked off kilter by the economic shock during the 2008 campaign.  He seemed to panic, with his talk about suspending the campaign to go back to Washington, whereas Obama displayed the poise that Americans like to see in their leaders during times of crisis.

Presidential elections are a choice between competing human beings, not an abstract referendum on whether the existing President should be retained.  That is why, in my view, presidential approval polls really don’t mean much.  The fact that President Obama’s poll numbers are low is irrelevant if his 2012 opponent’s poll numbers are lower still, or if that opponent makes a significant misstep during the arduous months of campaigning.

We’re now at the point in our years-long campaign cycle where Republican candidates (and perhaps some fringe Democrats) will finally decide whether they are running for President and then begin raising huge sums of money, visiting Iowa kitchens and New Hampshire political luncheons, and so forth.  The potential Republican candidates — be they likely contestants such as Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin, or dark horses like Chris Christie — and their staffs should already have done the same kind of point-by-point analysis that UJ has undertaken.

In that regard, UJ’s list of President Obama’s “accomplishments” is a good place to start.  If you are going to be compared to the President you are trying to unseat, why not begin by distinguishing your position on specific issues that are viewed, by some at least, as that President’s most significant accomplishments?

Expressions And Emoticons

Here’s an interesting story on a study that suggests that different cultures may read facial expressions differently, in a way that could lead to misunderstandings.

The study indicates that facial expressions indicating fear and surprise are among those most likely to be misunderstood. East Asian participants were much more likely to focus on the eyes, which are much more likely to be ambiguous, whereas Western participants looked at the entire face.

The study made me wonder how the participants would match the politicans pictured with this post with the following mental or emotional states:

*Disgruntled

* Uncomfortable

*Bewildered

* Slap happy

The eyes have it!

Another interesting aspect of the article is the difference in “emoticons” between those used in the U.S. and those used in Asia, with those used in Asia right-side up rather than on their side and with much more attention given to the eyes. I’ve never used an emoticon, but if I did I think I would use the Asian versions.