Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We're Going to Run Out of Soldiers

The Defense Department has concluded it can no longer afford to satisfy current demands for military forces from overseas commanders. As a result, it is considering cutting back on forward-stationed forces and deployments, said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work.

I thought that’s why we have drones.
The military is now facing a new set of crises, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, and an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In addition, it needs to have enough forces training at home to ensure they can "respond to the environment," Work said.
Well that’s ominous.

And home environment should be serviceable by the National Guard, shouldn’t it?
"We are trying to find the right mix" between forward-deployed and U.S.-based forces that would be training for an unforeseen contingency.
Invasion or domestic protests?
The plan is to change from a demand model — where commanders get whatever they ask for — to a supply-based approach.
Somehow I don’t think they actually believe they will have to do that after all is said and done. But it sounds great to me. War in Syria? Sorry, we can’t provide the personnel. We’re all out of soldiers.
Although the Pentagon has the world's largest military budget, projected to exceed $500 billion a year even under sequestration, Work said the problem is that the Defense Department is saddled with unwanted programs and military personnel costs.
Stop sending drones to every corner of the Middle East, and particularly to civilian targets. That will save a bundle.
The Pentagon is seeking to cut about $70 billion a year by retiring aging equipment, closing facilities and changing military benefits, but Congress has said "no" to every single proposal.


"When we submitted the budget last year ... one of the assumptions was that the number of commitments would either level off or come down.
Well, then, you haven’t been paying attention.

The title of this article is:  Pentagon Warns It Can't Continue to Police the World

Brave New World, Revisited

1958- a visionary

Actual quote:

Under the relentless thrust of accelerating over-population and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old formselections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the restwill remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorialbut Democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit. 

...the first aim of the rulers is at all costs to keep their subjects from making trouble. 

- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, published 1958

Damned Welfare Moochers

How to Lower the Voter Turnout

Look at the bright side - maybe ISIS really will attack us.

So Don't Start Shooting Up St.Louis

Just in time for the new open carry that allows 19-year-olds to swagger around packing heat.

A Change of Hats

Hamid Karzai refused to deal with the US as desired, so it was time for him to go. Democratically, of course.  I'll miss his hat.  But, the new one is pretty good, too.

Afghanistan has inaugurated its first new president in a decade, swearing in Ashraf Ghani to head a power-sharing government. Joining him on stage Monday was Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s new vice president. Dostum is one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords, once described by Ghani himself as a "known killer." Dostum’s rise to the vice presidency comes despite his involvement in a 2001 massacre that killed up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war. The victims were allegedly shot to death or suffocated in sealed metal truck containers after they surrendered to Dostum and the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance. The dead prisoners — some of whom had been tortured — were then buried in the northern Afghan desert. Dostum, who was on the CIA payroll, has been widely accused of orchestrating the massacre and tampering with evidence of the mass killing. For more than a decade, human rights groups have called on the United States to conduct a full investigation into the massacre including the role of U.S. special forces and CIA operatives.

  Democracy Now!
And they’ll keep calling. But they won’t get an answer.

Ghani, who was an American citizen working for the World Bank before renouncing and grooming to run for president in Afghanistan, has promised to restore good dealings.  Dostum, on the other hand, has reason to keep dealing.  "Was" on the CIA payroll?

Mr. Ghani is taking office under a cloud, dogged by electoral fraud allegations.


Mr. Ghani was pressured to accept a power-sharing arrangement with [his opponent] Mr. Abdullah [appointed as chief executive officer, sharing the inaugural stage].

Further, that deal very nearly collapsed at the last minute, as Mr. [Abdullah] Abdullah threatened on Sunday to pull out of the inauguration ceremony over a series of disputes, including an unseemly fight over office space in the presidential palace. Mr. Abdullah’s followers squabbled with supporters of Mr. Ghani’s first vice president, the influential but controversial power broker Abdul Rashid Dostum, over offices that Mr. Abdullah had expected to get.


[Afghanistan] is ravaged by violence, sick with corruption, and seething with frustration. The government is struggling against a Taliban insurgency that has turned much of the country into a no-go zone.


Afghanistan has been the biggest source of asylum seekers year after year, although in the last year it was surpassed by Syria.

The recent presence of many of Mr. Dostum’s followers on the streets of Kabul, in civilian clothes or unofficial uniforms and heavily armed, has been a cause of concern to many residents of the capital. It is technically illegal for anyone other than government security forces to publicly carry weapons, but the police have been reluctant to challenge the gunmen.

Off to a great start.

Happy 90th Birthday, Jimmy Carter

I was dead wrong about Jimmy Carter.

I never would have thought I’d say it, but I’ll be glad when the run for 2016 begins in earnest, no matter who is in it – dare I say, even if it’s Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. At least then I can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of Barack Obama’s administration. God, what an awful thought: Hillary or Jeb.

At any rate, I’m not sure I should be voting. The only time I ever voted Republican was for Gerald Ford. Gerald Ford! who famously pardoned that crook Nixon to save the sensibilities of the country. What a precedent that was. And it taught me to vote for whomever I thought was the best person for the job ever after, no matter whether he or she was on the ballot or not.

The reason I voted for Gerald Ford that year was because I was so leary of anyone nearing the office who made God part of his public speeches. That scared me more than anything. And that was Jimmy Carter.

Now I look back at all the ex-presidents and have to admit that there stands Mr. Carter alone amongst them who has gone out every day of his post-presidential life doing good works, Doing Christian works, not just giving them lip service, without being paid for it, and with apparently no self-interest. He may well have said some things and backed some things post-presidentially that gave me a shiver, but none come to mind at the moment. I don't agree with his objection to abortion that is not medically necessary, but he did uphold Roe v. Wade when president.

He did some great things as president, and since then he’s made some very public moral stands that probably sent his fundamentalist compatriots into tailspins.  And he's been very publicly critical of Obama's Guantanamo/torture/citizen surveillance programs. We should be so lucky again as to have a man (or woman) of that disposition – to do things for others, to try to do the right, rather than the politically expedient thing -  rather than to line his own pockets or gain power over his fellow man – make it into the White House. We won’t see it in our lifetimes. No one of that sort will get within a light year of the office – or want to, I imagine.

I WOULD like to see him return his Nobel Peace Prize in protest of Barack Obama’s receiving – and thereby sullying – the same.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jimmy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tension in Ferguson

Ferguson, as you know, is in St. Louis County, Missouri.  As you also know, there has been a lot of "tension" in Ferguson since a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager on August 9.

Missouri has an extremely stupid open carry law, an expansion of which goes into effect tomorrow,   Things should get even more interesting in Ferguson.
The new law will allow specially trained school employees to carry concealed guns on campuses. It also allows anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns openly, even in cities or towns with bans against the open carrying of firearms. The age to obtain a concealed weapons permit also will drop from 21 to 19.

My sister and I had breakfast in Columbia, Missouri, this morning.  A couple of hours drive from St. Louis.  I noticed when we went in to the restaurant, there was a hand-written sign to the left of the door that said "This is a Second Amendment Restaurant."  When we came out, I noticed this sign on the right side of the door:


Take Your Sandals, Boys

1,600 US ground troops are already in Iraq, despite the Obama Administration’s claims that there won’t be any ground war in the nation. More or coming to the region very soon.

The Marine Corps has announced a plan to send 2,100 troops to Kuwait as part of the “Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force” for Central Command, to perform assorted “theater sustainment missions.” The exact timing of the deployment is unclear, but will come at some point in FY2015, according to officials.


Marine officials insisted that the planned deployment actually predates the new US air war in Iraq and Syria.

Perhaps it was. It might well have been part of the Grand Plan, which has always included Syria.
Less than two weeks after the 9/11 attacks General Wesley Clark was called into the office of a high-level official on duty at the Pentagon. There he was given the agenda spelled out in the reports PNAC, many members of which were now also members of the Bush cabinet (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.), had been asking of the US government and the military industrial complex.

“The general,” Clark stated during a 2007 book tour, while in the meeting “told me we’ve already made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” A couple months later while meeting with the same general, Clark said he was told the situation was even worse than originally thought and the plan was to actually take down the governments of at least “seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.”
Five years.  We're a little behind schedule.

So, since we aren’t putting any “boots on the ground” in Iraq, are they staying in Kuwait, where they are being sent, or when they cross the border into Iraq, will they change into sandals?

How I Wish I Could Wake Up

I thought we had crossed into a dream world (nightmare) when Bush invaded Iraq and decimated Falluja. I actually cried when I read that we had given the families living in Falluja a few hours notice to get out (into the surrounding desert!) or risk being blown to bits.  I now feel like the nightmare has descended to at least the sixth level of Dante’s Hell, and I am too stunned and depressed to cry.  This can't be real, can it?
The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

Syrian rebel commanders described women and children being hauled from the rubble after an errant cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians. Images of badly injured children also appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-U.S. protests in a number of Syrian villages last week.


"I saw seven or eight ambulances coming out of there,” said Abu Abdo Salabman, a political member of one of the Free Syria Army factions, who attended the briefing for Foreign Affairs Committee members and staff. “We believe this was a big mistake.”

I think you believe wrong.  It's "how we roll."
[Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council] said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
Has everyone gone completely mad? (Tangent: surely Detroit has…ye gods!)

Our government is now saying that Syria and Iraq do not meet the legal requirements for us to try not to kill their civilians!

Oh well, why not be honest?  We don't seem to have been trying anyway!
[Septmber 9] Over just the past week, the share of Americans who oppose U.S. airstrikes in Syria has surged 15 points, from 48% to 63%, as many who were undecided about the issue have turned against military action. By contrast, the share of Americans who support airstrikes remains virtually unchanged: Just 28% favor U.S. military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that its government used chemical weapons.

  Pew Research
Well, that’s encouraging, but nobody in the Obama administration seems to care any more (not since he was elected) what the public thinks. Is there no one in Congress to stand up in outrage?
Most members of Congress expected the airstrikes to occur after they returned home to their districts, and privately, many of them conceded that they were relieved not to have to vote on a controversial topic just weeks before voters were to go to the polls in November.


House and Senate leaders said they were open to voting on a new measure giving new parameters for military action against ISIS, but not until after the election.


Democrats and Republicans who lead key committees approved of the President's move.


Before the strikes, Vice President Joe Biden reached out to one of the administration's most vocal critics, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who told CNN's Dana Bash that Biden told him the airstrikes would be "intense" and a "sustained effort."

Graham said he told Biden he was "very supportive" of the administration's move and would do what was needed of him to corral Congress if further congressional authorization is needed.

[O]ne of the House members present, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who supports stronger U.S. action in Syria, said he was not overly concerned. “I did hear them say there were civilian casualties, but I didn’t get details,” Kinzinger said in an interview with Yahoo News. “But nothing is perfect,” and whatever civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. strikes are “much less than the brutality of the Assad regime.”

A host of Democratic Senate hopefuls who rode anti-war sentiment into office in the past decade are running for reelection now as hawks, staking out hard-line positions on the latest upheaval in the Middle East.


Locked in a tough reelection battle, [first-term senator Democrat Kay Hagan] boasts that she’s more strongly supportive of airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants than her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, and says she’s been pressing the Obama administration to arm Syrian rebels since early last year.


[Bruce Braley, the Democratic Senate candidate in Iowa] is running against military veteran Joni Ernst in one of the most contested Senate races in the country.

“ISIS is a threat that must be stopped,” Braley said during a debate Sunday. “Anytime American citizens are attacked by a terrorist group, they need to be brought to justice or to the grave.”


Only one vulnerable Senate Democrat voted against that resolution to arm the rebels: Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who warned that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Every other Democrat facing a viable challenger, including Jeff Merkley in deep-blue Oregon and Al Franken in Minnesota, voted with the 78-member majority.

Al Franken, too?!?
Republican candidate Scott Brown has been hammering Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for failing to understand “the nature of the threat,” as he put it in one commercial that began airing last week. This has prompted the freshman Democrat to begin quietly running a response ad (her campaign has not released it to the news media), in which she says: “I support those airstrikes. I think it’s important for us to take the fight to ISIL.”