Yesterday we were near 60 degrees here in Colorado Springs and this morning we are at 11 degrees. Umm.. That’s cold. The much anticipated snow hasn’t materialized yet. That’s ok with me for now. But let it hit the mountains hard. We need the snow there.
I would like to wish anyone that happens to stop by this little spot on the internet a Happy Thanksgiving. I’ve been away from home on many Thanksgiving and Christmas days but luckily, lately I’ve been home. While the Dinning Facilities in far away places usually do a damn good job serving the troops, home cooking still wins out.
I’ll be working most of the day but that’s ok. Stay safe and enjoy.
As 2014 nears, decisions must be made. Will we continue to maintain troops in Afghanistan or do we pull completely out? This week we saw news of a draft agreement with the Karzai administration and Afghanistan. The agreement calls for troops to remain until 2024. The agreement can be terminated with a two year notice by either side. The agreement appears to call for an apology by the US for past mistakes. One of the key sticking points has been the prosecution of US personnel for war crimes (or any crimes Afghan officials see fit). This has been reported to have been overcome with the US maintaining any prosecutions. But even as a potential agreement seems to have been reached we continue to get mixed signals from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He wants the upcoming Loya Jirga to approve the agreement before he will sign it. This seems reasonable but then he goes on to say he really doesn’t like the agreement. Strange tactic. Of course Karzai has been playing this game a long time and reaping great monetary benefits at the same time.
Karzai also doesn’t want to sign the agreement until after the Afghan presidential elections in April. This would make it difficult for US and NATO allies to plan for a firm number of troops and equipment to support either a commitment of troops or a pull out.
Should we stay at all in this environment? The main arguments for staying seem to be the intelligence we can gather in the region. Bases close to Iran and Pakistan gives us the ability to conduct small operations if necessary and keeping Al-Qaeda in check.
There is also the high likelihood that if we left the Afghan Security Forces would crumble. While there has been improvement they appear a long way from acting completely on their own and financially without US/NATO support they cannot fund themselves.
But can we trust the Afghan government? And do we really need to be here to maintain a watch on our national interest? Is the cost, which will be in the Billions, worth it?
We have given an enormous amount of money that according to IG reports have gone to support insurgents. This isn’t just a few incidents but is commonplace. Between overpayment for construction projects that never seem to get moving to missing equipment our money has found a black hole.
We’ve seen Narco traffic rise dramatically since we’ve been in Afghanistan so I wonder what are the real goals. There has been no real fight against the production of Poppy and Opium. It has increased right under our noses. It’s not that our military doesn’t see it but they are not allowed to destroy the crops for fear of creating more insurgents. Do you see the problem with that? The Taliban raise money on crops we won’t stop. There have been many operations to burn Poppy fields but they have been purely for show. An acre is burned while 30 acres are allowed to grow.
The fact is I don’t trust our own government to run any kind of operations in or from Afghanistan right now. Karzai is constantly embarrassing us publicly and seems to have his own agenda which is not in our or Afghanistan’s interests. Other Afghan officials have been found with millions of US dollars in their possession or in foreign bank accounts. That doesn’t bode well for less oversight in this agreement.
So to sum up, the reasons to stay:
Stability in Afghanistan and the security forces
Keep an eye on Al-Qaeda and neighboring threats
Reasons to leave:
No national interest that can’t be followed up in other ways
An untrustworthy ally in Karzai and the Afghan government
Incompetent leaders on both sides
Too much money that will be lining corrupt pockets
More loss of US and NATO lives for an unclear purpose with a history of poor results. More than the loss of lives are the thousands of veterans who have lost limbs and suffered major trauma. There will be many more if we continue.
At this point I can’t support troops remaining without much more support from Afghans, a clear objective and tighter controls on the money flow.
In 2003 we defeated the Taliban, had Al-Qaeda on the run all with around 15 thousand troops in country. In the years since we have alienated the population, supported the corruption and lost the trust of allies and the home front. We had the opportunity back then to utilize Special Operations and Special Forces troops to quietly work in the area and slowly build. With tighter control on the Karzai government we had a chance to fundamentally change Afghanistan for the better. I fear we have let that all slip away.
Karzai told Rice that he would sign only after the United States helps his government begin peace talks with the Taliban and agrees to release all 17 Afghan citizens being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
In addition to those new demands, the Afghan leader reiterated that he will not sign if “another [U.S.] soldier steps foot into an Afghan home,” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said. The United States has already promised to show “restraint” in “home entries” by U.S. troops and to carry them out only in conjunction with Afghan troops, but the tactic remains a part of U.S. operations against some insurgents here.
My answer to Karzai:
Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky — who later admitted in court that they’d attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq — prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists’ fingerprints.
Jeeze, that’s a surprise. Our officials never saw this coming. But then they don’t see much coming these days.
A number of red state Democrats in the House and Senate are rushing to embrace legislation to amend ObamaCare, seeking to improve parts of the law that have led to public outrage, and insulate themselves from attacks as they head into election year in 2014.
The White House scrambled Wednesday to find solutions for the glaring failures in Obamacare as rebellious congressional Democrats pressured the administration over their increasing political predicament.
Washington (CNN) — A private meeting on Capitol Hill with House Democrats and White House officials on Wednesday became heated when rank-and-file members expressed frustration about continued Obamacare problems, according to multiple sources in the room.
One congressional Democrat who attended the meeting said senior Obama administration officials Mike Hash and David Simas really "got hit" by House Democrats about everything from the troubled website to the broken presidential promise that people can keep the insurance plans they like.
"This is a big fucking deal." Joe may have been right but not for the reasons he thought.
Captain Phillips – There has been some controversy over the true character of the real Captain Phillips. This may have had some effect on the total box office draw. Putting that aside, the movie was good. The suspense worked even though I knew the outcome. It was also a great reminder of just how good the SEALs shots were that day. Multiple shots from two moving watercraft is pretty amazing. It’s worth seeing.
Movie description: IMDB
The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
Ender’s Game – Since my son said this was the best story he’s ever read and I feel similar so we had to see Enders Game. It was pretty true to the book although it had to be condensed considerably. In the book Enders progression took a few years. The key points were still there though and it was entertaining. The movie did leave out a pretty significant part of the story regarding Enders Brother and Sister and their influence on the situation on Earth. Ender’s Game is definitely worth seeing.
Movie description: IMDB
The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth.
Thor The Dark World – What to say about Thor the dark world. I guess if you have some time on a Saturday AT HOME and it was on a free station it would be ok to watch. But I don’t recommend paying for this movie. It was too convoluted and other than Anthony Hopkins nobody really stood out. It’s not that you can’t enjoy this film but it’s just doesn’t pull you into the story. At least for me and those I watched it with. So it’s not a full price movie in my book.
Movie description: IMDB
Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
Ok back to posting. I’ve been slacking on the posting here but in my defense it’s been really strange, frustrating and hectic here. Since the Government shutdown is over I’m back to work. How long will work continue until the next stop? Who knows. I’m working a different schedule so I’m adjusting a bit. The hardest part if finding the right time to hit the gym. Before work is too early and after I don’t feel like it. You know, the same problem every who works and wants to work out has.
So the first post of November will cover the Colorado Vote on Amendment 66. It failed miserably.
Amendment 66 was a two tier 1 billion dollar tax increase proposed for education. Since I’m a parent of a middle school child this was of interest to me. I’ve been to my son’s elementary and middle schools and they are in horrible shape.
Amendment 66 was well funded. It’s reported over 10 million dollars was spent in promoting this amendment. But what did it insure? Nothing that I could find other than more money that could be moved around as administrators saw fit.
It’s interesting how every year there is new tax for education that will target early childhood learning and smaller classrooms. Yet it’s never fixed. It’s never enough. In truth many parents are just looking for day care anyway. But for those of us that want a good education it’s tough to find.
The Examiner has a pretty good breakdown.
The biggest problem is that most Coloradoans don’t believe the money will actually make it to the classrooms. Education spending has continually increased in Colorado with little to show in the results.
Taxes are not inherently bad. They are in fact necessary. But if we don’t trust those that administer the budgets why would we continue to give more money?
Frankly people will put up with a lot of waste and corruption if in the end we see results. Without results spend your own money not mine.
Perhaps this was just an attempt to pay off the underfunded PARA retirement account? If so, say so.
It’s all about trust and the public servants have lost a lot lately and it’s always for the children.
What to write about? Well, there is politics, which never seems to go away. It would be easy to take a couple shots at the ACA / Obamacare drama but I think I’ll just let it unfold. I wrote before we voted in and continue to vote in those that create these programs so I’m just choking down the bitter pill.
No, today I want to note the continued spending spree of another government agency, the Veterans Administration. It’s been reported that an IG investigation turned up the VA spending over 6.1 million dollars on two conference events in Orlando. The IG’s report states that over $762,000 in un-authorized and wasteful spending was found. Once again we see big government, big unaccountable government spending like royalty. They even made a movie parody of Patton. Do they never learn?
According to reports the VA spent somewhere between 20 million and 100 million in 2011 on conferences.
In August, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller, and Ranking Member, Rep. Bob Filner, sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Eric. K. Shinseki. The letter requested that VA detail all conference expenditures by the department since 2009, including clarifying whether VA spends $20 million on conferences annually, or $100 million, differing numbers cited in Congressional testimony by VA officials.
Upper level civil servants seem completely out of touch. They aren’t working for us and like the politicians in Washington they seem to think it’s their money. It happens in all Government agencies. It’s taught in house. The proper way of spending the peoples money for “morale” events.
Fear not though, our good civil servants gave themselves $43,000 in bonuses for their great management. Well with some of the perks a really huge bonus wasn’t needed.