Obama Administration Commits America to Troops in Afghanistan Until 2024

America and Afghanistan have reached a “bilateral security agreement” to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2024.

Discussions leading up to the agreement were marked by what at least one article terms “brinksmanship” over whether or not the United States would apologize for actions in the recent Afghan war. We stood tough on that. No apology.

However, our government has committed us — meaning you and me — to continue spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan for at least the next 10 years. If past is prelude, this agreement is actually an agreement in perpetuity. World War II was over in 1945, and the Cold War ended in 1989, but we still have troops in Europe. And Japan. And the Philippines. And … well … everywhere we can have them.

I realize that Afghanistan may be a special case. I do not want it used again as a staging base for further attacks on America. For that reason, it may actually be in the interests of the American people, and in the interests of “keeping us safe,” to extend the time we have a military presence there.

However, the budget deficit is a serious threat to our national security, as well.

If we keep troops in Afghanistan, what are we going to cut elsewhere?

The talk in certain political circles is all about raiding social security and closing down medicare to “balance” the budget. The people are who are doing this are actually engaging in a ruse. The reason for raiding social security (and other retirement plans) is not to balance the budget. It is to drain the last big pool of available money into the coffers of special interests.

There is no way we can even begin to balance our national budget without bringing an end to the real “entitlement” that is draining our public coffers, and that is corporate welfare. The biggest pork barrel out there is military spending. Military spending has gone far beyond what is needed to keep this country safe and has become an economic anvil around our necks that is going to sink us.

It is an endless trough where the corporate hogs feed. Instead of building the roads, public transportation and goods that this country needs to stay strong, our major industry has become endless war.

No one seems to ask the question: If generations of people living off welfare become habituated to the dole and lose ambition and incentive and settle into non-productive mire, what happens to corporations that do the same thing?

Should we keep troops in Afghanistan to stop it from reverting to a staging area for further attacks on America? Perhaps. I honestly don’t know for sure. However, if we do that, we need to cut military expenditures in another area. Either that, or we should all get ready for a future of extreme personal poverty and deprivation.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a bilateral security agreement that would allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.

The deal, which will now be presented for approval by an Afghan grand council of elders starting on Thursday, came after days of brinkmanship by Afghan officials and two direct calls from Mr. Kerry to President Hamid Karzai, including one on Wednesday before the announcement.

Just the day before, a senior aide to Mr. Karzai had said the Afghan leader would not approve an agreement unless President Obama sent a letter acknowledging American military mistakes during the 12-year war. But on Wednesday, Mr. Kerry emphatically insisted that a deal was reached with no American apology forthcoming.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology,” Mr. Kerry said. “I mean, it’s just not even on the table.”

After a war that stands as the longest in American history, the security agreement defines a training and counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan lasting at least 10 more years and involving 8,000 to 12,000 troops, mostly American.

Despite the sometimes harsh criticism from Afghan officials during the negotiations, the agreement includes concessions that the Obama administration could not win from Iraq during a similar process in 2011, leading to the final withdrawal of American troops there.

Now, the United States has at least an initial agreement from Afghan officials that American soldiers will not face Afghan prosecution in the course of their duties. And United States Special Operations forces will retain leeway to conduct antiterrorism raids on private Afghan homes — a central American demand that Afghan officials had resisted and described as the last sticking point in negotiations.

 

The Price

They don’t know us.

They are our own government, our elected officials, our press.

They claim to speak for us and to inform us. But they don’t know us. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

We are not their sheeple to manipulate and lie to and send to die. We do not and will not endlessly respond with Pavlovian obedience to the bells they ring for us.

That truth is slowly dawning on the insulated and isolated minions who run our cable news networks, sit in our seats of power and claim they speak for us with absolute accuracy. We are not their toy soldiers they move about in a game.

How could they be so wrong about us? After all, they’ve been successfully lying to us and manipulating us for decades. They’ve convinced us to fight and die for no reason at all time and again all over the globe. What is different now?

Perhaps the difference is the price. Aside from phonied-up claims that “supporting our troops” means we have to keep them at war and in war in perpetuity, these people don’t know much about the price. They were beamed into their elected offices and sit in front of cameras that were paid for by beams of corporate money that comes from the same, or interlocking boards of the same, corporations that are making money off these wars.

Their world is not the world of paying the price. It is the world of reaping the benefits.

Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, fought on the ground in Afghanistan. But the moguls of our war machine did not send their young princes to the front. They were too busy getting the finest educations and living the best life, preparing to be the decision makers who send others to die in their place.

The “news” arm of this complex harangues us every night about the high cost of social security and how keeping our word to retirees is fiscal suicide for this country. Simultaneously, they batter us with constant calls for ever higher “defense” spending.

We are armed past imagining. We have more aircraft carriers and all that goes with them than we did when we were fighting the Germans and the Japanese combined. We buy weaponry that actual combat soldiers say fails in the dust, heat and impact of real warfare. But we don’t buy enough body armor for our troops. We don’t provide returning soldiers with adequate medical and psychological care.

And we can’t rebuild our roads or put together meaningful public transportation. This same country that built a railroad that went from coast to coast in the 19th century, that created a national highway system, suddenly cannot spare the cash to develop a national public transportation system that would lower our dependence on the foreign oil that drives these wars. It appears that the same companies that build the bombs can no longer build the roads.

We do not make the goods this country consumes. We import them. Our industry is weaponry. Our export is war. We are breaking our own backs as a nation to feed a war machine we do not need to keep us safe. We are endangering the future of this nation to enrich a few by engaging in endless random wars that enrich a few and impoverish the rest of us.

Why?

Maybe it goes back that those beams of money that beam our elected officials into office. Maybe it has its roots in who is signing off on the enormous checks those talking heads are pulling down.

While our standard of living declines, they are living large.

While we fight these wars, they incite them.

And that is the reason why now they are so gobsmacked to find that We the People don’t want to make war no more.

They don’t know anything about the price that we’ve been paying for their wars. Because they don’t know anything about us. We are another country to them. They manipulate us. They patronize us. They don’t respect us. In fact, all they know about us is what they learn from reading polls.

It’s time someone tried to explain this to them. They need to understand The Price.

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Fiscal Cliff Bill Will Shrink Your Paycheck

Your take home pay will be a bit less, thanks to the “Fiscal Cliff” bill that Congress passed at the first of the year.

The reason is that the reduction in Social Security taxes which Congress passed at the request of President Obama has expired. This reduction was part of the stimulus package used to keep the country from going into an economic free-fall after the housing crash and resultant lending crisis of 2008.

I’m certain that some of my Republican readers will chide me for saying this. According to them, when I criticize the Obama administration, I’m a statesman. When I criticize the Republicans, I’m a biased Democrat.

However, it is a plain fact that I never benefitted in my paycheck from any of the huge tax cuts that President Bush passed during his presidency. My take home pay did not go up. My taxes did not drop.

On the other hand, the tax cuts President Obama enacted raised my take home pay about $100/month.

I am not a subscriber to “trickle down” economics. The reason I am not is that the money doesn’t trickle down. Or if it does, it doesn’t trickle far enough to get down to me and any of the people I represent.

We’ll talk more about this later. For now, I want to draw your attention to an article from the Baptist Press which outlines some the effects that the “Fiscal Cliff” deal had on deductions for charitable giving. I’ve bolded the section which talks about social security to make it easier for you to find.

The article reads in part:

The ‘fiscal cliff’ bill & charitable giving
 

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 | by Warren Peek/Southern Baptist Foundation

NASHVILLE (BP) — After weeks of political drama, the U.S. has averted or at least delayed the so-called “fiscal cliff.”The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has been signed into law by the president after passing both houses of Congress.

Don’t you love the names of these bills? Taxpayer “relief” means that about 77 percent of U.S. households will pay higher taxes according to Bloomberg, mostly because of the expiration of the payroll tax cut. While some provisions are still set to expire, several provisions have been made permanent.

Following is a brief summary of various provisions of the act that may impact charitable giving:

Income taxes 

The 2012 ordinary income tax rates remain intact for most taxpayers. For individuals with incomes over $400,000 and joint filers over $450,000, the federal income tax rate increased from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The dividend and capital gains rates also increased from 15 percent to 20 percent for those filers as well. For most other taxpayers, however, the capital gains rate remains at 15 percent.

Phase-out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions 

For individuals earning above $250,000 and joint filers above $300,000, itemized deductions and personal exemptions are limited. Total itemized deductions are now reduced by 3 percent. This phase-out will be watched closely, as there is still pressure to cap or phase out all itemized deductions.

Payroll taxes

The reduction of the payroll tax in Social Security is now over. Social Security will now collect 2 percent more from our paychecks. An employee earning $113,700 (the maximum amount of earnings subject to the tax), will pay an additional $2,274 in payroll taxes this year. (Read more here.)


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