Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Army to Expand by 22,000 Troops, Marriage of Burma and North Korea?

David Brooks
Ben Bernanke
Howard Fineman
Dana Milbank

"His timing isn't good and his plan, at least what we've seen so far, isn't "reform." - Howard Fineman

"I don't do policy," - Michael Steele

Hillary Clinton arrived in Bangkok, Thailand for a meeting of ASEAN, while Joe Biden is up in Russia. The NY Times reports on another scary scenario that may be playing out, the marriage of Myanmar and North Korea: "North Korea is already suspected of supplying Myanmar with small arms and ammunition, but some intelligence analysts contend that North Korea is also helping Myanmar pursue a nuclear weapons program. They cite as possible evidence newly published photos circulated by Burmese dissident groups of what some analysts assert are a network of giant tunnels outside Myanmar’s jungle capital, Naypyidaw, built with help from North Korean engineers.

Mrs. Clinton did not say whether the Obama administration shares suspicions about any nuclear cooperation. But another senior administration official said the United States had not discounted the possibility. “North Korea has a history of proliferating,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because only Mrs. Clinton was authorized to speak publicly in advance of the conference." Just what we want, more nukes in the jungle, watched over by a paranoid military ruler.... In the meantime, the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi is still being postponed, probably until that first nuke arrives...

Yesterday, Defense Department anounced: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expanding the US Army by 22,000 soldiers, billing it as a "temporary" increase to reduce the strain as the US transitions from the Iraq to the Afghan missions.

The Army has already grown over the past few years to a strength of 547,000 active soldiers, but it is still short on troops. According to one estimate, there are about 30,000 soldiers on the rolls who cannot deploy – including 10,000 wounded warriors. Additionally, the end of the unpopular "stop-loss" policy – which prevented soldiers from leaving the service even after their contract had ended – has also contributed to the shortage.

Now, as the US ramps down the mission in Iraq by 2011 and revs it up in Afghanistan, the Pentagon simply needs even more people. Over the next year, defense officials expect the number of soldiers deployed overseas to increase during the transition.

"This is an important and necessary step to ensure that we continue to properly support the needs of commanders in the field, while providing relief for our current force and their families," Mr. Gates said at a Pentagon briefing Monday."
Our local paper keeps publishing stories on the increasing number of murders and suicides related to soldiers after they return home from too many tours of duties. The Army has needed more help in a long time.

Figuring out what we are doing in Afghanistan would help. That are there because the Taliban is there is a lame excuse, as well as we are still trying to capture Osama bin Laden.  What do we plan to do if the Taliban is defeated? What do we do if the Talibans cannot be defeated? Just like in Iraq, we haven't done anything to make their governments less corrupt and dishonest, we haven't built any schools, hospitals, or provided ways to increase the quality of life. 

I think we have the best and brightest military Generals in charge right now, and if they cannot find a good way out of this morass, then the answer just isn't there in the military mind. And I'm afraid that we have wasted the lives of many people in our chimeric quest...

late night jokes:

"According to a new poll, 42% of Americans say they would vote for Sarah Palin for president in 2012. They also said they'd support her decision to step down in 2013." --Conan O'Brien

"Gov. Sanford is still trying to recover from his sex scandal. This is the latest. This weekend, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote an editorial apologizing for his behavior. I'm not sure he's sincere, though, because it starts out, 'Dear Penthouse.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States will build two nuclear plants in India. And here's the weird part about those power plants. They're going to outsource all the jobs to Americans." --Jimmy Fallon

"The governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is stepping down from office. Will no longer be the governor of Alaska on Sunday. So right about now, Sarah Palin should be taking her grizzly bear head off the wall and packing it in bubble wrap." --David Letterman

"She's leaving office because she wants to spend more time riding in a helicopter shooting wildlife." --David Letterman

"Happy birthday to former Senator Larry Craig from Idaho. Sixty-four years old. And if you are wondering where the celebration is, well, it's in the stall with the yellow balloons." --David Letterman

"Looks like Paula Abdul may not be going back to 'American Idol.' And that means President Obama has to nominate another new judge." --David Letterman

"Several weeks ago, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared without explanation for five days. Now of course, as it turns out, he didn't really disappear. It turns out he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Which is a trail that starts in Maine and ends in an Argentine woman's vagina." --Jon Stewart

"Since then, the governor has apologized many times, most recently in an open letter to the people of South Carolina in which he promised to 'trust god in his larger work of changing me.' I thought Reform Judaism was lax! This Christianity thing sounds amazing! See, you're not banging a hot Argentinean woman. You're 'undergoing a religious metamorphosis.' And, you get to do that and eat bacon. I'm in!" --Jon Stewart

"But to me, the best part about this story were the love letters, the bearing of one's soul in a plaintive attempt to woo the affection of another. I was certainly not talking about the letters that Sanford wrote to his Argentinean paramour. I haven't seen those. I'm talking about the letters that journalists wrote to Sanford's office to try and get the governor to appear on their 'news' programs. " --Jon Stewart 

"Walter Cronkite's influence on the news is still felt today, in that news anchors still wear ties. Other parts of his legacy have become obsolete. For instance, dispassionate reporting is fine for covering the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but not for an issue as complex as Octomom. Sadly, Cronkite's passing is not getting the kind of cable news attention I believe it deserves. I watched the coverage this weekend and I didn't see one helicopter shot of his home. I don't even think his family has booked the Staples Center yet." --Stephen Colbert

David Letterman's Top Ten Surprises on the NASA Moon Landing Tapes

10. Neil Armstrong demanded to be addressed as 'Spock.'
9. Buzz Aldrin won $20 bet by eating a pound of moon dust.
8. Sea of Tranquility had a place where you could rent kayaks.
7. Audible meowing indicates someone brought a kitty.
6. Were supposed to go to Mars, but the men refused to stop and ask for directions.
You ladies know! LOL!
5. Dumb scientist yelled, 'They put a man on the moon, what? How'd they get him back?'
4. Someone at NASA taped over the first half with 'Gunsmoke.'
3. Due to time, NASA had to edit out the big dance number.
2. Aliens ... Run!
1. Aldrin admitted taking one giant leap onto Armstrong's wife

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