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Author: TriSec    Date: 08/05/2014 10:24:15

Good Morning.

Today is our 4,685th day in Afghanistan.

We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,337
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,125

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 554, 802, 275, 000 .00

There's shooting war going on in several places on the Earth even as a type this. Fortunately for us, the US isn't directly involved in any of them except by proxy. Our influence in some places is extremely limited, but in other places some things we could do might have en effect....but we're not doing anything about it.

The Obama Administration wants a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. They just don’t want it enough to actually do anything that might make it happen, if it threatens longstanding support for Israel’s bloated military.

Pentagon officials, addressing the war, insisted that under no circumstances would the US halt arms shipments or even threaten to do so as an attempt to coax Israel to the negotiating table. They insisted Israel is such a long-standing ally that they have to keep arming them.

With billions of dollars in annual military aid, the US is bankrolling the Gaza War more than anyone else. In addition to the arms and cash the US has provided, the NSA is also providing substantial intelligence on places for Israel to attack.

Israel has complained about US efforts to broker a ceasefire already, and those efforts haven’t involved any serious pressure beyond public criticism of massive civilian death tolls.

I suppose I could write an entire blog about this, but I'm not going to. I know I've written about the next subject before, but there's yet another story on the same subject. I have read "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" twice in my life. Being a WWII geek, the first time I was interested in the military aspects of the story, but I read it again rather recently - when I was worried about the rise of Fascism in America. The most chilling part of the book is that the Germans simply rolled over and allowed the "Nazification" to proceed unabated. Something I fear we are still moving towards whenever I see things like this.

WATERTOWN, Conn. — When Waterbury's Emergency Response Team set out to arrest two suspects in a home-invasion case early this month, they went in force: Two heavily armored trucks led a convoy of officers to nab the suspects at a house on Laurel Street.

The mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles used in the raid were acquired for free by Watertown and Waterbury, which are among 11 Connecticut police departments to own such gear.

Watertown Police Sgt. Curt Molnar said his department shares its MRAP as a regional vehicle with Waterbury, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Wolcott and Middlebury.

"You hope not to use it much, because it could mean there's a shooter or a serious call," Molnar said.

Watertown acquired the $733,000 armored vehicle through the federal Defense Logistics Agency's 1033 program, which allows law enforcement agencies to receive surplus military property through their state coordinating office.

The program stems from the National Defense Authorization Act in the '90s, which allows law enforcement agencies to acquire property with a preference given to counter-drug and counter-terrorism requests. All law enforcement agencies have to pay for is transportation or shipping costs.

Watertown spent $2,800 to pick up its MRAP in Texas, rather than paying $10,500 to have it delivered.

Though the department did not have to pay for the vehicle itself, the town must fund maintenance and repairs.

But Molnar said it will cost no more than a town plow truck does.

The MRAP has a new chassis and Caterpillar engine like the town's trucks, he said, adding it can be maintained in Watertown's public works garage.

"This thing will be good for 20-plus years," Molnar said.

The United States isn't a war zone yet, despite how hard the fringe tries to turn it into one. You can put all the new paint and civilian markings you want on these things, but the fact remains that these are still military vehicles, which are all generally designed to do one thing - kill people. I suppose if we painted the NRA logo on them instead, it might make more sense.

We'll deeply change gears while staying on the domestic front. The good Dr. Maddow has broadcast a few stories along these lines in recent weeks. The United States Military now allows same-sex marriage. Indeed, a few have happened at the iconic West Point chapel, complete with a cadet sword-salute. All fine and good, but as Dr. Maddow has pointed out, "What happens when you are assigned to a state that doesn't recognize gay marriage?" Some military personnel are finding out the hard way.

U.S. Air Force Capt. CJ Wilkinson was about to settle into his dream life.

The 32-year-old intelligence officer had legally married his husband in California a month after the Supreme Court effectively ended the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. They were looking forward to starting a new life together in Las Vegas after living apart for years. They picked a three-bedroom home in Summerlin.

But they ran into a problem. Although the military recognized their union, the Veterans Affairs department did not.

The Wilkinsons needed the VA to guarantee their $175,000 bank loan, a service the department provides to active-duty service members and veterans. Wilkinson qualified for up to $200,000 in loan guarantees from the VA when he was single, but once he got married, the VA would back only half of his loan.

“They are actually penalizing me for getting married,” he said.

That’s because one year after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act that expanded federal benefits to same-sex married couples, Veterans Affairs is one of the federal government’s last holdouts for reform. Gay service members can serve openly in the military, but once they get out, they and their families lose their benefits because they fall under the jurisdiction of the VA.

The VA doesn’t recognize legally married same-sex couples unless they live in or have lived in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage when they got married. Nevada doesn’t, though a case is pending in a federal appeals court that could change that.

The Wilkinsons’ next problem: It will take an act of Congress, one of the least-productive places in the country, to fix the problem. The VA doesn’t have the power to change its policies on same-sex marriage.

It has been said of many of our recent enemies, "they hate us because of our freedoms", On some days one wonders exactly what freedoms they'd be referring to.

43 comments (Latest Comment: 08/05/2014 22:20:23 by Will in Chicago)
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