Friday, November 26, 2010

The Occupier in Afghanistan

Disagreements between Afghan President Hamad Karzai and the US over how the war should be pursued burst into the open at a coalition summit November 20 -- 21. In a face-to-face confrontation photographed in Lisbon, Portugal by the Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama rejected Afghan demands to curtail raids and airstrikes, telling Karzai that he must listen to American concerns.

In a speech to the closed-door NATO session, Karzai named "civilian casualties, detentions, lawless behavior by some security companies, and, at times, the NATO posture as issues of serious concern to the Afghan people."

After the talks, Obama said that he is sensitive to Afghan requests and appreciates Karzai is "eager to assert full sovereignty including control of security operations within his country. If we are ponying up billions of dollars, if the expectation is that our troops are going to be there to ensure that President Karzai can continue to build and develop his country, then he's got to also pay attention to our concerns."

President Obama acknowledged that the issue of Afghan civilian casualties has caused real tensions. Yet, Obama said, "He's got to understand that I've got a bunch of young men and women who are in a foreign country being shot at, having to traverse terrain filled with IED's, and they need to protect themselves. So, if we are setting things up where they are just sitting ducks for the Taliban, that's not an acceptable answer either."

Obama talks to Karzai as an occupier, setting its own rules, killing civilians when necessary, spending billions of dollars, suffering death and casualties to American soldiers, sullying the name of America while rescuing the un-willing, corrupt and complaining ally, fighting in another country’s civil war. Lest we forget, the Taliban did not attack us on September 11, 2001, but here we are ten years later, sitting ducks for the Taliban who are proud to be fighting against the invading foreigner 7,000 miles from home, the foreigner prepared to waste precious lives and resources until 2014 and perhaps beyond.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Toward Fairer Taxes

On November 28, billionaire Warren Buffett will tell the world on ABC television that rich people should pay more in taxes. “I think that people at the high end - people like me - should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it.”

Buffett supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plans to increase income taxes for those couples with $250,000 gross income - and so do I. And this may be the right time to endorse Pelosi for her effective and dignified leadership as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Capable and honorable, trapped in a situation of terrible unemployment, she can’t be held personally responsible for the political annihilation of the Democrats. Allowing the bankers to precipitate the crisis, was a national flaw.

President Obama’s deficit commission proposes raising the age at which one can receive Social Security benefits to 69 by 2075. A great many people in their 60s have lost or are about to lose their jobs and have little hope of finding another. Raising the retirement age would extend the period of receiving no income for many people approaching 70. The commission would end deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest while raising the gasoline tax, levying tax increases on the middle class while giving tax cuts to the wealthy.

Americans should not be stampeded into cutting increasingly critical Social Security protections. It's time to ask those who have reaped the benefits of runaway tax cuts and growing income inequality to pay their fair share, not cut Social Security. It's time to require income taxes on all earnings above $106,800. Doing so would fully address the projected shortfall for 75 years.


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