American Elephants

Obama Tries to Keep the Military from Voting, They Might Not Vote for Him. by The Elephant's Child

In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) was signed into law. Under that act the Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) is supposed to assist service members with voting on military installations.

A Defense Department Inspector General report released in August found that FVAP hadn’t set up those voter assistance offices, using “budget cuts” as an excuse. The law requires that states mail absentee ballots to their servicemen 45 days before an election so that there is sufficient time to count them.

I find this so disgusting and deplorable that I can hardly write about it. Those who serve in our military put their lives on the line for the rest of us, living often in conditions that we would find surprisingly uncomfortable, and they are entitled to have their votes counted and recorded — even if they don’t vote the way the administration wants them to. But vote fraud is a way of life in  Chicago politics.

Absentee ballot requests by the military have dropped significantly since 2008, and are on track to make 2012 a record low for the military vote. As of September 22, requests were down 46% in Florida, 70% in Virginia and 70% in Ohio. All battleground states. About two-thirds of members of the military need to vote absentee.

“These are [the] lowest numbers we’ve seen in the last decade,” Eric Eversole, founder and executive director of the project told U.S. News& World Report. “There are a number of factors that go into this, but if the Pentagon was doing what it was supposed to be, this would be a non-issue.”

This is particularly offensive because President Obama has been so ready to use the troops as backgrounds for his photo ops, often keeping them waiting for hours so he can have his effective military background.  Making sure their vote is counted, unlike that of other voting groups, is not a top priority. A May 2012 Gallup poll showed Mitt Romney pulling 58% to Obama’s 34%, which could possibly have some influence.  A new Rasmussen poll has found that 59% of likely voters who have served in the military favor the Republican challenger.

The Justice Department can file suit to ensure compliance, but in 2010 was content to grant failing states waivers.  As a result, one-third of overseas troops who wanted to vote in 2010 couldn’t according to testimony in Congress. Another example of the law making little difference to the Obama administration.

The Romney campaign has sent letters to election officials in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Michigan and Vermont demanding that the deadline for receiving ballots from overseas voters be extended. At least 30 Wisconsin municipalities failed to send absentee ballots to military voters before the 45-day deadline.

In July the Obama campaign, the DNC, and the Ohio Democrat Party filed suit in that swing state to strike down part of that state’s law governing voting by members of the military that gives them three extra days to cast their ballots. Democrats contended that exception discriminated against nonmilitary voters.

Obama jokes to the military about what a good photo-op they make for him. It’s not just about “photo-ops.” And depriving the military of their votes is not a joke, it’s a disgrace.

Leadership: Here’s What It’s All About. by The Elephant's Child

If you can manage the time tonight, watch this speech by General Mark Welsh III, Commander U.S. Air Forces Europe,  speaking to the cadets at the Air Force Academy last November. You will quickly see why he is such a respected leader, and the speech is moving, inspiring, and worth every minute of your time.

This week, General Mark Welsh III was nominated to be the next chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. By all accounts, General Welsh is perhaps the most respected leader in the Air Force today, and for months both active and retired Air Force personnel were rooting for him to occupy the top slot. Currently serving as Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe, Welsh will take over a service whose mission is more vital than ever, but one that has flown through lots of turbulence in recent years, from severe budget cuts to program mismanagement and security failures. It would be hard to find an American military leader as inspiring as General Welsh, now that David Petraeus has retired, and the Air Force will have a formidable leader in the coming years.

Osama bin Laden is Dead. by The Elephant's Child
May 1, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: History, Islam, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

Good. Killed in a covert operation by US special forces. America reportedly has his body, and DNA confirmation.

No celebration. Just a sense of satisfaction that the long search is over.  And congratulations to our splendid military who have tried for so long to locate him.

It’s more like checking a necessary task off the ledger. We don’t need to review his unfortunate life. That’s done, let’s get on to the next problem.

ADDENDUM: Here is the statement from President George W. Bush:

“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001.  I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission.  They have our everlasting gratitude.  This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001.  The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message:  No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

President Barack Obama deserves credit as well, for maintaining the difficult battle in Afghanistan  and the pursuit of bin Laden, over the objections of many of his supporters. That wasn’t easy.

[ed: incorrectly reports initially claimed it was a bomb, since corrected.]

I’m Posting this Because I Like It a Lot! by The Elephant's Child
March 15, 2010, 12:03 am
Filed under: Freedom, Military, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear | Tags: , ,

(h/t: Ace of Spades)

Getting to Know the People of Afghanistan. by The Elephant's Child
January 12, 2010, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Heartwarming, Military, National Security, News | Tags: , ,

The American military in Afghanistan is intent on protecting the Afghan people. To win the confidence of the people and get their cooperation, the people must feel safe.

According to a new BBC poll, Afghans are much more likely than Americans to think that their country is on the right track (70% approval).  They think more highly of their President Karzai ( 72% approval) than Americans do of President Obama.  And they really don’t like the Taliban, 90% prefer their present government over the Taliban.  And 68% say they support the presence of American troops.

Afghanistan has many tiny villages in hard to get-to places, so it’s hard to know how representative such a poll is, but the results are better than one might expect.

The Weekly Standard has a most interesting article on the military’s move to engage the people of Afghanistan.  An important innovation are the Human Terrain Teams (HTTs).  These teams consist of five to nine civilians with military, intelligence, or social-science expertise, analytical skill, and cross-cultural training.  The teams are embedded with units in the field, and ideally, each team includes at least one Afghan-American, one or more women, and a PhD-level social scientist.

Their mission is to “fill the socio-cultural knowledge gap” in ways that are valuable to the soldiers they advise.  They are specially charged with helping devise non-lethal approaches to improving security in a given place.  These are not civil affairs units, off building schools and digging wells, but eyes and ears for the military officers who plan and lead operations.

HTTs are to learn all they can about the people among whom their units operate — their tribal background and power structures and livelihood, their recent experiences with local government and with Kabul, their contacts with the Taliban and warlords and coalition forces, and any matters of special concern to the commander.  They do this by developing personal relationships in the surrounding communities and systematically interviewing Afghans.  As they go, they are to analyze their findings and then package them in forms digestible by soldiers.

The article explains the rationale for the innovation, and the training the teams receive before they deploy.  It’s very encouraging, and will give you a much better understanding of the military’s mission in Afghanistan.

Blackfive’s Uncle Jimbo Shares His Thoughts About Afghanistan. by The Elephant's Child
October 29, 2009, 2:11 am
Filed under: Freedom, History, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , , ,

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