This column comes out on Halloween, the iconic day to notice the fearsome October Surprise that has come to hand the Senate to the Republicans. Spooky fear of Ebola and ISIS and who lost Iraq and Afghanistan? Are Egypt and Libya better off? Why couldn’t Obama save Syria from the Syrians?
On October 14, CentCom went to radio silence on news regarding what the “coalition partners” Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain are doing to aid the fight against the so-called Islamic State, which threatens them a lot more than it threatens us. On October 21, CentCom actually announced, “out of respect for participating nations, U.S. Central Command will defer to partner nations to publicly comment on their airstrikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.”
On October 27, American Marines and British troops completed their anticipated withdrawal from Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Those facilities together covered 6,500 acres of Afghan desert and at one time housed a fourth of the total allied forces in Afghanistan. Reuters reported that the U.S. alone is leaving $230 million in property and equipment for the Afghans.
Adam Chandler penned “An Elegy for Helmand, Afghanistan” in The Atlantic, where he pointed out that Helmand was the venue for the bloodiest battles of America’s longest war and Helmand remains the richest source of the opium poppies that fund the Taliban’s war against modernity.
The Brits in particular had taken on slowing down the opium trade as a goal, but that has proved as elusive as the American goal of saving Afghanistan from the Afghans. President Obama will be pilloried when the Taliban are back in power, but there is no amount of U.S. blood that would have changed that outcome. Afghanistan will join the 21st century when it decides and opium will quit being a major cash crop when Europe and the U.S. quit consuming it.
Military Times surveyed its mostly GI readers and 54 percent believe that ground troops will have to return to Iraq for round three.
In the latest wrinkle on voter ID, Darth Alekseyevich Vader showed up at the polls in Ukraine, but the Sith lord was not allowed to vote because he would not remove his helmet. Vader was a candidate for the Internet Party on a slate that included Chewbacca, Princess Amidala and Yoda under the slogan “electronic government against bureaucracy.” “The Force,” Anna Brand reported for MSNBC, “is not so strong with this one.” Vader’s birth name in Ukraine was not Anakin Skywalker but rather Viktor Shevchenko.
New polling in the U.S. shows 67 percent of the voters dislike the Democratic Party, which is said to be about to lose control of the Senate unless young people and minorities turn out like this was a presidential year. However, 72 percent dislike the Republican Party, which is about to gain control. “Sounds like,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller chuckled, “an opening for the Internet Party.”
Think of two possibilities in 2016. Would you rather decide between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush or between Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul?
Political consultant Buddy Barfield pleaded guilty in front of a U.S. Magistrate to disappearing almost $1.8 million in funds from the campaign accounts of Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Cousin Ray, having watched the spending in that race, commented drily, “they must’ve given that boy the keys to the petty cash drawer.”
The Texas 10th Court of Appeals declined to say that a cell phone is like a suitcase. A lawful search of a car means the police can look inside any containers found in the car. In Chung v. State, the police looked into the contents of a cell phone without a warrant and then claimed that the cell phone was just a container for information, so looking inside should be lawful if looking inside any other container would be lawful. The court found calling a cell phone a container “a bit strained” and refused to bite.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has reversed the termination of Billy McCall’s parental rights because his ex-girlfriend’s notice she was pregnant was inadequate, according to the Tulsa World. She posted the notice on Facebook.
The New York Times carried a video report on the Hendo, an early iteration of the hoverboard, Marty McFly’s transportation of choice in Back to the Future II and III. The only drawbacks are measly battery life and the need for a special surface. No offense to Mr. McFly, but Cousin Ray and I were bickering over who got the 1946 Ford convertible in Back to the Future II and who would be stuck with the Delorean.
The Cat Group, an interdisciplinary organization devoted to feline welfare, announced the publication of a new book by Angus Nurse and Diane Ryland, Cats and the Law: A Plain English Guide. I had to ask if cats speak English? Cousin Ray said he never knew a cat that observed the law.
Speaking of what we don’t know about cats, who knew that big kitties love pumpkins?
Defense One carried an article by technology editor Patrick Tucker setting out nine potential uses for robots in the fight against Ebola, everything from waste disposal to telepresence by robot for interpreters and medical experts. Cousin Ray wanted to know how long the robots would be quarantined?
Dominic Adesanya, 23, was charged with (among other things) felony assault on law enforcement officers. The victims were Secret Service agents Hurricane, who was body-slammed and punched, and Jordan, who was kicked in the snout. Hurricane and Jordan are, in police parlance, “K-9 units.” We call them dogs, and this latest White House fence jumper did not stand a chance.
As noted in this space, the Secret Service recently failed to “deploy K-9 units” when a mentally disturbed man jumped the fence and actually penetrated far enough into the White House to reach the living quarters if he had known the way.
Upon learning that the Secret Service K-9 units were Belgian Malinois, the House of Representatives quickly passed a resolution demanding that any foreign dogs seeking federal employment present a certificate of U.S. birth or naturalization papers. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), the sponsor, said, “It’s all Obama’s fault. He’s the one who allowed that Portuguese animal to become First Dog. What do you expect from a POTUS born in Kenya?” Democratic Party spokeswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL) replied that the First Dog in the George W. Bush administration was a Scottish Terrier.
Non-canine Secret Service officers took another hit when The New York Times reported that David Nieland, in charge of investigating the prostitution scandal in Columbia, resigned in the face of an investigation of his own alleged encounter with a prostitute. “Why can’t the Secret Service hire agents like 007,” asked Cousin Ray, “who can get laid without paying?”
Jogger Dean Farley, 28, was tackled by officers from the British Metropolitan Police’s Protection Command and held in a police van for an hour after accidentally jostling a man in a suit. The inhabitant of the suit was Prime Minister David Cameron and the jogger, like most joggers, was not carrying ID. Farley told the BBC, "I didn't see David Cameron. I didn't know it was David Cameron until they let me out of the police van an hour later," adding, "I kind of wish I had been protesting something or I had had something to say." Cousin Ray wondered if the Metro security detail was auditioning for a gig with the U.S. Secret Service.
Another BBC report signaled an election in Toronto “ends the Rob Ford era” when Ford’s brother Doug was defeated by Conservative John Tory (real name!) in his race to follow Rob as mayor. Doug said of Rob, known as the mayor caught on video smoking crack cocaine and for his sexist comments about women pols, “I still believe he’s the best mayor ever.” Political comics agreed with Doug’s assessment and took some consolation from the fact that Rob reclaimed his old Council seat in the same election.
Florida State “Seminole” star running back Karlos Williams, the team's leading rusher, is under investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department for a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, who is pregnant with their second child. The girlfriend promptly notified the Tallahassee police that she will not cooperate in the investigation. Coach Jimbo Fisher was quoted by ESPN calling it “another false report.” This is the same team whose quarterback, Jamesis Winston, is awaiting a FSU disciplinary hearing on a sexual assault charge. FSU is contending for a national title, and the NFL is trying to crack down on violence against women with these guys in the recruiting pipeline.
In what must be the bush league of football player misconduct, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the West Point football team engaged in some hard partying with high school football stars considered hot prospects for West Point, including some underage drinking and allowing the kiddies to see a couple of cheerleaders making out on the party bus while loud music provided a sound track for the evening. West Point recruiters were also charged with enlisting female cadets—not for sex but to dispel the stereotype of no ladies at a military school. “Does West Point understand,” Cousin Ray asked, “how far behind they are when Florida State recruits unwed fathers who slap their girlfriends around?”