Low Flow

Written by SK Ashby

(Cartoonist - Stuart Carlson)

In other news, Amazon has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Pentagon's decision to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft. Amazon contends, with plenty of publicly-available evidence, that Trump interfered in the decision.

We know Trump interfered, or at least tried to. The court will have to decide if the Pentagon was actually influenced by Trump.

Meanwhile, Moody's says department store chains saw their income drop by 20 percent this year and department stores will see the worst of the retail apocalypse in 2020. Moody's lists Macy's as particularly vulnerable.

Can we just state the truth that Macy's is always in trouble now because no one can afford to shop at Macy's? Middle class department stores are disappearing alongside the middle class itself.

Finally, the Washington Post has obtained thousands of documents from the Pentagon detailing their own internal assessment of the war in Afghanistan. The documents show that American forces never really made much progress in the war even when top officials claimed progress was being made.

Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures. [...]

The interviews, through an extensive array of voices, bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day. They underscore how three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on their promises to prevail in Afghanistan.

With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.

The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade.

I wouldn't call this report a shock by any means, but it does hit particularly close to home for me today.

About two weeks ago, I learned that my best friend was being deployed for 12 months just before Christmas and last night I told her goodnight for possibly the last time. She wasn't allowed to tell me where they're sending her so I cannot say if she's being sent to Afghanistan like so many others have been before, but it's certainly a possibility. And there's no good time to lose your best friend for at least a year, but they couldn't have picked a worse time.

I've been writing for nearly a decade and it's still difficult for me to put this feeling into words; a feeling that she's serving the country and fulfilling a responsibility that she signed up for, but her service and the service of millions of others has been taken for granted. She's being taken away from her friends and chosen family for very little substantiated reason. They've all been taken away for little reason.

Someone who has more experience with friends or family serving in the military than I do could probably expound on this far more. This is my first time.

I believe my friend will come home safely just before next Christmas, but until then there will be a gaping hole in the lives of those she's closest to.

Writing was a struggle today and it probably will be for a while. It's difficult to write political opinions when all you can think about is a loss that makes everything else feel irrelevant in comparison. This is familiar territory for me, particularly at this time of year, and yet that doesn't necessarily make it easier.