Online Opinion Outpost: Sept. 9

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The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

U.S. military

Mitt Romney, The Washington Post

Russia invades, China bullies, Iran spins centrifuges, the Islamic State (a terrorist threat “beyond anything that we’ve seen,” according to the defense secretary) threatens — and Washington slashes the military. Reason stares.
Several arguments are advanced to justify the decimation of our defense. All of them are wrong.
Some insist that our military is already so much stronger than that of any other nation that we can safely cut it back, again and again. Their evidence: the relative size of our defense budget. But these comparisons are nearly meaningless: Russia and China don’t report their actual defense spending; they pay their servicemen a tiny fraction of what we pay ours, and their cost to build military armament is also a fraction of ours. More relevant is the fact that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is significantly greater than our own and that, within six years, China will have more ships in its navy than we do. China already has more service members. Further, our military is tasked with many more missions than those of other nations: preserving the freedom of the seas, the air and space; combating radical jihadists; and preserving order and stability around the world as well as defending the United States.
The most ludicrous excuse for shrinking our military derives from the president’s thinking: “Things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago.” The “safer world” trial balloon has been punctured by recent events in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Iraq.
The arguments for shrinking our military fall aside to reveal the real reason for the cuts: Politicians, and many of the people who elect them, want to keep up spending here at home.

Afghanistan’s presidential election

The New York Times

Having spent several weeks auditing ballots in Afghanistan’s fraud-plagued presidential vote, election officials there are expected to declare a winner within days. If the two candidates vying for the post fail to reach a power-sharing deal beforehand, the announcement could easily kick off a wave of unrest that would all but guarantee a catastrophic wind-down to America’s longest war.
The window of opportunity to strike a compromise is narrowing dangerously. Without a new government in place, the Obama administration may well pull back on plans to keep a military contingent in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and without that force, the international community will cease bankrolling the impoverished nation.
The Obama administration, which had preferred to limit its involvement in the election, has sensibly offered a power-sharing structure under which the losing candidate, or a designee, would hold a chief executive position with considerable authority.
In this crisis, the Obama administration has had to take on a broker’s role. It must remain engaged and patient in helping the Afghans avert the chaos of a government rived by ethnic or sectarian divisions. The alternative could look much like Iraq’s unraveling. Except in Afghanistan, it would almost certainly come quicker.

Joan Rivers: misfit role model

Judy Gold, CNN

Joan Rivers was a role model to comics everywhere, but especially to women. She got the first laugh and the last laugh. Humor is the best way to get your point across, and nobody got their point across better than Joan.
She never stopped. She kept working in clubs, opening for other celebrities, writing jokes and books, recording albums, and being a mother — and eventually a single mother. She never revealed her pain and struggles, she just kept on working — making other people laugh.
Yes, she offended lots of people, but she laughed at herself first. She knew what you were thinking and trumped you with a joke every time. It’s one thing to be able to say the thing everyone else wishes they could think of saying, but it’s another thing to say it with aplomb, even as you know you’re opening yourself up to recrimination.
Joan Rivers broke down barriers, advocated for free speech and never apologized for who she was.
She gave so many funny little misfit girls permission to dream.

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