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December 2009

Earl Dann, rest in peace - a Eulogy

By Brian Dann and Elene Gubin


Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes, how do you measure a year in the life?  That is the question asked to us by the song Seasons of Love, from the Broadway musical Rent. Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes, how do you measure a woman or a man?  The answer that is offered to us by this song is, “How about love.”  Well by looking around this room today, and the amount of people who have come out to pay there respects, it’s obvious to both my sister and me that our fathers life was immeasurable.
There is an old Yiddish saying. It goes, “We make plans, and G-d laughs.” That has never been truer then it is today.  Cancer is something that our father never planned for, but who does?  He planned for many things but not this.  He planned to stay healthy.  He worked out every day on the treadmill or lifted weights.  He watched everything he ate, and he took incredible care of himself and it showed.  It was one of the many things that defined our father.  He always looked 10 years younger then he was and he could run circles around me.  He always used to say to me, if some one asks you your age, don’t lie and say that you are younger, lie and say that you are much older, because then there response will be, “Boy, you look great for your age!”  But my father didn’t have to lie, because he always looked great.  He took impeccable care of himself.  But this, this he did not plan for.  He planned for many things.  He planned to play with his grand kids, to see them grow up and dance at there Bar and Bat Mitzvahs’, there weddings.  He planned to see them go to college, and at least one of them, Danny, he was lucky enough to see him grow up to be a fine young man and attend Indiana.  Danny was his first grand kid, the golden child.  And you have never seen a papa more proud to have become a papa then he was on the day that Danny was born.  He attended every game, every sporting event Danny was in.  He was Danny’s biggest fan, as he was to all his grand kids.  He was a proud papa and his love for each one of his grand children was unconditional.  Danny, Jamie, Sarah, Dylan and Addison, were the light of his life.  He was blessed.  One day while my father was in hospice, Rabbi Helbraun came by.  My dad was very weak and the Rabbi asked my dad if he would like him to say a prayer.  My dad said yes, and the Rabbi asked if there was something in particular that my dad would like him to pray for.  My fathers answer was, “My grandchildren.”  As me, my sister and my mother stood there, all with our hand on my father, the Rabbi said his prayer.  It was one of those incredibly real moments in life where you feel so connected to the ones around you and to G-d. 
A few weeks before my father past I wrote a Thanksgiving article about him for my website. I wrote that during this process that our father was going through, he was given a gift.  It may not have been a gift that he wanted, but it was a gift none the less. Our father was given the gift of having time to tell the loved ones around him how he truly felt about them before his soul moved on, and we were given the opportunity to tell him as well.  One day while in hospice my mother asked him, “Earl, what was your biggest accomplishment?  Was it DannDee Display, your cars, your boat?”  My fathers answer to her was, “It was marrying you, Marilyn,” and he truly meant it.  I can’t tell you how many times my father had told me that he never could have done anything without the support of my mother.  She was everything to him.  My mother gave him the freedom and the support to do the things in life that made him a success. Whether it was running his business or taking flying lessons he often told me that with out her support he never could have done any of it.  She was his true partner in life.  They were a real love story.  He loved my mother, adored her and most importantly cared so deeply for her. He met her at a dance, a dance where he went with a blind date who he managed to conveniently take home early by telling her that someone had broken into his business and he had to go meet the police at his office.  He took this girl home and went back to the dance.  When he got back, he saw a pretty young girl standing across the dance floor.  He walked over and introduced himself.  He used to joke that he couldn’t tell where the crinoline stopped and my mother started.  They went on a date and nine months later, on December 18th 1960, Marilyn Pearlman became Marilyn Dann.  He used to write her love letters when he would travel for business and even up until his last days at Dann Dee Display Fixtures he would send her flowers every time he traveled to the Orient.  His love for my mom is forever and that is something of his that my mom will always have.
I said earlier that there were many things that defined my father and one of them was his success in business.  Dann Dee Display Fixtures was more then just a place to work.  It was like a second family to him.  Every single person there was important to him and he truly appreciated the contributions they made to his company. Earl Dann had an open door policy, anyone could come talk to him any time they wanted to and he treated every employee with the same level of respect from the new guy in the warehouse to his highest executive in his company. He had a true passion for his work and loved what he did.  My dad was a born sales man and a great businessman.  But he also knew his limitations and he told me that to succeed in business, surround yourself with the best.  And that he did. And many of them that could be here today, are.   From John Vacala, to Larry Chronowski, Rosemary Levy to Carol DeCicco, Mark Pritchard to Jennifer Winebrenner,  just to name a few, these people were his second family.  They believed in my father and were just as committed to his success as he was.  As children, my sister and I used to love going to work with my dad.  When ever he had to redecorate the showroom for the change of seasons he would take us with to help him, and as a young boy watching my father, in August, open up giant Christmas trees and ornaments, snowflakes and robotic elves, strings of lights and giant boxes of plastic snow and putting them all together into a winter wonderland was amazing!  Not every Jewish kid gets to decorate for Christmas, but I did.  I thought my dad had the coolest job in the world, and when we would go with him to trade shows in New York, he would stroll down the convention hall like he owned the place. Everybody knew him.  He was like a celebrity.  Our dad was amazing. He was a visionary and he changed the way the display fixture industry did business.  He was the first to put out a full color catalog, and every year the cover was anticipated by everyone who got it.  He grabbed everyone’s attention and forced others in the industry to step it up a notch.  At the top of his game there was not a store in the United States that did not have a Dann Dee Display Fixtures catalog under there register.  My father always told me that in business, it comes from the top down, and my father’s passion, commitment and enthusiasm for his work permeated through out his company.
But for me the thing that really defined my father was his passion for his family. When you are young, a father’s passion for his family is something that is difficult to see.  It’s difficult to understand why a father does the things he does, or says the things he says.  And I don’t think I every really truly understood my father, until I became a father myself, and then I understood, because the moment your child is born, life is no longer about you.  I understood why in old photos and movies why my father looked so happy holding me and my sister as babies.  I understood why my father was so thrilled when I learned to ride on two wheels.  I understood why my dad was at every little league game, and wanted to coach my soccer team.  I understood why he loved to take me to the airport for lunch on the weekends with all the other private pilots and introduce them to his boy.  I understood why he wanted to take just me fishing in Canada.  I understood why the day I was leaving to go to college, my dad was standing in his bathroom, by himself, crying.  I understood why when my sister and I wanted to work for his company he made us start by taking orders on the phones, and work our way up.  I understood why when I wanted to leave his company and start my own photography business he helped me every step of the way, and continued to through out my life.  And I understood why when he was laying in Hospice and I told him that by this coming June I would finally have my Masters Degree, he opened his eyes and smiled.  I understood that to my father, we were everything and life was no longer about him, it was about us.  I understood.
One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do is define my father. How do you put into words a man who has been an inspiration and a role model for my sister and me our entire lives? The other day a co-worker commented to me that I seem to be handling this very well.  Family and friends said to me many times that I often don’t seem sad.  My answer was always, don’t worry, I will have my moments, and I have, but when I think of my fathers life, I am happy.  The truth is life is never long enough.  There is always something else to do, something else to see, events we don’t want to miss, but we all have our time to go.  No one can say that my father’s time on this earth was wasted.  Because when my father was alive, he lived.  He lived with passion, he lived with purpose and he made the most of life.  He lettered in track, he served in the army, he was a disk jockey, he sang with big band orchestras.  He got married, had two kids, 5 grand kids.  He saw both of his kids get married, and saw one of his grandkids go to college. He built up a highly successful business and sold it for millions!  He flew airplanes, owned boats, a Bentley, houses, and had more friends then a person could ever imagine.  He lived!  And for that I feel good.  We should all be so lucky to live as full of a life as our father did.  My sister and I, as well as our entire family will miss him very much.  We will miss his guidance, we will miss his sense of humor, and we will miss the way his face lit up every time he was with Danny, Jamie, Sarah, Dylan or Addison.  Not only has he been our father, but he has been our friend, our inspiration, and our role model and we will miss him.  Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes, how do you measure the life of Earl Dann?  We measure it with love.  We love you dad.

President Obama Can Kiss My A$@!


President Obama can kiss my A$@!  Anyone who voted for this guy should have his head examined.  He promised this and that and is showing us he can’t deliver! Oh, if you’re thinking these are my sentiments, you are wrong.  These are the types of things that I have been hearing normal Americans say on the radio to various call in shows.  But I’m not talking about the conservative right wing call in shows like Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck.  I have been hearing these things on liberal, progressive left wing call in shows like Tom Hartman, or Ed Schultz.  It is amazing to me the short attention span that we have in this country.  A year ago we were dancing in the streets and today progressives are picking up torches and getting ready to stone the white house, while conservative are lighting the torches and handing it to them.  Have we gone insane?  Ok, so the Senate has passed a health care bill that does not include a public option.  And OK, President Obama did not seem to be very aggressive in making sure this did not happen.  And OK, we have video footage of both Senator and President Obama saying that he will not sign any health care bill into law that does not include a public option.  But I ask you this.  Did I miss the event where President Obama signed a health care bill into law? No I did not because, there is no bill to sign!  President Obama has yet to go back on this promise.  Two bills exist, a House bill, that includes a public option, and a Senate Bill that does not and these still have to be merged in to one final bill.  It could be weeks before this is resolved.  But let’s say, for arguments sake that this bill goes through and is signed into law with no public option.  That would suck, big time, and if you want to know why, read my other blogs.  I’m not going to into that here. Should it mean that those of us who voted for this president should declare our utter disappointment and announce that he has lost our trust and confidence?  Well truthfully, this was something that I was wrestling with in my mind.  What would not getting everything we need in this health care bill mean for my own support of this president?  Then this morning I was driving into work and I put on the Stephanie Miller show.  They were running a repeat of her show that aired the day after the President was sworn in and I was listening to the tone of the callers from that day and how excited and hopeful everyone was.  And it reminded me of three things.  First, that this man, thank g-d, is not George W. Bush.  This man can form a complete sentence without it being prepared in advance.  This man did not destroy our image on the world stage and put us on the road to economic ruin.  This man did not get us into a war based on lies and deception.  This man did not neglect to include the billions of dollars, needed to support two wars, from his budget every year.  This man did not make national policy decisions based on his personal Religious beliefs.

Second, it reminded me that the mere fact that we elected this particular individual president, by a overwhelming majority, was a major victory for this country on both the national and international stages.  The world never thought that the United States of American would ever elect a black man with the middle name Hussein, and the first name Barack, President of their country, but we did, and doing so we instantly regained an incredible amount of credibility on the world stage. 

And the third thing that I was reminded of was that this President has accomplish a huge number of things that never were accomplished under our previous administration and never would have been accomplished under the McCain administration.  These included:

  • Two days after being elected he banned the use of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”
  • One day later he opened up funding, that was closed by George Bush, to overseas, planned parenting organizations.
  • Three days later he gave California authorization to enact car-emissions standards that would lead to cleaner air quality, which Bush had been blocking for six years.
  • Two weeks after that the President signed the $787 Billion dollar Stimulus Bill.
  • In March the President opened up funding, that was previously restricted, to Stem Cell Research by George Bush.
  • In April and June, the President engineered the restructuring of Chrysler and GM through bankruptcy, and avoided there shut down and massive loss of jobs that would have gone with it.
  • In June he made a historic speech to the Arab world on their own soil that reset the tone of our relations with that region and open up communication and understanding that previously was non-existent.
  • Also in June The President announced the Cash for Clunkers program that re-energized the auto industry and gave Ford a billion dollar profit.
  • He appointed the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.  He signed the Lilly-Ledbetter Act that guaranteed fair pay for women.  He ordered the Open-Government-Directive that enacted his Transparency in Government campaign promise, where-by the president can no longer declare information withheld simply because the president says so.  It can only be withheld after a review by a senate committee that declares the request constitutional and within the bounds of the law. He invited gay couples and their children to the annual Easter egg hunt on the white house lawn, and ordered law enforcement to no longer peruse cases of licensed individuals selling marijuana for strictly medical use in states where it is legal to do so.
  • And lastly, he promised health care reform.  He pushed for this and would not let the House and the Senate push this initiative aside.   We will no longer be denied due to a pre-existing condition.  A child with a chronic illness will no longer loose there insurance due to a lifetime cap.  And if as citizens we voice our opinion that a Public Option must be part of this final bill, we may have a real choice in our health insurance at prices that are affordable to everyone.


But if the Public Option does not go through, I am not going to regret the decision to vote for Barack Obama because I have seen real change and I know that we will see much more.  I may not agree with every decision that his administration has made but I know that none of the things that have been accomplished could have been accomplished without this president.    As President Elect Obama said in his acceptance speech on that night in Grant Park, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.”

Is There a Doctor in the House? What About the Senate?


Emergency!  It looks like our health care bill is coding!  NURSE get me 2 liters of Public Option on the rapid infuser, STAT!  Doctor its flat lined!  Someone get me the paddles!...CLEAR!!  There’s barely a pulse!  We’re going to have to intubate!  Will somebody shut up Joe Lieberman, I need to concentrate here!  I see what’s wrong nurse!  Blue dog concessions are blocking the bills progress!  Can you save it Doctor?! Nurse, In the words of President Obama, “Yes we can, Yes we can!” 

Oh if it was that easy!  I hope I understand this correctly.  For the first time in ages we have a Democratic Congress, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President who promised us real change, but they can’t come together to pass a simple sweeping health care reform bill that puts the people first and the corporations second, and includes a true Public Option?  If all the Democrats united they could basically do whatever they wanted to, but, Noooooooooooo!  Democrats just can’t agree on jack squat! 

“But why in the world would any Democrat not want a true Public Option included in this health care bill?  Could it be because some Democrats have the Insurance Company Lobbyists in there back pockets and the money is more important to them then the interests of the people they represent?”

Nah!  But maybe some of them just don’t know what a Public Options is.  First let’s define what it is not.  It is not Socialized Health Care.  In fact it is not health care at all.  In fact it is not even socialized.  It is health insurance.  Doctors won’t be working for the government, hospitals won’t be government owned, except of course for the ones that are already government owned.
“But wait, isn’t health insurance what we have right now? Am I missing something?”

Well no you’re not.  It is health insurance, but not like we have right now.  Let’s call it Health insurance version 2.0, or New and Improved health insurance.  This health insurance slices and dices and even makes Julian potatoes.  This health insurance is very similar to what we have today for seniors, called Medicare.  It is a government sponsored health insurance program, or a Public program, hence the word Public in Public Option.  Ahhhh, now you’re getting it?

“But why, would I want this Public Option health insurance, if I already have health insurance?” 
Well you see, it will be less expensive, a lot less expensive, and the awesome thing about it is that you get health insurance that's just as good as all of the other big corporate health plans.
“But how will it be so much less expensive if it offers the same quality insurance as the expensive corporate plans?”
I’ll tell you how.  You see the big corporate plans are “for profit.” There goal is to make the most money from you they can even if they have to refuse coverage to you in the process.  In addition the big corporate plans pay 30% of what you pay in premiums to there executives in multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses.  The Public Option, on the other hand, is not concerned with profit.  It is concerned with paying your medical bills, and government employees don’t make multi-million dollar salaries.  Hmmm imagine that, an insurance plan that puts you first.  Its starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?  

“But if it’s less expensive won’t everyone want to have it?  And if every one has it won’t that put the corporate insurance companies out of business?”
Congratulation, you have just arrived at the essential reason why we must have a strong Public Option.  You see, right now the big corporate insurance companies have no reason to lower your premiums.  Why would they, there is no competition.  They can charge you what ever they want and we have no choice but to either pay it or have no health insurance.  But if the government offers everyone a Public Options insurance plan that offers you the same or better insurance that you get from the big corporate giants like Humana, Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, or Unicare, at prices that are drastically lower, now we have competition and if the big corporate insurance companies want to survive, they will have to lower there prices to stay in business.
“This sounds great!  A great insurance program, guaranteed by the government, at low prices and available to anyone!  But we will be forced to have this “Public Option”, right?  See it is socialized health insurance!  Down with big government!!” 

Woa! Hold on Rush Limbaugh, this is where the word “Option” comes in.  You see, it’s optional, hence the word Option in Public Option.  No one will ever be forced to have the Public Option.  You can choose any insurance you want.  You can even keep your current insurance.  You won’t have to change doctors, go to different hospitals, and even your current insurance will cost less because competition will drive down prices!

“ Woo Hoo !  Let’s celebrate!”

...Uh, hold on there cowboy.  You see, there is one little problem.  Since the Democrats can’t seem to agree on jack squat, certain itsy bitsy, teeny weeny little compromises had to be made, like eliminating the Public Option from the health care bill.  Ok bye, have a nice day!


….Hmmmmm?  Oh yea, you heard me right, they eliminated the Public Option in order to make certain other Democrats vote for the health care bill.  

“But what about competition, and lower prices and all that stuff?”
Yeeeea,…um,…well, you see, that’s all gone.  Oh were going to have other really good things like, you can no longer be denied for pre-existing conditions, or there are no longer going to be caps on how much your insurance company will pay out if you get sick, or your insurance can no longer be dropped because you are simply costing them too much money, but, and this is the reason that the insurance company executives are all having a big, all you can drink martini party right now,  no Public Option will mean that the big corporate insurance companies will be able to charge us what ever the hell they want to since there will nothing to drive down costs, and they will have around thirty five million more customers that they can do this too.  To put it bluntly…We’re Screwed.

“You mean to tell me that if the Democrats would simply include a Public Option all of us could have a real choice in our health care insurance at prices substantially lower then it is now, but with out the Public Option prices could actually go up, and the only choice we will have in insurance is the big corporate insurance giants or nothing?!”

Yes. That’s exactly what I am saying.  But there is something you can do.  You can call your congressman and senator today and tell them that you want a strong Public Option included in this Health Care Bill or they will loose your support.  If they are a Republican, tell them at the next election you will be voting for a Democrat, and if they are a Democrat tell them you will be voting for there Democrat opponent!

“Why wouldn’t I tell the Democrat that I will be voting Republican?”

Yea…Um, I’m just going to ignore that question.  Anyway…The other thing you can do is call the White House and tell President Obama that you do not what him to sign this bill with out a Public Option.  The bottom line is that this Health Car Bill must include a Public Option or it is not worth the paper it printed on.  We do not just have to be bystanders in this process.  This is a democracy and we can always be active participants.  Take a stand.  I’m glad we could have this talk. Nurse, I'm scrubbing in.

To contact your senator go to  To contact the White House call 202-456-1111 or go to

The Second City, 50 Years of Jumping Off Cliffs

By Brian Dann

When I was nine years old Saturday Night Live went on the air and because my parents were usually out late on Saturday night, I got to stay up late and watch it.  Sure at nine years old some of the humor may have gone right over my head but I still knew that this was something different, some thing that we had never seen before. Watching John Belushi do his Samurai character, or Dan Aykroid try to sell us a Bass-O-Matic, Or Gilda Radner endear us with the sweet but always somewhat confused Miss Emily Litela, who ended every commentary with, “Never mind,” was an absolutely magical experience.  At nine years old it became my dream to one day be in the audience at SNL.  A few years later I learned something amazing.  I learned where most of these remarkable actors came from, and it was practically in my back door, The Second City.  I was so excited when I got to go to my first Second City show because to me it was the closest I would get to SNL with out actually going to New York.  After all, this was the place that it all began. In short, for me The Second City was incredible.  I watched the talent on stage trying to remember each one of there faces so that when I eventually would see them in movies or on SNL I could say that I saw them at The Second City first.  I honestly don’t recall who was on the stage that night but I remember that I could not wait to go back.  I watched the improv sets and marveled at how these actors could invent dialog right on the spot.  I never imagined that I could do that my self.

Then in my early twenties, just to do something different I decided to take an improv class at The Players Workshop.  It was one of those, lets go jump off a cliff and see what happens, moments.  I had no acting experience, except for playing a munchkin and the Tin Man in a forth grade production of the Wizard of OZ at Harand Camp where you could see my underwear right through my purple tights, and I for sure never did improv before. I figured what’s the worst that can happen, I forget my lines?  I loved it.  I can’t say that from the first class I fully understood improv, but just like when I watched the first SNL, or saw my first Second City show, I knew this was something different and I wanted more.  There were times that I struggled with it, and times that it all fell together, just like improv is supposed to, but the one thing that kept me going was knowing that at the end of this year long program, I got to perform my graduation show on the main stage at The Second City.  The day my graduation show finally arrived was the most exciting day of my life.  My entire family was there.  There I was standing back stage at the place that brought us such great talents like Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Robert Klein, Harold Ramis, and Alan Arkin just to name a few.  I stood there and stared at the walls wondering what great talents must have been standing right where I was at that very moment.  Then the lights went down, the music started and there I was, on the Main Stage at The Second City, performing a show that, just like so many improvisers before me, I had written with my fellow actors through the art of “Yes and…”.  The audience loved it, they laughed a lot.  I spent the next hour jumping off a cliff to see what would happen, and what happened was I landed on my feet.  What happened was I understood how those brilliant actors did what they did at that first show I saw at The Second City.  I learned that if you can do this, you can do anything because improv is not about being funny, it is not about telling jokes.  It is about being fearless, it is about being connected, it is about being honest, it is about being selfless, it is about the other person and it is never about you.  And even thought I had only done one improv show, that day I felt part of something special.

I was lucky because I graduated from the Players Workshop the last year that The Second City Training Center accepted Players Workshop graduates to their conservatory program with out having to audition to get in.  I knew that ever becoming an actual cast member of The Second City was a long shot, so if that ever did happen it would just be icing on the cake.  Hell, I got to study improv at the Harvard of comedy!  What I learned at Second City, in the training center was invaluable, but the classes were not where I learned the most.  It was the improv sets at Second City ETC and the Main Stage, where for me as a young kid it had began, where I knew this was something different, this was something special.  It was through watching the talents of the cast at the time, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Scott Allman, Ian Gomez, Jackie Hoffman, Jenna Jolovitz, Dave Razowsky, and Amy Sadaris, in short, the most incredible group of improvisers and actors that I had seen in my life, that I learned my craft.  Watching these performers bring an idea to life and each night, tweak it and improve it, and take chances, and not be afraid, and know how to give, and know how to receive, and know how to be real, and not go for the joke, but instead find the humor that exists in life… is where I learned how to Improvise.  But most of all I learned that when you jump off a cliff, it’s ok if sometimes you don’t land on your feet, because sometimes that’s where the real magic happens.

So on this week that marks the 50th anniversary of an institution that changed the way the world laughs, I say thank you.  Thank you for this journey, thank you for bringing all of us, all of this talent that has enriched all of our lives, and while I may have never made it as a cast member of The Second City, thank you for teaching me the art of, “Yes And…”

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Second City.

Bushes Afghan, What NOT to Wear


Sit down, get ready, because here it comes.  President Bush did something right.  Whew, there I said it, I admit it, and I am not ashamed of it, and don’t ask me to say it again.  Oh, what is it you are wondering that he did right?  President Bush invaded Afghanistan with a clear purpose and mission, first, to break up the Taliban, second, to disable the Al-Qaeda organization, and third, to capture Osama Bin Laden.  Well, as Meatloaf said, two outta three ain’t bad.  I will give credit where credit is due.  After 9/11 the president took charge, the enemy was clear and we knew where they were.  The Taliban was harboring the criminals, Al-Qaeda, who were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11, they were allowing the Al-Qaeda to run terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and we put a stop to it. We succeeded in dismantling the Taliban and reduced Al-Qaida to a mere shadow of what it once was.  For that I give President Bush credit.  But President Bush did make one mistake though.  He failed in capturing Osama Bin Laden.  He diverted our resources to Iraq and did not complete the mission set out at hand.  Now I could go into all the recent reports of how we had Bin Laden cornered and let him slip through our fingers at Tora Bora, or the speculation that President Bush may have let Bin Laden go on purpose because if he actually captured him there would have been less of a justification to invade Iraq in the first place to get rid of fictitious weapons of mass destruction and line the pockets of Haliburton and Blackwater.  So I won’t mention those things, because that is really not what this article is about.  What it is about is what is going on today.  To be more specific, it is about President Obama’s recent announcement to send in 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and increase our presence there to around 90,000 troops.

To put it simply, this is a mistake.  I do not support President Obama’s decision to increase troops and escalate this war.  I hope to G-d he proves me and everyone else wrong because if he succeeds we will all win.  The problem is I do not see how success is possible.  I think the president is misguided. To have a troop buildup in Afghanistan at this time is unnecessary.  If anything we should be pulling our troops out with possibly a small UN coalition left behind for observation only.  Before 9/11 the Taliban were not our enemy. They did not bother us and we did not bother them.  Then 9/11 happened and we had reason to retaliate against them.  They were harboring the criminals that attacked us, Al-Qaeda.  Today the Taliban are no longer in power.  Today the Taliban that are left are not harboring Al-Qaeda and are not letting Al-Qaeda run terrorist training camps.  The Taliban were defeated 8 years ago, are no longer in power, and Al-Qaeda has been reduced to a shell of what once existed.  The only thing left to do is capture Osama Bin Laden and what ever is left of the Al-Qaeda high command, and most intelligence organizations agree that they are most likely in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.  These days Osama Bin Laden is probably running a falafel bar just outside of Islamabad and Al-Qaeda is just his side job.  We do not need 90,000 troops and an estimated $30 billion extra dollars this year alone on top of what is already being spent for this war to find and capture the remaining Al-Qaeda terrorists, not to mention the additional U.S. lives that will lost in this action.  According to, to date we have already lost 1533 soldiers in Afghanistan, with 486 this year alone, the highest number in a single year since the war started. And in Iraq we have lost 4685 soldiers, and since this war started 31,557 soldiers have been wounded.  These numbers do not take into account the men and women who are suffering from PTSS, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or the civilian workers in Iraq who have been killed, (about 456) or wounded. The money that is being spent on both of these wars is being diverted from where it needs to be spent, here at home.  We have a country that is falling apart.  We have infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.  We have businesses that need loans to survive.  We have people loosing there homes to foreclosure, school systems that can’t afford books, supplies or to pay there teachers what they deserve.  We have school buildings that need to be rebuilt.  We have sky rocketing unemployment and we have men, women and children who are dying because of lack of health care.  We have police forces that need to hire more officers but can’t afford to.  Last year in Chicago alone we had 509 homicides, 38 of them being with in the Chicago public schools.  In Iraq we had 486 U.S. fatalities in our armed forces.  It was safer for a soldier to be in Iraq last year then it was for him or her to be in Chicago.   Here is where we need the rebuilding. Here is where the real human tragedy exists and here is where we need to focus our efforts.  We need to stop being the world’s policemen and start cleaning up our own back yard.  President Obama I do not support this action.  You promised us and the world change.  Now prove it.