Marc Thiessen for the American Enterprise Institute's AEIdeas: The Obama administration's failure to secure a Strategic Framework Agreement with the Iraqi government, and its subsequent decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country, allowed al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to make a comeback. Not only has al Qaeda surged forces into Syria, according to the Washington Post it has re-established a safe haven in Iraq from which it has planned terrorist attacks against U.S. targets outside Iraq. In 2012, AQI nearly pulled off a major attack on the U.S. embassy in Jordan in 2012.

And now they have retaken major cities that were liberated with the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American servicemen and women.

The lesson is that the American withdrawal from Iraq left a security vacuum that allowed our enemies to regroup and regain lost ground. Look at what is happening in Iraq today, and imagine what might have happened if the U.S. had followed the same strategy in Korea after the Korean War ended, or in Germany and Japan after World War II. The continued presence of U.S. forces provided a security guarantee that allowed young free market democracies to rise up on the ashes of war.

The question is: do we want Afghanistan to follow the path of Iraq, or the path of Korea, Germany and Japan? Do we want to see the Taliban and al Qaeda take over cities liberated with American blood, and re-establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks?



Bryce Cover for ThinkProgress: Eradicating homelessness may seem like a pipe dream. But two American cities have proven that doing so, at least among certain populations, is within reach.

Salt Lake City has taken the title of being the second city in the United States to end chronic homelessness among military veterans, Mayor Ralph Becker (D) told MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “We really have gotten to the point now where we can say we have ended veterans’ homelessness in Salt Lake City,” he said on her show. The city did a census and “we now are down to eight veterans who have indicated at this point that they’re not interested in having homes, but we’re continuing to work with them.” ...

The city also, like Phoenix, decided to focus on chronic homelessness first, as that would be “key” to the project of ending it overall, he said. Chronic homelessness occurs when someone experiences homelessness for at least a year or four times within three years while coping with a disability. The chronically homeless have the highest rates of substance abuse and health problems among the homeless population overall. ...

Across the country, there are more than 57,000 homeless veterans on any given night. While that figure has dropped by 24 percent since 2007, there is clearly still a lot of work to be done to meet the 2015 goal and recent budget cuts threaten to reverse that progress. Beyond veterans, there are more than 600,000 homeless individuals in this country, 100,000 of whom are chronically homeless and two-thirds who go unsheltered.



Teresa Kroeger for the Center for Economic and Policy Research: Connecticut made history in 2011 as the first state to require employers to provide paid sick leave to all full-time and part-time employees. The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, applies to around 400,000 Connecticut workers in businesses in service industries with 50 or more employees and allows these employees to earn five paid sick days a year.

[A CEPR survey] found that the law had minimal effects on businesses. A large majority of employers reported that the law did not affect business operations and that they had no or only small increases in costs. Businesses most frequently covered absent workers by assigning the work to other employees, a solution which has little effect on costs. Just 10 percent of employers reported that the law caused their costs to increase by 3 percent or more. Since the implementation of the paid sick days law, Connecticut employers saw decreases in the spread of illnesses and increases in morale, among many more effects. ...

About 89 percent of employers already offered paid sick days to some or all of their employees prior to the law. An important effect of the law is that paid sick days coverage was extended to part-time employees who previously lacked such paid time off. The sectors with the largest changes in coverage to employees were hospitality, retail and health, education, and social services.