Liberal

Often left wing bloggers describe themselves as progressives, shying away from the L word–liberal, and that upsets me.  Saint R Reagan succeeded in making “liberal” a dirty word and instead of fighting back, too many moved on.  Well, I’m a freakiin liberal–a proud liberal, an unambiguous liberal, a fanatic liberal, a civil rights liberal, a human rights liberal, an environmental liberal, and a drinking liberal.

I want a liberal party–and it should be called The Liberal Party.  I want it to run in primaries against DINOs, I want it to withhold donations to candidates until they meet and greet us–and bend in our direction.  If the dems run a shit like Ford–we run against him.  The fear of us siphoning votes and donations will give us a voice and respect.  The Conservatives took over the Republicans that way, and we’ll have to fight the devil’s fire with some venom of our own.

Right now, many here are pissed off at the weak kneed Dems in Congress–the dogs- and have no power to scare them.  They know we’ll be responsible and vote for them as the lesser of two evils–and that’s why they take our money and run.  No more–at least for me–my money goes to those that are pure–liberal pure.  I’m 62, my kids future has been put at risk because of compromises made.

  Civil rights for African Americans is less attainable than it was in the late sixties, healthcare is less attainable to almost 50 million Americans–many of color–our cities are deteriorating in the “darker’ neighborhoods–and NCLB is screwing up education–especially in Black/Brown neighborhoods.  Shit, even evolution is questioned–and those making scientific asses of themselves get more respect from the media than do liberals.

Our planet is at risk, our country is fighting a war ignited by lies and without purpose.  We are hated by many of the world’s people because of this war, and expose our bigotry by trying to harass potential immigrants. 

I could go on, but you get the point.  We need a new Liberal party to force the Democratic Party to the left.  If Dems win elections with “moderates,” the country won’t get better, it will just get worse more slowly.  I’m sure Pelosi is a good person, but she’s doing a terrible job and we have no organization to force her out–and I hate her.  Her lack of courage is literally killing some of America’s finest.  We need a mechanism to put the screws to her and to her colleagues.

Nadler Follow Up

Love the concept of two diaries per day – rather than add this to the long essay I posted last night, I can now publish another.  Very cool, Buhdy and crew!

Anyway, just received this in an email from a friend and constituent of Nadler re the Gonzales resignation.  He received it from Nadler’s office today.  Hmmm, wonder if he knew we were talking about him?  ūüėČ

Check out his closing statement.

Dear XXXXX: 

Thank you for informing me of your desire to have Attorney General Alberto Gonzales removed from office.  I appreciate you taking the time to share your views.

  There is no question that Attorney General Gonzales has shown great disregard for the rule of law.  Furthermore, his tenure has displayed a fundamental lack of respect for the oversight responsibilities of Congress.  For example, when called to testify about the Department of Justice surveillance activities, Mr. Gonzales assured Congress that no civil liberty abuses had occurred under the PATRIOT Act.  We now know that he was aware of several such instances.  We must also never forget that it was Attorney General Gonzales who wrote the early justifications for the Bush Administration’s undermining of the Geneva Conventions, allowing torture, rendition, and indefinite detention to exist under the color of law.  For these reasons, I have long demanded his resignation.  I am pleased that on August 27, 2007 Attorney General Gonzales decided to step down.

  It is important that Mr. Gonzales not become the sacrificial lamb of the White House.  The resignation of this Attorney General does not absolve the Bush Administration of its various abuses of power.  Investigations must still continue into the actions of a Department of Justice that is riddled with scandal.  To that end, I continue to call for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Attorney General and, specifically, the false statements made to Congress and the other apparent criminal violations by those in the Executive Branch conducting the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.  Those entrusted with enforcing our nation’s laws must also abide by them.

  Thank you again for conveying your views.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I may be of assistance on this or any other matter of concern.

Sincerely,

JERROLD NADLER
Member of Congress

Is It As Hopeless As ‘The Long Emergency’ Says It Is?

NB. Likely to be cross-posted other places, but you heard it here first.

What is “It”? Well, America’s future.

James H. Knustler’s The Long Emergency (also Wikipedia) presents a very bleak picture of the future for much of America over the century ahead.

Broadly breaking the US into five regions, the Southwest will be quite possibly taken back by Mexico and in any event largely depopulated, the Southeast will descend into neo-feudalism, the Inland West (mountains and great plains north of the Southwest) will be massively depopulated returning to migratory bands of subsistence hunters, and the Pacific Northwest faces the risk of being preyed on by voracious Asian pirates.

Only the “Old Union” has a plausible prospect for surviving more or less intact, though living at an 18th century standard of living modestly improved by some of the most robust of scientific advances, like the knowledge that infection is causes by microbes.

Fortunately for my peace of mind, the organization of the book let me into the most substantial flaw in Knustler’s argument well in advance of the start of painting this grim picture, and so the understanding that, “it will probably be bad, but at least it doesn’t have to be this bad” was the silver lining to working through his dark picture.

… meet you after the fold.

The flaw in Knustler’s argument is the reliance on the following kind of reasoning (pp. 127-8):

The wind power inquiry eventually would lead back to the same place as the one on solar power: Can these technologies be detached from the fossil fuel platform supporting them? Sure, it is possible to generate electricity using wind turbines. Yes, European nations have made major investments in wind farms. … This is all possible because the world has been at or around the historic peak of oil production, meaning the oil economy was at its most robust just when these wind farms were set up. Thanks to fossil fuels, you could product the special alloy metals needed to make the turnines, and you could run factories to mass-produce them and make the replacement parts — because wind turbines are notoriously finicky and break down a lot — and you could set up the installations usinmg petroleum-powered heavy equipment … and jockey the machines into place. What happens without the fantastic technological support of the oil economy in the background.

Later on, the lack of substantial electricity supplies from these sources is part of what leads to the collapse of most of our ability to support the present state of technology — as opposed to the present level of energy consumption. But, of course, that argument is then circular … with substantial electricity supplies from these sources, then there is no need for the technological base that supports a modern wind generator to collapse.

And in a world of substantially greater energy-scarcity, the value of those parts of the technological base that provide substantial sources of energy will not be overlooked.

The Fundamental Confusion

The basic confusion here is simple. At present, technology “X” rests on the current industrial system, which is oil-fired. The current industrial system is guaranteed to be non-functional within fifty years, and probably much sooner.

But all existing technologies in use at any point in time will rest on the industrial system of the day. The question facing us, as the oil-fired economy shuts down and we are forced to transition to the next economy, is whether a particular technology requires something from the oil-fired economy that it will not be able to obtain from the next economy.

Now, lets start with the technology that James Knustler originally focused on, the US suburban settlement system. This is clearly an example of a technology that has no future. It not only rests on the current oil-fired economy, but cannot exist without the cheap supplies of portable energy provided by fossil stocks of petroleum (The only possible alternative is natural gas … but that too is a fossil fuel that will become unavailable for combustion in mass quantities in a similar time frame).

However, a suburban settlement system is a massive net energy consumer. A wind generator is a net energy producer … including the upstream energy costs. Surely it will become more expensive to produce wind generators as energy costs rise … but since it provides an energy surplus, it will be very close to the front of the line in obtaining those inputs.

And unlike arguments over whether there is a net energy yield for “brown” ethanol, the net energy yield of a wind generator is substantial … Gene Tyner’s 2002 estimates (under a range of scenarios) are in the range of 300% to 600%. And even in the “less optimistic” range of 300%, that means that devoting half of the energy produced by the wind generators to wind generator construction would allow each wind generator over its useful life to provide the energy to produce two wind generators.

Lest it be thought that I am cherry picking a wind-power enthusiast, I’ll note that Tyner is far from a wind power enthusiast, since his basic conclusion is that:

… even if wind machines were constructed everywhere it is practical to erect wind machines in the United States they would only be able to provide a pitifully small amount of the net energy compared to that needed to power the industrial economy of the United States even at the 1997 level.

On the one hand, in the Long Emergency scenario, even 1.19 Quads is a valuable amount of electricity. Of that nearly 100 quads of energy, about 40 quads are consumed in the production of electricity, with on the order of 12 quads of electricity produced. So 1.9 Quads of Electricity production is actually more than 15% of what we currently need.

And we are gross energy profligates. If we are forced to cut our energy consumption by 50%, the result will not be the collapse of the American technological system. Indeed, to the extent that design is used to solve problems were we presently simply throw energy at the problem, the result can readily be several new waves of innovation as we progressively mine our existing wasted energy for the energy we need to perform useful tasks.

And on the other hand, the estimate of 1.19 Quads is surely an underestimate. For one thing, it excludes off-shore Wind Power, in both coastal waterways and the Great Lakes. For another, it is based on 1997 technology.

So, Energy will be substantially more expensive, and any technology … like the suburbs … that requires Energy to be dirt cheap will collapse. However, Windpower Technologies has a sufficient Net Energy Yield that is benefits from, rather than suffers from, the end of dirt cheap energy.

So, How Does This Change the Outlook

If any readers wish to tackle Knustler’s Mexican recapture of the Southwest and cracker culture taking down the Southeast, they may. I’m going to focus on the changes that ripple from the prospect that the US may still have somewhere in the range of 25 Quads to 50 Quads of sustainable renewable power that it can generate.

The Southwest

The relative depopulation of the Southwest still seems likely. The end of dirt cheap power means the end, among other things, of corporate megafarming as a way to feed ourselves. Many more of us will be engaged in the process of food production. And population will shift away from areas that cannot feed themselves without importing massive amounts of resources, in terms of fertilizer and water, from elsewhere.

We should beware, of course, of simply projecting current water use per person as if it gives us the current carrying capacity. After all, a major part of the our oil-fired technology is throwing energy at problems instead of addressing them. Even in areas where next to nothing can be grown without irrigation, dryland food crops grown with high efficiency irrigation systems in a diet based primarily on vegetable proteins can dramatically reduce the water required to grow the food required per person per year.

An important question here is the pace of change, since it takes time for such a wholesale change in a region’s agricultural base. It is driven by a series of inexorable increases … the cost of bringing in water, frequency of shortfalls of water supply, the cost of exporting the current agricultural products, the cost of producing feedlot cattle with oil-fed corn and soybeans, the cost of importing food over large distance. Having something substantial to trade, which is growing in value along with these growing costs, can easily be the difference between a painful and bumpy transition and the catastrophic collapse described by Knustler.

The Southwest will have something to export to pay for net food imports … Energy. Not, of course, with current population levels at current rates of consumption … the comparison here is with the almost total collapse under Knustler’s Long Emergency. By comparison to that, the region can sustain a larger population, meeting a local food supply deficit by trading Energy for food imported from rainfed croplands east of the Mississippi.

Of course, how much population this supports depends on how the income generated by the Energy production is distributed. The fact that energy exports could be used to sustain a population level greater than the local carrying capacity under autarky is not assurance that it will be used that way. The argument here is simply that the situation does not necessarily have to be as dire as painted in the Long Emergency.

The West

Knustler paints the picture of the West in broad strokes, after having painted the collapse of the Southwest and the sinking of the Southeast into neo-feudalism with some attention to detail. There won’t be any way to grow crops outside the limit of rain-fed agriculture (which itself may shift east in response to global warming), and there will be little to mine, so there won’t be much out in the West except possibly some Native Americans going back to the old ways and some others following their example.

In short, a big, “whoops, that didn’t work” to much of the settlement project of the last half of the 1800’s.

However, a reversion of the High Plains to shortgrass prairie does not necessarily mean a reversion to the High Plains life that developed after the introduction of the Horse. One of the technologies that is likely to collapse as a result of the end of cheap energy will be the mass beef feedlot. We will all consume less beef and meat in general … and the meat that we do eat on special occasions will not be factory farmed meat.

So, whether they are cattle or buffalo or a hybrid of the two, there will be people across the west who are raising meat, for sale to the east. And at the same time, there is that windpower … according to the American Wind Energy Association, the eight states with the greatest wind power potential have an energy potential of 6,992 Billion Kilowatt Hours, or 23 Quads … and those eight states are (resource in Billion Kilowatt Hours):

  1. North Dakota 1,210
  2. Texas 1,190
  3. Kansas 1,070
  4. South Dakota  1,030
  5. Montana 1,020
  6. Nebraska 868
  7. Wyoming 747
  8. Oklahoma 725

Add to this the opportunities for growing coppiced wood in the western mountains, for better biomass productivity than timber production … and using more labor than oil-fired clear-cutting. Much of the attention of biomass today is on the production of liquid biofuels. However, direct conversion to biomass coal is likely to provide substantially higher conversion efficiencies, and therefore substantially better net energy yield. And even in a mixed agrarian/industrial economy that has been forcibly weaned from petroleum, biomass coal is easy to transport, store, and use … as, indeed, mineral coal was originally convenient to transport and use in economies dependent on biomass, hydro, wind and solar power, in the period that launched the Age of the Great Burn Out, that is now drawing to a close.

This also relies on trading electricity and biomass coal for staples being grown in rain-fed croplands. But it does not depend entirely on trading Energy for Food, since included in the economic base will be ranches where meat animals are raised amongst Windplants making an annual rent. And as we glance further west into the coppice tree farms of the mountains, the stable, cyclical harvest of biomass from the forest also provides the conditions for establishing permaculture crops for local consumption and regional trade with the ranches of the plains.

This is the foundation supporting a network of small towns catering to the wants and needs of ranchers and tree farmers, which supports a network of larger towns, and so on. Indeed, it may be that many placed end up with more people living out on the land than in the current technological base of oil-fired tractors applying fertilizer from oil-fed plants so that crops can be irrigated with non-renewable water supplies from fossil aquifers.

So the total population of the West may decline, but that decline is most likely to come from the suburban residents of the larger cities that have no interest in learning to ride a horse in order to become a ranch hand.

The Southeast

While Knustler paints the fall of the Southeast into neo-feudalism with care for some of the details, I’ll spend very little time on it. The reason is that I don’t really buy the idea that “cracker” culture created the sharecropping system, and without that, the whole idea falls apart.

Indeed, we know how to develop a region with a legacy of an elite landholder class maintaining its power position by holding the balance of the population down, with a divide and conquer strategy being used to enlist a portion of the population being held down in active support of their own poverty. You established local small towns based on regulated markets, agricultural extension with local trial field, schools, health clinics, and transportation to external markets, and release underutilized land to those who wish to take up independent farming.

There is no doubt that the Southeast could be as productive an area of rainfed agriculture as the Northeast … for both annual cropping, flatland permaculture, and tree farming in the hillier terrain … given the opportunity to grow on the same framework of technologically progressive small market towns. And active solar dehumidifying combined with geothermal cooling will permits well designed buildings to beat the sweltering heat of summer well within the regional solar, hydro and biomass energy budget.

So I pass quickly over the Southeast … the dire straits that the Southeast finds itself in during the Long Emergency are nothing to do with carrying capacity and everything to do with the premises that Knustler brings regarding cultural evolution.

This essay is, in other words, focusing on the carrying capacity argument in the Long Emergency. And with respect to the carrying capacity, the Southeast has every opportunity to thrive.

The Northeast

This is something of a misnomer … Knustler calls it the “Old Union” … but if people would just remember that here in “midwestern Ohio”, the next state east has an Atlantic port, and even the high grass prairie lands of Illinois are in the eastern third of the country, it’ll do.

This is where Knustler sees grounds for hope, in the re-use of the small farming towns and small industrial cities, connected by rehabilitated heavy and light rail links, and a thriving, primarily agricultural, economy.

Even here in the relative bright spot of Knustler’s Long Emergency, things are substantially brighter once we recognize that windpower and the rest of the knowledge-intensive renewable energy technologies can indeed provide the base for an economy that can sustain those technologies.

And the good news there can be stated in a single word: elevators. We can still use elevators. That means that, even if we have the good sense not to build any more skyscrapers, we do not have to flee the ones that we already have built. That is what drives the collapse of the centers of the large Northeastern cities. And since we understand from the outset that suburbia will also be collapsing, that means that we will not be forced to flee all of the big cities entirely … we can still use the core of the big cities.

Still being able to use the core of the big cities means that we can build energy efficient transport lines that can stretch through the current suburban wasteland, and provide kernels around which small towns can grow … or, in the case of small towns swallowed up by the suburban wasteland, re-emerge.

And, indeed, those cities will help push the return of the suburbs surrounding those emergent small towns to farming, as the demand for food that does not have to be shipped at long distances and, therefore in an era of expensive energy, at great expense, drives the growth of truck gardening in the suburbs, so that fresh fruits and vegetables … and in winter, preserved fruits and vegetables … will be sold in from the proliferating truck gardens, while the truck garden belt uses the proceeds in part to buy staples grown on the larger farms further from the cities.

Now, of course, as a skyscraper ends its useful life, nobody will dream of replacing it with another skyscraper. Rather, all that valuable steel and other resources will be harvested, and when the skyscraper has all been brought back to earth, it will be replaced with human scale urban building.

The Pacific Northwest

In Knustler’s Long Emergency, the Pacific Northwest ought to be one of the areas in a position to do well. However, being on the Pacific Ocean, and so far away from the only other part of the US with the opportunity to survive the Long Emergency in relatively good shape, it lays open to predation by Asian high seas piracy. The premise here is that the Long Emergency will hit East Asia even harder than it hits the US, and so there will be sufficiently desperate resource-poverty to generate efforts to take resources from those who have more.

However, while the Southwest may decline, it need not totally collapse. And the West may well retain an economy offering valuable resources to the economies of the Northeast and Southeast, implying that trunk rail is relied upon to maintain that integration.

And this means that under this view of our renewable resource base, the Pacific Northwest is by no means as isolated as it is in the Long Emergency.

Indeed, in this scenario, if the US is a center of manufacturing renewable energy technology, plundering the US may well be the last thing that a resource-desperate nation would do. If it comes to fending off stateless pirates, there is not reason to think that would be beyond the capability of the United States. And with the increase in relative value of the fertile rainfed croplands of the Pacific Northwest, implied by the collapse of oil-fed agriculture, there is every reason to devote that capability to the task, if required.

Conclusion

My conclusion is what I said at the outset … things need not be as bleak as James Knustler protrays in the Long Emergency. So now I’ll open it up for discussion.

The Floor is Open

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Two kinds of Republicans

As long as we are doing short diaries, I’d like to offer this:

There are two kinds of republicans:

Rich ones:

And those that keep them rich:

Democrats need to repeat this simple message over and over.

Modern India vs Lord Rama’s bridge!

And it looks, at least for the moment, that Lord Rama might win!

http://news.bbc.co.u…

This was posted on by muriel_volestrangler at DU here: http://www.democrati…

This was my reply:

If it didn’t say he built it in a day, then it’s possible!

Lord Rama trained the monkeys, who would take stones and throw them into the sea at it’s shallowest point. Over the years, silt built up over these stones and the ‘bridge’ was completed. Sure, it probably took several hundreds, if not thouhsands of years, but Lord Rama was probably patient.

Makes sense to me, but then I look at what Alexander did at Tyre and am used to marvels!

Go Lord Rama!
http://rama.avatara…. /
Choose Peace!

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Crime and punishment: a theory of American self-immolation in Iran

As the prospect of an attack on Iran grows more likely, nobody has arrived at a rational explanation for why our nation would undertake such a foolhardy adventure with such a high probability of disastrous consequences. If reason cannot be our guide, we must look elsewhere. The only explanation that fits all the available evidence is that Americans wish to expunge their sins in Iraq through a catastrophe.

Like the guilty murderer in “Crime and Punishment,” Americans cannot carry the pain of what we have done to Iraq. We have effectively destroyed a nation of 20 million people that was the cradle of civilization. Close to a million civilians have died in the war; two million have fled; much of the country’s institutions have been looted and burned; and cholera is ravaging refugee camps.

We did this to Iraq, and we know that we did it. No moral person can carry responsibility for this enormous transgression without atonement. Here is what form I believe the atonement will take.

It is said that America attacked Iraq to secure oil. We shall atone for this crime by being deprived of oil when export traffic in the Persian gulf is halted by war against Iran. The US strategic petroleum reserve may have sufficient capacity to absorb the shortage, but the immediate impact of a Persian Gulf shipping shutdown will likely result in skyrocketing gasoline and fuel prices and shortages as panic buying and hoarding behavior breaks out.

It is said that America attacked Iraq because Iraq was an easy victim, unable to inflict significant casualties on our forces. We shall atone for this crime by incurring heavy casualties in Iran. Iran is not a soft target. Iran’s military has not been weakened by sanctions and defeat in the desert by American airpower. Iran has had many years to prepare for the American onslaught, and it has ample stocks of modern weapons; a large army; and mountainous terrain well-suited to defense and guerrilla warfare. American forces attacking Iran will likely suffer significantly higher casualties than in Iraq.

It is said that America attacked Iraq to stimulate its economy and feed billions in government money to politically-connected corporations. We shall atone for this crime by having our treasury drained by the ruinous cost of fighting a nation four times larger than Iraq. Foreign governments will eventually cut off lending to our self-destructive nation, and we shall have no choice but to inflate our currency or raise taxes to pay for a huge expansion of the Mideast war. This will bring economic pain to much of America.

As America drifts toward a war that almost everyone believes will be a disaster, there is an eerie stillness in the land. I believe that, consciously or not, Americans expect to be punished for the destruction of Iraq, and I believe that they expect that punishment to come from a war with Iran. That is why I believe the war will happen, because we believe we must atone for our crimes.

Bush is losing the war that matters

Maybe, just maybe, George W. Bush is more clever than we realize.  Let’s start with how we got into the so-called “war on terror.”  Protected by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and his associates promised and plotted to attack America.  After receiving an ominous Presidential Daily Briefing (“bin Laden determined to attack in the U.S.”) on August 6, 2001, Bush went on vacation.  On September 11, four passenger jets were hijacked and used as guided missiles, bringing down both towers of the World Trade Center and punching a hole in the Pentagon.  During the attack, Bush sat comfortably in a planned photo opportunity, reading “My Pet Goat” to grade school children in Florida.  The destruction and loss of life took the breath out of every American.  On September 20, Bush appeared before a joint session of Congress to deliver an ultimatum to the Taliban and request military authorization to attack Afghanistan if certain conditions were not met.  On Oct 7, airstrikes on Afghanistan began in an effort to dislodge the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan.  I assume nothing in this thumbnail history is news to anyone. 

As a nation, we were largely united behind the military effort in Afghanistan.  The world community also backed our campaign.  The use of force was viewed an act of collective self-defense provided for under Article 51 of the UN Charter.  In other words, the use of force was considered legal under existing international law (unlike the war in Iraq).  The UN Security Council authorized the International Security Assistance Force to use force in its mission of securing the country after the Taliban was removed from power.

Now, let’s fast foward six years to the present.  This week marked the sixth anniversary of the September 11th attack by bin Laden, aided and abeted by his friends in the Taliban.  So, dear friends, what has been the focus of our attention?  Afghanistan?  No.  In fact, did Bush, Petraeus, Crocker, or anyone else even mention Afghanistan and the status of our efforts to stabilize that country in their proud parade of pandering piffle?  No.  Even the latest missive from bin Laden is focused on Iraq while he hides in Afghanistan or just over the border in Pakistan.  Brilliant, as the Brits like to snark, simply brilliant.

Just for laughs and giggles, how many of you pay any attention to Afghanistan or have you been completely caught up in that other war, the one in Iraq that Bush wants you to focus on, the one he claims is the central front in the fight against bin Laden and al Qaeda?  If you said Iraq, as well we must all answer if we are honest, then score one for Commander Bunnypants and his army of flying monkeys.

Let me show you how things are going in Afghanistan and why it should be the central front in the war against Bush.

Here is story that appeared on September 9, 2007.

KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan is supported by the world’s strongest military forces and the Taliban are weakened, but Afghans are still losing hope, ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah told AFP in an interview.

The distance between people and the government is growing, Abdullah said as the country marked the sixth anniversary of the assassination of famous commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought the Taliban and Soviet occupation.

Abdullah was a key aid to Massoud and knows a thing or two about internal strife in Afghanistan.  For him to suggest that the people of Afghanistan are losing hope that peace and something akin to economic development beyond poppy production will return to their country should make you cringe.  Are they seeing dark clouds on the horizon and a return to repression?

Growing insecurity, government inefficiency and incompetence and the absence of a coherent development strategy have contributed to popular disillusion, said Abdullah, who was controversially dropped as foreign minister last year.

In 2002, for example, Afghanistan could have coped for “at least a few months” without the international troops now here to fight the Taliban.

“Today we cannot afford this for six minutes,” Abdullah said.

I am no expert on counter-insurgency like Gen. Petraeus, but even he might not take much comfort in such an assessment of the capability of the Afghani army.

Is there other evidence to support Abdullah’s assessment?  How about casualties suffered by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan?

Year: Coalition Fatalities

2001: 12
2002: 68
2003: 57
2004: 58
2005: 130
2006: 191
2007: 170* [as of Sept. 14] 

The bottom line is that casualties were stable from 2002 to 2004, and rose 100% from those levels in 2005 and 200% in 2006.  This year is shaping up to be the worst yet.  Those numbers are only going in the correct direction if you support the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Here is a story about the Canadians conducting an offensive to retake a province they cleared in 2006

Canadian Forces launch new Afghan offensive
Andrew Mayeda, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, September 08, 2007

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canadian Forces launched their biggest combat operation in more than a month early Saturday, pushing into the Zhari district of Kandahar province to clear the way for Afghan security forces to reclaim recently lost ground.

[snip]

Canadian Forces were believed to have secured much of Zhari, located to the west of Kandahar City, in a series of operations beginning last fall.  But the Afghan National Police, which has become notorious for its corruption and incompetence, was unable to hold a number of checkpoints in the district.

The Canadians have suffered 70 fatalities in a force of 2100 soldiers (3.3%), nearly all of the losses occuring in the last three years.

Another grim assessment appeared this morning.

AFGHANISTAN is sliding ever further into conflict with more than half of the country affected and several regions out of reach of humanitarian aid, a senior international Red Cross official warned today.

“The conflict is clearly spreading and in certain areas also intensifying,” said Reto Stocker, head of the Afghan delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Today, more than half of Afghanistan is mildly to very strongly affected by the conflict,” he said.

Increasing numbers of people are being displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict between the Afghan government and international allies one one side, and the Islamist Taliban militia on the other.

Mr Stocker said that security was so bad that many parts of the country are “no-go areas” for aid workers.

“There are lots of districts that have not seen for a prolonged period of time representatives of national or international NGOs”, including the United Nations and the ICRC, he said.

The Republicans, from Bush to Boehner to Petraeus, have created the impression that Iraq is the central front in the fight against al Qaeda.  This is a damnable lie.  If we killed every single member of al Qaeda in Iraq, it would have no effect on the operational strength of al Qaeda.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  Zilch.  Bush knows that.  Boehner knows that.  Petraeus knows that.  Even Osama bin Laden knows that.

We are losing the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the true central front in the so-called war on terrorism.  Bush knows that.  Boehner knows that.  Petraeus knows that.  Most especially, Osama bin Laden knows that.

Bush is losing the war that matters, the one in Afghanistan.  No one is paying any attention except Osama bin Laden. 

Thanks for reading.  Also available in Orange.

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Down and Dirty Jersey Style

Street Fight, Marshall Curry’s 2002 documentary provides fascinating and often disturbing insight into the down and dirty politics of Newark, New Jersey and the race baiting tactics used within the African American community to elevate one candidate while attempting to destroy another.

In 2002, Newark was literally drowning in poverty, ghettos, unemployment and crime. High school graduation rates were in the low 40% range. There were two cities of Newark–the thriving downtown and suburbs, where the “Renaissance” of the city had been thriving and the ghettos neighborhoods of the Portuguese, Latino and African American communities.

In 2002, Cory Booker, an up and coming young Democrat, community activist and local Ward Councilman, decided to run against four term incumbent, Mayor Sharpe James. What he didn’t realize was that he wasn’t just running against a lifetime politician (James had been in one office or another for 32 years in New Jersey).

Booker was literally running against the entrenched establishment that was determined to hold onto power, even if it meant using the same tactics that the whites had used in the South against civil rights activists 40 years earlier.

Mayor Sharpe James grew up in abject poverty, raised by a single parent, and rose through the ranks due in large part, to his participation and contacts made within the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Known as a hometown favored son, James held office in Newark for 32 years. Voters literally grew up with him and were fond of his humor and local understanding of their community.

Cory Booker’s parents, both civil rights activists and the first two African Americans to live in their local, all white neighborhood, instilled in Booker a love of civil activism. Booker’s grandfather was from North Carolina and had suffered mercilessly under Jim Crow laws in the 1930s’. His family were no strangers to the racist division that pervaded 20th century American society.

Booker was an all-star high school football player and went on to earn a scholarship to Stanford, where he excelled and graduated. He then earned his law degree at Yale. He decided to run for the City Council, and in a stunning upset, defeated a local incumbent. (Incumbents do not lose–they die or retire–whichever comes first in Newark.) Booker moved to the low income housing development in his Ward, in order to prevent himself from forgetting who he was representing and how they lived, day to day.

It is these two unique African Americans that Curry follows during the 2002 mayoral race. What starts off as a typical campaign race quickly degenerates into an often violent suppression of voters, by use of intimidation from both Sharpe supporters and the Newark police. Booker, his campaign staff, and worst of all, supporters/voters were subjected to physical threats, intimidation, coercion, financial shake downs, business closures, destruction of property, home and office break-ins, voter fraud and suppression of the vote.

But even intimidation, threats, financial blackmail and thuggery could not keep down the neighborhoods that began to support Booker in droves. Sharpe, realizing that there was a serious chance of being replaced, resorted to race baiting.

Not too far into the campaign, James pulled out his “ace in the hole” and began claiming that Booker was “too white” and was secretly a right wing Republican. (While technically the mayoral race was considered non-partisan, it was widely known throughout Newark that both candidates were Democrats in a heavily registered Democratic city.)

For one black man to accuse another black man of being too white brought the community nearly to blows. Sharpe James ran on a campaign slogan of being “The Real Deal.” His remarks, captured on tape by both Curry as well as local news networks, leave no doubt as to his insinuations that Booker was a well to do carpetbagger that was “too white” for Newark.

To paraphrase one Booker supporter, Sharpe’s accusation of Booker being “too white” to represent the black community of Newark was the same kind of insinuation that slave owners alluded to in order to divide their slaves and pit them against each other. To see an entire African American community engage in the same tactics as their former white suppressors was almost unbearable.

And that’s where this movie hits you between the eyes–the lengths that a local town bully will go to in order to keep his cushy $200,000 a year job (he gave himself a sweet pay raise), his two vacation homes, his 46-foot yacht and Rolls Royce. He gleefully engaged in the same vicious divisive tactics that were used in the 1960s’ by those who were determined to maintain their Jim Crow way of life in the South.

James pulled out the big political machine guns in order to win a 5th term–he enlisted the likes of the Newark police department, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to publicly endorse him, while engaging in behind-the-scenes thuggery and race baiting. They knew it. He knew it. And they all took part in it, in order to keep the status quo.

And win he did. By a little less than 4,000 votes, he managed to squeak out re-election for a 5th term.

Curry’s documentary is a powerful and often disturbing fly-on-the-wall view of both Sharpe’s tactics and the pain and division that were the results of a bitter race between a young civil activist and an aging establishment candidate, who would do anything to maintain power, including engaging in suppressing and intimidating his own people.

[Post script: In 2006, Booker, who had raised funds for 4 years and continued to build name recognition, ran for the mayor’s office. Two weeks after turning in his petitions to run for a 6th term, Sharpe abruptly withdrew, without notice, from the mayoral race. A token candidate State Senator Ronald Rice took Sharpe’s place to run as the establishment candidate. In a stunning defeat, Booker won 70% of the vote and became mayor of Newark.)

Dharmaceutical: Your daily dose of outrage

{Crossposted on To Us!  Permission to use noncommercially with attribution.}

Open post to Brian Williams of NBC News:

In response to this from your Daily Nightly blog, in which you wrote

A number of television journalists gathered for lunch with the president at the White House today — a practice becoming more and more common when this president has a major speech to deliver. The following is a review of my notes, and is offered here under the ground rules established by the assembled White House senior aides. Vice President Cheney attended but did not speak.

I realize that you don’t publish my comments, pointed and critical as they are, but I hope that you are at least reading and considering them in the spirit in which they are offered.

Journalists are considered the 4th estate.  To that end, the public relies on you (the plural you) to be assertive in pursuing clear, accurate and comprehensive information from reliable sources, and that you perform adequate fact-checking.  Moreover, the public expects you to refrain from editorializing to the extent that is possible for educated humans to accomplish. 

That translates into questioning and protesting such intolerable conditions as the “ground rules” that the White House is mandating for off-the-record briefings.

We, the people, supposedly elect those occupants of that branch, and we have full rights to know what the president and his cabinet (and whatever the heck the VP is calling his position in the branches these days) are doing, what his plans are, what his rationale is, what resources he is actually using, who his advisers are, etc.

It is not acceptable for NBC News, a la Tim Russert’s court testimony, to assert that everything is assumed to be off the record as baseline, and that only when express permission is obtained, that sources are revealed. 

To be blunt, that is un-American.

We now live in a topsy Orwellian world of doublespeak.

I am no politico, no genius and no one of import.  But I highly recommend that you reacquaint yourself with Orwell’s 1984 and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here.  Read some Morrow.  Read some 1930’s history.

Speak with your international print and television news colleagues.  Try to step outside the US media market and look at it from a global point of view.

It’s frightening.  And you, your counterparts at ABC and CBS, and the anchors of the political commentary cable “news” shows are not meeting the public need.

What would be a good start?

In the transcripts, include the citations for all presented facts and sources.

In the NBC News Division, include professional CVs for all anchors, reporters, correspondents and news writers and researchers. Tell us your academic credentials, your professional experience, and even jobs held in other industries to help us understand your perspective.

Most important, provide full disclosure for any and all relationships between you and your subjects.

If you’re still reading, I thank you!

Please consider hosting reader/blogger fora.  Having Chris Colvin present her blog round-up twice weekly is a real treat, and she’s first rate, but that’s just a start.

It would be very interesting to have a working forum with key bloggers and NBC News staff to develop working relationships and to create some synergistic effects.

Not for “nuthin'” – it might be useful to get a better handle on the demographics of bloggers – especially those in the political blogosphere.  My guess is that’s where your market share growth is, but only if you learn how to tap in to the blogging fire hose.

Thanks for reading.  I’m always open to criticism, too, and please don’t hesitate to provide it. *g*

Addendum:  This was submitted on 9/13/2007 to the Daily Nightly blog and was not published as of the time of this post.

PONY PARTY… a.m. driving to work edition, pardners

I don’t think there is anything worse than being stuck in traffic. There’s nothing worse than being behind a Sunday driver on a Monday morning in rush hour. In the left lane of a four lane highway. Coming up to lights with BIG trucks in front of both lights.

Or driving to the beach for a glorious week… dreams smashed as your everyday world anger and frustrations exlode, full blown, sitting in the car, in traffic…and your older car threatening to overheat. And then, and i really loved this, having my ex husband tell: BE HERE NOW.

Be… here… now… BE HERE NOW? No no no… you don’t understand. I don’t want to be here NOW…

You gotta pet peeve. Throw it out there… come on… pony it UP…

go ahead, play, talk, and be excellent to each other. oh and whatever you do, DO NOT push the recommend button on PONY PARTIES… these are here for fun, but we don’t want to take up space on the recommended diary list…

Road to DC Progress Report

Just a quick update on how the trip is going

Skippythebox just called to let the Mom unit know all was OK. jlynne and Joe left Grand Junction about midnight yesterday, picked up Matt and headed to Omaha where we threw Skippy on the bus. They left Omaha about 4:30 yesterday on their way to Chicago, they have picked up pico and are now in the home stretch to DC. The silver juggernaut Hyundai seems to be surprisingly comfortable since it is at its maximum for passengers. At least so far no one has had to run along side. I am hoping they will finally get a good WIFI connection and be able to update you all themselves. In the meantime here is some raw video of the gang picking up skippy in Omaha.

Do you ever wonder

Do you ever wonder? The catch phrase made popular by humorist Andy Rooney. A 60 Minutes staple, he is both funny and thought provoking at the same time.

Please follow me below the fold for my take on that age old question.

enter Do you ever wonder why gas has dropped more than a dollar a gallon in my area over the last 2 weeks, when the  flooded refinery causing the momentous jump less than a month ago is still off line?

online pharmacy prednisone Do you ever wonder why Wall Street was so disappointed in Exxon's recently announced 2nd quarter profits of $10.6 BILLION dollars. The 4th largest quarterly net income ever posted by a publicly traded U.S. company? Do you ever wonder what Exxon's obscene 2006 profits, the largest ever at $39.5 BILLION represents when put in perspective? Well it would fund these Government agencies for a year:

Department of Housing and Urban Development $34.7 billion

Food Stamp Program                                                  $35    billion

Department of Commerce                                          $6.2   billion

go here Body Armor For Soldiers                          $260  MILLION

Department of Energy                                                 $23    billion

National Institute of Health                                         $28.5  billion

Department of Homeland Security                               $31.9  billion

Department of Interior                                              $10.3  billion

Department of Justice                                              $19.4  billion

State Department                                                    $28.6  billion

Army Corp of Engineers                                             $4.7  billion

EPA                                                                            $7.5 billion

Health Care for 6 million Children                                  $3.5 billion

There are countless other programs that $39.5 billion would fund and of course 3 months of the War in Iraq. AND the what about the combined oil profits last year? Just the biggest of the oil companies had profits of $377 BILLION in 2006, or about $1300 for every man woman and child in this country.

buy lasix without a prescription Do you ever wonder why Republicans are against funding universal health care for children? Do they really believe there are no uninsured or poor Republicans in this country. There are source link 15,869,776 Children in Red states living in poverty, nearly half of all children in Texas, more than 3 million. http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=buy-cheap-viagra 55% of all poor children live in Red states.

where to buy lasix in mexico Do you ever wonder why truth, justice and the American way hasn't been like that since Superman was a kid. Do you ever wonder why Russ Feingold couldn't have come to KOS with some closer to the truth. Like no matter what it may look like we understand the mandate of the last election and we DO have your back.

lasix 140 mg Do you ever wonder why football commissioner Roger Goodell needs an independent lawyer to look over the Michael Vick indictment to see if Vick has violated ANY NFL policies on personal conduct?  In the mean time Vick misses training camp, we can only hope Goodell does the right thing. Nike and Rebok among others saw no dilemma and sacked him.

prednisone 5 mg and dog Do you ever wonder why breast milk was prohibited on aircraft when a well applied metal ball point pen can be lethal.

http://buy-generic-clomid.com Do you ever wonder why when Cheney declared himself the fourth branch of government, Congress didn't bitch slap him by defunding his office. It was a close call, 9 more yea votes would have passed it. Unfortunately of the nay votes  24 of them were Democrats; Bean, Boren, Boyd (FL), Capuano, Cuellar, Edwards, Ellsworth, Gordon, Herseth Sandlin, Kaptur, Klein (FL), Lampson, McDermott ( the good guy from Wa state, Murtha, Obey, Peterson (MN), Ross, Salazar, Sestak, Skelton, Smith (WA), Snyder, Space, Tanner. If they represent YOU, you might want to have a chat.

order viagra canada Do you ever wonder why parents don't seem to tell their children or grandchildren about their heroes? I do, in fact we had a discussion recently about one of my “lefty” heroes, Phil Donahue and his interview with Donald Rumsfeld and others, regarding the Iraq war. The whole idea that we were better off because Saddam was evil, killed thousands of his own people and had WMDs made him bristle. He fearlessly braced Rummy about WMDs and how whatever WMDs Saddam had he got them from us. He reminded Donald how he had met with Saddam in December of 1983, like they were old friends. And then the coup de grâce- when Saddam gassed the Kurds with WMD's we gave him, I didn't hear you crying then Donny.

Do you ever wonder why people seem to have a problem with theories trying to make them facts ahead of their time, or complete discounting them once they become fact. Theories are like a crime scene investigation, you take what you know, what you think you know and what you might imagine happened (this includes but isn't limited to wild assed guesses)and one by one eliminate what doesn't fit until you have the truth. All scientific facts started as theories, as did all factual conclusions of any kind. It is the sum total of what you have until you have all the answers. Global warming is not a theory and neither is the hidden environmental dangers of nuclear power.

Do you ever wonder why three years later we can't fix the Gulf Coast. I don't mean the Government or Insurance companies, they will never do it, I mean US, you and me. The first thing we need to do is push HARD for the protection and restoration of Delta wetlands. No single act can do more to protect the Gulf Coast than to protect wetlands and barrier islands, they are hurricane sinks. The other thing we need is a clearing house to connect people who want to help with people who need help. Maybe something like making the whole area the America's new “home town”, adopt a town or rural area to help, sister cities, individuals, churches, colleges, businesses, hell, come one come all. The Government and companies supporting a “national vacation” to encourage business to promote time taken to the Gulf Coast to help. Perhaps even put together employees willing to go and pay their expenses and wage while they do. Construction companies and trades people usually have a slow season, a perfect time to make a visit to one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The Government allowing those businesses and individuals who participate to deduct the cost of their trip on their taxes dollar for dollar and refund any excess. If the Gulf Coast is ever going to be fixed it falls to us to get it done, the good news is, WE CAN DO IT.

Do you ever wonder why increasing terror alerts seem to coincide with increasing problems for W? Oh thats right we figured that out a while back, too bad W continues to embarrass himself by trying to divert our attention.

Do you ever wonder where the real news is and I don't mean Brittany and Lindsay. Here are some news stories you may have missed compliments of Google.

The first induction weekend since the Baseball Hall of Fame promised to honor Buck O’Neil probably will end without any announced tribute. ¬†Mr O'Neil was instrumental in getting 17 Negro League players inducted but was omitted himself. Sadly, he died recently at the age of 94.

Americans make up 36% of users at British news oriented web sites.

The WGA East on Wednesday released a “white paper” study by the guild purporting to show a lowering of news quality at two broadcast networks with which it is locked in protracted and fractious contract talks. Based on interviews with WGA members at ABC and CBS between May 2006 and April, survey results show “the conglomerates have slashed jobs overall, converted full-timers to part-timers and combined jobs,” the guild said. This is part of the cause for the degradation of news reporting.

There was also some good earnings news yesterday. Amazon.com surged $16.93 to $86.18 after the Web retailer said its second-quarter profit more than tripled on strong sales of books, music and electronics worldwide.

Japanese whalers have admitted almost all of the mature female minke whales they killed in Antarctic waters last season were pregnant. But that's good news, they insist, supporting their argument that the population is strong enough to allow a return to commercial whaling.

Merck (nyse: MRK – news – people )told investors that, for the second-quarter, it raked in earnings of $1.68 billion, or 77 cents per share, versus $1.5 billion, or 69 cents per share, for a similar period last year. Pharmaceutical Industry Profits Increase by Over$8 Billion After Medicare Drug Plan Goes Into Effect and nearly 70% of their PAC money goes to Republicans.

Do you ever wonder why on KOS, unlike newspapers, the meat of the diary is below the fold?

Do you ever wonder about DLS and all the terror threats they have so far stopped for us, how they are all a joke. Yet they expect us to take this seriously when clearly in most cases the people are American citizens and either monumentally stupid or innocent of even ignorance and poor planning. Oh, that's right “fight'em there so we don't have to fight'em here” seems to be working based on results from DLS, they have yet to foil a REAL threat.

Do you ever wonder why so many people believe Civil Unions are marriage equality? Or how many are willing to give up the fight and just give in to the Radical Right without ever looking at their argument to see if it holds water? Just a couple of things, first separate is never equal, thought we learned that in the 60's. Secondly, no church has ever been nor will they ever be forced to marry anyone, this isn't about the rights of churches, those rights have never been jeopardized. And lastly the church came very late to the marriage party. Marriage first and foremost is a legal and binding contract for that reason the government has a legitimate interest. In about 550 AD the Justinian Code made marriage a state regulated contract, before then saying you were married was enough. Until the 12th century church marriages were simply blessings with no legal or binding anything. In 1553 the Council of Trent required all Catholic marriages to be performed by a priest, but it wasn't until the 18th century Church weddings became common. Churches simply do not have a dog in this fight.

Do you ever wonder if a President has a defining moment when he actually understands the consequences of his actions and in that moment willingly chooses infamy for his legacy? Take the $1.1 trillion surplus projected by 2008 thanks to President Clinton, how it disappeared to give us a projected $3.9 trillion tax cut for the wealthy? The tax cut according to Bush was to boost an already thriving economy. I have read it would take $1.6 trillion to rebuild this country's ancient infrastructure. (Many of us learned about the importance of infrastructure playing SIM CITY.) For less than half the cost of the tax cut, we could have new highways, ports, power, schools, etc. What a tremendous boost to the economy all those jobs would have been. What a perfect time to start using conductive concrete for road surfaces, building rapid rail, clean energy, clean water and more. All that  and $2.3 trillion left for rebuilding cities and the Gulf Coast, restoring the Delta wetlands, universal health care, getting off oil, clean air, think of the possibilities. I would have given up my measly $300 for any one of these, my guess is you would have too.

Do you ever wonder why reforms of any social program inevitably means fewer needing the help will get it? Welfare reform doesn't need to be a bad thing, but the idea of making it more difficult to get help the first place is wrong headed, it ought to be made EASIER to GET OFF. Programs should be designed to help as many people as possible, make it easy to transition off and understand the only way to get rid of any opportunity to abuse the system is to NOT offer the program, because matter what is done a certain SMALL group will always find a way to scam the government.

Do you ever wonder about the President who when Signing Statements no longer are enough asks Congress to retrofit the law to legitimize his criminality. Constitooshun, we don't need no stink'in Constitooshun.

This is just a few things making little sense to me, feel free to add your own “Do you ever wonder”s to the thread.

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