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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What a Mess

The press criticism will be deflected away from Obama and onto the shoulders of General McChrystal, but consider what our war effort in Afghanistan has devolved into since George W. Bush left.  Infighting and recriminations.  My God:

Jackson Diehl:
For months Obama has tolerated deep divisions between his military and civilian aides over how to implement the counterinsurgency strategy he announced last December. The divide has made it practically impossible to fashion a coherent politico-military plan, led to frequent disputes over tactics and contributed to a sharp deterioration in the administration’s relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Ed Morrissey:
[U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl] Eikenberry is an even more direct example.  His memo ripping Hamid Karzai nearly drove the NATO-backed government in Kabul into the arms of the Taliban, and would have if Karzai thought they’d let him live long enough to enjoy his revenge.  His insubordination on Karzai exposed the disarray within the White House on Afghanistan.  His antipathy towards McChrystal has also been well known for months.  Yet Obama allowed Eikenberry to remain in place despite nearly costing the US its position in Afghanistan, and Eikenberry is still in place to this day.
James Taranto:
While McChrystal's comments were highly improper, they will strike many observers as having a ring of truth. Even if the president gives the general the ax, the whole episode is further grist for the developing media narrative of an administration that is incompetent and adrift.
See "Obama's real McChrystal problem: Afghanistan plan in trouble."

The New York Times (!):
The news from Afghanistan is bad and getting worse. Back in Washington, the Obama team is still battling — months after the president committed another 30,000 troops — over how deeply to invest in the war.

Whatever President Obama decides to do about General McChrystal, he needs to get hold of his Afghanistan policy right now.
Spinning out of control.

This is as bad as it gets.  Get our troops out now.  If we're not there to win, and Obama couldn't care less about winning, we can only lose.  Not one more American life should be sacrificed for this clustercoitus.

Bring 'em home.  Now.

Graphic courtesy of The Drudge Report.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Here's To Bob Goodlatte

Up in Roanoke, Congressman Bob Goodlatte is concerned that the Obama government is renovating the federal building there at a cost that is four times what it took to build the thing in the first place.  To make it more "green." (You decide if that makes any sense.)

Especially since the primary tenant of the Poff Federal Building has already announced that it is vacating the premises.

See "Goodlatte targets Poff renovation."

In Obama's defense, this is one of those "stimulus" initiatives.  So the fact that the money being spent is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars is of lesser importance than the fact that "green" construction and renovation jobs have been created.  So what if we end up with an empty - but really HVAC-efficient - office building.

Whither Electric Cars?

Politicians love 'em.  Environmentalists orgasm over 'em.  Engineers and experts in technology?   Not so much.

First, here in Virginia we find that our government, having nothing more pressing on its plate, is getting out ahead of the electric car phenomenon before EV's, as they're called, become commonplace:
Va. makes new green-energy push
By Julian Walker, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot

Richmond -- Virginia announced plans Wednesday to make the state a leader in the use of electric cars, another signal that Gov. Bob McDonnell, an ardent offshore drilling proponent, is eager to burnish his credentials as someone who also embraces green energy options.

With new electric models set to hit the market this year and next, now is the time to prepare for when they are commonplace, Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said.

"The states that prepare for them are going to be the states that benefit the most from their availability," Connaughton said.

"We take for granted the infrastructure that's in place to service our gasoline powered vehicles," he continued. "But we don't have that type of infrastructure for electric cars." [link]
My reaction(s)?

What's it going to cost?

And: The limits to the technology will require that families own second vehicles for longer trips.  How many Virginia families can afford to do that?

And then there's the reaction of experts in the field

They offer up the counting of chickens before they hatch disclaimer:
Study: Electric cars aren't the answer, unless the question is urban commuting
by Eric Loveday, AutoBlogGreen

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) claims that electric vehicles (EVs) are far from ready for the big time. The IET finds that EVs won't be viable as a form of everyday transportation for at least ten more years. The study suggests that battery life and weight will continue to hold EVs back.

According to the IET study, electric cars will continue to be capped at around 100 miles of range for many years to come. In addition, the effects of continuous fast-charging will takes its toll on both battery life and vehicle range. The study recognizes that battery breakthroughs will continue to drive down costs, but weight will remain relatively constant. In closing, the IET recommends that investments in high-efficiency diesels and hybrids will be a better bang-for-the-buck solution that provides an immediate increase in fuel-efficiency without the negatives associated with EVs:

"While we believe electric cars overall are a good idea, particularly for short-range commutes, there's a need for more honesty on whether they can really be the solution to our transport and environmental needs in the mid- to long-term. Do people really have to invest in more than one car, and all the resources they demand, to take care of commuting and family holidays? We need to encourage alternative solutions." [link]
"We need to encourage alternative solutions."  Except in Virginia, where it's been decided that electric is the alternative.

My my my my my.

New Yorkers Are A Strange Bunch

Cigarettes there are considered to be the equivalent to the Bubonic Plague.

See the latest in "Cigarette Tax Will Mean $10 Packs."

Isn't it New York City that has the thriving underground weed business?

So the geniuses there will drive - are driving - the cigarette business underground too, like the marijuana business.

And everyone is happy.

Odd bunch if you ask me.

The World Makes Progress

After slipping into an enviro-Dark Ages that brought about the deaths of tens of millions of African children, leaders there are confronting the scourge of malaria head on:
Malawi going for DDT to fight malaria
Digital Journal

Lilongwe - Malawi may soon start using DDT, an organochlorine pesticide, as a precaution in its fight against malaria in the country.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Chris Kang’ombe said DDT may be an option in Lilongwe during the launch of this year’s anti-malaria campaign themed, “Malungo zii (Kick out malaria)”.

According to 2004-2009 statistical data provided by the UN, World Bank, WHO and UNAIDS, there were 4,204,468 reported malaria cases, 12,950 estimated malaria deaths and 7,132 reported malaria deaths in Malawi. [link]
Oh, and then there are the caring folks on the left:

"Some commentators and activists have raised concerns about DDT contaminating the environment ..."

Thank God they are finally being marginalized.  After their kind brought about the deaths of millions.

Here's to progress.

The Media Being The Media

Notice how BP is being made out by the mainstream press to be the villain in the Gulf disaster saga that worsens by the day?  Though it deserves its share of criticism for the debacle, wasn't it Barack Obama who took "control" of the situation early on?  Why isn't he being vilified for the chaos and poor planning that have been the hallmark of the containment and clean-up effort to date?

It's the press being the press.  Paul H. Rubin:
Mr. Bush responded quickly to Katrina but was handicapped by regulations giving power to the states. Nonetheless, the federal response was well coordinated and helpful overall. But Mr. Bush was rapidly and widely blamed for the result of Katrina and for failures that actually occurred at other levels of government.

Now Mr. Obama has much more power than did Mr. Bush, but the federal response is ineffective and often stands in the way of those in the best position to know what to do. It is only in the last week or two that the mainstream press has voiced any criticism of Mr. Obama.

This is because the media's default position for Mr. Bush was "Bush is wrong," and it sought stories aimed at justifying this belief. For Mr. Obama the media's default is "Obama is right," and it takes a powerful set of facts to move it away from this assumption. As oil continues to gush from the unplugged well, this set of facts has unfortunately come to the fore. 
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco got a pass from the media in the Katrina clean-up fiasco.  Obama gets a pass now.  What do the three have in common?