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He is an Army veteran who was stationed in Afghanistan within the past few years.  He will discuss his experiences, and policy and peace propositions pertaining to the scheduled international force withdrawal.

This Thursday evening at 7:00 on KHSU (not KMUD this time).

Publish a book with classified secrets and let the Pentagon know.  Apparently they’re going to purchase and destroy 10,000 copies of an Afghan war memoir.

Except that a few have already slipped through to distribution.  Bet you wish you’d landed a copy, huh?  I wonder what they’ll be selling for in Ebay.

Random House is suggesting they may go for a second printing.  Duh.

Yeah, throw gold into the mix.  That’s always been a key ingredient in a recipe for peace!

A leaked report indicates that the Afghan army has, well, some very serious problems, the key sentence being ‘nepotism, corruption, and absenteeism among ANA leaders makes success impossible.”

A huge story getting some traction in the media.  More as it develops.

So last night I was driving home from a long day in Eureka.  I was listening to KGOE, which plays some Air America offerings.  Mike Malloy was ranting and is pretty much giving up on Obama.  There was a nice story about some protestors with a sign in Norway directed to Obama with regard to the Nobel Peace Prize which read, “you won it, now earn it.”  Then they started in on the Medicare buy-in compromise, when I reached the Main Street exit of Fortuna and lost the signal.  It dawned on me that when driving at night I always lose the signal as I reach Fortuna.  Is conservative Fortuna jamming the frequency?

….

I switched stations.  Gene Burns on KGO was discussing something boring.  A few notches to the left at 780 a.m. is KOH, a station out of Reno with all conservative broadcasting.  I used to listen to it often when I lived out on Red Rock Road in Benbow.  Back then Michael Reagan had the time spot, but last night there was a soft-spoken but dogmatic host named “Roger.”  He went through a litany of grievances, crowed in sanguine manner about Obama’s poll numbers being in the tank, and complained about…. the war in Afghanistan.  He complained that we are in a war which has no clear goals and will potentially be endless.  The war in Iraq made more sense, but now Obama is “starting” a war in a country which has no democratic traditions to build on.

Huh.  I’d like to know if he was raising the same points two years ago.  Any conservatives out there listen to him?

….

The defeat of health care reform this week is about as depressing as the Bush wins of 2000 and 2004.  Lieberman pretty much killed it single-handedly, and today said he would even filibuster an “irritant” such as a triggered public option.  He says, “If they say that it’s unlikely to be [pulled] then it’s unnecessary.”  He’s right about that.

But now he’s even “troubled” about the Medicare buy-in proposal.  I think Snowe and the Republicans finally caught up with him and explained how dangerous a slippery slope that one could be, especially if it made Medicare more solvent.  Someone would figure out that lowering the age even further would do more.

Well, there’s a little bit of noise gathering in the House.  Grijalva and other progressives are hinting that they may just sink the bill.  And in fact the Democratic leadership is talking about skipping conference and going straight to the House floor for a vote.  Grijalva says he and others won’t look kindly on that, but hesitates to make any firm threats until he’s seen what comes out of the Senate.

And if Lieberman pushes them too far, Reid may have to reconsider reconciliation – which would make my day.

But Lieberman has jutzpa.  Look what else he’s carved out for himself.  If it passes like this and Lieberman retains that chairmanship, I may boycott all Democrats in the next election.

Nate Silver thinks I’m overreacting.

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We report, you decide – Fox gets the award for the all time most loaded poll question from a major news network:  “What do you think President Obama would like to do with the extra bank bailout money — save it for an emergency, spend it on government programs that might help him politically in 2010 and 2012, or return it to taxpayers?”

Mind-boggling.

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Michael Walzer argues that Obama’s escalation of the Afghan war is not just prudent, but moral.  Some of his arguments are at the core of my own ambivalence about the issue.

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I guess North Carolina has a provision in law which bars atheists from serving in office.  It almost kept this individual out of office.  It’s probably only been on the books this long because it hasn’t been enforced.

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For those of you worried about the escalation of the Afghan war, the Department of Defense has prepared a flow chart which explains it all.  Doesn’t it make you feel better?  You can see a larger version here.

The health care reform debate is proceeding slowly at the moment.  All of the sudden two Republicans are back in play who may be more amenable to some sort of public option than the four holdout conservative Democrats.  They’re talking triggers.  Has anybody ever seen a federal policy “trigger” actually pulled?  Consensus is that triggers normally mean it won’t happen, although the HRC politics do have some unique dynamics.

….

A very interesting dynamic on the Ed Schultz show last night.  He was interviewing conservative talk show host Michael Medved who pumped out the usual in terms of sudden Republican concern for the deficit (some mathematician out there will probably come up with a calculus formula someday for the increase/decrease of concern for the deficit depending on whether you are the party in power) and jobs.  When Schultz pointed out that the CBO scores the deficit as actually being mitigated by reform, his response was different from Lieberman’s (who simply says he doesn’t believe it).  His concern was that it wouldn’t happen right away, and to the degree that it does it’s factoring in the increased taxes which for some reason only known to him shouldn’t be considered in reference to the deficit.  Point is, he acknowledges the long term fiscal benefits of reform.  Would that Republicans in office would go on record as well.

Medved is one of the few right wing talk show hosts I can stomach in large doses.

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Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chow blames the recession on Obama, citing the unemployment rate of November, 2007.  Apparently Obama was president for the year 2008.

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Jon Stewart on Obama’s channeling of Bush.

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Senator Dave Vitter – waiting for coffee is for the little people.

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Bernie Sanders bucks Wall Street and blocks Fed Reserve Chair Bernenke’s confirmation for another term, demanding disclosures as to where the TARP money went.  More power to him.

Here’s part of the exchange.

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And Nate Silver thinks that Obama’s promise to pull out of Afghanistan by 2011 is what will make or break his presidency.  It is inconsistent with Obama’s current image as a pol who takes no chances.  Maybe he’s hoping economic recovery will draw minds away from the promise should he have to break it.  Or maybe he’s that sure of the plan.

Civil War on Daily Kos.  Congressional opposition gathering forces, starting with Feingold and Grayson.  The speech starts in five minutes.  Obama is expected to announce withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 following the “surge” – his spokespeoples’ words.

Republicans mostly silent right now, but I expect they’ll have it together to say something tonight.

So will Obama be FDR or Johnson?  I’d really like to believe that 30 thousand troops can pull Afghanistan out of the 13th century, but I just don’t see it.  No invasion of the country, from east or west, has managed to end in anything other than catastrophe.  I guess Obama feels lucky.  I doubt the 30 thousand troops nor rural Afghan citizens feel quite so lucky.

Addendum: Well, on my way home from Eureka I listened to the speech and then randomly selected AM stations to get the right wing talk spin.  One guy, a host named “Mark” who airs on KOG 780, which comes out of Reno and can be heard in Sohum at night, called Obama a “demagogue.”  Another avoided the topic altogether and instead spent the evening turning on Huckabee for pardoning the cop killer due to what they said was a bogus religious conversion.  Others wove between the speech and other issues such as mammograms.  The conservative talking points can be reduced to three points:

1.  He waited too long to make the decision.

2. He’s not sending enough troops.

3.  He shouldn’t set timelines for withdrawal

They also didn’t like Obama’s veiled criticisms of Bush re Iraq.  And one guy I didn’t recognize actually criticized him for pushing the issue of defining victory according to specific goals as opposed to the total destruction of all organizations of terror.

Meanwhile, the left is split wide open.  Conservatives can rightly ask those Obama supporters backing the plan whether they would have supported the same policy under Bush.  They also rightly demand an admission that the “surge” in Iraq actually worked.  One silver lining is that Obama did confirm the winding down of the Iraq war with the redeployment of all combat troops.

There will be some protests.  Not as large as the initial Iraq war protests.  Routine; almost obligatory.

30,000 more troops.  Smaller than other proposals, but an escalation nevertheless.  Some items through this link, including a letter from Michael Moore and some threats from progressive House Democrats.

Will it build democracy in Afghanistan?  No.  Will it make Afghan women safer from acid throwing crazies?  Probably.  Will it defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban?  No.  Those aren’t forces which can be defeated militarily.

Watching the Republicans on television over the past week has been kind of comical.  They’ve been dodging the question entirely.  Do they want to be interpreted as supporting anything from Obama when they’re so invested in anti-Obama rhetoric?  Where will the tea partiers fall?  I’ve already debated a neo-con on Facebook who argues that Obama’s policies are all part of a Bernsteinian Marxist program of incrementalism, boosted in part by a policy of “gunboat liberalism.”  But that’s a fairly complex narrative for political purposes.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law’s 19-year-old nephew is to be deployed to Kandahar at the end of the month.  I’m not sure if he’s officially part of the surge.

Democrats seem to be scratching their heads as to why their base is unmotivated for 2010.

Kabul demo

This photo and more in this TPM slide show of an anti-occupation demo in Kabul following rumors of Koran desecration by someone I guess associated with the U.S.

Addendum: A little aside, but it looks like Karzei’s brother may be on the CIA payroll.

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