ISIS

So what is your plan?  I am enjoying the mindless criticizm of President Obama.  History be damned, this is Obama’s fault!  Really?  Al Qaeda and Bin Laden were born when we established bases in Saudi Arabia in the first Gulf War under Bush 1.  Did Bush 2 not invade Iraq and unleash the secratarian war?  There was no al Qaeda and no WMD, but we opened the door to al Qaeda and the off shoot, ISIS by occupying Iraq.  Who negotiated the reduction of our troops? George did with that delight, Maliki. The American people voted in 2014 for us to get out.  If we decided to stay, how long and how many more bodies standing up some incompetent Iraqi government?  How much more money and time could we throw away and standing up Iraqi forces to watch them scatter at the first surge of ISIS? 

So with all that rolling around in your mind, what is your plan?  Everybody seems to think you can’t win it without boots on the ground.  So whose boots on the ground?  Apparently the Arab nations aren’t sending in any (except the Iranians).  So are we going back in?  And if we do, for how long? Once we banish ISIS who fills the void?  Are we not just re-enacting the Iraq war? So I don’t want to hear one more complaint about what is happening over there until you put your money where your mouth is with a plan that we can consider.  We should never have opened Pandora’s box, but we did.  That coupled with the Arab Spring is really opening up the Arabs to face their religious and totalitarian history and work it out.

ISIS has let it be known that they are begging us to enter the war.  It works right into their recruitment plan.  See the infidels are again attacking Islam.  It is their perfect scenario that perfectly fits into their religious fantasy about establishing the Caliphate and a religious war with the West.  It would mobilize Muslims across Europe and the Middel East.  So what again is your plan again?

I will tell you mine.  Do nothing.  It is their world to win or lose.  Sorry about the antiquities, but they are their antiquities.  Islam in the MIddle East is a culture that merits no respect.  It makes women second class citizens, it is cruel, barbaric, and is antithetical to democracy and minority rights.  So why again are we proping up these cultures that exhibit cultures we abhor?  Everything we have learned in the West from our Enlightenment to the banishment of slavery, giving women the vote, respecting minority rights, removing religion from government, to respecting gay rights is ignored in their culture.  So let them wallow in it.  Let them see if it brings them prosperity in the desert.

We tried to give them democracy and they turned it into a sectarian tool to gain power.  They learned nothing.  So like our trip through history, theirs must be bloody too.  They are going to have to learn all the hard lessons we did (and seem to be forgetting under Republican governance).  So be it.  When our national security is threatened we strike, otherwise lots of humanitarian aid, and places where people who want to flee can go and live if they accept the cultures they move into.  But other than that, let people live under ISIS for a while, they won’t like it.  Then it will be up to them to do something about it. Not us.

  

Believing What you Want to Believe

Right now the Neocons are coming out of the woodwork because of Jeb’s answer about Iraq, and then the answer conservatives have settled on which is the whole thing (invading Iraq) was a case of bad intelligence.  This kind of blows off the fact that after it was ascertained there were no WMD, nation building became the buzzword among these folks.  Be that as it may, they are out there saying there was no rush to war and twisting of the intelligence data.  In a related event last night, Frontline pretty much nailed the CIA on how they mislead the country on the effectiveness of torture which those same Bush officials still claim got us actionable intelligence that saved lives.

What is going on here in the face of real investigations and data is confirmation bias:

Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. 

On the selling of the war, it is clear that is what they did, and it has been documented across numerious studies, the best of which is either the 2008 Senate Intelligence Committee investigation I cited yesterday* or Bill Moyers masterful special on Buying the War, which should be required watching material for every jounalism class.  Judith Miller and Jon Stewart’s takedown of her eqivocating is a classic example of Judith’s confirmation bias.  At this point, they have to believe they did no wrong because the results of that war are disasterous.  Which leads to their next argument. but more on that in a minute.

What we can all agree is that Cheney and company just knew Sadam had WMD.  There was some incidental evidence for this (we gave him a whole bunch back in the Iraq/Iran war).  Al Qaeda in Iraq was a made up lie and their intelligence sources so tenious as to be rediculous.  But as a lower level bureaucratic lackey, I can see how the intelligence got badly skewed.  

Cheney was unhappy that the CIA was not bringing him the intelligence he wanted and he created his own unit to scour over raw intelligence and bring him the nuggets.  In a large intelligence bureaucracy, you can make your bones, if you can deliver what the boss wants bad.  George Tennant made his bones that way and the real analysis got shoved aside.  The real professions still did their work, but the analysis that raised serious doubts about the raw intelligence got ignored.  Confirmation bias running wild.

Now whether torture is effective, the Senate Intelligence Committe under Diane Feinstein found conclusively that it was not.  They even found a study done by the CIA (The Panetta Review) that found the same thing.  They even found where the field reports reported the futility of it, and the headquarters version that it worked splendidly.  Once again we have confirmation bias coming to the fore.  If you are going to do those terrible things, you have to believe it is worth it.  And the CIA brief everyone it was working splendidly.

What you now see is what I call the Col. Jessup syndrome where they really believe they had to do the hard things no one else would to defend the country.  One official simply said, “We are at war.”  Just remember that John McCain has never waivered on whether it was wrong and ineffective.  Now the Republicans have taken over the Senate Intelligence Committee and they are trying to bury the whole thing and shame on President Obama for allowing it and not declassifying both the Panetta Report and the whole Senate Intelligence Committee investigation.  It really is a national disgrace and I await anxiously for someone to finally leak it.

So to understand what is going one, you are seeing gross confirmation bias running amok when it comes to looking at the evidence.  And of course to face reality is way too hard so we simply got the intel wrong and torture worked.  But we all admit that things went south under Bush in Iraq.  That is being turned into everything was under control until Obama took over and started the drawdown.  See it is his fault.

Think about that, or don’t think about it, ask, what they would have done and at what cost to keep the lid on the Middle East.  Should we be there for the next 50 years?  How much more American treasury and blood?  Ramada has shown us that we can’t win it for them.  Our whole strategy of nation building and training security forces would never end after watching that spectatcle.  So when they say it’s Obama’s fault because we had a lid on it, ask what it would have taken and how long to keep the lid on it.  The Middle East has their own bloody history to work out and it is their’s to suffer through.  We tried already tried to help them and they through it away.  No matter what you want to believe, that is the reality.

*The Senate Intelligence Committee looking back on all of this in 2008 concluded just the opposite. In the words of Committe Chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller, “The Administration repeatedly presented intellengnce as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.

  

The Train Thing Captures America Under Conservatives in a Nutshell

From the New York Times:

In the aftermath of the wreck, even though House Speaker John A. Boehner dismissed a question about railway funding as “stupid,” analysts say that if there’s one lesson from abroad for preventing accidents like last week’s, which killed eight and injured more than 200, it is this: You get what you pay for.

By a global standard, the United States has not been paying much. For the size of its economy, it lags far behind many of the world’s most developed countries in spending on rail networks.

As a consequence, industry experts say, despite having some of the least-extensive passenger rail networks in the developed world, the United States today has among the worst safety records. Fatality rates are almost twice as high as in the European Union and countries like South Korea, and roughly triple the rate in Australia.

Analysts say the impressive safety record in Europe and Asia is the result of steady government spending of billions of dollars on development and maintenance of railroad infrastructure — including sophisticated electronic monitoring and automated braking systems developed over the past 20 years.

“You can absolutely see the level of investment in the network coming through in the annual statistics,” said Christopher Irwin, vice chairman of the European Passengers’ Federation, a passenger advocacy group based in Belgium.

“Constant investment, constant improvement is the driving thing,” he added. “If you don’t invest, you run the risk of having problems.”

The stupid one is John Boehner and our press. but there it is in a nutshell.  You have to invest in our country.  “Constant improvement is the driving thing.”  It could not be any clearer than that and whether we are talking about trains, highways, education, health care, you name it, that is the key.  Conservatives would turn our government over to corporations who skim the profits for shareholders while the majority languish.  It is a failed ideology that is crippling our country and until we remove the cancer of greed, ignorance, and self interest from our politics, that would mostly be Republicans, we can expect the nation to further deteriorate.  It is not like we are not seeing the signs …

Oh, and no we can’t just work together because they have no intention of making government work, just appeasing some of the most ignornant people in our country who are their base.  We need to shun them, not compromise with them.

  

David Brooks and His Dissembling Makes Him a Lying Sack of …

Today in the NYT was another of David Brooks’ soft pieces that sneaks in so much b.s. that it boogles the mind.  He is suppose to be a very intelligent guy and he apparently uses that intelligence to  craft these pieces that carefully misrepresent the facts so he can draw his conservative conclusions and redirect attention away from the real problem.  Wait, I will demonstrate.

The play of the day is the, If you knew what you know today question, and the Republicans total flub of it, and their final settling on no, of course not, but the intelligence was flawed (meaning based upon the intelligence at the time it was a good decision).  So of course he is going to softpedal both the flub and the orginial decision.  He starts off with this is really not the right question because no one will ever know what we know now then, and points out that there are plus and minus to changing history, even removing Hitler.  Remember Senator Rubio telling us that the world is a better place without Sadam.  Tell that to the millions of displaced refugees in that region. But he has covered Rubio’s butt.

Then he throws this in:

Which brings us to Iraq. From the current vantage point, the decision to go to war was a clear misjudgment, made by President George W. Bush and supported by 72 percent of the American public who were polled at the time. I supported it, too.

So the people were duped and he is implying that most people including Bush were mislead by bad intelligence, using the 72% to add credibility to this argument.  The 72% is misdirection.  Bush and company knew way more than most people about what that intelligence really was and used it to mislead the nation.  I am drawing a conclusion that will be supported later, but the fact that 72% of the people were duped says nothing about the actual credibility or reliability of the intelligence that Bush and Cheney saw or justifies their decision  Remember Joe Wilson and his wife Vallarie when they tried to point out the facts about the yellow cake?  My we have short memories.  Then he tells this giant lie:

There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.


That doesn’t gibe with the facts. Anybody conversant with the Robb-Silberman report from 2005 knows that this was a case of human fallibility. This exhaustive, bipartisan commission found “a major intelligence failure”: “The failure was not merely that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were wrong. There were also serious shortcomings in the way these assessments were made and communicated to policy makers.”

Brooks finds a report he likes and ignores all the other findings.  The Senate Intelligence Committee looking back on all of this in 2008 concluded just the opposite.  In the words of Committe Chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller,

“The Administration repeatedly presented intellengnce as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

But don’t believe Jay, go to Bill Moyer’s Buying the War which documents how the intelligence was carefully managed to sell the war.  There are tons of other examples and this is pure bullshit by Brooks to make the conservative equivocation sound reasonable (Even Hillary would have gone to war, assuming she cheery picked the intelligence to make her case, which of course she didn’t.  She just didn’t look closely at it in an act of political cowardice with the rest of the Democrats that went with the polls to seem strong on defense).

Next he makes an argument about how regime change was a reasonable and logical choice when in fact there were tons of smart people telling us (France) this was a disaster and says:

“A successful president has to make decisions while radiating hesitancy, staying open-minded in the face of new evidence, not falling into the traps that afflict those who possess excessive self-confidence.”

Would that be the anti-Bush and the anti-Neocons?  What I find even more amazing about this is that the one ever consistent characteristic of the Republican Party and their candidates in this election is that they can never admit when they are wrong.  He is lecturing like he is talking to all of us, implying what happened crosses all party lines when this was a massive conservative screw up. Said another way this is another form of the both sides do it so don’t hold Republicans to blame. 

Of course while nation change was the obvious choice in 2003 (his conclusion) Iraq has taught us that we need to proceed very carefully in cultures we don’t understand, but be more aggressive than President Obama.  See that leaves the door open to his boys and more troops in Iraq when in fact we are learning it makes no difference. Unless we win it for them, they will lose. See Ramada. Then he draws some conclusions which are obvious, but fails to draw the connection that these recommendations are really for the Neocons in his own Party not for everyone in general because we already figured it out a long time ago. He is still trying to make the inference that this is for both sides, not lay the blame were it belongs. Then he ends with this:

Finally, Iraq teaches us to be suspicious of leaders who try to force revolutionary, transformational change. It teaches us to have respect for trimmers, leaders who pay minute attention to context, who try to lead gradual but constant change. It teaches us to honor those who respect the unfathomable complexity of history and who are humble in the face of consequences to their actions that they cannot fully predict or understand.

Great advice and not one Republican candidate meets those characteristics.  I would disagree with one point in that conservative ideology (coupled with a Neocon world view) has pulled us way too far in the wrong direction and the changes necessary to right the ship will require revolutionary and transformational change whether it is recognizing that we need to get out of the Middle East except for humanitarian support to those who embrace our values, to totally reversing the neglect the Republicans have enforced on investing in our people and infrastructure. 

Hidden under David’s words are the conservative status quo which is the one thing we cannot tolerate.  Oh, on the respect the unfathomable complexity of history thing, isn’t it conservatives that keep trying to rewrite history to fit their ideological needs? Note above where David argues disingenuiosly that going to war was all caused by bad intel. My guess he has no clue what a bloody hypocrite he is or maybe he does.  I hope more people catch on although there were over 1000 comments on his piece and most of them got it.

  

Beltway Media

Several of the news shows had Republican “strategists” on pushing Hillary and the emails.  Hillary kind of took the wind out of their sails by answering questions today and saying she encourages the State Department to release all of them as fast as possible,  The strategists then changed their tune from she is hiding something to she wants to dump massive amounts of information on us so we will miss that she actually works for ISIS, or made money in Libya, or some other nonsense.  The point here is that they want to focus on this junk because they got nothing.

Hillary said today that we should support felons getting their vote back.  She said the other day that she would go farther than Barrack did on immigration.  Bernie Sanders today was pushing a plan to make public universities free by taxing financial transactions.  He pointed out that the student debt is approaching trillions and is a national disgrace.  Now here is the biggie:  What are the Republican candidates proposing?  Drawing a blank?

What the boys and girl are doing is telling you how bad Hillary and Barrack are, but not what they will actually do. Look! Barrack doesn’t have a strategy in the Middle East (I agree)!  So what is their plan?  There isn’t one.  We will get general statements about restablishing America’s respect, or energizing the economy, but we won’t get a plan because the plan is going back into the Middle East with troops, and cutting taxes and regulations on corporations.  It is a party bankrupt of ideas.  They will be against anything a Democrat proposes, but they won’t propose anything.  But not to worry, they will restore American exceptionalism.

So back to Hillary’s emails.  Nobody cares.  The Beltway media is looking for a soap opera and the American people are looking for a plan.  If they ever wakeup to the fact the Republicans don’t have one except the same old tired policies that have failed us, they might make this election interesting.  Say Senator Cruz, what is your specific plan for the Middle East?  Say Jeb, how will tax cuts help the middle class when they need well paying jobs?  Oh there are so many questions and so few in the talking head class that have the sense to ask them.

  

Reinventing History

If you knew what we know today …  It would seem that Republicans has settled on an answer and it should highly trouble you.  Their answer is that the intelligence was flawed, but knowing that today, we would never have gone into Iraq.  Good answer except it is detached from reality.  The decision makers knew the intelligence was flawed back then.  They “flawed” it.  They cherry picked raw intelligence.  In other words they went looking for the answers they wanted, ignored the ones that rejected their conclusions, and ignored the qualifying data about the reliability of the intelligence they had. They are reinventing history.  It was just an intelligence problem, not a hubris problem.

Then they played a press that was no longer doing their job (except Knight-Rider).  And in a frenzy they ginned up, most politicians did not do their job after they read the polls.  Hillary’s answer is that she regrets her vote.  So do I, but that does not answer the root question for either side, what did you learn and how would you do it differently to get it right?  If Hillary is smart, she will answer that question because it puts the heat on Republicans who are misrepresenting what really went on back then.  And we must not forget.  It cost us dearly.

But we have a whole political structure that wants us to forget.  Even President Obama in his let’s look forward not backward approach to torture did the country a great disservice by not facing up to what we had done and whether it helped or hurt us.  He and his administration continue to resist releasing the Senate Report that will discredit the claims that it provided critical intelligence. 

 In the “great” state of Texas, we have a whole group of conservative Christians who are rewriting history in their selection of textbooks.  Jon Stewart made a very insightful joke when the nuts in Texas were (and are) fearful of an invasion by the federal government and he suggested they borrow a textbook from a neighboring state so they can learn about our history.

I guess some would say that if we don’t learn from the lessons of history, then we are destined to repeat them, but in a commencement address in St. Louis, Ken Burns made this insightful comment:

… Over the years I’ve come to understand an important fact, I think: that we are not condemned to repeat, as the cliché goes and we are fond of quoting, what we don’t remember. That’s a clever, even poetic phrase, but not even close to the truth. Nor are there cycles of history, as the academic community periodically promotes. The Bible, Ecclesiastes to be specific, got it right, I think: “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.”

What that means is that human nature never changes. Or almost never changes. We have continually superimposed our complex and contradictory nature over the random course of human events. All of our inherent strengths and weaknesses, our greed and generosity, our puritanism and our prurience parade before our eyes, generation after generation after generation. This often gives us the impression that history repeats itself. It doesn’t. It just rhymes, Mark Twain is supposed to have said… but he didn’t (more on Mr. Twain later.) 

I think what he is saying is that the lessons in history aren’t facts and dates, they are about human nature and who we are.  And it is fairly immutable. The more we know about ourselves, the better prepared we are to deal with the future.  But we are reinventing history and who we are.  In selling the war in the run up to Iraq, the lesson is that we will believe what we want to believe to achieve an end.  If we don’t learn from that we will do it again.

Right now we are living in a world where one party and their bullhorns are busy reinventing history and redefining reality to meet their needs.  The problem with that is that reality is what it is.  Global Warming is happening.  The poor in general are not poor because of character flaws.  The Middle East is a mess and our involvement has made it worse.  No, we are not a Christian nation and religion in government is not a good thing. But human nature being what it is, we will try to pound a round peg in a square hole, and if we are successful, well, we will in fact make the same mistakes over and over again.  Sadly we have one political party whose end goal is to go just that.

  

Some Thoughts on Trains Nobody is Going to Like

I am a train fan.  That is where my bias lies.  I can also post a ton of data that shows that trains, especially passenger trains, are extremely important to our economy.  So with that in mind, how do you fix Amtrak?  I don’t think it is fixable.  Amtrak as an entity is fatally flawed, mostly by Congress.  It is kind of like the Post Office.  Gut it of its ability to innovate and make money and then tell it to stand on its own two feet, you know, the ones Congress amputated.

Republicans and “moderate” Democrats believe that the market place will solve all problems.  So back in 1971 Amtrak was created and as Richard White, Professor of History at Stanford tells us:

The government created Amtrak to salvage a failing passenger rail system, but in detaching passenger traffic from freight traffic it created a monster that had to seek its lifeblood elsewhere. Freight traffic sustains railroads. Amtrak became a kind of corporate vampire. It has to feed on subsidies because it lacks the most lucrative part of rail transportation. When they divided the ledgers Amtrak got the red ink; the private rail lines got the black ink. 

As American rail lines became freight lines, they had no need to build or maintain the tracks necessary for higher-speed passenger traffic. Amtrak has by and large lacked the funds to build new tracks or improve their safety. Given Amtrak’s hybrid infrastructure, the result is that American passenger trains run more like other advanced countries’ freight trains. When they go faster, disaster can ensue.

Now we have to remember that the railroad was built on the American Tax payer’s back.  Almost every phase was subsidized by us and then it was basically given to private corporations.  So Amtrak runs on rails it doesn’t own.  While we thought giving the railroads to corporations would free us of maintaining and managing the infrastructure, in effect we gutted passenger rail and made sure it would never be profitable.  The answer of course is to take it back.  The railroad tracks should be considered the same as interstate and local highways, critical to the flow of goods, services, and people around the country and belong to the people.

So instead of funding Amtrak to fix a system that can’t be fixed, we need to establish a federal and state owned rail system that Amtrak and freight haulers can use for a fee.  And as it is critically important to keep our highways repaired and functional, government can no longer shun the responsibility of maintaining the rail infrastructure.  Leaving it to private industry has been a disaster where once again corporations make off with our treasury while the government gets left with the unprofitable dregs.  

As Professor White summed up our Amtrak issues:

We have worked long and hard to create the railroad system that we have today. But, as with so many things, we sometimes forget that our troubles are of our own making.

The question is do we have the will as a people anymore to do big things or are we all hunkering down with the 1% shouting, “I got mine!”.

  

If You Knew What we Know Today, Would You …

Of course this is the famous question the Jeb Bush totally flubbed, but in a very revealing way showing he is oblivious to how the intelligence was carefully managed to produce a result to justify the invasion of Iraq.  This is assuming that his claim that he did not hear the, if you knew what we know today, part of the question.  But having demonstrated that he is either totally incompetent to be President (failure to anticipate the obvious question), or doesn’t really want to be President, the Republicans raised an interesting point.  Ask Hillary if she knew what we know today in Libya, would we have ousted Gaddafi?

I actually think that is a very interesting question, although not the way the “gotcha” Republicans think.  Remember that Gaddafi was headed toward a genicide and the question is, can we morally just look the other way?  We certainly have in Africa and Cambodia.  And can we really have any impact on the outcome of events in the Middle East where pent up sectarian and colonial hatred probably can not be controlled?

Right now we are watching another major city fall in Iraq to ISIS indicating the total incompetence of the Iraqi security forces after how many years of training and scadillions of dollars?  Of course the Republicans will tell us we need boots on the ground, but did we not do that before?  Oh, I get it, more boots on the ground.  And they are right in one sense.  If we were willing to occupy Iraq again we could probably put a lid on this thing, but then for how long?  And, exactly why is it our war to fight?

So swing around to Syria.  McCain and Graham, the war boys, think we should have been much more aggressive at arming the opposition.  But some of that opposition was ISIS and who could tell who is who, whose hands might the weapons fall into, and what the eventual blow back would be.  Remember we armed the Talaban to throw out Russia and that turned out just peachy well in Afghanistan.

I actually think the question begs a whole different way of looking at the Middle East.  Is there really anything we can do?  Can we really controll the destiny of someone else?  It is kind of like teenage kids.  They have to make their own mistakes, because explaining what we know from long experience is just so much blah, blah, blah to them.

I really think the answer to the question, if we knew what we know now, may not be the answer Republicans, except maybe Rand Paul, want to hear.  The answer is that we can do nothing other than waste treasury and lives trying to control Middle Eastern fates with our military.  It is their destiny and they are several centuries behind in evolving it.  It is going to be a long bloody road and the best we can do is provide guidance consistent with our basic values of equality and tolerance, and humanitarian aid.  Only use force when absolutely in our own national interests.  We simply cannot solve their problems and getting in the middle just makes us part of the problem.

  

Bikers, Bars, Guns, and Knives

So Sunday was a family gathering of bikers in a popular sports bar where havoc broke out and 9 are dead, 18 injured, and 197 arrested.  Let’s see, guns, knives, chains, brass knucles, bikers, and booze.  It’s a party!  Now Texas is an open carry state so weapons are just fashion accessories to your typical biker look.  Now normally here is where I would launch on how our moronic laws regarding gun access just perpetuates the violence and makes us less safe, not more.  But I may have to rethink that.

Every heard of the Darwin Awards? The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it. Maybe I have gun control all wrong. Maybe we should let those who want to tote freely do it because sooner or later they will be removing themselves from the gene pool either by shooting themselves or as in the above, commingling with their kind and killing each other.  

Okay, I get it.  More innocent people get killed by guns than we remove by their own stupidity.  But at least in this one case, they took out their own kind.  If you did not believe in evolution before, here is it at work for the good of society. 

Oh and it was a relief to know Jo Jo and Chip ( Joana and Chip Gaines) were safe and sound.  These two have forced me to rethink all my sterotypes about living in Waco Texas.  

  

Water Wars Continue

Out here in California, we are moving from denial to anger about the drought (Most in the urban areas are still in denial).  Of course we are a long way from acceptance and working together to ameliorate it.  Now it is the blame game.  So the latest is that the Republicans, who are a minority in government* see a political opportunity.  Blame the Democrats for all their tree hugging and preventing good, god-fearing Republicans from building dams. The point here, although they will get worked up into a lather believing that they are saving California, has nothing to do with saving California, but scoring political points. Dams are only one of many things we have to think about.

The latest was this little salvo:  We could wave an environmental impact study to build the new Kings (basketball team) arena in downtown Sacramento, but not for precious dams.  Now think about this a minute.  We are going to tear down a shopping mall in downtown (urban) Sacramento to build a basketball arena, so what are the real environmental impacts?  We are already in a highly developed urban environment.  Are we going to disrupt the life cycle of the urban rat or the homeless alcoholic?  On the other hand, building a reservoir is usually a massive upsetting of the rural environment, river flows, and flora and fauna.  They are not the same.  And we do need to know the trade offs, although to be fair, Democrats will have to understand that the environmental impact of not building water storage in this new world (again only one tool in the tool kit) could be catastrophic. Actually I think they already get that and once again Republicans are tilting at made up straw men.

Now if you wanted to fight this battle, which is counter productive to begin with, you could raise that itsy bitsy little issue that miserly Republicans have been denying Global Warming and would not spend a dime for any thing but tax cuts.  Big infrastructure projects have always been the domain of the Democrats because Republicans think the private sector will solve all problems and money is better spent giving it away to “job creators”.  But this is all a waste of time.  We need to move through the other phases of grief quickly (Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), and get to acceptance where we can then approach probably what is now the new reality in a systematic and holistic way.

The real solution involves so many changes to the way we do things right now that the politics are daunting.  You are going to upset so many apple carts that the squealing will drown out good sense until we accept the dire circumstances** we are really in and this is not some short-term problem.  I have opined on what some of those things are in The Water Wars. It is really applying Project Management 101 to solving the problem.  Right now we are in Poly Sci 101 and until we get out of this mode, realize we are all in this together, and the old entitlements are gone, Project Management 101 is going to sit on a shelf gathering dust.

Notes:

* Provided for general curiosity is a map of the California State Senate districts to show you the distribution Democrats and Republicans.  A California State Senator of which there are 40 represents roughly 931,000 people each and of course the Democrats all live in the population centers and the Republicans in the hinterlands (except Orange County of course).


**  The fight for controlling carbon is basically over.  We lost.  As David Roberts wrote in his piece, The Awful Truth About Climate Change No One Wants to Admit, we have already passed the thresholds where carbon sequestration can save us.  We are probably going to see a 5º C change in global temperatures and the changes are going to be catastrophic (note: We are still providing permits to allow access to more oil to just make things worse). The real game now is to plan for and mitigate the coming massive changes.