…too many wrongs [DOT 17/8/21]

how does that saying go...

…two wrongs don’t make a right…that’s what they say…& that makes sense…in fact…to quote the final lines of a poem about an altogether different conflict, many wars ago…maybe if the consequences of certain actions were harder to ignore

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

…but some days (& today is one of them) I can’t help but feel like it might be that wrongs do make “the right”…because here we have the thing the news is full of

The rapid reconquest of the capital, Kabul, by the Taliban after two decades of a staggeringly expensive, bloody effort to establish a secular government with functioning security forces in Afghanistan is, above all, unutterably tragic.
This longest of American wars was code-named first Operation Enduring Freedom and then Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Yet after more than $2 trillion and at least 2,448 American service members’ lives lost in Afghanistan, it is difficult to see what of lasting significance has been achieved.

It is all the more tragic because of the certainty that many of the Afghans who worked with the American forces and bought into the dream — and especially the girls and women who had embraced a measure of equality — have been left to the mercy of a ruthless enemy.
It was tragic, too, because with the bitter political divide of today’s America, efforts to draw critical lessons from this calamitous setback have already been enmeshed in angry recriminations over who lost Afghanistan, ugly schadenfreude and lies. Within hours of the fall of Kabul, the knives were already out.
The Afghanistan papers published in The Washington Post — including a confidential project to identify “Lessons Learned” conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an agency created by Congress — painted a devastating picture of corruption, incompetence, lack of motivation and other flaws among the Afghan forces that the United States and its allies were trying to mold into a serious military.

One Navy official said Afghans viewed their police as “the most hated institution” in Afghanistan. Other officials described systematic looting by soldiers and officers, as well as Afghan casualties so huge — 60,000 killed since 2001, by one estimate — that the government kept them a secret. The corruption was so rampant that many Afghans began to question whether their government or the Taliban were the greater evil.


Intelligence officials, meanwhile, have been pushing back on the charge that they should have been able to anticipate the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban advance. Accounts differ about when, exactly, the spies expected that to happen.

Doug London, a former senior CIA officer who ran counter terrorism operations in Afghanistan before he retired in 2018, told NBC News it was well understood within the intelligence community that Kabul could fall within weeks if the U.S. withdrew the bulk of its military and intelligence assets.

And a Western intelligence official who could not be named speaking about sensitive matters added, “There absolutely was intelligence reporting that it could happen this fast. This was not a surprise.”

The official said it was always clear that the Afghan military could not hold up without U.S. air support, and that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accelerated his own demise by disregarding the advice of U.S. and British officials who urged him to make deals with potential allies.

But a Congressional official briefed on the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that while intelligence officials always warned of a potential catastrophic implosion of the Afghan military, no U.S. agency warned it could happen in days.

A senior defense intelligence official told NBC News that the worst-case scenario in an intelligence assessment from last month indicated that Kabul could fall before Sept. 11.

“No official estimate has been pessimistic enough” for how this has played out, the official added.


…& although you can quibble with what joe had to say about standing by his decision

Clearly, it was not supposed to end like this. For the British, once combat operations ended in 2014, the focus was on training the Afghan army, with initiatives such as the “Sandhurst in the sand” officer training academy founded with £75m of taxpayers’ money. But the reality was, as military analysts observe, that the Afghan army was not effective without residual US air and ground support.

Nick Reynolds, a land warfare analyst with the thinktank Rusi, said the collapse of the Afghan security forces was predictable, exacerbated by corruption and a lack of local legitimacy. “Even basic issues such as ensuring that soldiers received regular pay and were properly supplied and equipped were not entirely resolved,” he said.

Such insights either eluded politicians or were set aside by the US and the UK, which were ready after 20 years of military engagement to exit with haste. The result is a collapse that has left scenes of chaos at the international airport as desperate Afghans try in vain to cling to US air transport planes – and extraordinary propaganda value for those who want to argue western military power is limited when, if 2,500 US troops had stayed on, the Taliban takeover would not be happening.


…or “squarely behind” as the case may be

When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just a little over three months after I took office. U.S. forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country. And the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.


[…for them as want to that’s a link to the full transcript of those remarks]

…one way or another it seems like there’s a lot of people very happy to rush to judgement

And when news consumers have been tuned out of a story — as they are, unfortunately, with most international coverage — this quick-take journalism can be damaging and misleading.

Evidence of this nuance-deprived, overstated coverage was obvious throughout big and small news organizations over the weekend and across the political spectrum.
The situation is tragic, no doubt, and the images of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on Sunday are stunningly memorable, but the blame has to be spread much more evenly. Biden has been in office for just over seven months; the always untenable Afghan war — and its sure-to-be-terrible ending — has been a disaster for decades. It cuts across political parties: begun by a Republican, George W. Bush, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and presided over by two Obama terms and four years of Trump.

Throughout, the American government has lied to the American people about how well things were going in America’s longest war, as The Washington Post’s important 2019 project, “The Afghanistan Papers,” made abundantly clear. Sometimes compared to the Pentagon Papers that chronicled a secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, it relied on more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and lawsuits to drive home its conclusion.

“Senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”
As always, the media moves too quickly to the blame game, allowing the most extreme punditry to carry the day. When history is in the making, as it surely is here, that’s far from the best approach.

The Afghan debacle lasted two decades. The media spent two hours deciding whom to blame. [WaPo]

…but…at the risk of being exactly that lazy…given there seem to be a lot of men who think they have the answer

Female Afghan journalists tell of a once free and bustling Kabul now filled with silence and fear as they destroy traces of their identity and work to avoid Taliban militants.

Aaisha is one of dozens of female Afghan journalists who have communicated with the Guardian over the past weeks, documenting the fall of their nation to share the devastation with the world. Now they fear that reporting without fear or favour will be the very thing that costs them their future.

They constantly receive death threats from the Taliban, and from others who agree that women should not be treated as equal.


…it’s a little difficult to understand what they think is the question

…& while we’re at it…maybe consider the part where I keep seeing references claiming there were some 2,500 US troops left for biden to bring home…which is roughly half of the taliban forces that a certain someone sent in the other direction

…which brings me back to the part about how wrongs make the right

…but then…what do you expect?

Children caught in Covid culture wars as US politicians defy health advice [Guardian]

…it’s like they’re on autopilot

The US government has opened a formal investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driving system after a series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles.
NHTSA says it has identified 11 crashes since 2018 in which Teslas on Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control have hit vehicles at scenes where first responders used flashing lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board or cones warning of hazards. The agency announced the action on Monday in a posting on its website.


…I guess it’s a question of priorities

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has sued the US government over Nasa’s decision to award a $2.9bn lunar lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
In a court filing, the company said it was challenging “Nasa’s unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals”.

Last month, the federal Government Accountability Office sided with Nasa over its decision to pick a single lunar lander provider, rejecting Blue Origin’s protest.


…& possibly something about throwing stones while living in glass houses

The state is currently one of 13 that allow children under 16 to wed, according to Unchained at Last, a nonprofit organization that advocates ending child and forced marriages in the US. Nine of those states have no set minimum age, the group says, relying instead on case law or a judge’s ruling.
A study by the International Center for Research on Women, a research institute and rights group for women and children, estimates that nearly 8,800 minors under the age of 18 were listed on marriage licenses in North Carolina from 2000-2015 – placing the state among the top five with child marriages during that period. The group said that 93% of the marriage applications it reviewed for the years 2000-2019 involved a marriage between a minor and an adult.


…because people’s patience isn’t the only resource that’s drying up

With climate change and long-term drought continuing to take a toll on the Colorado River, the federal government on Monday for the first time declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, one of the river’s main reservoirs.
“As this inexorable-seeming decline in the supply continues, the shortages that we’re beginning to see implemented are only going to increase,” said Jennifer Pitt, who directs the Colorado River program at the National Audubon Society. “Once we’re on that train, it’s not clear where it stops.”

The Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Interior Department, declared the shortage as it issued its latest outlook for the river for the next 24 months. That forecast showed that by the end of this year Lake Mead, the huge reservoir near Las Vegas, would reach a level of 1,066 feet above sea level. It hasn’t seen a level that low since it began to fill after the completion of Hoover Dam in the 1930s. The lake will be at 34 percent of capacity.
The mandatory cuts, referred to as Tier 1 reductions, are part of a contingency plan approved in 2019 after lengthy negotiations among the seven states that use Colorado River water: California, Nevada and Arizona in the lower basin, and New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming in the upper basin. American Indian tribes and Mexican officials have also been involved in the planning.

The shortage announced Monday affects only the lower basin states, but the Bureau of Reclamation may declare a similar shortage for the upper basin, perhaps as early as next year.

The shortage declaration will reduce Arizona’s supply of Colorado River water, delivered by a system of canals and pumping stations called the Central Arizona Project, by about 20 percent, or 512,000 acre-feet. (An acre-foot is about 325,000 gallons, enough water for two or three households for a year.)
Lake Mead now contains about 12 million acre-feet of water, far below its capacity of nearly 30 million acre-feet. The last time it was anywhere near full was two decades ago.

In a First, U.S. Declares Shortage on Colorado River, Forcing Water Cuts [NYT]

Arizona will be hardest hit, losing nearly a fifth of the water it receives from the Colorado River. In Pinal county, farmers and ranchers will see the amount of water they get from the river drop by half next year, and disappear altogether by 2023, when the federal government is projected to enact even more severe cuts. Farmers, who have already had to make some land fallow, will probably have to continue to do so in the coming years and rely increasingly on groundwater.
“This is a very big deal, because there’s never been a shortage like this over the almost 100-year history,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University. “The immediate impacts of this will not probably be felt by most people. But it’s a big, giant red flag telling a region that is dependent on Colorado River water that we need to adjust to a drier future.”

Cutbacks and conservation efforts – though crucial – are unlikely to reverse the reservoir’s decline in the near future. When it’s full, Lake Mead’s elevation sits at about 1,221ft above sea level. But by next year, the lake’s level is expected to drop to 1,065ft, below the 1,075ft cutoff that triggers first-tier water reductions. By 2023, federal officials and water experts expect a tier 2 shortage. And when the lake’s level dips to 1,025ft, a tier 3 declaration will trigger supply cuts to cities and tribal lands.

Lake Mead, which was formed after the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, has been declining faster than many experts predicted, amid a devastating drought and intense heatwaves that have resulted in less water trickling down from the Rocky Mountains into the Colorado River. The dam, which provides power to about 1.3m people in Nevada, Arizona and California, has seen its efficiency drop by 25%, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.




  1. For the readers: The poem that introduces this post was written by Wilfred Owen, one of the greatest of the Great War poets. He fought in World War I and wrote it while convalescing (from war wounds) in a hospital outside Edinburgh. He returned to the front, where he was killed one week before the Armistice was declared, at the age of 25.

    Happy Tuesday!

    • …it is indeed…the same author as the “anthem for doomed youth” I left a link to in the comments of last night’s NOT…& for those who might be interested it might be worth noting that during that convalescence he was in the same institution as one seigfried sassoon…whose open letter on the subject of that war has always struck me as a genuinely brave piece of writing…though I’m pretty sure I’ve said that more than once

      …in fact, on the subject of readers, there’s a novel (or three) in which the meeting of those two minds plays a fairly significant part


      • And I believe that Siegfried Sassoon played a large role in getting Owen’s work published posthumously. He and Edith Sitwell, who had her own literary magazine. 

        This is veering wildly off-topic but if you study the period leading up to WWII (hardly anyone does anymore, it seems) in retrospect you might want to ask, “With the rise of Hitler, why didn’t everyone act sooner and more forcefully and head this off at the pass?”

        The answers are many. First of all, many thought that Germany had gotten a very raw deal out of the Treaty of Versailles, and among the English especially Germany post-WWI was still looked upon as an admirable examplar of knowledge and the arts. But mostly, I think, was how shocked and scarred everyone was by the carnage of WWI. Who the hell would want to go through that again? When Hitler took power in 1933 WWI was just 15 years in the past.

        But not the Germans, who harbored vast grievances from The Great War. Like today, numerous conspiracy theories sprang up to explain how, exactly, things happened as they did. “Stabbed in the back.” Itching for revenge, and under the spell of one of the most mesmerizing leaders of the 20th century, you can understand why a German in, say, Düsseldorf, reeling from the loss of WWI, impoverished first by the Great Inflation of the Weimar years and then again by the horrific job losses that ensued during the Depression, might turn to a populist leader promising a better tomorrow. That Düsseldörfer, moreover, would have remembered being occupied by the Allies, especially the widely loathed French, for a spell after the signing of the Armistice. 

        Fascinating, I know.

        By the way, I threw in the Owen backgrounder because you put so much work into these DOTs and I was sure you knew all about this, but I thought I’d help by doing a little typing for you.

        • …if I remember my trivial pursuit answers right time magazine had adolf down as man of the year in 1939 (on account of the economic recovery germany managed in the inter-war years)…& I imagine plenty of people would be surprised that international conferences about eugenics were hosted in the US around the same sort of time…so it’s fair to say history is pretty opaque about some stuff

          …but I’d recommend anyone with the stomach for it check out this


          …or rather the book the review is about…I was lucky enough to see a monologue based on it performed by maggie smith…& to say it shed light on a perspective I couldn’t really imagine would be an understatement

          …as for the owen attribution…I figured these DOTs run long enough without me getting carried away about dead poets…although that’s pretty much exactly the sort of thing myo likes to point out would “make a perfectly good post of its own” if only I’d manage my time better…so let’s call that a mixed blessing, perhaps?

      • @SplinterRIP You have mentioned Wilfred Owen before. And I told my daughter about him. She’s very interested in WW1 and WW2 history and loves poetry. You’ve also mentioned the WW1 Museum and how visiting it  has informed your life. Your not insignificant knowledge is spreading beyond Deadsplinter.

  2. I’d also like to add, and then I’ll shut up, that some are speculating that the Rust Belt Midwest might be due for a renaissance. Why? Because of water shortages, Lake Mead being an extreme example. I don’t think I’d drink from the water that laps the shore of Cleveland or Buffalo, but the Great Lakes have freshwater (as opposed to salt water) supplies in abundance. For now, anyway. 

    • …I could be wrong (don’t have a link handy to cite) but I’ve also heard it suggested that a redistribution of some agricultural endeavours might do a lot to help the water shortages from being less painful…& that once upon a time a fair bit of that supply came from “the south”?

      • Yes. California, for example, produces tons of comestibles, although parts of it are quite arid and reliant on the Colorado River. I was absolutely shocked to drive past a rice paddy while lost in the middle of nowhere in the Central Valley. No crop is as water-needful as rice, as far as I know. Meanwhile, rice used to grow in abundance in South Carolina, that’s what a lot of the plantation wealth there was built on (and the slaves, so many slaves), not cotton, because South Carolina is so rainy and swampy, or parts of it are at least. 

        There’s no reason in the world why California is the almond capital of America, except for hugely subsidized and misguided water policy out there.

        Maybe you would enjoy a vacation in Palm Springs, Phoenix, or Las Vegas? Golf courses, golf courses everywhere, as if those three desert locales were the Scottish Highlands. Again, it’s the water, artificially introduced for the amusement of people with time on their hands.

          • Especially because of the water inputs of the Soybeans & Corn typically fed to that cattle.
            I won’t re-write the *whole* essay… and you can feel FREE to TL/DR…
            but suffice it to say, that there was once a 12-acre patch of land, with an absolutely beautiful  little oak savanna–with a Mother Oak whose trunk–i shit you not–was *at least* 5-6 feet in diameter (there was an entire motherfucking PALLET up in her branches 15 or so feet off the ground, that looked *tiny,* because her canopy was THAT big, and the trunk was bigger across than the pallet!!!)
            And that mother oak, and most of her 100+ year old babies** were ripped out around a decade ago now, because some asshat decided that rather than keep the trees & prairie there (and because I’m pretty sure they cut, before anyone like me could fight it by letting the local soil & water board know there was an endangered ecosystem in their backyard!🤬😱), that tiny bit of *perfect and untouched* oak savanna, is now a goddamned corn field.🤬🤬🤬
            Fed by an FIELD irrigation system that fucking pulls *directly* from the lake that’s literally 100 or so yards from the edge of the field…
            Where the water table (and the fucking Anhydrous & *other* fertilizers) only have to drift downward 25 feet or so before they get alllll mixed together….
            I know *that* fact, because back when my grandpa used to rent that 12 acres for his hobby farm, he talked about only ever having to drop a Sand Point down 25 feet–the soil was SO soft & sand, that he was able to drive it by hand in a couple days, then hook up a pump, and have year-round water for his sheep…
            (**Bur oak is a slow growing oak—the trees that had a 4″-6″ diameter were *my* age back then–30-ish…
            The ones that were 1-2 *feet* in diameter were decades older–and of those, there were many!)

        • Nearly two decades ago, I was taking some courses at a community college in Southern California, and at that time, one of the profs was talking about how in some places like Palm Springs, there were so many swimming pools and golf courses, that the local humidity had increased so much that swamp coolers/evaporative coolers were no longer working.  I doubt that situation has improved much since…

          • You have inspired my next Notes From a Traveler post. We used to spend a lot of time in Palm Springs but that seems so long ago. Everything pre-pandemic seems like it happened much longer ago than it did, I suppose.

        • Vice News did a great story on the water shortage the other night.  They have also been in front on actually putting reporters in with the Taliban but I will spare you that link…

    • The Great Lakes water is (hopefully!) tied up in treaty rights, and the states on the US side also have a water compact, about cleaning it up, diversions allowed, etc.;
      And I suspect, that with the current droughts happening–including *here* in the headwaters basin of the Mississippi, and the Lake Superior Watershed, there will be a LOT more discussion about any possible “diversions”… and hopefully some cutting of the “product” loophole;

  3. A Yelp review from Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates) for those of you thinking of traveling to Albany:


    Sorry the URL is so long. I got this through a third-party site and I think by clicking on this you avoid the article limit put in place by the noble (Albany) “Times Union,” one of the finest American newspapers. At great risk to their personal and professional lives they carry on tirelessly, exposing the corrupt and sometimes unlawful underbelly of NY State government. “The New York Times” doesn’t touch this stuff with a 10-foot pole, unless they have to. Recently they regained consciousness and decided to report on deposed Emperor Andreus Marcus Maximus, but if they had their way I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded a lifetime governorship for him, as long as they had “access”.

    • That bit about access is one of the things that always bugs me — access almost inevitably leads to less news and more pablum, as reporters soften coverage and editors bury it.
      There are endless opportunities in NY City and State for the Times to report on important stories in compelling ways — the subways, the schools, corruption…. But they think everything needs to be told from the perspective of sources, rather than publically available information.
      And then they wonder why things don’t play out the way sources told them.

    • No opinion on the hotel or the Albany Times Union, but I noted that Hall & Oates were playing at Saratoga Springs. Let me just leave my own Yelp review by saying, I’m sure Saratoga is a lovely, quaint little town. The sort of upstate escape NYCers go to for the weekend or summer and are oblivious to how much the townfolk resent them. 
      But I once had to work somewhere where a satellite office was in Saratoga, and it reinforced every stereotype City dwellers hold about upstate New York. Co-workers from that office were racist, bass ackwards, and just terrible in so many other ways. Fuck you, Saratoga Springs. You may have Yaddo, but you’re just as awful and racist as this hotel in Albany apparently is. 
      /end rant

      • It’s possible this sort of condescension is why city folk — who I am sure have never seen a racism happen in their shining city, no sir! — are so correctly resented when they venture out of their little liberal warren that they gentrified from the you-know-whos a few decades ago. 

        There are bad people everywhere.

    • Jennifer Cohn (the same one that Rooo from GT introduced us to, who does the amazing in-depth reporting on the Election stuff & voting machines), had a whole thread yesterday… apparently she thought her resources were wrong, and retracted it, but then posted THIS today, as an update;

      There’s DEFINITELY soooomething *hinky* going on, what with all these R governors pushing “no masks” AND not getting your vaccination… and then Regeneron having that contract that will apparently “soon” need re-upping🤨🤨🤨

      • This quote was the kicker in both her threads–note the “depends on the rate of Covid-19 cases” bit;

  4. I was going to drop this in Butcher’s Parmesan Chicken post, because it is food-related, but that would be thread-jacking, so I’m going to place it here instead.

    Remember how I told you all that I had ordered the Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook on August 8th, was told it would arrive in a week or two, and then was told it would get to me by 9/27? It’s HERE and it is completely fabulous. It’s in near mint condition so I think the previous owner never once cracked it open. 

    Its fabulosity cannot be described. The head shots that accompany each Celebrity Recipe are worth it alone. It starts off with Linda Evans’s Artichoke Dip and is briskly followed by Bob Dole’s Seville Shrimp. That’s only in the first two pages. Flipping through it I see that Barb and Frank counted celebrity chefs among their friends, so there’s a recipe from Montrachet, a now-closed restaurant that used to have one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city. 

    Everyone’s here. Dolores Hope (wife of Bob) contributed Poulet a L’Espagnole. Michele Lee chimes in with Double Chocolate Surprise Muffins. Wayne Newton ups the ante with Shrimp a la Nichols. Not to be outdone, Jamie Farr gives us Jamie’s Artichoke Pasta. Dick Martin, of Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh-In”, chips in with Martin’s Junk Fried Rice. On the same (later) page we find Peggy Lee (Jade Salad) and Liza Minelli (Liza’s Salade de Provence) gathered together, which would induce a joyful heart attack in a gay man less sturdy than I. 

    That Julie person pulled that Julia Child recipe challenge stunt. I am going to cook my way through the Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook. Better Half won’t know what hit him two months from now.

  5. welp….the cluster fuck cluster fuckens
    dutch news reporting we are failing to evacuate our remaining people because…. american troops wont let people into the airport
    (you’ll need google translate for this one as i havent found an english link yet)
    now dont get me wrong….i dont exactly envy the remaining troops or the job they got stuck with….but god damn what a shit show

Leave a Reply