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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘Infrastructure’

Tickets to Ride: Obama, Biden on Track with High-Speed Rail Projects

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

As train-lovin’ infrastructure freaks, we applaud Friday’s announcement by President Obama and Vice President “Amtrak Joe” Biden that the administration will dedicate $8 billion of stimulus funding for high-speed rail projects in 13 major rail corridors in 31 states around the U.S. The president calls this investment a down payment on the most significant step forward in the nation’s transportation system since the interstate highway system was launched in the 1950s. The OneRail coalition cheers the news: “Investment in rail will create jobs not only in those corridors, but  around the nation as American companies develop, build, and operate systems that will reduce energy consumption, mitigate air pollution, enhance the reliability of passenger and freight rail, and create more livable communities.”

We see the investment as a most welcome advance that will help reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels (a point repeated by Transportation secretary Ray LaHood) and on automobiles. The train projects are energy-efficient and reinforce U.S. national security. (The less foreign oil we use, the fewer soldiers we have to send overseas to oil-rich zones.) As we’ve noted before, “the U.S. must reduce its dependence on automobiles and on importing foreign oil (and extracting it from off the Gulf Coast). Carbon emissions aggravate global warming, which intensifies hurricanes and raises sea levels.”

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Deeper into Afghanistan: 360 Degrees of Damnation

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

we must rebuild our strength here at home . . . . the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.” —President Obama, Dec. 1, 2009

NYTWe wanted to take time to try to make sense of President Obama’s speech at West Point last week in which he announced his decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by 30,000 over the next six months. We pray he knows what he’s doing. We can only imagine the risks and variables he has been weighing. Because he is a peaceful man by nature (the Nobel may have been awarded at the wrong time but it was not given to the wrong man), we are inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. And yet, even though he knows more than we’re privy to, we are still skeptical. Our favorite lines in the address were those quoted above. Perhaps the most painful part of the speech is its overall contrast with and cancellation of those fine-sounding sentiments.

There are truly no good options—all are fraught with unacceptable consequences: 360 degrees of damnation—and yet we feel the president has made a tragically wrong decision. Even though we were impressed by his methodical and deliberative approach to a maddeningly complex issue, and even though it is theoretically possible that with unlimited time, money, and the blessings of fortune this new “Way Forward” can work, we do not believe it will. There is too much reliance on military force, too many moving parts that have to come together just so. (There is a saying that whenever you have two Afghans you have at least three factions.) Of course the generals say they can do it—give ’em enough troops  and they’ll promise you anything. Hendrik Hertzberg writes in The New Yorker that Obama would have faced “a probable Pentagon revolt” had he chosen to withdraw starting now, and if such a decision had been followed by a large-scale terrorist attack he would face “savage, politically lethal scapegoating.” Very likely. This is the situation we’re in. Nicholas Kristof observes in his New York Times column that amid all the president’s consultations of experts, one important set of players not consulted were the tribal elders of Afghanistan. Without their cooperation, nothing will work.

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Coastal Conservation Corps:
A New CCC for Coastal Restoration—and Jobs

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Linoleum block print by Friedolin Kessler, CCC, 1936.

Linoleum block print by Friedolin Kessler, CCC, 1936.

Levees Not War is pleased to direct your attention to LaCoastPost, where you can read a guest post titled “Why Not Institute a ‘Green’ Corps for the Coast?”, or, “Reinventing the CCC and WPA.” In collaboration with LaCoastPost editor Len Bahr, a coastal science and policy adviser to five Louisiana governors, we propose a Coastal Civilian Corps—a new CCC for our time—as a workable remedy for the widespread unemployment and environmental degradation besetting Louisiana and the nation. Both Levees Not War and LaCoastPost have recommended a CCC for coastal restoration before + a new WPA for infrastructure reinforcement. Now, with the still bleak employment outlook and the urgent need for defense against hurricane storm surge, plus the likelihood of a new push for further stimulus legislation in Congress, we think it’s time to press for a new CCC—and we urge activists and public officials in all 50 states to press for similar legislation nationwide. Read all about it at LaCoastPost.



Does Believing in Social Contract Make Us Socialists? Then So Be It.

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Learning What We’re Up Against, and How to Carry On

LoveCountryIf we’re learning anything from the messy struggles for health care reform and the passage of the stimulus bill back in February (how long ago that feels!)—and it’s far from clear whether anyone is learning anything—it could be that anyone seeking to improve the conditions of life for one’s fellow citizens is in for a real (endless) struggle. Okay, we already knew that, but now we find that if we start getting organized and gaining any traction, we’re in for a fight against not only powerful entrenched well-funded interests, but also their artificial grass-roots (“astroturf”) campaigns that stir up already nervous, agitated citizens to vent outrage against socialism in the White House and government takeovers of Medicare, among other threats to the republic.

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Approaching Five Years in Iraq, 4,000th U.S. Fatality

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

casket

“I think [the war will] go relatively quickly. . . . Weeks rather than months.” —Vice President Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003, on Face the Nation

“. . . could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Feb. 7, 2003, Aviano Air Base, Italy

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

We don’t know how this will play out, but we can be sure that while the Clinton and Obama campaigns sharpen their knives against each other, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will keep on killing and being killed—for what?—and the U.S. will still be borrowing billions monthly for those insatiable wars.

And New Orleanians once able to afford rent or mortgage payments before the federal levees broke will still be homeless, encamped near City Hall and under the Claiborne Street overpass, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will still be late with its plan for Category 5–strength hurricane protection for New Orleans and vicinity.

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A Reply to ‘Obama Our Infrastructure Hero’: Letter from a New Orleans engineer/blogger

Friday, February 15th, 2008

LNW_FloodStreet.blue

In reply to “Barack, You’re Totally Our Infrastructure Hero” (below), our friend Tim Ruppert of Tim’s Nameless Blog points out that in fact the infrastructure part of Obama’s economic agenda doesn’t appear till near the end of the plan. Also, the senator doesn’t mention the words ‘Katrina,’ ‘levees,’ ‘flood,’ ‘Corps of Engineers,’ etc. (Tim Ruppert is a New Orleans–born engineer at the Corps of Engineers, N.O., and a past president of the Louisiana chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.)

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Barack, You’re Totally Our Infrastructure Hero!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

LNW_Obama@GMObama, in Wisconsin, Calls for $60 Billion National Infrastructure Investment Bank

At a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisc., on Feb. 13, Barack Obama “turned it down a notch” and gave a major policy address that laid out a broad agenda for reinforcement of the American economy. The plan would restore a measure of economic balance and stability, create infrastructure and renewable-energy jobs, and many other necessary and ambitious undertakings. The speech is substantive and shows Senator Obama’s seriousness and grasp of economic reality and possibility. Optimism and realism together. We’re delighted to see at least one of the three major candidates offering serious solutions to infrastructure and environmental degradation (as John Edwards also did). See excerpts from Obama’s speech below the fold.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain pick at Obama for being all rhetorical ‘airy nothings’ and no substance. Well, what new proposals do they have to show? If they’re all about experience, let them experience some new ideas. Let us experience their proposals. (Watching them, in contrast to Obama’s energy, it’s like watching machines, dead candidates walking.)

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America’s Infrastructure: And Unto Dust We Shall Return?

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Our friends at the American Society of Civil Engineers are concerned like everyone else about the catastrophic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. ASCE is calling attention to the degraded condition of America’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, and proposes an Action Plan for the 110th Congress, including the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission.

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