How Do We Get Out of Iraq?

Are you troubled by the disaster in Iraq but fearful of the consequences of an early withdrawal? Looking for alternatives between the extremes of “Stay the Course” and “Out Now”? On Monday October 10, 7:30 - 9:30 PM, the Orange County Democratic Party is sponsoring a public forum to educate citizens about the alternatives for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, focusing on realistic scenarios and their consequences, and to provide a forum for discussion of the situation in Iraq.

Where: Chapel Hill High School auditorium.
When: Monday October 10, 7:30 - 9:30 PM


  • David Price, US Congressman, Fourth District, NC

  • Sarah Shields, UNC Professor of History, Islamic Civilization

  • Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, currently writes and speaks for Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC

  • Bruce Jentleson, former Director of the Terry Sanford Institute, Chair of Department of Public Policy Studies, Duke University


  • Welcome and Introductions - Jack Sanders, Moderator (5 minutes)

  • Opening statements by panelists (5 minutes/speaker; 20 minutes)

  • Panel discussion: Questions posed by moderator (60 minutes)

  • Discussion, Q&A (30 minutes)

  • Wrapup (1 - 2 minute summary/speaker; 8 minutes)

  • Adjourn



I have to agree with Will. Look at all the spoons being mentioned here. Lower speed limits, biodiesel, hybrids, solar panels on homes, efficient new homes, energy-efficient lights, methane capture, geo-thermal, not to mention easy things like turning up or down your thermostat, busing, etc. Lord forbid someone suggest clotheslines, I know those are a no-no in most of our suburbs, but that would save a huge amount of electricity.

We should commit as a nation to cutting energy dependence in every and ALL possible ways. Tractor-trailers will still burn regular diesel and pollute our air. Energy plants will still need HUGE amounts of natural resources to power our laptops, web servers, espresso machines, and electric razors - not to mention our water purification systems, traffic signals, emergency services, etc. None of these chips will end natural resource usage, but it might decrease them while we look for other large-ticket items.

A thought occurred to me this morning, something I haven't thought about in awhile.
How many people think Bush screwed up by invading Iraq?

How many people think Bush screwed up by letting Osama go at Torra Borra?

How many people think we should, AT A MINIMUM, set a timetable and get out of Iraq?

How many people want to refocus and go capture Osama bin Laden?

Is it going to be up to the next President to clean up this mess? To send more troops back into Afghanistan/Pakistan and actually catch Osama bin Laden, murderer of more than 3000? Do we have the stomach to do it? Do we have the stomach NOT to do it? Are we so sick of war now that we let this mass murderer walk and plan again for another day? Do we let Afghanistan remain 'poppy central' and supply our children with heroin on the cheap?

Indeed, despite galloping growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) ...and a huge boost in school enrollments, particularly for girls, the plight of most people in the countryside remains tenuous. Afghanistan still ranks among the half-dozen poorest countries in the world, and...has the highest level of malnutrition in the world at 70 percent...The U.N.'s drug agency estimated earlier this year that the cultivation and trafficking of opium accounted for 60 percent of the economy, or over 2.8 billion dollars in value... the State Department warned that Afghanistan was "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state", accounting for nearly 90 percent of the world's opium production.

Throughout history, megalomaniacs have taken advantage of opportunities to seize power. It should come as no surprise that it can happen in the good ole U.S.A.

Bush didn't "screw up" by invading Iraq. He and his neo-cons pulled a con. The central tragedy of this whole mess is that the Democratic Party, ostensibly an opposition party, stood by and endorsed what most of them knew to be a con (and the others who didn't know it apparently had their brains marinaded in inside-the-beltway bs sauce until they were stone stupid).

To my mind, the country has been betrayed by those whose responsibility it was to blow the cover on these rogue neo-con criminals. The Democratic Party utterly failed when we needed it the most. And continues to pile failure on top of failure as it still supports the war while a majority of the public does not, while it endorses a right-wing corporate hack for Chief Justice, while it stands by like a drugged guard Chihauhau and lets Bolton get sleazed into the U.N. by some arcane tactic, and on and on....

The Democratic Party may be functioning as a giant political black hole soaking up grassroots energy that otherwise might be utilized to regain some sort of two party system in this country.

Contaminate the oil supply and then the neocons will have no need for Iraq.

I appreciate all of your points and in fact I agree with them. But let's try to keep the conversation local. There are plenty of other places to pile on about national politics, eg:,, etc...

For example, I'm wondering when Rep. Price will finally be held accountable for his milquetoast leadership of this incredibly progressive district.

My personal favorite on this topic is the "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon thing. It would seem that among that ribbon-bumpersticker crowd, the thinking is that to protest against the war is somehow disloyal to or disrespectful of the troops.

The reverse is true. Yes, the troops are standing tall, unquestioning of their orders -- that's their job. Questioning any/all policy that puts them in harm's way is our job. So, my question would be a piggyback on Ruby's point. Why not organize an event as a kick in the pants to Rep. Price as well as a rally to boldly state that we DO support our troops by questioning the policy and the Commanader-in-Chief in their name. This is an issue of accountability which is due to each and every citizen. It really brings home the thought that ALL politics are local.

David Price touts on his website that he had "serious reservations" about the invasion, war and Abu Ghraib torture. (He doesn't call it that ... he calls it "Inhumane treatment of prisoners")

Accountability for the policy (what are the specific goals and mileposts) is the right of those troops -- a right that we should assert on their behalf as they cannot speak for themselves.

Price owes that accountability to us. I don't think that "I had reservations" is quite enough. Why isn't he making speeches here and elsewhere to act on his own professed beliefs? He's gotta get elected next year ... he'll listen.

Personally, as a feminist, I will not be happy with any plan for withdrawl from Iraq that doesn't include some sort of amnesty for and transport of any woman that wants to leave the country. We toppled a secular goverment were women were entitled to equal treatment under the law, and have facilitated the installation of a regime whose constitution allows husbands to take their wives to religious courts and have them stoned to death.

I was unable to attend this event, but hope that somebody will post summaries of what each speaker said.

I'm surprised no one posted during the forum (Will R was there with his computer). The overall impression I left with is that David Price wants us out of Iraq but he doesn't support immediate withdrawal. Neither does Bruce Jentleson. Sarah Shields and Ray McGovern (my new hero) both agree that for every day we stay, more suffering will occur among the Iraqis. Dr. Shields reminded us that there is no way to withdraw as many troops as we have over there all at one time, so gradual is the only option (logistically).

There was an interesting discussion on the constitution. It was my impression that none of the panelists but David Price came in tonight thinking the constitution will be a positive accomplishment. After listening to the others, Rep Price said that he was going to rethink his position--but then summed his statement by saying he thought the constitution would be a good thing.

I didn't take notes and none of the speakers were very direct and/or economical in their use of words so I found myself drifting off every now and then. How did I ever make it through grad school?

Good to see so many candidates there. All the Carrboro Aldermen candidates except David showed up, and I was joined by Will and Bill from Chapel Hill (that wasn't supposed to rhyme so obnoxiously).

Some of the other organizers and I were trying to get a crowd estimate - we figured at least six or seven hundred folks showed up. I hope the size and mood of the crowd pulled some sway on Mr. Price, and that he continues to work in Congress to move his voting record to be a little more in line with his constituency than it has been through most of this Iraq disaster.

How do we know that Mr. Price's position on the war is out of line with his constituency?

I understand that it's out of line with many of the folks who post frequently on OP. But is there evidence that Price's position is out of line with where the center of his constituency is?

(I'm neither defending nor criticizing Price's position here. I'm just questioning the assertion about the constituency.)

I did take notes, Terri, and, of course, the People's Channel recorded the whole nine yards for later broadcast.

Jack Sanders set the ground rules first thing by asking that there be "no applause, it takes time". Instead, everyone was provided green (yes) and red cards (no) to indicate their dissension or agreement with a speaker. That said, Shields and McGovern were applauded a number of times.

Here's a couple quick bits of observations and snatches of comments.

When Price was introduced, a number of people waved their green cards but about 10-15 waved their red.

Price's opening statement:

Says he'll talk about this "Exit strategy" but the details don't quite come
Calls for "regime change in United States"
the best way to turn our foreign policy is to elect a new president - McGovern had a great response to this in his closing

Shield's opening statement:

one half to two thirds of Iraqii deaths come from American soldiers "at checkpoints, in homes".
"leaving the country will reduce deaths" - the net loss of life in the ensuing (chaotic?) transition would be less than current collateral death rates
the military does "round up after round up...only increases insurgents"
[slight paraphrase here] "the people that came up with Iraq 2000 can't get us out"

McGovern's opening statement:

"How many of you voted against the war?" - sea of green cards. Price comments "I did".
"How many of you resent having to pickup the pieces?" - sea of green cards, many people shaking their cards wildly
"welcome to catastrophe folks" - lots of nodding in the audience
the Noah Principle - "no credit for predicting the rain, only credit for building the arks" - I noted at this point the Price was looking red in the face and pulling at his collar
"rapidly reaching the tipping point when the Iraqii people will actively fight against us"
to regain any kind of credibility we need to "stop building the permanent bases" and "disavow any intent to control the oil"
Would you advise your son, your daughter, your nephew, your niece to got to Iraq? If we [he meant the Party I believe] say no then we can't ask others to...

Johnson's opening statement:

"Iraq was the reason for the London bombings"
"things could be's true we're a magnet, we're the cause of violence"
"commit now to getting out" - would strengthen our hand
capping troop deployment, reducing troops %10 to %20 in early 2006, would fritter away our leverage [What leverage?]

I'll skip the middle (I have a forum today and I need to get to bed) but will end with a bit by paraphrasing McGovern's closing statement "we don't have to wait every 4 years to make a political statement, we can start now".

Sea of wildly waving green.

Very clever and quiet green/red protocol to accomodate the live recording. Applause does make a large audio mess and gobbles time. Jack Sanders's hand jive also kept the audience well behaved.

Dr. Shields's answer re women's rights was spot-on.

I wanted to clap my hands, and eventually joined in with others, when the real reason for the war (not oil) was so eloquently dissed.


I would not hesitate to say that Rep Price's position on how to get out of Iraq were out of line with the opinions of those attending last nights forum. The problem is that we do not represent his full constituency. What contributors here often forget is that elected officials have the responsibility of representing everyone, not just those who speak the loudest and most often. They also have to work WITH their Washington colleagues. As I was walking out last night, dismayed by Rep Price's stance on the benchmarks and the constitution, I had to remind myself that in order to make change politicians (too) frequently have to compromise. Dennis Kucinich spoke his honest opinions and his voice was marginalized. Are we better served by having our representatives speak firmly or speak in terms that the majority might consider listening to?

Mr. Price said several times last night that the best way to resolve Iraq was through the electoral process. Unfortunately that's a year away for the legislature and three years away for the presidency. Dr. Shields in her closing statement reminded us all that democracy happens outside of elections.

Will quotes Dr. Shields: "One half to two thirds of Iraqii deaths come from American soldiers 'at checkpoints, in homes'."

Wow. Is this really an accurate reflection of the cause of most Iraqi deaths today and in recent months? I would have assumed that most Iraqi deaths at this point are caused by bombings by what the media keep calling the "insurgency." (I'm not sure what that word means, or what to call it.) Is this a media-created misimpression?

Eric, I checked my notes and that is what I wrote. She spoke of one morgue in Baghdad that, over three months, had 700, 800 and 1100 dead. Besides the 1955 dead Americans (1956 with a total coalition count of 2154 according to this), she spoke of the 20 to 25 thousand Iraqii deaths.

Shields also made an interesting point about quislings and traitors (no, she wasn't talking about Price ;-) ! ). She pointed out that any stable structures or documents made under our occupation will be immediately undermined the minute we leave. She said the most effective way to improve longterm stability was to "focus on making Iraq more liveable."

Later, in response to a question from the audience on Iraqii women's rights, she elaborated on the theme of building castles in quicksand. She said that the discussion and promotion of women's rights are now being linked to the occupation, to the West - instead of being thought of as a good in itself. That historical precedent amply demonstrated that these ideals, when promoted by occupying forces, suffered when the occupiers left. She followed with an observation that the best way to promote women's rights, at least for now, is to get out of Iraq - as most of what women there are concerned with - family, personal safety, etc. - was under daily attack.

No Will, I didn't mean to suggest that you had inaccurately quoted her; I was asking instead whether what Dr. Shields said was accurate.

Thanks for the further info, though.

Just to be very clear: Shields stated that the Constitution being pushed by the Bush administration will have a negative effect on women's rights (and safety). This is totally opposite from what the US administration is saying. Shields argument sounded more credible to me. She and McGovern both argued against a country-wide constitution, and she, at least, felt that if the US would withdraw immediately, the country would find a way to create its own national identity rather than breaking down into three separate nation-states susceptible to the power and influence of Iran.

It's really a shame that Dr Shields and Mr. McGovern's perspectives are not getting more attention by the national media.

I attended last night and believe now as before that we must leave Iraqi. But we need to ask ourselves many hard questions as a nation in the wake of this critcal mistake in foreign policy.

I asked the question last night about the role of oil. It seems obvious to me that oil is at the center of our policy in Iraqi. The US would not be in Iraqi without our economic need for oil, neocon grand strategy of empire or not. We can lament the loss of life and destruction of this war but until we come to grips with our "big oil" need conflicts in the middle east with the US playing super power or cop is inevitable.

Did anyone else notice the crowed parking lot filled with not so efficent autos?

The question is how do we either cease our dependence on middle east oil ( not a likely quick fix ) or how do we exert influence in the middle east in concert with other nations that responsibly makes for a win-win for a majority of the counties and groups in the area.?

The question we did not get answered last night ,which is critical, is a broader question. What should be our policy in the middle east? The US can not pack up and leave the area. So after our occupation ends, and we must do so the hard question is : What next?

In coming election, we must elect leaders who short term lead our country more wisely in our middle east policy knowing we need them more than they need or want us. Also long term, we need leaders will lead us through hard solutions to our dependance on oil. I feel if we begin to solve that problem we will lessen the chance of another Iraqi for our kids.

While representatives "represent" the whole district, when it comes to elections they must represent that portion of their electoral base who funds them and that part which would consider voting for someone else.

If there is sufficient outrage over the war for people to vocally consider voting for someone else and to support that someone else financially (however much or little they can), that will make a difference. It seems to me it may be one of the few things that will actually make a difference.

What "benchmarks" can we establish to judge a candidate? Certainly we need much more concrete policies, the kind that someone can be held accountable to. Ray McGovern mentioned that cutting off funding for the war was a key action on behalf of the Congress in Viet Nam. This could be a tangible action to demand of Price and ask of challengers to which someone could be held accountable.

The question is how do we either cease our dependence on middle east oil ( not a likely quick fix ) or how do we exert influence in the middle east in concert with other nations that responsibly makes for a win-win for a majority of the counties and groups in the area.?

Steve, I'm going to ruminate on your energy question.

To my knowledge, there is one politician confronting the oil dependency issue head-on: Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Bartlett recently held a conference on Oil Depletion which was actually covered on C-SPAN. To read more about that event, visit The Oil Drum Blog.

At the local level, there is an excellent series sponsored by the Robertson Scholars going on at Duke this fall. Check it out:

Energy in Transition Seminar Series

The most recent seminar was by David Pimentel of Cornell, whose basic message was "biodiesel and ethanol, when produced from growing corn, soybeans, etc, are net energy losers and therefore, ultimately useless." He then shared years of research to back that message up.

Some of the folks from Piedmont Biofuels were onhand and were not happy with his message, and critiqued Pimentel on the point that recycled waste oil from restaurants that they often use to produce their biodiesel has a much higher EROEI (energy return on energy invested) than that produced from soy or corn feedstocks. Pimentel kept making the point that biodiesel won't scale as a replacement fuel for gasoline.

Technically, I believe Pimentel and the Biofuels people are both right, but at different levels of our energy policy picture. In the big picture, biodiesel grown from crops still needs lots of fossil fuel inputs, and is not going to be able to replace gasoline in automobiles in any meaningful way. On the local level, if a program such as the ad hoc one Piedmont Biofuels is already running could be scaled to REQUIRE restaurants to make waste oil easily available for biodiesel conversion, etc., then there may be significant value in such a program to run, say, a public works fleet. This could be a tremendous asset for a town/city/small region in a lower-energy future.

Another popular topic among energy optimists is hydrogen. Hydrogen, of course, isn't actually a form of energy- it is a form of energy storage. The most common and cheapest way to get hydrogen is from natural gas, which is already in depletion in the US and is non-renewable. The problems of deriving hydrogen from something else, storing it(10,000 lb/psi containers required, try putting that in the trunk of your car) and transmitting it (pipes which could move it to fuel stations) make the deployment of a hydrogen-based substitute for the American fuel station network an expensive and unlikely-to-occur event.

In a nutshell, oil and its refined products- gasoline, kerosene, diesel, heating oil, etc- have little in the way of substitutes. They are highly portable, easy to store almost indefinitely, not very volatile, and pack in an incredible amount of energy density that is released when burned. Our existing transportation system becomes highly unworkable if these products rise significantly in cost because of dwindling supplies. This leaves us with some daunting questions.

On November 28, Matt Simmons, an energy investment banker and author of Twilight in the Desert, which I recently finished reading, will be speaking to close out the series. His book is fascinating, accessible, pragmatic, very apolitical and ultimately sobering.

If I could wave a magic wand and get every public official in the Triangle to attend one event this year, Simmons' talk would be it.

Patrick's getting at a point blogger Stephen den Beste made three years ago. His main dissection of the alternatives argument is still on the web, as is his counter to those who tout conservation as a short-term option. They are worth reading.

Ethanol costs 70% more energy to produce than it produces when burned as a fuel.

Neither ethanol nor biodiesel make any sense when scaled up to a level where they significantly offset petroleum usage. (If you limit yourself to waste fat from restaurants and similar sources, you're probably four orders of magnitude too small.)

Oil shale isn't going to be the answer any time soon.

"Hybrid" cars won't help.

Hydrogen as a fuel isn't quite what a lot of people think it is.

One of the big problems is that a lot of people don't really understand the full scale of energy use in this country, nor do they really understand the fact that our use of energy is growing and the implications that has for energy policy.

Large scale conservation is great. Grid-wide reduction of electrical transmission losses is great. But should we disregard incremental improvements offered by smaller scale alternatives?

Locally supplied biodiesel and recovered methanol (like from the gases emitted by our landfill) might not scale well if you're looking for a one-size fits all replacement for current oil use but they really look good as part of a panoply of solutions.

If we used 1,000 gallons a week of biodiesel at a savings of $500 per week, we'd only be saving $25K per year and we'd only be fractionally reducing emissions. If we only produced 100 gallons a day of methanol from the landfill, maybe we'd only be able to generate enough electricity to run the landfill's daily operations.

Hey, I'm willing to chip away at the problem bit by bit using the tools available.

Both these technologies, along with solar, wind, low-flow hydro, etc., offer decentralized energy sources which we can use to chip, chip, chip away at the margins. If we can do this cost-effectively, why let the scaling argument stop us? Why not combine a strong ethic of conservation with reliable, small-scale, localized energy alternatives to get a better result?

Patrick, here's some interesting oil numbers from the Sierra Club by way of ae at ArsePoetica and

Hey, I'm willing to chip away at the problem bit by bit using the tools available.

How long would it take for you to "chip away" Mt. Everest with a spoon?

Even "chipping away", there's a point where something is so small as to be meaningless. When it comes to energy sources, "big" and "small" are quantifiable. It's true that "big" can be made of some "smalls", but exactly how many depends enormously on the quantifiable sizes of the "big" and "small".

Things like biodiesel from restaurant wastes are as a spoon to a mountain. It takes a lot of spoons to move a mountain.

"Hey, I'm willing to chip away at the problem bit by bit using the tools available."

Will, would you as a candidate support the CHTC petitioning the state to lower the statewide speed limit to 55? That is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower gasoline consumption in this country and the events of the 70's showed that it can work. We're all too busy trying to do too many things anyhow. Slowing down on the highway might actually lower our stress levels as well.

NC WARN and others are sponsoring a forum, Transitioning to Safe, Economical Electricity, on October 25, 7PM, at the Friday Center (free, open to public):
(Speakers: Amory Lovins, William Schlesinger, Pricey Harrison, Michael Niklas)

To learn more about Amory Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute, which is very proud of its energy efficient headquarters, you can follow this link.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to download driving directions to their highly sustainable campus, located 24 miles from Glenwood Springs and 15 miles from Aspen, the closest towns of considerable size.

RMI's Own Buildings Demonstrate Efficiency

Here's yet another bit of info that shows how far out-of-touch Price and the Democratic Party is. Showing some leadership would be as easy as falling off a sinking ship...

By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans say that President Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll commissioned by, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 8-9.

The poll found that 50% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him."

Speaking of impeachment ... this reminder. It wasn't Nixon or Kissinger who ended the war in Vietnam. It was the Congress. Pulling the plug on the money forced the abrupt pullout --- and an ugly event it was.

That was a Democratic congress and a reviled Republican president, but the point is an important one -- the entire House must be elected next year and a third of the Senate.

Getting control of the Senate would mean all those committees ... including those that can investigate any number of things (lying to Congress about the reason for war ... is there a MORE impeachable offense?!)

What can we do on a local scale to help flip some of those seats?

In addition to the Amory Lovins forum, you can also do your part by pledging with the Change a Light, Change the World campaign. "If every U.S. home changed just one light to an ENERGY STAR qualified one, we would save enough energy to light 7 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 1 million cars..."

Unfortunately North Carolina's governor did not one of the co-sponsors of this campaign, but individuals can take the Change a Light Pledge:
When you post your pledge, the site adds your household to the Change a Light map that keeps a tally of the total energy saved and reduction in greenhouse gases.

View the map at:

"ENERGY STAR is a government/industry partnership that offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions, making it easy to save money while protecting the environment for future generations." (Reduced demand for energy is also a way to get us out of Iraq sooner and hopefully, prevent any further invasions in the name of oil.)

Each light bulb changed saves $50-75 over it's 5-7 year lifetime. And the light quality on most of these bulbs is very good - much improved from the early flicker-start, yellow light types. Although everytime I saw that flicker I'd get a warm feeling knowing I was reducing the power company's profits...

Home Depot is selling a 12-pack carton of 14 watt (60 watt equivalent) compact fluourescents for $19.97. Best deal yet.

Glad someone mentioned drying clothes on the line - the most elegant form of solar power.

Which candidates will call for eliminating the ban on outdoor clothes drying in most neighborhoods? It's a ridiculous ban considering the need to reduce energy use.

I appreciate all the energy and oil conservation sites offered. Have seen many of them and agree whole heartly we must conserve and reduce our use of energy.

My major point about the forum was that it focused on cheer leading "get out of Iraqi" and not really on how we do so and next steps policy wise in the middle east.

Oil as a major national interest will not go away tommorrow even if the nation does all the wonderful things discussed above. We americans have built a nation the last 100 years or so on cheap oil and it will take more than clothes lines in the back yard to change directions. Most of the worlds oil is in the middle east so we are there like it or not. What's policy supposed to look like?

George W and all have made a bigger mess of the chaos in the region. What should we expect of new leadership?

How to get out of Iraq:

Look at transportation methods used to get in & schedule the return trips using similar transportation methods.

Whoops, did I read that right? There are neighborhoods that don't allow clotheslines in Chapel Hill? As in legally forbid?

Maybe I should deliver some freshly dried, sweet smelling sheets from my own clothesline to the head of those homeowners assocations.

Now I know that installing energy efficient light bulbs across the U.S would only displace the energy generated by all of our nuclear plants and that reducing gas consumption by 20% would just be a drop in the bucket and replacing our water heaters with solar models would only save about 20-30% of our household energy and sealng ductwork across the country would only reduce heating & cooling costs by 35% so since these paltry strategies would only amount to chump change, here is the big sexy answer:

Wireless fusion - It's hip, it's phat, and it's totally wireless.

Get your electricity delivered through space right to your home - wirelessly! - from the largest fusion location within 100 million miles. Wireless fusion can enhance the modern lifestyle and meet all of your electrical needs - wirelessly!

And then tell the Power Companies to kiss your wireless ass!


Just don't accidentally bring some underwear with those naturally fragrant sheets. It will deeply offend their sensibilities.

This sounds stupid, I know, but some of my fondest childhood memories involve clotheslines. My mother made me a stepstool so that I could help her hang clothes. Can anything compare to the feel of wet clothes as you put them on the clothesline? (And what wonderful devices, clothespins: One hundred and one uses: from earings (albeit painful ones) to nostril clampers to potato chip bag closers and, when attached to a wall, glove holders!) Who doesn't remember the snap of clothes like flags on a windy day, the fresh smell on blue sky days as they're placed into a wicker basket, and the blissful satisfaction of domestic closure in folding and putting them away?

I think a Christo should consider a clothesline trail weaving throughout our Carrboro neighborhoods, binding in drying garments the best values of this town's social fabric, clothespinning our fondest memories, imbuing our streets with the sweet fragrance of communitarian goodwill, uniting us in a blessed tie that binds.

And, of course, lest anyone find these sentiments overly sweet, the true pleasure would be in satisfying the schadenfreude in mortifying the more officious rules committee members of the town's various homeowners associations. :)

David, I suspect that if you did a search in the Orange County Register's records, you will find that the "no clothesline" prohibition in neighborhood covenants were in the original covenants and not implemented by current "officious rules committee members." Also, changing the rules are up to the members. Yes, there are usually rules that require a super majority to change the covenants (two-thirds in my association), but it can be done if the members so desire. BTW, we can't have cattle, swine, geese, chickens, or goats on our homesites either!

What!! No farm animals!?! Are we mad?!?

Thank God I'm a country boy.

Thanks Mark. I do not know how we overlooked such simple answers to our problems..

Greetings from Animal Farm. I'm pulling for the poet.

Well it would offend my own sensibilities were my "delicates" to find themselves circulating in Meadowmont or Southern Village. :}

But back to seriousness, Have we really gotten to the point that we, a supposedly environmentally progressive community , cannot tolerate our neighbors' clotheslines? We are more tolerant of the monster SUV parked on the curb on narrow streets than sheets blowing in the wind?

This is why I stuggle with "too much" planned communities. My kids' dad lived in a community that didn't allow trick or treaters---now what is that all about?

I'm not saying that there's no reason to try to conserve. But you have to look at the numbers to understand what significance that would, and would not, have.

Robert, the things you mention would have the effect of slightly reducing the rate at which our energy consumption increases. That is, energy consumption would continue to increase, just not at as rapid a rate as it would without those things.

There's no way they would actually cause energy consumption to decline in absolute terms. There's no way they'd even come remotely close.

This is not a problem which is susceptible to an easy relatively painless fix, an "if only everyone..." answer.

(And just in passing, none of this has anything whatever to do with ending the war. Even if we completely ended all imports of oil from the Middle East, the war would go on, because the war is not about oil, not on our side and not on theirs.)


Without the oil in the middle east we would not be in Iraqi. That's my point. Why do you think we are there?

Do seriously believe that Iraqi or the middle east in general would be of any interest to us without oil being there? I'll accept some plausibility to a survial of Isreal thesis but even that pails in comparison to our need for the oil.

If the oil reserves were in Africia we would have be up to our ears in the Sudan or some other nation. If you believe we are just pursuing empire I suggest that is true but it is because we need oil to fuel the empire not because Bagdad is a scenic, beautiful place filled with people yearning to be free.

Steve, you misunderstand the point I'm making.

It may well be true that "Without the oil in the middle east we would not be in Iraq." That's arguable, but it's also irrelevant.

Moving forward from where we are now, if we stop using oil from the mideast, that won't cause the war to end.

Why are we there, you ask. What is our strategy in this war? How did we get involved in it, and why are we fighting in Iraq of all places? What are we trying to accomplish there?

I answered all those questions in this document that I wrote in July of 2003.

But if you want proof that us pulling out of Iraq won't end the war, then read this letter from Zawahiri (second in command of al Qaeda) to Zarqawi (al Qaeda's military leader in Iraq) which describes how al Qaeda expects to continue pursuing the war once we do pull out of Iraq.

You'll note that there's nothing in it, nothing whatever, to suggest that reducing our consumption of petroleum would affect al Qaeda's strategies or goals in the war.

Apparently I was too subtle earlier. Amory Lovins' RMI ( suggests that we will solve our oil dependency with market-based mechanisms and very little regulation. I believe this view is naive.

He also believes that building an albeit exemplary building in terms of energy use so far away from anything that all users are forced to drive there is a sustainable practice. I think he couldn't be missing a bigger piece of the picture.

We do need to work on employing every spoon possible. We also need the courage to tackle the tougher issue, which is that almost 95% of transport in the US is powered by fossil fuels, mostly oil and its by-products.

One of the biggest ways to tackle this at the local level is through land use planning that supports non-motorized mobility. This means local governments finding ways to encourage denser, mixed-use pedestrian/bicycle oriented development.

I think I am more optimistic than Mr. Den Beste, but there is one thing I think he is saying I could not agree with more: do not confuse well-intentioned efforts that, by their scale of application, merely slow the rate at which our predicament deepens- with much broader (though potentially less politically patalable) strokes that are actually solving the problem.

There's a relevant piece in today's N&O about hybrids not getting the advertised gas mileage.

I'd buy a hybrid, but costing it out as the article does, it makes no sense financially for me to do so.



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