'/> Uncommon Hours: June 2009
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How a bill became a deal: Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson's 'compromise' with Sunflower Electric

By Bob Sommer

“Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.” Dr. James Hansen

When Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson inked a deal with Sunflower Electric Power Corporation CEO Earl Watkins to allow an 895 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant to be built in Holcomb, Kansas, the shock reverberated throughout the state and beyond.

Environmental activists were stunned. Even the Kansas legislature, on both sides of the aisle, was taken off guard.

How this deal came about has implications not only for its potential environmental impact, but for the question of how energy policy is formulated, in this instance by a politician and an energy executive behind closed doors.

“As a Progressive,” Scott Allegrucci told me at a coffee house in Lawrence, Kansas, “most of what you do in Kansas is you keep bad things from happening.”

For the past two years the bad thing that has been front and center for Allegrucci, the Director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy (GPACE), was a proposal by Sunflower to build two coal-fired electric plants in Holcomb, in the southwest corner of the state, with a combined capacity of 1400 MW. These plants would spew 11 million tons of CO² into the atmosphere annually, making them one of the largest sources of pollution in the U.S.

Scott Allegrucci
Success for Allegrucci—that is, keeping this really bad thing from happening—was at hand on May 4th of this year, when newly-appointed Gov. Parkinson, who replaced now-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, announced at a surprise press conference, held jointly with Sunflower’s Watkins, that a compromise deal had been reached. The agreement would allow a single 895 MW plant to be built in exchange for a series of renewable energy concessions, which the majority Republican legislature would support. Most of these concessions turned out to be either unenforceable or unnecessary.(1)

Parkinson effectively gave away the farm. Two-thirds of the original proposal would go ahead.

Watkins’ glee was palpable.

“He’s the one who reached out to us,” Watkins said of Parkinson. “We have a hands-on governor, one that I’m proud of.”

Allegrucci called the compromise, “the epitome of a backroom deal.”

Perhaps now writ smaller, the Dick Cheney model of relying on energy executives to make energy policy had spawned. A decision that will affect generations of Kansans and beyond, for the millions of tons of carbon dioxide the plant will release into the atmosphere are hardly the provenance of one state, was made without any disinterested scientists or environmental experts in the room.

Throughout the region editorials both praised and excoriated Parkinson. The Sierra Club, which was party to a lawsuit against Sunflower and had campaigned to prevent these new coal plants from being built, issued several statements to the public and its members deploring the outcome.

“We are shocked and disgusted by this back room deal,” Kansas Sierra Club Chair Frank Drinkwine said in an open letter to members, “but are working around the clock to develop our next move, and to ensure that our voice is heard in the public debate.”

Allegrucci, whose organization is a broad coalition of environmental, labor, health, and other groups, called the announcement “a belly-blow.” After two years of raising funds, lobbying, and campaigning—some of this activity with direct encouragement from the new governor—he felt betrayed.

“A gut punch,” he repeated, gesturing a fist into his solar-plexus.

Parkinson’s deal was especially stunning because Sebelius had opposed the plants, even vetoing several Republican-sponsored bills that would have allowed them to go forward. The announcement came on the very day that Democrats and environmentalists expected the latest veto to be sustained against a Republican attempt to override it.

In short, victory was at hand. Why do this now?

Some history is needed.

In early 2006, Sunflower Electric applied to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for a permit to build three 700 MW plants. While the baseload need for Kansas was roughly 200 MW, considerably less than the proposed 2100 MW, two of the new plants would provide energy to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a Colorado-based energy cooperative. Energy would also be sold to Texas, with about 10% of the total-generated electricity staying in Kansas.

Tri-State needed a Kansas partner because restrictive environmental regulations in Colorado, as well as an increasingly Democratic state government, prevented Tri-State from expanding. As one observer wryly commented, “Kansas would be Colorado’s coal bitch.”

A fire-storm arose within the state as public hearings took place in 2006. I attempted to attend one hearing in Lawrence, but hundreds of people clogged the hallways outside a meeting room with a capacity for about fifty. Supporters of the proposed plants rallied to the prospect of thousands of new jobs and a boost for the sagging Kansas economy, while opponents pointed out that 90% of the energy would leave the state but 100% of the pollution would remain, much of it swept by southwesterly winds directly into the most populous areas in the east.

Then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, courageously aligned herself with opponents of the new plants against the majority Republican legislature and some Democrats from conservative districts.

By mid 2007 Sunflower had taken one of the plants off the menu, but later that year the entire question took a new turn when KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency, which determined that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and must be regulated, denied permits for the two proposed plants.

“I believe it would be irresponsible,” Bremby said, “to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing.”

This action blew heavy and hot wind into the already-intense flames engulfing the issue.

Sunflower spokesman Steve Miller responded sharply, "We still believe fiercely that this is the right project, that this is the right thing to do for customers and that the secretary has made a horrible error.”

Promising a court fight, he even took umbrage at a statement by Sebelius suggesting that Sunflower was a less-than responsible environmental citizen.

"That implies,” he said, “that we're not moral stewards of the land, which we don't appreciate one bit."

Sunflower and the Republican legislature set the tone for the next two years, as the issue shifted, Allegrucci pointed out, from a policy matter to a political dogfight. A cottage industry of lobbyists arose in Topeka, with coal proponents outnumbering environmental groups by 6 to 1. Legislators were subjected to an onslaught of lobbying whenever they stepped into the hallways of the capital.

Sebelius was vilified by coal supporters. A series of ads ran in Wichita papers depicting the smiling faces of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Why are these men smiling?” the ad asked, and then responded, “Because the recent decision by the Sebelius Administration means Kansas will import morenatural gas from countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.”

In addition to being offensive, the ad is wrong. Kansas is a producer of natural gas, not an importer. More importantly, Kansans for Affordable Energy, the ad’s sponsor, was supported by Sunflower and by the Peabody Coal Company.

With the governor’s office and a critical cabinet member aligned against it, Sunflower tried another tactic—portraying itself as a victim.

"We're like a wounded deer laying in the middle of the highway now," declared Sunflower’s Miller. "So you can imagine everyone who wants to finish us off is throwing money in the pot right now."

Randy Schofield of the Wichita Eagle responded dryly, “Somehow I never thought of a massive coal-fired power complex as a wounded deer. Or even an endangered species. If so, this wounded deer has a truckload of highly paid lawyers in its corner.”

Republican coal-supporters pulled out the Karl Rove playbook and made the issue “a patriotic litmus test,” Allegrucci said.

Ally Devine, a lobbyist for the Kansas Livestock Association, raised the dire specter of business having no safeguards from government interference. Could socialism be far behind?

According to notes taken by Maril Hazlett, who runs the Climate and Energy Project blog, at a Feb. 4, 2009, hearing Devine said, “And who knows who getsregulated anymore, anyone could get regulated. Individuals have rights, due process, rules of evidence apply, because we need to clarify who is in charge when.”

Mark Calcara, Sunflower Electric’s Chief Counsel, asked at the same hearing, “Is this state going to follow the rule of law? All our fundamental rights and freedoms depend on this.”

He continued, “Rule of law separates free and democratic nations. If we violate this law then all of our other freedoms are at risk. At what point do our freedoms end and tyranny begin? We will lose our freedoms inch by inch by well meaning Americans who think ends justify means.”

Allegrucci believes that tactically coal-supporters may have gone too far. The hyperbole hurt their cause with moderates and exposed the desperation of coal advocates.

Outnumbered and outspent, the anti-coal forces were within sight of preventing ground from ever breaking on these plants. Business as usual was done for good in Kansas.

By now, polling also revealed that pro-coal interests had reason to be worried.

An independent poll commissioned by GPACE in Feb. 2009 revealed that by a margin of more than 3 to 1 (64% to 18%) Kansans favored developing clean, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biofuels over building new coal plants. Additionally, 88% of Kansans wanted to see the state become energy independent by exploring its indigenous resources, especially natural gas and wind.

Fast forward through the lawsuits and protests, the bills and vetoes (3 in 2008), the vitriolic editorials and hard feelings among lawmakers (even within parties) from 2006 to 2009.

When Sebelius departed for Washington in April 2009, she left behind her veto signature on a Republican-sponsored bill that would have allowed the two coal-burning plants, with their 11 million tons of CO², to go forward.

The anticipated effort by House and Senate Republicans in Topeka to override the Sebelius veto catalyzed GPACE and the Sierra Club into a feverish and expensive last-ditch, throw-everything-you-got-at-it effort to block the override attempt. Mailers went out. Phone-bankers and door-to-door canvassers went to work. GPACE spent over $50,000. A margin of just two or three votes would end Sunflower’s effort if not for good, at least for years; or it would allow the plants to be built, ensuring that conservative, climate-change-doubting Republicans would have no incentive to engage in any meaningful renewable energy legislation.

By Monday, May 4th, the scheduled date for the override vote, environmentalists smelled victory. The override attempt would fail. The three-year battle would be over.

Late in the afternoon, however, before the vote, word went out on very short notice that the new governor, sworn in just six days earlier, planned a press conference.

Allegrucci, who communicated regularly with the governor’s office and knew most of the players in Topeka, got five minutes’ notice.

Rep. Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat and the House Minority Leader, got only slightly more. About ten minutes before the press conference, he was called into a meeting with the governor and three other key Democrats (Rep. Annie Kuether, House Ranking Member, Energy and Utilities; Sen. Anthony Hensley, Senate Minority Leader; and Sen. Janis Lee, Ranking Member, Energy and Utilities), where Parkinson advised them of his deal with Sunflower.

Kansas Rep. Paul Davis

I spoke with Davis at his law office in Lawrence and asked if he thought Republicans would obstruct renewable energy legislation without this deal.

“Yes, absolutely,” he responded. “There were a number of statements coming from various Republican legislators that until we get Holcomb [the proposed power plants] resolved we’re not going to allow any type of renewable energy legislation.”

He also pointed out that Parkinson was effectively acting as a lawyer, which he is, in negotiating directly with Watkins. This settlement agreement would resolve the lawsuit filed by Sunflower following the Bremby decision.

Even so, I asked, doesn’t this process still smack of backroom politics and energy policy formulated by non-experts?

Conceding that he was seeing this as a lawyer might, Davis said, “The governor is essentially negotiating on behalf of the state, and the office of the governor is a party to that lawsuit, so I think he had that authority to negotiate this outside of the public spectrum because of the nature of that. Now would it have been better to have had some light shed on this while that negotiation was going through? Certainly, but I can understand why it was done the way that it was.”

Davis also pointed out that, with the governor’s term only lasting a year and a half (he’s not seeking re-election), he was no doubt eager to see renewable energy policy formulated before he left office.

Davis described Parkinson’s frustration at seeing jobs in wind technology lost to other states, citing two such conversations.

“I think that he really sees that that may be his legacy as governor,” Davis added, “and if this Holcomb issue was still on the table that was just all for nothing. So I think that’s really the driving force behind taking this action.”

Scott Allegrucci agrees that Parkinson has a keen interest in developing wind energy in Kansas, along with the jobs it would create, but he believes that while the legislation that resulted from the agreement with Sunflower offers some limited benefits, like net metering, it falls well short of ensuring that alternative energy sources will be developed in Kansas in any meaningful way. If anything, there are numerous opportunities for Sunflower to opt out of using renewable energy sources, like biofuels.

Also troubling, the new legislation strips the Secretary of KDHE of the very powers that allowed him to block the original permit application by Sunflower, an issue that led Rep. Davis to vote against it.

And there’s still the 7 million tons of CO² that Kansas will contribute to warming the globe, largely offsetting efforts in other states to curb carbon pollution.

Is it possible, as some speculate, that Parkinson made a brilliant political maneuver by getting this agreement? Was he looking ahead to the prospect of restrictive EPA air standards and a potential lawsuit over the KDHE secretary’s powers ultimately standing in the way of new construction?

Davis gives no credence to that theory.

Allegrucci allows for it, but says it was “a risk that we didn’t really need to take.” After all, the votes were there to block both plants.

He further points out that it still means that energy policy (even if it turns out to be good policy) was formulated behind closed doors and without experts to provide guidance.

Tom Thompson, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, thinks that Parkinson may not believe the plant will ever be built, but by compromising with western Kansans, where advocacy for the coal plant was fiercest, he may have shored up support for a possible U.S. Senate run.

“This was probably a stroke of political genius for him,” Thompson said over coffee in Mission, Kansas. “He is now somewhat of a hero in western Kansas for saving Sunflower. Even if it doesn’t happen, they’re going to remember that he was able to pull this out of the jaws of defeat.”

In October 2008, Parkinson was still lieutenant governor (and a recent convert to the Democratic Party) when he addressed a group of environmentalists at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

He challenged the audience to take a “new” approach to environmental issues.

“It’s entirely possible,” he said, “that everything we’re doing in the environmental community is wrong.”

He continued, “The problem that we have is not going to be solved by politicians like me or by people in Washington. This problem is going to be solved by scientists.”

His audience, it’s fair to say, was ahead of him on this. But when it finally came time for him to tackle the most significant environmental problem Kansas has ever faced, backroom politics trumped science.

(1) Craig Volland, “Fact Sheet on the Governor’s Coal Plant Agreement with Sunflower Electric,” Planet Kansas, June 2009, 8-11, 15, 23. This is the most comprehensive fact sheet available on the problems with this agreement and the legislation that emerged from it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kucinich: Will Increased CO2 Emissions be our Gift to the Next Generation?

Press Release

Washington D.C. (June 24, 2009) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement against The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 on the House floor:

“Science tells us that we must begin to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in the next five to ten years. But according to an analysis by offsets expert and Stanford law professor Michael Wara, it is possible that we could see no net reduction of CO2 emissions until the year 2040 because of offsets and unlimited banking of allowances in the new climate change bill.

“The bill allows 2 billion tons of carbon offsets a year, roughly equivalent to 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters of the bill point out that coal use will continue to increase until at least 2020 because electric utilities will continue to use dirty coal, the prime source of pollution.

“With 2 billion tons of offsets per year, we are told that electric utilities will reduce carbon emissions at places other than their generating plants. So they really don’t have to actually decrease their emissions at all when it counts the most and coal fired CO2 emissions will increase. No wonder there are 26 active coal plant applications. Will increased CO2 emissions be our gift to the next generation? Apparently, the planet is not melting; it is just getting better for polluters.”

Contact: Nathan White (202)225-5871

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Activists Risk Arrest to Stop Mountaintop Removal

14 Activists Arrested in Peaceful Protest to Stop Mountaintop Removal scaled 20-story tall machinery to call attention to nation’s worst form of coal mining in first ever ascent of a mountaintop removal site’s dragline.

COAL RIVER VALLEY, W. VA – At 5:00AM this morning 14 concerned citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near Twilight WV. Four of them scaled a 150-foot dragline and unfurled a 15×150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining."

The climbers were on the enormous dragline, a massive piece of equipment that removes house-sized chunks of blasted rock and earth to expose coal, and remained there for over three hours. Meanwhile nine others deployed a 20×40 foot banner on the ground at the site which read, “Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now."

Police arrested David Hollister, Melissa O’Neil, Chelsea Ritter Soronen, Lynn Stone, Charles Suggs, Rodney Webb, Jeanne Kirshon, John Johnson Greg Yost, Jessica Sue Eley, Lisa Ramsden, David Pike, Paul Brown, and Kurt Delano Mann. The group is expected to be arraigned early this afternoon at Boone County Jail in Madison, West VA.

This act of peaceful protest comes just days after the Obama Administration announced a plan to reform, but not abolish, the aggressive strip mining practice.

“I’ve written letters, attended hearings and called my congressman, so far they have done nothing to stop the disastrous and unnecessary practice of mountaintop removal,” said Charles Suggs, a 25-year old of Rock Creek, WV who was one of those climbing today. “It has come to the point when we must take direct action to abolish this practice that is immorally robbing Appalachian communities of their culture, their health and their future.”

This is the first time a dragline has been scaled on a mountaintop removal site, and marks the latest in a string of protests in West Virginia by residents and allies from across the country. Another protest is set for June 23rd in the Coal River Valley area with local coalfield residents, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, and 94-year-old former US Representative Ken Hechler, and Rainforest Action Network Executive Director Michael Brune, among many others.

“It’s way past time for civil disobedience to stop mountaintop removal and move quickly toward clean, renewable energy sources,” said Judy Bonds, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch of West Virginia. “For over a century, Appalachian communities have been crushed, flooded, and poisoned as a result of the country’s dangerous and outdated reliance on coal. How could the country care so little about our American mountains, our culture and our lives?”

An increasing number of concerned Appalachians and environmentalists are calling for the end to mountaintop removal, a practice that harms the people and places of Appalachia, destroys the economic potential of the Appalachian Mountains for long term clean energy opportunities and jobs, and furthers the burning of climate-killing coal.

Every day, mountaintop removal mines use more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mining companies are clear-cutting thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests. They’re burying biologically crucial headwaters streams with blasting debris, releasing toxic levels of heavy metals into the remaining streams and groundwater and poisoning essential drinking water. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020.

Just days before this action, the Obama Administration announced steps to end the fast-tracking of certain mountaintop removal coal mine permits and to add tougher enforcement in Appalachia. However, it remains unclear what, if any, improvements this will have on-the-ground in Appalachia or elsewhere. Without a significant change in policy, mining companies will continue to destroy historic mountain ranges and bury community’s drinking water in toxic waste.
For more information, please visit http://www.mountainaction.org/

Friday, June 12, 2009

The House GOP's Dick Cheney Energy Plan

uncooked truth, beyond belief
from The Sierra Club

Issue #287
June 12, 2009

The ABCs of the House GOP's Dick Cheney Energy Plan

By Josh Dorner

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. It also appears that you can't teach a bunch of old-line conservatives about New Energy for America.

The leadership of the increasingly embattled GOP minority in Congress continues to circle the wagons around the failed policies of the past. As the Waxman-Markey clean energy jobs plan moves toward a House floor vote as soon as 10 days from now, the House GOP leadership unveiled their "alternative."

Unfortunately, their so-called alternative was a not-even-thinly-veiled redux of the failed Bush-Cheney energy policies of yesteryear. You know, the ones that ruined the economy, made global warming worse, and left us even more dependent on tin-pot dictators to meet our growing addiction to oil. Yeah, those.

Our friends at Media Matters for America took a little looksee at the plans put forward by Bush and Cheney and the House GOP's latest plan, the American Energy Act. The two plans looked suspiciously similar, shall we say. Almost as if a group of powerful special interests in the energy industry essentially dictated the plans behind closed doors. Not that that would ever happen

The Bush-Cheney plan was based on increased oil drilling on the outer continental shelf, expedited construction of more oil refineries, building more nuclear power plants, opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling, increasing the production of dirty and destructive oil shale.

And what's the House GOP's plan based on, you say? Why, on increased oil drilling on the outer continental shelf, expedited construction of more oil refineries, building more nuclear power plants, opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling, increasing the production of dirty and destructive oil shale.

To be fair, their plan isn't all recycled from the Cheney era. It also incorporates John McCain's disastrous $1 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) campaign pledge to build 100 new nuclear power plants.

And, just in case you wondering -- no, the House GOP still does not believe in global warming.

Thank. You. Very. Much.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thank you, Town Crier Bookstore!

Many thanks to Becky and Marla at the Town Crier Bookstore for hosting the 3rd Annual Author Extravaganza this past Saturday!

I had a great afternoon in Emporia, Kansas (home of the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame) meeting readers and authors and talking all things writing and reading.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5, 1851: Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly began serialization in The National Era

"Well," said Eliza, mournfully, "I always thought that I must obey my master and mistress, or I couldn't be a Christian."

"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!" President Abraham Lincoln said, when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, according to an apocryphal story.

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 inspired Stowe to write Uncle Tom's Cabin, which sold over 300,000 copies within a year after it appeared in book form in 1852. It was later translated into 60 languages.

Stowe's characterizations of American slaves arguably gave way to the stereotypes that became tragically ubiquitous in movies like Gone with the Wind, and persisted well beyond it.

Yet the novel did succeed in raising the awareness of a wide audience about the horrors of slavery and thus helped to strengthen the Abolitionist movement.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan hit 5,000

Military Families Speak Out urges President Obama to bring the troops home:

As the nation awaits confirmation from the Pentagon of the 5,000th death of a U.S. service member in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, members of Military Families Speak Out are mourning the dead and calling on President Obama to honor the sacrifices of these service members and their families and honor all of those who serve by acting swiftly to end both wars.

Warren Henthorn of Choctaw, OK, the father of Army Spc. Jeffrey Henthorn who died in Iraq on Feb 8, 2005, says:

“Way too many have died on all sides of these wars. If I remember correctly, President Obama won the Democratic nomination based on the promise to end the war in Iraq. But, between Iraq and Afghanistan, at the end of this year we will actually have more troops in harm’s way then we did at the height of the ‘surge.’ That’s just as bad as we had it under President Bush. These wars now belong to President Obama. The blood is on his hands.”

Henthorn is a member of Gold Star Families Speak Out, a national chapter of Military Families Speak Out whose members’ loved ones died a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jane Bright of West Hills, CA, the mother of Sgt. Evan Aschraft who was killed at the perimeter of an oil refinery in Iraq on July 24, 2003, is also a member of Gold Star Families Speak Out. She says:

"My son was the 249th U.S. service member killed in Iraq – it’s hard to believe that 5,000 of our troops have already died in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many more? We need to bring all our troops home from these wars and we need to take care of our veterans when theyreturn home, giving them the medical and psychological care and treatment they need and deserve.”

Maggie Pondolfino, a member of Military Families Speak Out from Portland, OR has been nervously watching the death toll in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rise as her son awaits a deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army:

“It’s been over a year since my only son returned from a 14 month deployment to Iraq. Over a year since I was immobilized with dread at every unexpected knock on my door and every unfamiliar van parked in front of my house. Daily, I obsessively checked the Department of Defense casualty list. Too many times the names were close to home…someone from our state, or even someone from his platoon,” says Pondolfino. “I imagined the other mothers’ grief and wondered would I be able to endure it? Then I had a year of relative calm. I even celebrated a new administration and momentarily experienced the hope that seemed to engulf the country.

“Now as the nation braces for the news of the confirmation of the 5,000th death of a U.S. service member in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the administration that briefly gave me new hope prepares to send my son to another war with no clear mission and no exit strategy. And how do I prepare? How do I prepare for another year of going through the motions of living, all the while wondering if he will come home and, if he does, will he have to fight a war within him? As hurtful as it is to say this, if he does not come home, my darling boy with his loving heart and keen intellect will have died for nothing. I know that no good will come from continuing the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, just more heartbreak, sorrow, and tragedy. When will we ever learn?”

Also see Antiwar.com