Live from Sen. Durbin’s front porch re Afghan

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Note from the essayist:  Cross-posted at Daily Kos.  YELL LOUDER!  and  Stand. The. F. Up!  at your Congress Critters’ offices this August!

The live on-porch blogging was done from approximately 1:30 pm to 4 pm CDT.

As I wrote in a diary last week, Sen. Dick Durbin has an office in Springfield, Illinois, in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  It’s a beautiful little park full of historic Lincoln-era homes, owned by the Dept. of the Interior, and managed by the National Park Service.  Sen. Durbin has rented office space in the George Shutt House since Sen. Durbin was a member of the House of Representatives.  As is shown on the bottom of his Senate web site home page, the address is 525 S. 8th St, Springfield IL 62703.

I’m blogging away, right now, on the right side of the porch as you face it.


Why blog here?


Because I CAN, since this is a public place, and because of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of peaceable assembly, actual or virtual.

I’ve been questioning our government’s premises for the occupation of Afghanistan.  I’ve specifically been questioning Sen. Durbin’s top policy advisor in the Hart Senate Office Building.

I want to know how they determined that occupying Afghanistan makes us safe.

And I’m getting no real answers that can be put to scrutiny.



I’ve had a number of email exchanges with Mr. Policy over the past few weeks.  And I can’t get transparent answers with any substance from him.

Here’s the best I’ve gotten:

We know that the Taliban want to regain control of Afghanistan.  We know that if we allow them to regain power, they are likely again to impose total control over the country and to provide protection to al Qaeda, giving al Qaeda valuable space to develop, train for, and try to implement further attacks against the United States. [emphasis added by the diarist]

I’ve asked for transparent, verifiable, publicly available sources for informing and shaping Sen. Durbin’s opinion and for the very specific predictions above, and I’ve been furnished with ZILCH.  Nothin’.  Not. A. Single. Thing.

All I’ve been told is this:

Senator Durbin did not get his position on Afghanistan from ‘think tanks.’  He reached his conclusions as a result of his own interactions with experts and officials and his own time in Afghanistan.

In other words, NOTHING which anyone who wants to see, can actually see.  All that’s offered is invisible and mysterious.

And I’ve been told this:

“Many of the experts with views similar to his (at least on the question of the necessity of the war in Afghanistan) are in the current Administration.  As I have already said, I’m sure you can find plenty of publicly available documentation for the necessity of this war on Administration websites such as those I have offered to you.”

So, this means, essentially, I’m being told to GUESS at what is informing and serving as basis for Sen. Durbin’s pro-war position.  I’m being told to Go Fish!

You know, when I was a sophomore in high school, Mrs. Fluty was my English teacher.  She taught us the basics of writing a research paper.  If you turned in a paper where you didn’t show your work, you’d get an F.

When were senators exempted from showing their work, when our service members’ lives are being destroyed and hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent to do it?

And, even a diarist at Daily Kos or Docudharma needs to back up his shtick with something.



Yet the consequences of continuous and endless combat in Afghanistan aren’t invisible or mysterious.

I can’t find any certainty that fighting “the Taliban” in Afghanistan is keeping us safer.  The only certainties I can find are the body bags and horrible injuries which are coming home, and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars.



And the American public does not truly, tangibly support and pay the price and bear the burden of these foreign deployments.  And here’s why:

  The American public is not paying for these deployments.  No one is getting a bill for the wars in their mailboxes.  Instead, it’s all being charged to the Bank of China Mastercharge Card, for someone else to pay (or default on) way down the road.

  There is no up-front draft, and most Americans don’t even know someone who is deployed, or was deployed, or will be deployed.  Most Americans have zero skin in these fights.  And military families are sick and tired of carrying this weight alone.

  Much of the work is being done by 242,657 contractors, the bulk of whom are foreign nationals or third country nationals in the areas of operation.

The politicians and War For Profit companies must LOVE this system. It functions very effectively to keep the flesh-and-blood and financial cost of these deployments off the national radar, during a time of massive economic downturn.

So, here’s my request of Senator Durbin, hand delivered by me today at the Springfield office:

Senator Durbin,

We’ve met twice before, during the Bush years, where I asked you to take effective action in the Senate to stop further funding of forward operations in Iraq, and to fund only those operations required for safe, orderly re-deployment from Iraq.

I request another appointment to discuss your position on Afghanistan.

I cannot grant you, or anyone else, the unchallenged premise that our military presence in Afghanistan keeps the United States safe.  

If you believe our military presence in Afghanistan keeps the United States safe, then you should demonstrate clearly how this is accomplished.

I’ve had an email exchange with your policy advisor in the recent past, and I have been offered no verifiable, transparent, accessible information which informs and supports your posture.

I request another personal appointment, and I request that you provide verifiable, transparent, publicly accessible information which demonstrates how our military occupation of Afghanistan keeps the United States safe.



I’m not from Missouri, but I’ve worked there, and I live in Illinois in the greater St. Louis metro area.  Not everyone knows why Missouri is called the “Show Me State”.  It’s called this because Missouri U.S. congressman Willard Vandiver stated in a speech in 1899,

I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me.  I am from Missouri.  You have got to show me.

Good point of view, regardless of what state you come from.

Senator Durbin, SHOW ME how occupying Afghanistan keeps us safe. Since the burden of battle is on our service members and their families, the BURDEN OF PROOF is on you.

And, a little plain talk:  I’m not completely stupid.  I don’t think you have the proof.  It’s not just you.  I don’t think anyone who tries to construct a rationale for more militarism in Afghan has proof it does anything to keep us safe. Our troops and their families are the ones who are suffering as a result of your militarism, here.  Those of you who are trying to argue for this foreign deployment have chosen to go way up a tree and way out on a limb, hoping the hounds at the base of the tree will go away and that more won’t show up. I’ve been questioning every premise I’ve found for the occupation of Afghanistan for a couple years, and they all disintegrate upon scrutiny.  So, please be prepared to take your best shots, if you have any proof, and then we’ll see how it holds up under scrutiny.



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  1. and tell me whatcha think.

  2. I’m getting better all the time, and I’ve been taking lessons from you!

  3. live blogging from the office of a congress critter, I’d be dee-lighted to discuss.

    I use one of these slick little 10 inch netbooks, and a 3G broadband connection.  I have a small wooden tray table, and a folding chair.  I create the essay in advance, and after I arrive at the office, I post it.  Easy.

    For me, writing and calling the Critters is a fine to do.  People should do these.  Yet, at some point, you’ll feel that this is just not getting through to them.  

    I highly recommend that people call their Critter’s office and REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT.  I am no one important, but I’ve gotten two appointments with Durbin.  I got the first one because, when I wasn’t getting replies to letters, I went to his Springfield IL office with a copy of a letter, and sat down.  Eventually, his office director came down, met with me, called back to the Hart Senate Office building, and told me they moved my letter up a few thousand on the list.  And I got my reply.  And then I requested an appointment, and I got it.

    I’ve blogged live last week and again this week from Sen. Durbin’s porch, because I am not getting information from his policy chief (explained in the essay).  I’m requesting another personal appointment with Sen. Durbin.

    Buhdy’s right, about politics.   It’s pressure.  Congress Critters won’t do a damned thing without pressure.  There’s only one of me, but I can create more pressure than a hundred or a thousand people who don’t give a crap.  Plenty of people are too intimidated to get in their Critter’s face.  Not me.

    Would love to discuss.

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