Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Justapose This!

Flying cross-country from Albuquerque to Atlanta, I had all the time in the world to read today's New York Times.
Try it some time. I recommend it.
Not just scanning headlines or checking sports scores.
Read it carefully. Clip it. Look for things that jump out at you.
They can range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Start with the ridiculous: Christine O'Donnell's first TV commercial is set to air in the hotly contested Senate race in Delaware.
And the first line of her first TV ad is . . . "I am not a witch."
That's right.
We've reached a new point--high point? low point? you be the judge--in American Senatorial politics. A major contender for a seat in "the world's greatest deliberative body," as the Senate likes to bill itself, is carrying her message to the voters. And that message is? "I am not a witch."
Richard Nixon famously said, "I am not a crook." He did not say, "I am not a wizard." In retrospect, a missed opportunity by Tricky Dicky.
And Ms. O'Donnell's closing message to the good people of Delaware?
"I'm you."
Well, that's not true, either. So the question is, can you trust a candidate who lies about "being you" to tell you the truth about "not being a witch"?
The voters will have to decide.
Meanwhile a truly important article on the front page, first column: The U.S. military command has ordered less dependence on fossil fuels--not for the whole country, just for the military.
This is a big story.
Here are a few quotes and para-phrases: "After a decade of waging wars in remote corners of the globe where fuel is not readily available, senior commanders have come to see overdependence on fossil fuel as a big liability, and renewable technologies--which have become more reliable and less expensive over the past few years--as providing a potential answer."
The data are compelling: according to one study, for every 24 fuel convoys that set out in Iraq and Afghanistan, one soldier or civilian engaged in moving the fuel was killed.
According to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, guarding fuel is keeping troops from doing what they're really sent to do, whether that is to fight the enemy or engage the population.
It's expensive in terms of money, lives, troop use, you name it.
But the reason this is huge news is that, while the civilian economy can try things, experiment, give change a shot, it's the Department of Defense that moves the needle.
Let's face it: that military-industrial complex that Ike warned us about? Well, it's here, now.
But it can work for us.
If the DOD jumps onto renewable energy as a military priority, you can bet that problems of cost, of scale and scope, of moving down the experience curve--all the things that bring industries to commercial success--will now be handled by the military. We'll have a lot of spin-off benefits to the civilian economy, as the military economy becomes the prime source of renewable energy solutions.
It is a de facto change in national energy policy--at long last.
What's the explanation?
Why this, why now?
Perhaps, just perhaps, it's the work of a white witch!

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