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On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the continuous guns fell silent…… After years of incoming artillery’s deep, resonant pounding,…..the quiet began. The rare pop of small arms fire,….. faded away. Cautiously a brave soul or two crawled out and stood on top of the trenches. Turning to the other side, they saw the enemy of just a few minutes before, mirroring their own actions…..It was truly over.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the US fared well. Germany, France, Great Britain lost an entire generation of their young men…..

Some dreamed that surely, after such a waste, there never could, or would be such a war again……

It was only a dream…..as history would soon prove……

On this day, there are 22 verified veterans left….worldwide. Four of these are Americans. Soon the last living memories of this war….. will fade away……….

My brush with living memories happened when I was in High School. What the German war machine failed to do………an insignificant clot accomplished. Those who visited, told stories of the dark, turbulent wrestling within the soul……They whispered of an alert mind, albeit one locked in the year 1917 from which it would ultimately and peacefully escape…. They spoke in hushed tones of an old man, possessing enormous strength, incapable of being subdued by even the hospital’s largest orderlies……They told of the soldier’s enterprising son, who climbing back into those years to be with him, and navigating the treacherous barbed wire memories, peacefully calmed him down, until the old soldier finally accepted that his war was over, and quietly signed his own armistice with God………..

We learned he had suffered from shell shock as they called it then, spending the post-war years in a sanitarium somewhere in occupied Germany, of the bland letters to his wife and unseen child back home, letters whose lack of substance during this vapid time, played rabidly on her fears of another women…..

We heard stories of involuntary reactions, occurring some twenty years later…of a face, framed by white hair, turned scarlet in the middle of a social gathering, when someone absently said, “Oh that was during the war.”

And then there were the personal effects, a letter rapidly written in German by a dying officer, with our hero’s first name mentioned as being the one entrusted to make sure the letter got back to his wife, a letter that said the war would soon be over for him, that the only important thing he hung onto as he crossed over to the the other side, were the times he and she had shared together……..As kids we used to march around in a dough boy’s hat, and a genuine spiked Prussian helmet. (the originals were all black, by the way, no silver.)

And then the youngest son, who came along after our soldier had mellowed somewhat, told of stumbling with his dad, across a model of one battlefield, I think it was Belleau Wood, and how that opened up the memories which, pent up for years, calmly flowed out unrepressed, with no emotional consequences.

Through this, we heard the story of a young officer defying a direct order to attack, solely because the objective was unattainable and trying to attempt it, would wipe out every one of his men….Who opting, instead of facing a firing squad, to have himself crawl into no mans land……accompanied only by his sergeant who had stood steadfast with him during this ordeal only to get ripped apart minutes later, had to lie there for two days protected under the warm, safe body which occasionally absorbed a well placed bullet, kept safe by only the tiniest rise of land preventing a direct shot…..

The story of showing up in France, and leading the AEF’s first attack, upon a fortified hill surrounded by the Meuse, and succeeding…..

Those memories didn’t die….they passed and took seed in another generation. Today they lie embedded in one more, a generation who once again questions the “why” of war.

Like his grandfather before him, this person too was brought up under a religion that seem to question war and tell us to “turn the other cheek.” Like his grandfather before him, this person too believes that sometimes there is no greater duty, than to give one’s life for one’s country……..How are these two, supposedly opposite points of view, ever to be reconciled?

We know that Jesus allowed his disciples to carry swords. During the final days, when he asks the disciples if they have a sword, and Peter shows two, he says that is enough…..But later that night when Peter uses his sword to protect Jesus and cuts off a servant’s ear, Jesus tells him sternly. “Put that away. We will have no more of that…”

Fascinating. This duality starts from the beginning of the Christian religion itself.

Throughout history, the worst wars fought have been religious ones. The longest animosities, the ones considered too hard to bury, are those originally pricked by religion….

When we are told to turn the other cheek, perhaps we are to do that on a personal level…. By doing so, hoping that we show others, just how deeply we believe these principals . Perhaps this line of thought recognizes that we are each small instruments of change; but a change of heart in multitudes of men, can implement massive changes…..Therefore doing a self deprecating act, such as dying for another, or carrying an enemy soldier’s bag an extra mile, can have a much greater impact overall, than another killing and the loss of one dead soldier…..

But as a nation of free people we have another responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure that justice, (or that which is right),… prevails over evil, (or that which is wrong)…. As some of you may note, there is a wide play of interpretation in just exactly what is right, and what is wrong…..

But for a strong nation to appease a despot like Stalin, Hitler, or those tyrants in Burma, does exactly the opposite of performing justice. Instead it shows others, despite our words, that we implicitly support these evil regimes, and in doing so, we fail to send hope and inspiration to those who fight, to right the wrongs caused by their misguided leaders….

War enacted by a political state is sometimes a necessity, the last remaining line of defense against the selfish designs of a demented few. Less pain and suffering worldwide, can be bandaged by enacting war, than by allowing open wounds to fester, rot, and spread their evil infection elsewhere.

Therefore as a nation, the United States must occasionally gamble all of it’s resources in the ultimate test…. One must on occasion risk all, to determine whether all was worthy to be risked……

Any nation is only as good as its foot soldiers,…. its grunts. Those choice veterans I know, with whom I’ve hugged, laughed, and cried, …… continue to reinforce the notion I once had as a child: that based on the quality of people who put their lives on the line for this nation, we are truly the best nation to have ever lived upon this planet……..

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We had an election, votes were cast, a winner drawn, and a verdict was given by the American electorate. So it’s done, it’s over. .

What direction does one move after the fight is over?

And now with ’08 is rising above the horizon, casting long shadows across the landscape, which way does one move?

Democrats and Republicans alike are perusing all the alternatives of every option. One can get lost in the details. Each candidate is putting “his (or her) take” on each and every problem. And this year, there are soooo many candidates…..

Perhaps in this case it is better to step back, prioritize the problems, and then let every candidate and legislator have a crack at fixing the issues we have at stake.

The priorities need to be thus.

The Economy

The War

Medical Care

The Environment

Our Future Security (social)

To assist and help with the discussion, I have compiled a list of thoughts and organized them into campaign sized bites for any political aspirant to right click, copy, and paste for their own use, and most importantly, you do not even have to credit me. Use the idea as your own.

The world will be much better off if the electorate is informed. And the best way to get this information out there, is to let each and any candidate use this information for their personal gain.

Any Republican, Democrat, or Independent is welcome to use these. I really do mean that.

For it is time, when the best of mankind needs to step forward. We have suffered too long with inadequacy and looking at the landscape before us and the challenges coming to us from the future, we will need our best, our smartest, and our toughest, regardless of party affiliation.

Cooperation needs to be the watchword as we march further into this century. Breaking down party barriers to good governance is not the responsibility of the parties themselves. There goal is to win. We, as voters, are the ones who will determine whether the best person for the job, does indeed get it.

The fast track to do that, is to inspire candidates, who in turn, will inspire America.

The challenges facing us, would paint a scary picture of the future, if those challenges were faced by anyone other than the United States of America. Because bottom line, as a society, we do challenges rather well. And of course, Delaware, “the first state”, needs to lead by example. In Delaware, bloggers have opened the doors of communication between parties. It is time for our elected officials to follow.

So in the spirit of cooperation, open to all, here is a group of topics to jump start the discussion.

The last chance for the public to listen and debate the upcoming new energy proposals, will be on this Tuesday at 7 pm in the House Chambers of Legislative Hall, Wednesday at 7 pm at the Jack F Owens theater on the campus of Delaware Tech in Georgetown, and Thursday at 7 pm in the auditorium of the Carvel State Building in Wilmington. The purpose of these meetings is to allow members of the public to ask questions and make comments regarding the energy proposals now before the Public Service Commission.

 

We will be told that out of the three new proposals, the gas fired plant was deemed to be the best solution, but that perhaps the current plan we have now, titled the “do nothing” plan is probably the best one for the future of Delaware. This current plan allows Delmarva to purchase power at market price, add its surcharge, and sell it to us. For Delmarva Power, this status quo is ideal for it requires no costly investment on their part and guarantees substantial future earnings. Expect them to propose basing future cost increases on the price of coal instead of natural gas and show us how stable coal prices have been over long periods of time……

 

There is a tendency by mankind to base decisions on his past experiences. However, the best decisions ever made by man, are those based on a careful reading of the future.

Fossil fuels are depleting. Wind, due to global warming, has actually increased due to a greater disparity between hot and cold temperatures.

As a fuel becomes more scarce, demand shoots up that fuel’s price.

Natural gas production in this country has peaked. It will cost more and more to pump scarcer resources to the surface. Historically gas has increased 300 percent since the Clinton administration passed the torch to Bush.

How high will it continue to rise? Across the world oil and natural gas fields are depleting. The North Sea, will be empty in less than twenty years. Twenty years? I still hear songs played from 87, and it seems like yesterday. Twenty years is a relatively short time.

If we are to invest in something costing 1.5 billion, doesn’t it make since to invest in something we will get more than a few years out or? Of course it does…………………

Coal, that’s cheap we are told. That “dirty” fuel we have supplies left for 250 years. But that fact is misleading. Demand for coal is rising. China is bringing a new coal fired power plant on line EVERY WEEK. Each coal fired plant burns one two mile train load of coal every twenty four hours.

India, also is bringing on line a new power plant at a much slower rate, one per month. So remembering how demand from new emerging nations wreaked havoc with our gasoline prices just last summer, how can one expect coal to remain at a flat price?

And keep in mind, that 250 year supply of coal is misleading. That figure is based on pure wild card speculation which itself is based on estimates of future demand. Looking back,  an interesting pattern occurs. In 1988, as we were listening to INXS, we had 300 years of coal left. In 1904, we had 1000 years of coal left. In 1868 we had 10,000 years of coal left……
And some of that coal lies under cities, towns, parks, scenic areas; at what cost will we go to extract those last few seams?

Carbon emissions are the driving force behind most green renewable energy initiatives. But, if one disregards the entire controversy surrounding global warming and chooses a energy plan, just based solely on economic factors outlined by Adam Smith over two hundred years ago, Blue Water’s wind farm will save Delawareans tons of money over the life of the proposal……….tons…………

And, as a sidebar, if your children’s or your own health means anything to you, for eleven dollars at today’s prices, with wind you can eliminate breathing that very carcinogen that perhaps someday will kill either them or you.

 

Please show at one of these meetings. Only massive public support for the cheaper alternative can sway the argument away from pricey fossil fuels, towards the new energy alternative of the future.

Delaware is poised to make a difference, one that could start a chain of events that may have profound effect on our future. Next week will be too late to pine for what could have been…………..

On the back of the Delaware state quarter lies the image of Ceasar Rodney, a man who is credited with a marathon mad dash to make a certain meeting on time.  That meeting would have grave consequences for the future of our nation. We, in the next three days, shall have a much easier time of it, but the consequences may wind up to be far more important globally than Ceasar Rodney’s ride.

 

Ok, I’ll concede that there are problems with wind energy. But I won’t concede throwing that option out. Why, because not only did I look into what was not being said about wind, but I also looked into what that which was not being discussed by natural gas or coal….

And my conclusion was that even with the problems aforementioned with the wind scheme, those other two options, both gas and coal, have far more serious economic flaws built into their proposals, and that without public discussion, and the usual shell games performed by our lobbiests, certain members of our legislature just might be bamboozled into unknowingly escalating our electric rates another 60%, just as they did with deregulation.

As I write this, the consultants who gave a preliminary look over all the data, are confirming to the News Journal that the gas fired plant is first, the Blue Water initiative is second, and the coal gasification plant is third. And, although it is not considered an option, Delmarva is positioning itself as a proponent for a fourth option: to leave our system as it is.

Anyone who loves this earth as I do and considers stewardship of this planet as their personal responsibility, has already made their choice. But I am not writing this for you.

Instead I want to focus on the economics of energy consumption and bring up new theories of which you may not be aware. These will have serious consequences if overlooked. They must be considered.

Gas fired leads the pack, or so we were told. There are some benefits. Gas plants are the easiest and the cheapest to build and bring on line. Depending on the data given, they were the most economical way to produce electricity, roughly between 4 and 5 cents a kilowatt hour. Comparatively, wind energy in a perfect atmosphere, can get as low as 2.3 cents a kilowatt hour, but if you factor the cost of standby idling power plants for lulls, the price can climb to over 7 cents a kilowatt hour. Coal, runs between 5 and 6 cents a kilowatt hour.

That’s it. Gas. Let’s go with it.

Before we sign the dotted line, there is something we should know. Gas has almost tripled its cost in six years. It costs three times more to get a kilowatt-hour from gas now than it did during the Clinton presidency. Domestic natural gas extraction has peaked and is on the down side. Only the development of eco sensitive off shore areas in Florida, will provide any hope of increasing local supply. Among industry professionals, all future hope for maintaining supply lies in bringing LNG ships in from the Middle East. Some estimates predict that we only have 20 years of natural gas supplies left. Only Saudi Arabia will have natural gas after that time. And we all know what depending on Saudi oil did for gasoline prices……..

Throughout the nineties, natural gas was touted as the clean cheap fuel. The price never rose above 3 dollars per MMbtus.
Between 2000 and 2004 we had three spikes where it rose over 9 dollars. Currently the speculation is hedging on 6 to 7 dollars a MMbtu. This points to the flaw of gas as a fuel for Delaware. Although it is cheap to build and bring on line, it is at the mercy of the wildly fluctuating price of natural gas. And do not fail to remember New England in 2003, when all natural gas was routed to heat homes and business and none was left to fire up power plants, on which most of New England’s power is derived, because they were built in the nineties when natural gas was cheap..

Generating power from natural gas, is still a viable option economically, if it is done next to a well. This would be a good option in Alberta, or southwestern Iraq, where the waste product from drilling could be turned into electricity at the source. Likewise, depending how much natural gas is spun off from the cracking of crude oil, refineries, instead of wasting the waste gas in a flair, could use it to generate power, as is done in Delaware City, right next to the Valero refinery.

The problem with gas is it’s supply. Not so with coal……Totally missed by the news media, was an incident on June 8th. George Bush, speaking to builders and engineers, said “and what about coal. We have 250 million years of supply left.” I don’t know which was more troubling. The fact that normal Americans do not comprehend how just how little energy we have, or the the nations chief executive is also unaware”…. He meant to say 250 years. That seems like a long time, but is it? As we run out of gas and oil, we most likely will gasify our coal deposits, turning it into a diesel fuel and gas to heat homes. Meanwhile China is bringing a brand new power plant on line every week, and India is doing the same, but not as fast, can we assume our current usage of coal will stay flat. Most energy experts say no, and say that if you look back to 1840 we had 11,000 years of coal, and in 1937 we had 4407 years of coal left. And some of those reserves lie under National parks and residential areas. Will we be so desperate as to mine them too. We may run out much sooner.

So when one looks back to the past, and sees what happens to both availability and price as energy becomes scarce, one realizes that there is NO WAY oil and gas will not rise. Therefore any action we base on data from the 1990’s will lead us down the same path as did deregulation of Delmarva: somewhere down the road we will have to pay another 60% increase.

Against this future scenario, wind looks good. When we choose wind power, all we pay for is the initial investment and repairs. With insurance, the utilities future repairs can be reduced to a fixed cost. The wind is free. If the wind blows, we receive some of the most efficient energy available on this planet. If it doesn’t, we are buying the same oil and gas generated power we would have had anyway. The difference, is that every time the wind blows, our average kilowatt rates go down. Even if it is not perfect, it sure beats sending excess money up the smokestack in the form of hot air…..

So when someone tells you that wind power is not so wonderful after all, and gives you a litany of reasons, tell him you agree and then tell that person that with all things considered, all the other alternatives are worse……………..

It has been one year since Murtha stepped forward to call a directional change in Iraq. If you enjoy seeing hypocrites squirm, then you must read this in the daily koz.

It is all in the quotes.

(If I were a republican, I would begin to worry whether my man Bush would bump Herbert Hoover off the bottom rung.)