Jefferson Valley, NY

When I took my copy of The Nation from my mailbox today, I was appalled at the cover showing George W. Bush, in hunter’s garb, over the caption “Clueless?” The Nation has long been a debater of ideas, home for such writers as Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal and Jim Hightower. This cover is a personal attack on the President of the United States and does little to debate his policies. They’re certainly open to debate, but they are the product of the President and a group that includes Ms. Rice and Messrs. Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld and O’Neill–not a “clueless” bunch at all. Let’s debate policies, political philosophies and economic theories and leave personal ridicule to others.



I am shocked and dismayed at the glaring copy-editing/proofreading error on your cover. The question mark after “Clueless” is such an egregious mistake it is hard to find words to express my dismay. After all, if anyone at The Nation has even the smallest shred of a doubt that Shrub is clueless…well, there’s no hope; we’re doomed.


Enfield, Conn.

Cartoon fans might appreciate a different caption on your June 10 cover: “Be vewy quiet. I’m hunting tewwowists.”


Marshall, Mich.

An alternate caption might be: “George W. Fudd: ‘Is that you, Osama, you wascawwy Awab?'”


Carthage, NC

Thank you for the picture of King George II attired for the hunt. It joins the collection of pictures of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Ronald Reagan on my dartboard. I took the liberty of deleting the question mark following the word “clueless.”


St. Cirq Souillaguet, France

Your amusing cover picture of a clueless Bush was a great success in our village, reflecting as it did a widely held French opinion of the man. One neighbor went further: “If it’s true that your President has an 80 percent approval rating, should one then assume that a majority of your citizens are equally dimwitted?” I was unable to answer.



Liberty Hill, Tex.

Matt Bivens’s excellent “Fighting for America’s Energy Independence” [April 15] and the ensuing “Exchange” [June 17] covered many important bases but requires a post-mortem.

The idea of a 110-by-110-mile solar field in Nevada providing all our nation’s electricity is seductive, but it ignores the fact that unless generation is located near the consumers, you need wires to transmit it. West Texas has the nation’s largest wind farms, with plenty more capacity. The problem is that the people who want to use that electricity live in Dallas, 500 miles away. Transmission constraints, not economics or politics, have slowed the growth of wind energy. Building high-voltage power lines where people live is problematic; the financial and political challenges of moving tens of thousands of solar megawatts from Nevada to, say, New York, are daunting to the point of fantasy.

The big green solution includes a combination of commercial-scale renewable power (primarily wind and geothermal), decentralized clean energy (mainly rooftop solar and stationary fuel cells, with the excess sold back into the grid) and the three-legged stool of conservation, efficiency and demand response. A staggering percentage of generation plants are built solely to accommodate demand on midsummer weekday afternoons. Demand response, or peak load management, teaches us that the availability (not to mention cost) of electricity isn’t always the same. California’s legendary rolling blackouts are largely a result of inefficient use of the grid and can be avoided if consumers shift their consumption away from the peaks. People have learned to make phone calls and plane trips off-peak; we can use electricity the same way. This relieves wire congestion and delays the need for new power plants, accelerating our charge to the day when clean energy is overabundant.



Washington, DC

Paul Wattles is correct that getting electricity down transmission lines would make it impractical to power America on solar electricity harvested across 12,000 square miles in Nevada. I never meant to suggest we try. My observations that Nevada could gather enough sun to power America–and that the Dakotas and Texas alone could also produce enough windpower to do that–were purely illustrative. The point is that our nation is rich in wind and sun, the technologies to harvest them are finally here and working, and yet we aren’t moving forward as smartly as we could–in part thanks to our government’s bizarre insistence on showering huge subsidies on oil, gas, coal and nuclear power while giving tiny sums to renewables and sniffing that they aren’t “market ready.”

Some of the best winds are remote from population centers, and new transmission lines can cost more than $1 million per mile. Electricity gets wasted when sent long distances down such lines, and stringing new lines is unpopular–people don’t want to live near them. And wind and solar power are intermittent–churning out wattages only when the sun shines or the wind blows.

So these are all challenges–and it’s striking how many of those challenges are finessed by the hydrogen fuel cell. Wind- or solar-generated electricity can now be stored as hydrogen (by using that electricity to “zap” water, which releases hydrogen). John Turner of the National Renewable Energy Laboratories observes that hydrogen made from the sun or the winds could be trucked or pipelined out of remote areas at a lot less cost and a lot more efficiency than hanging new power lines. A Dakota-to-Chicago hydrogen pipeline, anyone? Unlike transmission lines, it could even be buried.

Finally, I accept much of Wattles’s “big green solution,” but one small quibble: I’m all for more efficient air conditioners; I’m less enamored of training people to turn them off when it gets hot. Like berating people who drive gas-guzzling SUVs, it’s a distraction and a political nonstarter. People have indeed learned to make phone calls off-peak–i.e., when it’s inconvenient. But they don’t like it! So why focus on it as the solution, when there is a much more positive vision–one that has room for an emissions-free hydrogen-fueled SUV? Yes, even one with a flag on it.



Brooklyn, NY

“Hear, hear!” to Michael Lerner’s “Jews for Justice” [May 20]–the best opinion piece I’ve read on the Middle East morass, and the only one brave enough to admit that Jews are themselves mostly to blame for the recent surge of anti-Semitism around the world–at least insofar as they participate, support and/or remain silent about Israel’s arrogant, apartheidlike policies. It makes me especially sad and angry that in their eagerness to placate the conservative Jewish lobby, the most prominent Jewish voices in American public life today (Dianne Feinstein and Joseph Lieberman) refuse to recognize this, instead going blindly forward with their We-Are-a-Victimized-People and Israel-Can-Do-No-Wrong stance. I thank God nightly that my ancestors immigrated to America.


San Diego

I suggest Rabbi Lerner move to Gaza and see how much “love” he will get from the Palestinians; or maybe he should move to Syria and share the “love” the other Arab countries have for Jews. He can preach “love” and equal treatment there, if they let him.


New York City

No one can quarrel with Rabbi Lerner’s call for a Jewish voice to speak out for justice for Palestinians (and Israelis). But he is not correct in saying that there have been no pro-Israel alternatives to AIPAC, no organized voices that would speak out for the end of the occupation and the violence, for a Palestinian state as well as for security and acceptance for Israel.

There are such voices. One is Americans for Peace Now. APN has been working hard for this agenda for many years, at the grassroots level, in Washington and in Israel, with a very large coalition of peace activists there. They speak to the US Jewish community, they speak to other Americans, they speak to Palestinians and they speak to power. New voices mean new strength for this agenda, so welcome to the Tikkun Community. But they are not voices in the wilderness.


Jupiter, Fla.

I am delighted to read some constructive ideas on the Israel/Palestine quagmire. As Rabbi Lerner proposes, a good place to start is with a “big stick” wielded by an international effort to impose some separation and order. However, I also think a “carrot” is essential to effect a change of mind. I propose a Marshall Plan for Palestine–a model for the Middle East. They need democracy, schools, infrastructure, small business financing–all the basics for a progressive, prosperous country. When there is prosperity for all, reasonable people don’t want to rock the boat. The religious fanatics would become increasingly irrelevant. Peace in the area would thus be reinforced. The United States should lead the effort, as we have much to gain. We’d be the good guys for a change.


Brooklyn, NY

I have never felt the urge to respond to anything I’ve read on the Internet, but I want to show my admiration and gratitude to Michael Lerner. His is about the only sane and objective Jewish voice on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis I’ve heard. More power (and media outlets) to you for recognizing the suffering of and injustices done to the Palestinians. It really hurts to see so many turn a blind eye to the root cause of the violence. As an Arab-American I am heartened to read this article and hope that it reaches Jewish and non-Jewish Americans and helps them realize the moral obligation of the United States to help solve this crisis.


Topanga, Calif.

Although I admire Michael Lerner’s courage (I understand that he has been getting death threats) and strongly agree with his opposition to Israel’s armed occupation of the Palestinian territories, I regret that he seems unwilling to face the most difficult moral dilemma presented by the state of Israel and its very disturbing history, which must be resolved by both Jews and non-Jews. Is there any moral justification for supporting a state that is fundamentally dedicated to the welfare and power of one religion and its believers over all others? Is there any moral justification for supporting a state that has repeatedly invaded its neighbors, killed thousands of nonbelligerents, destroyed housing, agriculture and civil infrastructure and confiscated the land and property of others without compensation? Is there any moral justification for supporting a state that has repeatedly violated international law and UN resolutions while scorning world opinion and humiliating the leadership of the United States, without whose aid it would not exist? Finally, is support for Israel truly an expression of solidarity with fellow Jews or is it a profound betrayal of centuries of Jewish tradition, from Hillel to Einstein, which has always celebrated human dignity, justice and peace?



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: August 1.

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