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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4134)

by Susan J. Demas

Four years ago, a gaggle of grandmothers emerged from a University of Illinois building, breathlessly chirping about a U.S. Senate forum.

A cerise-scarfed lady spotted a placard for a hopeful and asked if he was The One.

"That's not our guy," she was told. "Our candidate is the one whose name no one can pronounce."

by Richard A. Clarke

(Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the book Your Government Failed You by Richard A. Clarke)

Another reality in the post-9/11 growth of intelligence analysis capability is outsourcing. We have outsourced the management of billlion-dollar technical collection programs, and we have contracted intelligence analysts.

The National Reconnaissance Office is a lot more than an office; may have the largest budget of all the U.S. intelligence agencies. It may also be the best example of how U.S. government contractors, i.e., private industry, are taking over the government and costing us needless billions of dollars. The NRO buys spy satellites. Over the course of the last ten years, much of its government employee expertise has largely been eliminated by swapping career experts out for military personnel rotated in for a few years. Instead of having an Air Force officer who worked on satellites for ten or fifteen years making decisions, the NRO began bringing in officers on two- and three-year assignments. Someone who was procuring tires last year would be procuring satellite component systems this year. The result was that the big aerospace contractors gained greater influence in the decision making, not only because they were the only ones left with expertise, but also because the NRO decided to transfer much of its own program management responsibility to a single, big contractor.

by Michael Winship

Pity poor Ed McMahon. Remember Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show, host of Star Search, the guy who used to deliver flabbergasted citizens those outsized, multimillion dollar checks from Publishers Clearinghouse? With his own big paydays largely in the past, he's nearly $644,000 behind in his payments on a $4.8 million mortgage. Countrywide Financial Corporation, the country's biggest home mortgage lender, may soon foreclose on his Beverly Hills mansion.

Ed might fare better with Countrywide if he had a government job. Last week, Jim Johnson, former chief of staff for Vice President Walter Mondale and CEO of the federally chartered banker Fannie Mae, which buys and resells mortgages, had to resign from his position as head of the task force looking for Barack Obama's running mate. The Wall Street Journal reported that Countrywide -- Fannie Mae's largest mortgage provider -- gave him preferential treatment for millions of dollars in personal loans.

by Stephen Crockett

The Bush Republican economic revolution has been fought. Working class and middle class Americans lost along with the nation. The result is the Republican insecurity economy of today. It is not a happy place for most Americans.

The Bush Republican economic revolution really started under Ronald Reagan and had some roots going back to the anti-New Deal Republicans that fought against FDR. It just went into a destructive hyper-drive mode with the selection of George W. Bush by the Republican-dominated Supreme Court in 2000.

The core value of the Bush Republican movement is that wealth and power makes you right no matter the cost to your fellow citizens or the nation's future. Under the guise of "deregulation," the power of extreme wealth to impose their unchecked power over the economy on all Americans was unleashed. Government regulators were corrupted. Laws were ignored. The national interest was ignored. All of this was done for the private profit of the very few.

by John R. Talbott

Whoever the next president is in January will face a record number of economic problems. Barack Obama, who has just begun a 17-day tour of the U.S. to promote his detailed economic program, would be well advised to keep his economic message simple and easily understandable.

1. Make America Financially Stronger

Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin were able to turn around a country in deficit and leave George W. Bush with a $236 billion annual operating surplus in 2000. Bush has turned that annual budget surplus into an forecasted deficit of nearly $396 billion for 2008 and has doubled the country's total debt to over $10 trillion. Obama is against John McCain's plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest 10% of the country, a plan that under Bush meant a $2 trillion windfall to the wealthiest of Americans. Obama has said that all of his programs must be revenue neutral, that is they must all be paid for in advance, and that it is a priority of his administration to return the country's financial position to one of strength and stability. As a result, the U.S. dollar should strengthen considerably under an Obama administration as government deficits are often funded with newly printed money, the primary cause of inflation and currency weakness.


By One Citizen

I'm sure by now most of your readers know about Fox News' "fist bump" and his "baby mama" crapola. (Not to mention Liz Trotta laughing off the potential assassination of Barack Obama.)


by Michael Winship

Last weekend's National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis was a freewheeling, articulate, committed gathering of activists, policy wonks, and everyday citizens dedicated to the idea that there can be no real democracy without a media democracy -- independent reporting from diverse communities free of the interference and spin of government and big business. Perhaps nowhere else can you witness an FCC commissioner such as Michael Copps get a rock star standing ovation worthy of Mick Jagger or hear the words, "Common carrier rules are hot!"

Some 3,500 assembled to participate in panels and hear a range of speakers that included my colleague Bill Moyers, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Center for Internet and Society founder Lawrence Lessig, Naomi Klein, Louise Erdrich, and Dan Rather. Participants grappled with mobilizing grassroots movements around such hot button issues as continuing, big media consolidation and net neutrality -- two words perhaps more elegantly phrased as "Internet freedom" -- keeping cyberspace open and accessible to all, regardless of income. As Moyers has pointed out, neutrality sounds too much like Switzerland, and as my colleague Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild, West, says, the notion of fighting for neutrality seems oxymoronic. So, "Internet freedom" it is.

by Elliot D. Cohen

Now that Barack Obama has secured the Democratic nomination, many of his supporters are looking forward with guarded optimism to a victory in November. However, while they assume that the road ahead will be a challenging one, and that the outcome may rest with key battleground states such as Ohio, what they may fail to anticipate are the kinds of obstacles that the McCain campaign in tandem with the Bush Administration might, in the coming months, place between them and victory.

It is easy enough to take one's eyes off the ball when concentrating on campaign speeches and strategies for winning over the hearts and minds of Americans. So what things might change the landscape of the current contest and tilt it in favor of the McCain camp?

by Peter Michaelson

Thanks to us and to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, great progress is being made in healing two old wounds that have festered for centuries on the American landscape. The two wounds are racism and sexism, and healing them means that America can reclaim its destiny as the world's leader of enlightened behavior.

There is much to celebrate. The historic nomination battle between Obama and Clinton heralded the coming social revolution that will elevate feminine values and bring more balance to national life. Like Clinton, Obama represents these values -- peace, family, health, unity, compassion, and power. We can't turn our back on our chance for this breakthrough.

We're not out of the backwoods yet. Many Americans won't vote for Obama because he's a black man. And many Americans, the polls are telling us, won't vote for him either because he's the man who defeated a woman for the Democratic nomination.

"Warring soul with your delicate anger"

By Norman MacAfee

This is the 40th anniversary of the last full day, June 4, 1968, in the life of Robert Francis Kennedy.

It was a beautiful day. He had won the California and South Dakota primaries. Three groups he loved had helped him win. Native Americans in South Dakota and African-Americans and Mexican-Americans in California.

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