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Guest Commentary (4191)

by Michael Winship

As the candidates engage in an ultimately pointless, fruitless debate over whether or not to give the gasoline tax a summer holiday, the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney secretly has been developing a quaintly 19th century solution to the energy crisis.


At least, that's one possible conclusion you might draw from last week's report out of Congressman Henry Waxman's (D-CA) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

According to documents leaked to and released by the committee, for more than a year Cheney's office and the White House Council of Economic Advisors, coordinating with the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, have been holding up a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rule that would protect the North American right whale, one of the most endangered animals in the world.

by Larry Beinhart

Did you know there is an "official arbiter of when recessions begin"? It's called the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a "private, non-profit, non-partisan," organization. It boasts that 16 of the 31 American Nobel Prize winners have been researchers there.

The president of NBER announced on March 15 that we are now officially in recession. "It will last longer and be deeper than the last two recessions, which lasted only 8 months from peak to trough. It could well be longer and deeper than the recession in the early 1980s that lasted 16 months."

The reality - for ordinary people - is that the economy has actually been in recession since 2001. It began with an official recession. Which officially lasted but eight months. Then there was a "recovery."

by Stephen Crockett

The idea being promoted by both John McCain and Hillary Clinton of canceling the federal gasoline tax for the summer is a terrible idea. It fails to address the real issue of runaway fuel prices. It has negative consequences for the safety of our roads and bridges. It is essentially a campaign stunt and distraction. The oil profiteers have already gobbled up any benefit consumers might gain from the cut far in advance of the proposed summer suspension.

Runaway fuel prices are largely the result of market manipulation by speculators and oil companies combined with a "nod and wink" approach to government regulation and law enforcement from the Bush Administration. We need serious government intervention instead of cosmetic window dressing.

by Michael Winship

A recent "Saturday Night Live" skit featured an ersatz Larry King (redundant, I know) interviewing former President Jimmy Carter and chastising him for writing too many books that no one ever reads, a charge with which a reluctant Carter finally agrees. Unkind, but funny.

Just in time for Mom's Day, the latest oeuvre from the compulsively prolific ex-president is "A Remarkable Mother," the story of his mother Lillian, or "Miz Lillian," as just about everyone whose path she crossed called her.

A lovely book and, as Carolyn See wrote in a Washington Post review, "far from the sentimental tribute one might expect... [It's] the story of how one woman grew up and married in backward rural Georgia and how, even before her son became president, she learned to think globally, to take her own place on the public stage."

by Susan J. Demas

If you voted "uncommitted" in the Michigan primary to support Barack Obama, your vote might have essentially gone to Hillary Clinton anyway.

The Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) has learned that some of the 36 uncommitted delegates chosen at Saturday's district conventions say they're staying uncommitted and not backing Obama. That seems curious, because there are only two candidates left in the race and those backing Clinton could have caucused for her.

Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Chair Mark Brewer gave those exact instructions to those attending the 15 sites. But Obama supporters say they might not have been heeded to give Clinton even more than the 55 percent of delegates she won on January 15.

by Michael Winship

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A beautiful and balmy spring day, perfect for a boat ride. The destination, 45 minutes away, was Ft. Sumter at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, the Union stronghold at which the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861.

Confederate batteries blasted the fort for 33 straight hours. But at the beginning of this so-called War of Northern Aggression (which really is how a plantation guide described it to us Saturday afternoon), chivalry still prevailed. And irony.

U.S. Army Major William Anderson, Sumter's commanding officer, had taught artillery at West Point. Now the man commanding the shore batteries raining red-hot cannonballs down on him was one of his favorite students, Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard. You have to wonder if the major wished he'd been a little less thorough teaching the general his trajectory tables.

by Jeffrey Buchanan

by Michael Winship

Having grown up in a small town, I'm always struck by how rarely movies and television shows and other art forms capture the quality of life there. The false notes are thumped as discordantly as the Moonlight Sonata on a badly tuned spinet; the citizens portrayed as homicidal mouth breathers, amusing rubes, or country sages with an unsullied rustic wisdom that astonishes visiting city slickers.

Some get it right. A weekend attending a conference in Columbus, Ohio, ended Sunday at the small, Victorian boyhood home of one of my literary heroes, James Thurber. In his short stories and reminiscences, it was his "sure grasp of confusion," as a magazine once put it, his understanding of small town, family dynamics, and foibles that instantly won my heart, even at an early age.

by Loretta Napoleoni

Wednesday, 09 April 2008 07:46

Ed Kinane: Invading Iran

by Ed Kinane

Men keep going to war. They go for many reasons. The only defensible reason, however, is self-defense -- of one's family, one's community, one's country.

With war, many suffer and suffer profoundly but few gain. Why then do men go to war so often? In one way or another, most soldiers are coerced or brainwashed into battle. The few who gain keep the pot boiling. Only they have the power to do so. Even as they themselves avoid battle, those few force others to kill and risk death.

Many are the reasons for not going to war. Just count the victims. Years ago, a group of anti-war activists here in Syracuse brainstormed reasons to oppose the imminent U.S. attack on Iraq. Not much tweaking would be needed for that long list to apply equally to an U.S. invasion of Iran.

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