Coal: There Is No Good Way to Get It

coal-miner

John Peeler: The wrenching drama of the latest coal mine disaster, this one at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, reminds us to be careful what we wish for. Just as the Obama administration is finally imposing a moratorium and stronger regulations on “mountaintop removal” as a means of getting at coal through open-pit mining, an explosion in a deep mine points up the hazards of getting at coal the traditional way.

Israel and Palestine: The Folly of Strength and the Folly of Weakness

Israel_Palestine

John Peeler: Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel didn’t go so well. When the Interior Ministry announced plans for a major expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem just as Biden was helping to organize renewed—if indirect—negotiations with the Palestinians, he, on instructions from the White House, promptly condemned the plan, a condemnation, which was amplified in a long, “tough” conversation between Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Massachusetts Debacle

Obama first year

John Peeler: The defeat of Martha Coakley in the race to succeed Ted Kennedy certainly shows the folly of taking victory for granted and failing to mount a serious campaign. But it also puts on display the complete political incompetence of the Obama administration and the national leadership of the Democratic Party and the Congress.

Two Alaskan Women, Two Alaskan Stories

Sarah Palin, Riki Ott

Palin and other conservatives want us to ignore the fact that shrinking the government and deregulation doesn’t help the small business person and the average worker; it turns the country over to massive corporations like Exxon Mobil. That’s what Riki Ott is telling us.

Afghanistan: War Theatre of the Absurd

Photo from The Onion.

Now, paying off the opposition does seem to have calmed things down in parts of Iraq (recent Baghdad bombings notwithstanding), and thereby provided us with an opening to carry through with the agreement we made with the Iraqi government to get our troops out of there. Maybe it can work in Afghanistan too.

Open Letter: How to Leverage the Prize

Barack Obama Cartoon with Nobel Peace Prize dropping on head

You should use the clout and credibility from the prize to convene serious, multiparty negotiations aimed at verifiably eliminating nuclear weapons from all arsenals, backed up with cooperative intelligence-gathering to ensure that non-state actors do not acquire or independently develop such weapons.

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

United-Nations

Our very presence as occupiers undermines the possibility that any government we support could ever achieve legitimacy and stability, because they will always be seen as puppets of the United States.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way, Out

george-will

Will argues that we should take the Iraqi government at its word and wind down our involvement there, as specified in the 2008 security agreement: “The United States should treat this as a Dirty Harry moment: Make our day.”

Fascism: Are We There Yet?

fascism

It is up to us to defend and improve our democracy more effectively than the Germans of 80 years ago. This implies not only vigilance and willingness to do political battle, but as important, a willingness to acknowledge and respond to the real concerns of honest conservatives who might otherwise be seduced by Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues.

Iraq: Take Yes for an Answer

long-goodbye

The more we insist on staying when we’re clearly not wanted, the more we reinforce the widely held Iraqi suspicion that we really intend a long-term, colonial-style occupation.

Voting Rights Act: Have We Changed So Much?

American Aparthied

A key provision of the Voting Rights Act (first adopted in 1965), provides that jurisdictions with a history of racial and ethnic discrimination must get prior federal approval before changing election laws. Many, but not all Southern states, and a scattering of states, counties, and municipalities elsewhere, remain subject to that stipulation. In June, the [...]

Iran: Just Deal With It

Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s overwhelming victory in Iran’s presidential election disappointed many who had hoped for a president who is not an international embarrassment and loose cannon. That is the image portrayed in the western media, and with such an image, many find it possible to explain such a victory only by fraud and intimidation. But we [...]

Torture Memos: Don’t Prosecute, But Change Law

what-me-worry

The recent release of memoranda used by the Bush administration to justify various aggressive interrogation techniques for use on suspected terrorists has led to widespread calls for prosecution, either against those who wrote the memos, those who approved them, or those who carried them out. The grounds for such prosecutions would be that the techniques [...]

Open Veins of Latin America: Obama Should Read It!

Latin-American author Edward Galeano. Image Source: Robert Birnbaum

During the recent Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela gave President Obama a copy of Open Veins in Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, by Eduardo Galeano. Few in the American press corps or in the White House staff would have understood the importance of this [...]

The Drug Wars: Is Half a Century of Bloody Futility Enough?

drug-wars1

Drug wars in northern Mexico, fed by guns and money from the United States, and spilling over into this country, remind us that the trade in illegal drugs remains a huge problem. We have been engaged since around 1970 in a succession of efforts by successive administrations to wage war on illegal drug trafficking, and [...]

Detainee Rights: Make a Clean Break

chopping-bush

After the shameful, embarrassing performance of the Bush administration in denying the most basic human rights to detainees at Guantánamo, Bagram, Afghanistan, and at CIA black sites elsewhere, the record of the Obama admininstration on this issue has been mixed at best. Initially, Obama canceled Bush executive orders that permitted torture (while denying such a [...]

Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse: Obama’s Agenda

gaza

It’s been going on for sixty years. Or a century. Or a millennium. Or more. It depends on how you look at it, but the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation defiantly resists resolution, yielding an unending harvest of blood. Decades of inconclusive conflict have made clear that neither side can achieve its goals by purely military means.

The Economy: Do We Have Any Idea What We’re Doing?

lightning-stock-market

by John Peeler – It is a commonplace these days to argue that the Bush administration helped to bring on the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression by clinging blindly to the dogma of the free, unregulated market as the solution to every problem. That is certainly an accurate accusation. At virtually every opportunity [...]

Race to the Bottom: Is W Really the Worst?

worst president in history

by John Peeler – Is George W. Bush really the worst President in our history? It’s easy to think so, what with the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks, the bungling of the war in Afghanistan, the fraudulent conspiracy to go to war in Iraq, the prolonged disaster of the war in Iraq, and the [...]

Winning with the Left, Governing from the Center

hillary-and-barack

by John Peeler – As President-Elect Obama goes about naming more and more of his cabinet and senior advisers, many of his left-of-center supporters are expressing increasing unease at the absence of certified progressives in the mix, and the prevalence of centrist Clintonites, including Hillary herself. This is very much in contrast with what happened [...]

Latin America: Obama’s Opportunity

Venezuela held regional elections on Sunday, 23 November, and opposition candidates made substantial gains against the governing party of President Hugo Chávez, winning at least five governorships (of 22), including the two most populous states and the mayorality of Metropolitan Caracas). Chávez announced that he accepted the results, and added that “these elections demonstrated that [...]

Keeping Jobs at Home: Give the Workers Control

by John Peeler – Robert Reich, writing on the LA Progressive (November 19, 2008), calls for a “Bottom-Up Bailout,” by which he means not aiding the auto manufacturers, but rather providing direct credit and loan guarantees to small businesses and individuals, and supporting those big companies whose managers and workers are willing to put up [...]

Election 2008: Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics

This Democratic victory should be seen primarily as a rejection of the sectarian conservatism of the George W. Bush Administration. There is certainly a mandate to reimpose sensible regulation on the economy, to do something (exactly what is not so clear) about a failing health care system, and to find a way out of Iraq. [...]

Testaments: George W. Bush

This week, John Peeler presents “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. George W. Bush They misunderestimated me. I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best. I’m going to try to see if [...]

Testaments: Bill Clinton

This week, John Peeler presents “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Bill Clinton They beat me once; I’d not be too liberal again. I learned to feel folk’s pain, raise cash like [...]

Testaments: Ronald Reagan

This week, John Peeler presents “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Ronald Reagan A lightweight actor was my role: I voiced what many felt, and with a smile. When Congress told me [...]

Testaments: George H. W. Bush

This week, John Peeler presents “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. George H. W. Bush Called Reagan on his voodoo economics, didn’t matter; people wanted to believe. So swallowed it and served [...]

Testaments: Jimmy Carter

This week, John Peeler presents “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Jimmy Carter After Watergate, the people wanted moral strength. I was a Sunday School teacher, a governor, a brilliant smile. Morality [...]

Testaments: Gerald Ford

This week, John Peeler will present “Testaments,” a series of poems that take the form of valedictory statements by each of the postwar presidents, in the poetic manner of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Gerald Ford Spiro’s disgrace was my new place. I never dreamed that I would hold that chair made void by [...]

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