What in the world: 'Dean of the House' calls it quits
- 25 February 2014
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
There have been a lot of retirement announcements from members of Congress this year, but none bigger than the one that came yesterday, when 88-year-old John Dingell of Michigan revealed he would not run for re-election in November.
Mr Dingell was the longest-serving member in the history of the US House of Representatives - a fixture from Detroit, replacing his father in office in 1955.
"One could say that Dingell outlasted the two institutions he loved most, Congress and Detroit," writes Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss. "Which went bankrupt first is as much a theological question as a political or economic one, as is the question of which might have the better chance of returning to past glory, but there is no question about Dingell's place in congressional history."
Mr Dingell, he writes, "had a certain grace of loyalty and doggedness and authenticity that is now dancing off the stage, never to be repeated."
The New Republic's Alec MacGillis notes Mr Dingell was an ardent backer of gun rights, which he argues must be taken into account when considering his liberal legacy.
Meanwhile, the National Review's Henry Payne argues that his reign as chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee made him "one of the key architects of centralizing regulatory power in Washington to the benefit of big-business lobbyists - and to the detriment of the little guy".
Mr Dingell fired a parting shot at the institution that served as his home for most of his adult life, saying:
Public service is undervalued in our modern times, and I can understand that when I look at what our Congress has become. But it doesn't have to be that. I am hopeful that this fever breaks at some point, and Congress goes back to what it should be: the House of the People, standing up for the average man and woman. That's how I've always defined the job, and it's a damn good definition.
Mr Dingell's 60-year-old wife Debbie is the front-runner for her husband's seat. The Dingell dynasty, it seems, will continue.
Castro regime is scared of Venezuelan protests - If the Nicolas Maduro government falls in Caracas, it could mean the end of the 100,000 barrels of oil a day that Venezuela sends to Cuba. For this reason, writes the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, the Cuban-backed Venezuelan intelligence service and militias are going to "play rough".
The Olympic glow will fade in time - Remember all those pre-Olympic forecasts of disaster in Sochi? It seems the media worm has turned, and now Vladimir Putin is basking in "positive foreign reactions" following the relatively trouble-free Olympic Games, writes Bloomberg View's Leonid Bershidsky. He contends, however, that the fate of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who in 2012 enjoyed positive press from hosting the European football championship, should give the Russian president pause.
The future looks bleak - Simon Tay, chair of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, writes in the Nation that there are two possible outcomes for Thailand if, as predicted, the two sides in the current political standoff can't reach a compromise. The first is an increasingly violent confrontation. The second is economic collapse.
The app that is powering the uprising - Zello, a walkie-talkie app for Android smartphones, has become essential to the organisers of the Venezuelan protests, writes Patrick Tucker for Defense One. He details how the app's creator, Bill Moore, has scrambled to keep it from being blocked by Venezuelan authorities. App wars and who wins them, he concludes, have significant US national security implications.
A tempest of fear - Turkish author Elif Shafak writes that his nation is coming apart, as rumours of conspiracy and paranoia spread. "Turkey is still not a mature democracy and its politics are masculinist, aggressive and polarized," she writes. If Turkey is going to emerge from the chaos, she concludes, the youth will have to lead the way.
Is Crimea the next flashpoint? - With the capital Kiev under the control of the anti-government protestors, attention is now turning to the more Russia-friendly eastern and southern portions of Ukraine, writes BBC's Yaroslav Lukov. But if Vladimir Putin thinks the Crimean Peninsula is sympathetic territory, he argues, the Russian president is mistaken.
A new political reality - A decentralised Yemen means the US is going to have to adapt to changing politics, writes Jared Swanson of the American Foreign Policy Council. "For several years now, the US government has leveraged strong connections and relationships with the central government in Yemen's north to conduct its counterterrorism operations," he writes. Now, however, the US will have to deal with the individual politics and priorities of six regional governments.
BBC Monitoring quote of the day
The killing of 21 government soldiers in Kunar, Afghanistan: "These loyal and hero forces who are the victims of the inappropriate policies of the government leadership properly defended the prestige and dignity of their country and were martyred... The shortcoming of the Ministry of Defence is tangible in this regard, and the officials of this ministry cannot shirk their enormous responsibility in this regard... If there was a government that supported the rule of law in Afghanistan, today all those who were responsible for this failure and big catastrophe in Kunar Province should have been dismissed or they themselves should have resigned. In such an issue it is a big sin to cry crocodile tears." - State-run Anis newspaper
One more thing…
Whole Foods is a temple of pseudoscience - The coconut oil miracle. ChlorOxygen chlorophyll. The "Eclectic Triphasic Medical System". A walk down the health aisle at store in the Whole Foods grocery chain reveals a "shrine of pseudoscience", writes the Daily Beast's Michael Schulson. While liberals mock creationism as unscientific, they're guilty of the same sort of foolishness.
"Bringing sound data into political conversations and consumer decisions is a huge, ongoing challenge," he writes. "It's not limited to one side of the public debate."
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