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Allan Powell

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OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | February 1, 2013
Niccolo Machiavelli would be proud to sit in the Virginia legislature with so many like-minded shysters. His enemies called him “Old Nick” - the devil himself - because of his straightforward praise for amoral conduct by those who rule. His very famous book, “The Prince,” published in 1537, is full of devious but acceptable ways for rulers to maintain power. Perhaps the best-known maxim of statecraft created in history is found in “The Prince.” In part it declares, “… and in the actions of men, and especially of princes, from which there is no appeal, the end justifies the means.” This is an unvarnished appeal for political amorality - the absence of any moral consideration in the conduct of those who rule.
OPINION
May 24, 2013
Jeremy Rifkin's “The Third Industrial Revolution” is so rich in important ideas that it seemed worthy of more attention than a single column. Rifkin's big idea is that we must recognize the consequences of trends that threaten the very existence of our planet. Our massive use of fossil fuels is spoiling plant and animal life. Rifkin is a significant force in leading all responsible governments to shift to the use of renewable sources of energy: solar, hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | June 7, 2013
The interview was thorough enough to give a fairly clear picture of what one could expect if Paul should achieve his goal. He gave several anecdotal accounts of cases in his book in which federal agents overplayed their power to harm citizens. The cure? Reduce the size and power of the government. His sincerity was obvious. He wanted to display his libertarian bona fides, showing by verbal and body language that he was a certified tea party spokesman. He surely accomplished this feat when he was asked if his name “Rand” was an attempt to honor Ayn Rand, the novelist.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | November 23, 2012
It was with great anticipation that I waited for the arrival of “Twilight of the Elites,” written by Christopher Hayes. One can only be amazed at his gifts in orchestrating his two-hour program every Saturday and Sunday morning. It is no exaggeration to compliment Chris so lavishly by saying that he produces a much more educative setting than any of his competitors. One reviewer of his new book went so far as to write, “Chris Hayes is a gift to this republic.” Chris is the closest thing to a walking encyclopedia that I have ever met. Hayes makes a simple, straightforward and very serious charge: The elite leadership in our country who manage our major institutions has failed their duties as credible examples of what is properly expected of those at the top of our social ranks.
OPINION
August 9, 2013
For those who have been inspired by the scanty (but thrilling) facts and legends about the woodland exploits of Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, the more complete coverage written by Willard Sterne Randall will be a joy to read. It quickly became clear that Randall's extensive account (more than 500 pages) was the story of a more sophisticated and complex person than is portrayed in our history texts. For most readers, Allen's life is defined by the daring, predawn conquest of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | June 21, 2013
Those acquainted with world history have encountered several leaders who have “the Great” after their name. Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great and Catherine the Great come to mind. It is arguable that Alexander is properly ranked first. The title may be offered for social reforms, superior administration or military prowess, but it appears to be scarcely awarded. One can but stand in awe at the military accomplishments of Alexander, but, as his personal traits unfold, “greatness” takes on a questionable complexion.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | January 18, 2013
In his recently published book, “America The Philosophical,” Carlin Romano asserts that “America in the early 21st century towers as the most philosophical culture in the history of the world, an unprecedented marketplace of truth and argument that far surpasses ancient Greece, Cartesian France, 19th-century Germany or any other place one can name over the past three millennia.” He supports this claim with such evidence as “degrees in philosophy...
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 17, 2012
Honesty requires the admission of neglect for the deserved recognition of many progressive women who have contributed so much to our nation. I was inspired to read the life of Frances Perkins as a result of getting so many thrilling bits and pieces from my wife, Joanie, as she read about her life as the first cabinet-level woman appointee of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In “The Woman Behind The New Deal,” author Kirstin Downey has given a very readable account of Perkins' most creative life and legacy as Secretary of Labor.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 24, 2012
One of the delightful features of writing is receiving an interesting article with an unusual point of view or some vital facts. Such was the case when a very able and well-known historian, Doug Bast, sent a virtually unknown letter penned in 1867 by a member of Parliament (British), Lord Macauley, to the Honorable H. E. Randall, a citizen of New York. Seldom does one encounter such a hurtful tirade against an unfortunate social constituency. A small portion will be adequate to show the sentiments of British royalty.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | December 28, 2012
It is almost a certainty that the ongoing debate about the merits of individualism versus the need for a profound community spirit will not be a compelling interest for many citizens. Such an old and subtle issue can only get a yawn. For this reason, author and well-known news commentator, E.J. Dionne Jr., deserves wild applause for dedicating a book revealing our nation's unresolved tension between those who prefer giving recognition and honors to “rugged individuals” over praise and status to those who are committed to the bonding power of community.
ARTICLES BY DATE
OPINION
September 6, 2013
TV programs and school texts using Neo-Darwinism To the editor: Allan Powell's column (Aug. 23) gives examples from Mario Livio's book “Brilliant Blunders.” He takes Darwin and his theory as an example of mistaken genius rescued by later scientists who work out the genetic gaps in his theory. Today, this patched-up version is called Neo-Darwinism - what you see on TV science programs and in school texts. This version still suffers as more real science data is gathered, especially in the new field of Epigenomics.
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OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | September 6, 2013
For several months, while employed as a summer interpreter at Harpers Ferry National Park, I drove through the village of Bolivar and down the steep hill to the park headquarters. At that point in time, I knew very little about this amazing warrior for liberty or why a village in West Virginia would select his name for such an honor. Author Marie Arana, in her recently published “Bolivar - American Liberator” gives a colorful and sensitive account of one of the world's most dedicated protagonists for liberty.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 30, 2013
On May 21, the media informed the nation about some very shady practices of the giant electronics corporation Apple. No matter how you slice it, Apple and many other corporations are involved in clever ruses to dodge the payment of taxes. Regardless of how deceptive these offshore schemes appear to be, these corporations claim they have done no wrong and - what's more - “everybody else is doing it.” A Senate panel (the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations) was convinced of a “complex web of offshore entities (with no employees or physical offices)
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 23, 2013
Mario Livio, a brilliant astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, is fully qualified to write about “Brilliant Blunders.” His subtitle, “From Darwin to Einstein,” actually includes five outstanding scientists who made significant blunders. Livio is firm in pointing out that we all can make mistakes and still advance our goals. Space permits a consideration of only two who blundered, so I hope that Darwin and Einstein will be interesting. Livio makes it clear that he is not engaged in proudly exposing flaws in order to be sensational.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 16, 2013
In his very fine book, “Ethan Allen,” author Willard Sterne Randall includes a story of ancient symbolism used by Ethan to describe events in New Hampshire and what became Vermont. New York was deeply involved in the repossession of land in the two locations, which had been legally purchased and titled by hard working farmers who had invested money in development. The “Yorkers” were aided and abetted by greedy land jobbers, officers and courts. When lawyers from New York offered gifts to Ethan if he should stop his opposition to their quest for more land, he replied with a little known biblical verse which probably baffled them: “The gods of the valley are not gods of the hills” (I Kings 20:28)
OPINION
August 9, 2013
For those who have been inspired by the scanty (but thrilling) facts and legends about the woodland exploits of Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, the more complete coverage written by Willard Sterne Randall will be a joy to read. It quickly became clear that Randall's extensive account (more than 500 pages) was the story of a more sophisticated and complex person than is portrayed in our history texts. For most readers, Allen's life is defined by the daring, predawn conquest of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | August 2, 2013
Those familiar with foreign affairs commentary will readily recognize Fareed Zakaria. He is well respected for his steadfastly rational and intelligent interpretation of world events. He now displays his cosmopolitan grasp in his latest book, “The Post-American World (Release 2.0),” in which he gives his perspective of the ever-shifting geopolitical centers of power over the last 500 years. He gives special attention to the rise and dominance of western powers with emphasis on Great Britain and the United States.
OPINION
July 26, 2013
Author Kathleen Sharp is very deserving of the plaudits for her masterful portrayal of a complicated and controversial subject. Indeed, one critic rated “Blood Medicine” to be the “best nonfiction book of the past 20 years.” Yet, this book reads more like a Charles Dickens novel with its abundant cast of failed human beings. There are few heroes in this sordid story of so many members of the medical profession who gave way to material gain at the expense of ethical judgment. The medicine of interest was epo (epoetin alpha)
OPINION
By ALLAN POWELL | July 19, 2013
For a good many years, I have been an admirer of John Kenneth Galbraith. He has earned the reputation of a competent and rational economist. Now, his son James, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, is becoming recognized for his talents as an author. His 2008 book, “The Predator State,” a diagnosis of the inner workings of our economy, will assure his prominence as an astute analyst of economic events. This book is abundant with insights and critical information to stimulate thought.
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