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  • Search Term: Edward A. Zelinsky

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Our Antonia

The first time I read My Antonia, I hated it. That was to be expected: It was required reading in my sophomore English course at Omaha Central High. This was during the Sixties. In the Age of Aquarius, no one was supposed to like assigned reading. That’s why it had to be assigned. I next confronted My Antonia in college. Like Jim Burden, Willa Cather’s narrator, I had left Nebraska to go to east to continue my education.

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Paul Ryan and the evolution of the vice presidency

By Edward Zelinsky
By selecting Representative Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Governor Romney confirmed the decline of the traditional role of vice presidential candidates as providers of geographic balance. Ryan’s selection reinforces the shift to a more policy-oriented definition of the vice presidency. This shift reflects the nationalization of our culture and politics and the increased importance of the general election debate between vice presidential candidates.

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Abolish the Minimum Required Distribution Rules

In this article, Professor Zelinsky discusses the controversy surrounding the effects of the minimum required distribution (MRD) rules after the Crash of 2008. He concludes that the MRD rules, suspended by President Bush and Congress for 2009, should be abolished permanently.

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The belated revenge of the health care Grinches

By Edward Zelinsky
It hasn’t been fun being a health care Grinch. Until recently, we health care Grinches have been the objects of bi-partisan scorn.

We have been warning that health care cost control will be painful and will entail reduced medical services and lower payments to health care providers. “Nonsense,” retorted President Obama. Taking a page from the Republican book of bromides as he plugged his health care reforms, Mr. Obama assured the nation that health care costs can be controlled painlessly, by purging “waste” and “fraud.”

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George McGovern

By Edward Zelinsky
On 15 November 1969, I was shivering on the Mall in Washington, D.C., surrounded by a band of self-proclaimed Maoists celebrating the prospect of a Viet Cong victory. This was the second “Moratorium” against the Vietnam War. While the first Moratorium in October had a decidedly mainstream flavor, the tone of the November event was markedly different. I was conflicted on that cold November day in Washington. I opposed the Vietnam War, as did the thousands of others standing on the Mall that day.

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The Westboro Church and Justice Alito: the other side of the story

By Edward Zelinsky

It is noteworthy when eight ideologically diverse justices of the U.S. Supreme Court all decide a First Amendment case the same way. Thus, Snyder v. Phelps is a noteworthy decision. The Westboro Baptist Church is well-known for its demonstrations at military funerals. Indeed, the Westboro Church, led by (and, some say, principally consisting of) the Phelps family, has the rare distinction of having been denounced by both Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee.

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The Legal and Practical Futility of State “Amazon” Laws

By Edward Zelinsky

As they scramble for tax revenue in a challenging environment, the states increasingly turn to so-called “Amazon” laws to force out-of-state internet and mail order retailers to collect tax on their sales. The Illinois General Assembly is the most recent state legislature to pass an Amazon statute. New York, Colorado, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Oklahoma have already enacted such laws while Amazon acts are pending in other state legislatures.

While they differ in important respects, all of these proposed and enacted laws share the premise that goods which are taxed when purchased in a conventional, bricks-and-mortar store should also be taxed when bought from an online or mail order retailer. This premise is compelling.

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Proud to be AARP. Kinda.

By Edward Zelinsky
Receiving my AARP membership card was one of the truly traumatic events of my life. I had marched for civil rights. I had protested the war in Vietnam. I walked the streets for Gene McCarthy. I was a legitimate Baby Boomer. How could this have happened to me?

My wiser and more self-confident spouse took it in better stride. Doris quickly became adept at pulling out her AARP card and demanding old-age discounts, as I stood sheepishly aside.

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Arab Spring, Israeli reality

By Edward Zelinsky
The world watches events in Libya, Egypt, Syria and other parts of the Arab world with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Slogans promising the quick and easy reform of an Arab Spring have given way to the harsh reality that violent autocracies are not easily overthrown. A fundamental, but politically incorrect, truth of this combustible situation is that only one Middle Eastern nation has created a functioning democratic society: Israel. Arab reformers, if they wish to create free, modern states, must terminate the Arab boycott of Israel and must instead emulate Israel.

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The Buffett Rule debate: A guide for the perplexed

By Edward Zelinsky
Although he had said it before, Warren Buffett struck a nerve with his most recent observation that his effective federal tax rate is lower than or equal to the effective federal tax rates of the other employees who work at Berkshire Hathaway’s Omaha office. Mr. Buffett’s observations have provoked extensive comments both from those supporting his position (e.g., President Obama) and those critical (e.g., the editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal). In response to Mr. Buffett’s remarks, President Obama has promulgated what he calls “the Buffett Rule,” namely, that those making

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As Maine goes, so goes Pennsylvania?

By Edward Zelinsky
In presidential elections, Nebraska and Maine today allocate one elector to the candidate who prevails in each congressional district in the state and award the remaining two electors (corresponding to the states’ U.S. Senators) to the statewide popular vote winner. All other states bestow their electoral votes as a bloc on a winner-take-all basis. In Pennsylvania, the Republican governor, senate majority leader, and speaker of the state house of representatives propose that, starting in 2012, the Keystone State emulate Nebraska and Maine and apportion one electoral vote to each of

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Warren Buffett, Taxes, FICA and Social Security

By Edward Zelinsky
Warren Buffett has again called on Congress to raise federal taxes on affluent taxpayers. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Mr. Buffett urged Congress to increase federal taxes on taxpayers with annual incomes greater than $1,000,000. As he has in the past, Mr. Buffett contrasted his effective tax rate with

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The case against pension-financed infrastructure

By Edward Zelinsky
Media reports have indicated that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been considering the use of public pension funds to finance the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge and to underwrite other infrastructure investments in the Empire State. This is a bad idea, harmful both to the governmental employees of the Empire State and to New York’s taxpayers. Using public pension monies in this fashion trades the immediate benefits of public construction for the long-term cost of underfunded public retirement plans.

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The HSA/HRA response to Hobby Lobby

By Edward Zelinsky
Few recent decisions of the US Supreme Court have engendered as much controversy as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In that case, the Court decided that a closely-held corporation’s employer-sponsored medical plan need not provide contraception if the shareholders of such corporation object to contraception on religious grounds.

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Add a fourth year to law school

By Edward Zelinsky
President Obama has joined with other critics of contemporary legal education in calling for the reduction of law school to a two year program. The President and these other critics are wrong. Indeed, the remedy they propose for the ills of legal education has it exactly backward.

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Casey Kasem and end-of-life planning

By Edward Zelinsky
The sad story of Casey Kasem’s last illness is now over. Casey Kasem was an American pop culture icon. Among his other roles, Mr. Kasen was the disc jockey host on the legendary radio program, American Top 40. He was also the voice of Shaggy Rogers of Scooby-Doo.

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