According to the

American Farm Bureau Federation

, the total cost of sixteen basic grocery items increased by about 8 percent between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. Some price hikes you might see in your grocery bill include:

§ Five-pound bag of flour:
 up 69 cents to $2.39;

§ One pound of cheddar cheese:
 up 61 cents to $4.71;

§ Thirty-two-ounce bottle of corn oil:
 up 58 cents to $3.01;

§ One dozen large eggs:
 up 55 cents to $2.16;

§ Thirty-two-ounce jar of mayonnaise:
 up 22 cents to $3.14;

§ Five-pound bag of russet potatoes:
 up 18 cents to $2.47;

§ Twenty-ounce loaf of white bread:
 up 16 cents to $1.78;

§ One pound of apples:
 up 13 cents to $1.40;

§ One pound of ground chuck:
 up 4 cents to $2.73.


Mississippi Democrat

Travis Childers

almost scored a historic upset in an April 22 special election for what had been a Republican House seat. A populist critic of free trade and the Iraq War, he took 49 percent of the vote, more than any other candidate. In most states, that would have sent him to Congress. But Mississippi holds a runoff whenever a candidate falls short of 50 percent, so Childers will face Republican

Greg Davis

on May 13. Scared by the Democrat’s strength, Davis is airing ads that blast Childers for accepting the endorsement of “liberal Barack Obama.” But it’s not Obama’s liberalism that is emphasized; it’s his former pastor. Juxtaposing Childers’s face with footage of the Rev.

Jeremiah Wright

, the ad tells white swing voters: “When Obama’s pastor cursed America, blaming us for 9/11, Childers said nothing. When Obama ridiculed rural folks for clinging to guns and religion, Childers said nothing…. He took Obama’s endorsement over our conservative values.” Ouch!

The point of the ad is twofold: Republicans want to beat Childers, but they also hope to frighten Democrats into distancing themselves from the party’s likely presidential nominee. The strategy seems to be working; Childers is saying he never accepted Obama’s support and has denounced the “lies and attacks linking me to politicians I don’t know.” It’s all part of National Republican Congressional Committee chairman

Tom Cole

‘s elaborate strategy to “nationalize” House races, bolstering weak GOP contenders by turning the contests into “referendums…on Obama”–and, of course, Wright. Anyone who thinks the Obama-Clinton primary race has been unsettling should recognize that the campaign season is about to get a whole lot uglier.   JOHN NICHOLS