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Chronicling the final, devastating months of the Civil War, E.L.
Doctorow's new novel, The March, reveals the author's complex
love for an earlier version of America.

In Andrew Jackson: A Life and Times, the frontier president
is cast as a one-man beacon for democracy. But Jackson's core belief
was a fervent defense of land.

The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
expertly balances the roots of a political revolution: the impact of a
few key leaders and the lives and aspirations of ordinary citizens
engaging with the government for the first time.

As I noted previously, it has been interesting to watch Karl Rove's defense evol...

When Oscar Torres saw a Venezuelan band perform the song "Casas de carton" ("cardboard houses") in 2001, he knew that he wanted to "write something about the song" that he remembered so well from his childhood days growing up in war-torn and impoverished El Salvador. Soon after, Torres started working on a screenplay that ultimately served as the basis for the film Innocent Voices which will begin playing in 11 US cities on October 14.

The film has received critical acclaim after being released in Latin America and shown at this year's Amnesty International Film Festival. It deserves a wide audience in the United States. Directed by the talented Mexican filmmaker Luis Mandoki, Innocent Voices tells the story of Torres' embattled youth. The narrative is exquisitely told through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy named Chava whose character is based on Torres' boyhood. (Chava, appropriately, is a nickname for "Salvador.") Innocent Voices depicts the horror of war and its impact on children caught in the middle of El Salvador's civil strife in the 1980s.

There are no "good guys" in this conflict (though it's fair to say that the government paramilitary militias are definitely the "worse guys.") The film shows the government's soldiers hunting down and conscripting all 12-year-old boys in the village to serve in the military. But the bullets of the rebel-led Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) kill children just as effectively as the guns of the right-wing government's forces. And then there are the US soldiers who train and arm the government's military and who come across as depraved and without remorse.

From the beginning, the Iraq War has been driven by perceptions. Why do mainstream media continue to avoid reporting that a majority of Iraqis want US occupation forces to leave?

An endorsement from James Dobson is scary enough, but the vituperative attack on Harriet Miers by the right raises other questions about why some conservatives are agitated about her nomination.

Corporate power and money control our lives and our
politics as never before. As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for Harriet Miers's
nomination hearings, here are ten legal questions worth pondering about
corporations, individuals and the law.

I'm a Tom Frank fan. I think he's a wonderful and passionate writer. But, now a respected political scientist is arguing that the "Great Backlash" Frank chronicled in his last book, in which "conservatives won the heart of America" and created a "dominant political coalition" by convincing Kansans and blue-collar, working-class people to vote against their own economic interests in order to defend traditional cultural values against bicoastal elites "isn't actually happening--at least, not in anything like the way Frank portrays." (Thanks to Doug Henwood--editor of the invaluable Left Business Observer and longtime Nation contributing editor--for turning me on to this new study.)

In a fascinating paper called "What's the Matter With What's the Matter with Kansas?", Princeton professor Larry Bartels uses data from National Election Study (NES) surveys to test Frank's thesis. He examines class-related patterns of issue preferences, partisanship, and voting over the past half-century. Bartels concludes that the white working class hasn't moved right and that "moral values" are not pushing them to vote Republican.

Moreover, for the most part, voters' economic and cultural attitudes are either both liberal or both conservative rather than the bifurcated split Frank sees. Bartels also disproves the argument that there's been a long-term decline in turnout.

The Plame/CIA leak case is getting what all good scandals need: props.

We now have the "missing notebook" and the "missing email." The "missing note...

Sally Baron is not alone in the afterlife.

The Wisconsin woman whose August, 2003, obituary created a nation sensation with Americans who had come to resent George W. Bush's disreputable presidency -- it included the line "Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush," inspiring t-shirts, badges and, as of this week, more than 980,000 unique references on the Internet -- will be pleased to make the acquaintance of one Theodore Roosevelt Heller.

Heller, who died last week in his native Chicago was recalled in yesterday's editions of the Chicago Tribune with an obituary that read:

In 1999 Cintas Corp, the largest uniformrental provider in the country, signed a contract with Hayward,California to become the officiallaunderer of the city's uniforms. As a condition in the contract,Cintas agreed to comply with Hayward's living wage ordinance. Problemwas, Cintas didn't comply--in fact, for the next four years it paidworkers far less than Hayward's requirement.

It was a long time coming, but Cintas employees have finally gottentheir fair share. On September 23, an Alameda County judge orderedthe uniform giant to pay 219 workers more than $1 million of backwages in what is being hailed as a landmark decision. Paul Sonn ofNYU's Brennan Center for Justice, called it "the first large scaleenforcement effort involving a large group of workers in a classaction suit."

When workers filed suit against Cintas in 2003, the company backed outof its contract with Hayward and refused to pay the back wages.Cintas, whose headquarters lie in Cincinnati, Ohio, argued thatHawyard's living wage ordinance carried no weight beyond city lines.But judge Steven Brick upheld the living wage law and allowed the caseto proceed, stating "Just as cities have permissibly enactedrequirements that city contractors have an affirmative action plan orprovide equal benefits to employees' domestic partners, the city ofHayward can require that its service contractors pay their employeeswho perform work on a contract with the city to be paid at the ratesset forth in the living wage ordinance."

Geophysicists are debating whether recent catastrophic storms signal an
abrupt climate change that will trigger seasons of permanent
icelessness in the Atlantic and return the earth to the torrid chaos of
an earlier era.

When the FBI hunted down and killed one of its most wanted fugitives in September, outrage over the botched operation may have energized the Puerto Rican independence movement.

Email is flying, cell phones are humming, Blackberries are bursting. All with the news--broken by Associated Press--that Rove asked to testify one mo' time ...

It is fair to say that a good many Americans perceive George W. Bush to be a doltish incompetent who does not know the first thing about fighting terrorism.

But, whatever the president's actual level of competence may be, it is now clear that he has even less respect for the intelligence of the American people than his critics have for his cognitive capabilities.

As the president struggles this week to make a case for the staying the course that leads deeper into the quagmire that is Iraq, he is, remarkably, selling a warmed over version of the misguided take on terrorism that he peddled before this disasterous mission was launched.

A History of Violence examines one man's attempt to protect his family from the murderers drifting into his small Indiana town. Good Night, and Good Luck presents a portrait of Senator Joseph McCarthy to a generation that
knows him only as the front end of an "ism."

For prose scholar Viktor Shklovsky, who lived by the
code of style and studied its depths, an unhappy love affair can be as
much a personal tragedy as a plot device for more writing.

Critics have been trumpeting Benjamin Kunkel as the
voice of his generation. But his first novel, Indecision, about
a 28-year-old empty vessel, is little more than an empty vessel itself.

As Asian countries grow in economic power, Africa lags behind the developed world. Can it ever catch up? Will corruption, geography and disease continue to hold it back?

The Bush Administration's stance on China has gone from worry about
their economic strength and oil consumption to full-on preparation for
a new cold war.

People of the Gulf Coast should build community networks to ensure they
have a voice in rebuilding discussions usually limited to real-estate
developers and government officials.

The Gulf Coast hurricanes could dislodge decades-long conservative
domination of US politics, but only if Democrats offer an alternative
vision of government and society to voters.

Guest worker programs are a threat to the communities Central American
migrants forge as they sweep across the US. These programs undermine
the economic rights of immigrants and natives alike.