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Aside from the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is the most distinctly American of our national holidays.

As such, if we see it as more than just the day before the Christmas shopping season begins, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to reflect on the direction of the nation.

The Pilgrims who came ashore at Plymouth Rock were not the first Americans. But their story, and their relatively peaceful interactions with the Indians who welcomed them to the region, form an essential part of the national narrative for many Americans.


Los Osos, Calif.

A report from the SOA protests at Ft. Benning.

Old-fashioned paper ballots are the best guarantee of the democratic process.

The best question asked in the aftermath of the 2004 US election came from a British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, which inquired over a picture of George W. Bush, "How can 59,054,087 be so dumb?

Now, another British newspaper has answered the question. A new marketing campaign for The Weekly Guardian, one of the most respected publications in the world, features images of a dancing Bush and notes that, "Many US citizens think the world backed the war in Iraq. Maybe it's the papers they're reading."

The weekly compendium of articles and analyses of global affairs from Britain's liberal Guardian newspaper has long been regarded as an antidote to government controlled, spun and inept local media. Nelson Mandela, when he was held in South Africa's Pollsmor Prison, referred to the Weekly Guardian as a "window on the wider world."

In the pregame highlights for the next two years of Republican one-party rule, rightwing radicals dropped their towels and exposed themselves in all their naked ambition last week. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Tom DeLay's buddies voted to lower their Party's ethical standards to protect their conflict-ridden leader over the objection of moderate stalwarts like Christopher Shay.

Arm-twisted behind his back, Arlen Specter cried "Uncle" and signed a White House loyalty oath before he was allowed to replace Orrin Hatch as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a humiliation unprecedented in the history of our constitutional system of checks and balances.

(Originally published on November 22)

Days ago, I was speaking with a security consultant freshly back from a trip to Iraq, and I asked for h...

Bush has appointed Torture Guy to run the American "Justice" Department, his "work wife" to serve as America's top diplomat, and a partisan hatchet man, Porter Goss, to subject the CIA's analysts and covert operatives to loyalty oaths. It is hard to imagine how Bush's appointments could get any worse, but here are five suggestions:

Ahmed Chalabi--Ambassador to Iran. Since he's going to spy for them anyway, it'd be better to keep him inside the tent in Tehran and away from any useful information in either Iraq or the United States. Besides he could be our secret weapon against the Mullahs--as he's proven in Jordan, Iraq, and America, he is a parasite capable of seriously damaging any host nation.

James Dobson--Chief Justice. He turned out the evangelicals for Bush, he expects his "values" agenda to be rewarded or else he will turn on the Republicans, and he doesn't think Alberto Gonzales is sufficiently anti-Roe to deserve the job. Besides he's a big believer in spanking, and someone needs to protect corporal punishment from 8th amendment activist judges.

See below for an update

More than 10,000 activists from across the US--including actors Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon and musicians Amy Ray and Utah Phillips--will gather at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, this Saturday and Sunday to call for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas.

A combat training facility for Latin American soldiers, the school has served as a de-stabilizing force in Central and South America since its formation in 1946--having trained more than 60,000 soldiers in courses such as counter-insurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Graduates of the facility return to their countries to utilize their training domestically and are consistently cited for human rights violations throughout Latin America on behalf of repressive rightwing, US-supported governments.

From the slayings of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989 to the continued human rights abuses in Colombia, many of the most atrocious crimes of the past 50 years have their roots in the US-operated School of the Americas. The inhumane--and in some cases illegal--tactics taught at the institute have repeatedly been used against union organizers, educators, and religious workers.

Many American eyes were opened this past year with the Abu Ghraib revelations to the fact that the US does indeed use torture. The activists at SOA Watch have been in the vanguard of trying to halt the United States's role in propagating torture globally since the organization's founding in 1990. A grassroots group working in solidarity with the people of Latin America to close the military institute, SOA Watch stages an annual demonstration and rally and organizes lobbying, letter-writing and public awareness campaigns all year long.

Click here to learn more about SOA Watch, click here to make a contribution to support the group's efforts, click here if you'd like to join SOA Watch's Research Working Group and click here if you'd like to volunteer on one of the organization's campaigns.

Update, November 22

At least 20 people were arrested yesterday while protesting the School of the Americas. Charges filed against the demonstrators range from trespassing to "wearing a mask," a violation of a rarely invoked 1951 law originally aimed at fighting the Ku Klux Klan. Those arrested were among about a record 16,000 people who demonstrated outside the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, calling for the school to be shut down.

I was introduced to Bernard-Henri Lévy this spring at a stop on his latest book tour. It was a few minutes before he was due to face the audience.

Ask Americans to enumerate their civil liberties and they instinctively turn to freedom of speech and the press.

Also in this issue, an essay on Romare Bearden by Arthur C. Danto .

Also in this issue, Branford Marsalis talks about Romare Bearden with Adam Shatz.

A gathering of feminists is an occasion to commiserate and to strategize.

After too many years of watching the Democratic Party and its national candidates lose the crucial ground games of American politics, organized labor, activist groups and wealthy progressives int

The West is not nearly as "red" as the red/blue maps and pundits would suggest.

Sitting alone in a classroom at a Catholic all-boys high school this weekend (don't ask), I passed the time by browsing through the health textbooks stacked on the window sill.

At least when Duffy's Circus left Youghal there'd be piles of dung from the elephant and the horses.

For some time now, American political discussion has seemed to revolve around little stock phrases, such as "defining moment" (at the time of the first Gulf War), "the end of history" (at the end

The AG's to be one Alberto Gonzales--
Dependable, actually loyal über alles.
Though we can't say "Viva!"
For him on Geneva
(Conventions he'd treat

From a permanent campaign to a permanent election?