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CAN WE TALK? GUESS NOT

Los Angeles

"We have ways to make you talk."

GLASGOW -- The red shirts worn by activists with the Scottish Socialist Party featured the phrase "Axis of Evil," a reference to President Bush's identification of nations that were on the wrong side of his "with-us-or-against-us" equation. In parentheses next to the phrase was the word "revised" and beneath it were outlines of Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the Glasgow Kelvin parliamentary constituency.

"We did not want any confusion. We're not with Bush. We're not with Blair. And we were not for their war," said Andy McPake, a Glasgow University student who wore the red shirt and a yellow "Vote SSP -- Stop the War" sticker on the night of May 1, as he watched votes being counted in elections for the Scottish Parliament.

Though the elections for the separate parliament that serves Scotland were about more than just the war that played out during the course of this year's campaign, a good many Scots shared McPake's view that the balloting offered an opportunity to send Blair and Bush a message. Polling before the election suggested that a substantial number of traditional Labour Party voters would bolt because of their anger over Blair's prowar stance, and that appears to be precisely what happened. The militantly antiwar SSP, whose leader Tommy Sheridan appeared frequently at antiwar rallies throughout the campaign and continued to wear a "No More Wars" pin even after the fighting in Iraq slackened, had held a single seat in the previous parliament. On May 1, the SSP won six seats. The Greens, who shared the antiwar stance if not the radical passions of the SSP activists, won seven seats. And independents who expressed anti-war sentiments took several more positions.

Violence, Hannah Arendt said, destroys power. The United States is moving quickly down this path.

There's no denying that George Bush knows how to stage patriotic spectacles at sea, but the reality back on shore is not so technicolor pretty. Did you know that Top Gun Bush is poised to become the first President since Herbert Hoover to preside over job destruction rather than job creation? Thanks to Daniel Gross's article, recently posted on Slate, we also know that Bush's last tax cut, the largest cut in American history, has so far "cost" America 1.7 million jobs and counting.

For a good comparison of how Bush's record of job destruction compares to previous presidencies since World War II, check out the following compilation by the International Association of Machinists, which looked at the average growth in monthly employment during the terms of the last fifteen presidential administrations.

Truman First Term: 60,000 jobs gained per month

Truman Second Term: 113,000 jobs gained per month

Eisenhower First Term: 58,000 jobs gained per month

Eisenhower Second Term: 15,000 jobs gained per month

Kennedy: 122,000 jobs gained per month

Johnson: 206,000 jobs gained per month

Nixon First Term: 129,000 jobs gained per month

Nixon/Ford : 105,000 jobs gained per month

Carter: 218,000 jobs gained per month

Reagan First Term: 109,000 jobs gained per month

Reagan Second Term: 224,000 jobs gained per month

G. Bush: 52,000 jobs gained per month

Clinton First Term: 242,000 jobs gained per month

Clinton Second Term: 235,000 jobs gained per month

G.W. Bush : 69,000 jobs LOST per month

When the nine declared Democratic candidates for president gathered together for the first debate of the pre-preseason on Saturday night in South Carolina, ...

Many Russians who fled Brezhnev's USSR because they could not speak
freely are in a state of shock in today's America. One is Roman Kaplan,
an intellectual from Leningrad (now St.

Don't go looking for the compact discs of country singer Toby Keith and jazz player Ellis Marsalis, Jr., in the same section of a music megastore. Don't expect to find a concert venue where downtown poet Patti Smith will share the stage with uptown pianoman Billy Joel. And don't even imagine that you will be able to tune in that magic radio frequency where Neil Diamond's croons, Pearl Jam's rocks and Van Dyke Parks explore the musical byways of Americana.

An examination of the CD collections of most Americans will still reveal the sort of diverse tastes that find room for the acoustic folk rock of the Indigo Girls, the alternative rock of Michael Stipe and REM, and the classic rock of Don Henley and the Eagles. But an increasingly corporate and commercial media rejects this very American penchant for diversity in favor of tightly formatted radio stations, lowest-common-denominator marketing strategies and the sort of homogenized and sanitized music that sounds as if it was created by a poll or a focus group -- as opposed to an artist.

Musicians of all stripes are starting to recognize that the galloping consolidation of American media -- especially in radio, where most Americans were first introduced to their favorite songs -- has reduced the ability of recording artists to take the risks that reshape our consciousness, to explore new ideas and new sounds and, ultimately, to be heard. Since Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which removed barriers to the number of radio stations one media conglomerate could own, the largest of these conglomerates -- Texas-based Clear Channel -- has grabbed more than 1,200 stations and shaped a musical mix characterized by the homogenization of playlists, the death of programming diversity, less local programming, reduced public access to the airwaves and rapidly declining public satisfaction with radio and the music it plays.

Conservative talking head and former Bush speechwriter David Frum was quoted yesterday by Howard Kurtz in his online Washington Post media column criticizing my "amazing breath control" and "dazzling long-windedness" during a recent TV program on which the two of us appeared.

I must apologize if Frum felt deprived of his fair share of air time. As we all know, conservative pundits tend to be shy and reserved. Pity Frum and his comrades--Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Fred Barnes--for not being able to express themselves fully in the face of the widespread "microphone-hugging stunts" of the "hard left." Next time, I am on-air with Frum, I promise--really, I do--to throttle back so that his side finally has a chance to reach the public. And perhaps he will take that opportunity to engage the arguments at hand and not worry so much my breathing. Though if he is really interested, I can send him the name of a good yoga instructor.

Though polls consistently show a majority of Americans supporting freedom of choice, abortion rights are facing their greatest attack since the Supreme Court decision Roe V.

Winning a war or two goes a long way toward redefining a man.

As the cable news networks enthusiastically covered George W. Bush's trip to the USS <...

The Nation announces the winners of Discovery/The Nation, the
Joan Leiman Jacobson Poetry Prize of the Unterberg Poetry Center, 92nd
Street Y.

International cinema has an irresistible new pair of reprobates:
middle-aged brothers who can do no right in their lives and no wrong
before the camera.

Nina Simone, who died at the age of 70 in late April at her home in the
south of France, was the Pasionaria of American song in the civil rights
era.

I didn't have to wait long for Ziad, the plumber, to come to my house.
It had been a year since the current Palestinian intifada broke out in
September 2000, and unemployment was at record leve

This essay is excerpted from E.L. Doctorow's new book, Reporting
the Universe
(Harvard).

Freshly unearthed documents may force the AFL-CIO to face up to past betrayals.

How the Bush regime is effecting the transformation to a fascist-like state.

Now that the regime of Saddam Hussein has been overthrown, the Bush
Administration, like a submarine that, having successfully sunk one
ship, resurfaces its periscope to find others, is looking