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The Nation

The Nation is America’s oldest weekly news magazine, and one of the most widely read magazines in the world for politics, news and culture.


  • April 27, 2007

    Reality Check

    Want a reality check on the implications of the Supreme Court verdict in Gonzales v. Carhart? Throwing out thirty years of legal precedent, the court declared that Congress has an interest in preserving fetal life over and above any implications for women's health. (No wonder Katha Pollitt's "upset." Her latest column Regrets Only is dead-right.) Which women will feel the impact? All women who ever become pregnant and want to make decisions for themselves. As Lynn Paltrow, of National Pregnant Women's Advocates told RadioNation 4/21/07, this is a decision that has potential to affect every woman who chooses to give birth at home, employ a midwife, have -- or not have -- a c-section. The implications for women's rights are devastating, not only for women who choose to abort but also for those who want to have choices as they carry their pregnancies to term.

    Then there is the doctor's perspective. During the radio program, one ob-gyn called in from Seattle. She dared not use her name. Here's the transcript of that call:

    RadioNation: How will this decision affect you?
    Ob-gyn: The decision to perform 2nd term abortions was not easy for me. It's not an easy procedure to do, but I do it out of compassion for fellow human beings. How this will affect me is I will have to watch women who are in dire need of this procedure go without or go with much riskier procedures which include inducing labor in someone their 2nd trimester, or actual abdominal surgery.

    The Nation

  • April 26, 2007

    Enough Mommy Wars and Manifestos

    I'm not going to hold forth on Leslie Bennetts' new book, The Feminine Mistake, because I haven't read it (that hasn't stopped plenty of others in the blogosphere from weighing in), and I don't disagree with Bennetts' premise that dropping out of the workforce to raise kids can be financially risky for women, especially if they get divorced. But cyberkerfuffles over this book are raging, as they are over Linda Hirshman's op-ed in yesterday's Times, "Back to Work She Should Go," ordering stay-at-home moms back on the job (yet again: Hirshman is also the author of Get To Work: A Manifesto for the Women of the World). Hirshman has her panties in a twist about a study showing that slightly fewer married mothers of infants under a year old are working now than in 1997. She's particularly cheezed that -- surprise! -- rich, well-educated women are the most likely not to work when their children are babies. (The actual study, by Sharon R. Cohany and Emy Sok, economists with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is interesting but hardly alarming: the percentage of married moms of infants who were working fell six points, to 53.3 percent in 2000 -- the beginning of a recession! -- and since then, according to the authors "has shown no clear trend." The labor force participation rate for married mothers of school-aged children has fallen only 2 percentage points since 1997: 75 % of them were on the job as of 2005.)

    In any case, isn't it time for writers and academics to stop telling other women how to live their lives? Our workdays are much more flexible than most people's, and although we do face some difficulties -- huge expenses of health insurance, if you're a freelancer, and of child care -- we're lucky: we get to do work we enjoy and spend lots of time with our kids. Many people (men and women) don't get to do either of those things. It is obnoxious when Caitlin Flanagan waxes judgmental of other working mothers, from her fortunate position as a writer for the New Yorker and Atlantic magazines, working from a comfortably large home in Connecticut with several nannies. But it is also obnoxious when pundits like Hirshman wax condescending about mothers who choose not to work; she wonders who will be the "role models" for future generations of girls, as if women who take a little time off when their babies are under a year can't be role models. There's something elitist -- and a little disturbing -- about the clear subtext here: the labor of childcare is all very well for impoverished immigrants but a waste of time for women with Ivy League degrees. Hirshman -- who retired as the Allen/Berenson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brandeis University -- doesn't care much, either, about the value or content of other people's work, indeed, in past writings she has criticized women for taking pay cuts to teach or work for social justice, when to truly advance the cause of gender equality, they should be sharking it out in the corporate world. I'm guessing that neither Flanagan's, nor Hirshman's, nor Leslie Bennetts' work life looks very much like that of a Starbucks barista -- or a hedge fund manager. Or that of your average suburban office park commuter.

    Much more helpful than the exhortations of pundits are strategies to improve life for regular working women who are not among the super-rich, nanny-hiring, private-school-volunteering set -- and aren't writers or retired professors, either. Moms Rising, the Internet organizing group, along with many other activists and policy organizations, have been fighting to get a Paid Family Leave bill passed in Washington State -- and this week, they won! Now that bill is headed to the governor's desk, where it is expected to be signed in early May.

    The Nation

  • April 26, 2007

    Give ‘Em Hell, Harry

    The Senate majority leader is being portrayed as an awkward duck who doesn't look the part and can't talk it either. Harry Reid, it's true, is given to saying the most inappropriate stuff, opinions that disturb Washington pundits and the third-string political consultants who appear of TV talker shows. They tut-tut and scold. The kinder ones think he must have misspoken. Others insist Democrats should give him the hook and replace Reid with a more responsible leader.

    What did the man say? "This war is lost." "The President is in a state of denial." A few years back, Reid shockingly called Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington."

    What do these and other outrageous remarks have in common? They are all true.A political leader who speaks the truth in unambiguous ways is naturally suspect in the capital city. But he ought to become a hero in the hinterland where citizens dwell. People who care need to rally around Harry Reid now and express their feelings because the political establishment is coming after him. White House slime agents are leading the campaign

    The Nation

  • April 26, 2007

    Brits to Vote on Blairism (and Trash Collection)

    Britons go to the polls May 3 to vote in local elections that will have a sizeable impact on the way that Tony Blair's ten-year premiership ends. Blair, who has been Prime Minister since May 2, 1997, has promised he will step down from the post before this year's Labour Party Conference, due in September. I've spent several weeks in the UK since early March-- and was back there again early this week. In much of the country, people just seem eager for him to go, and quickly. But he has hung on and hung on.

    His decision to join President Bush in invading Iraq in 2003-- and the slavish support he has given to Bush ever since then-- are the main cause of this disaffection.

    Now, Labour looks set to do very poorly in next week's local elections, and that performance is expected to bring Blair's Labour colleagues to the point where finally they tell him that-- for the sake of the party-- it is time for him to go. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown now looks more secure than ever to replace Blair as head of the party (and therefore, also of the government.)

    The Nation

  • April 26, 2007

    McCain: Gonzales Should Quit

    How much appeal does an anti-Alberto Gonzales appeal have with grassroots Republicans?

    A lot, if John McCain's political calculus is to be trusted.

    On the day that the Arizona senator relaunched his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency, McCain pronounced himself to have been "very disappointed in (the Attorney General's) performance" before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The Nation

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  • April 25, 2007

    Rush’s “Magic Negro” Routine

    Rush Limbaugh has obviously learned nothing from the outrage and anger unleashed by Don Imus' unfortunate "nappy headed ho's" remark. Never one to shy away from unfunny "humor", Limbaugh recently played a song parody on his radio show in which an Al Sharpton impersonator (played with stereotypical gusto) sings a song filled with idiotic assumptions about black people and dripping with ignorance called "Barack the Magic Negro".

    Perhaps this kind of garbage (set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon") is someone's cup of tea. Limbaugh does have millions of listeners and they do adore of much of what the man says. Whether he's lampooning former President Clinton's daughter or suggesting Michael J. Fox is exaggerating the effects of his Parkinson's disease. So I don't expect his listeners to desert him over this. What does surprise me is that Vice President Dick Cheney among other major conservatives is still a regular guest on Limbaugh's show and I don't anticipate the kind of repudiations that Don Imus received over his transgression from him or anyone else on the right with regards to Limbaugh.

    It is true that Imus was chided because he was on a national cable news network and was perhaps less associated with being a provocateur than Limbaugh. But I still think Cheney and his ilk should refuse to appear on Limbaugh's show from now on. I wonder, will there be any outcry? Are people becoming so desensitized to this now that they just don't care about the inevitable phony apology and/or Al Sharpton protest. I'd like to see calls for Limbaugh's removal not just from the black community but from the supporters of the president and vice-president who are not racist, who don't find "jokes" like "Barack The Magic Negro" funny.

    The Nation

  • April 25, 2007

    Mustansiriya U. and Virginia Tech

    Last January 16th, a car bomb blew up near an entrance to Mustansiriya University in Baghdad -- and then, as rescuers approached, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd. In all, at least 60 Iraqis, mostly female students leaving campus for home, were killed and more than 100 wounded. Founded in 1232 by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir, it was, Juan Cole informs us, "one of the world's early universities." And this wasn't the first time it had seen trouble. "It was disrupted by the Mongol invasion of 1258."

    Just six weeks later, on February 25, again according to Cole, "A suicide bomber with a bomb belt got into the lobby of the School of Administration and Economy of Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and managed to set it off despite being spotted at the last minute by university security guards. The blast killed 41 and wounded a similar number according to late reports, with body parts everywhere and big pools of blood in the foyer as students were shredded by the high explosives." The bomber in this case was a woman.

    In terms of body count, those two mass slaughters added up to more than three Virginia Techs; and, on each of those days, countless other Iraqis died including, on the January date, at least thirteen in a blast involving a motorcycle-bomb and then a suicide car-bomber at a used motorcycle market in the Iraqi capital. Needless to say, these stories passed in a flash on our TV news and, in our newspapers, were generally simply incorporated into run-of-bad-news-and-destruction summary pieces from Iraq the following day. No rites, no ceremonies, no special presidential statements, no Mustansiriya T-shirts. No attempt to psychoanalyze the probably young Sunni jihadis who carried out these mad acts, mainly against young Shiite students. No healing ceremonies, no offers to fly in psychological counselors for the traumatized students of Mustansiriya University or the daily traumatized inhabitants of Baghdad -- those who haven't died or fled.

    The Nation

  • April 25, 2007

    Kucinich: Impeachment is the Right Response

    Congressman Dennis Kucinich has now filed his three articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney, and the Ohio Democrat is clearly serious about the holding the vice president to account for manipulating intelligence to fabricate a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, manipulating intelligence to fabricate a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and openly threatened aggression against Iran absent any real threat to the the United States.

    Kucinich's House website contains the text of the resolution, H.R. 333, along with pages of documentation supporting the articles, a summary of impeachment procedures, and a copy of the congressman's letter to the vice president.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Kucinich explained his initiative at a Capitol Hill press conference that he began by delivering the following statement:

    The Nation

  • April 24, 2007

    Earth’s Altered States

    Run like hell! Floods, droughts and food collapses are only a few of the dire consequences of climate change outlined by a new report. Will life soon resemble a never-ending Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie?

    The Nation

  • April 24, 2007

    The US, Denial and the Culture of Violence

    Why does America only care about certain people's deaths?

    The Nation