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The Nation

May 28, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

Consumer activist Ralph Nader has made a significant charge against former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe -- that of attempting to bribe a political foe in order to influence an election result.

Remarkably, McAuliffe, now a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia, is not denying it.

That ought to concern Americans as much as the wrongdoing itself.

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John Nichols
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May 28, 2009
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

Last night, Rachel Maddow had Slate columnist Dahlia Lithwick on her MSNBC show to discuss the way that conservatives are trying to paint Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal whom the president selected more for her inspiring life story than her judicial chops. Debunking the spin, Lithwick argued that Sotomayor is a moderate judge, well within the judicial mainstream who is highly qualified to be nominated to the high court.


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"The real problem for Sotomayor's opponents," as Lithwick wrote at Slate, "is that anyone who has closely read her opinions won't find much to build a case on. As the indefatigable team at SCOTUSblog has chronicled here and here, on the appeals court, Judge Sotomayor has taken a fairly moderate, text-based approach to the cases before her, placing her much closer to retiring Justice David Souter than to the late Justice William Brennan on the judicial activism spectrum."

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May 28, 2009
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman

We've got a new Think Again column called "Cheney's Post Presidency" here and I did a "Welcome to Washington" post for Mr. Abbas for The Daily Beast thismorning here.

(And while we have your attention, don't miss the great Charles Pierceon the great Steve Earle singing the music of the great Townes van Zandt here.Pierce and the rest of the mail will be here tomorrow and don't miss thedocumentary Bill Moyers is showing this weekend, listed below. And if Iwere you, I'd also catch the PBS showing of the Clapton/Winwood concertat the Garden tonight, unless you're planning to buy it, as I did.)

In the meantime...

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May 28, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

Five days before the crucial elections in Iran on June 12, voters go to the polls in another Middle East country: Lebanon. The stakes in Lebanon are high, since it's looking more and more likely that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite fundamentalist group, and its allies will win a majority and take control of the government in Beirut. That would create a fundamental choice for the Obama administration: does the United States continue to have contact with, and send military aid to, a Lebanese government controlled by Israel's implacable foe?

Last year, in a power-sharing deal brokered by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, Hezbollah was given a share of power in the Lebanese state proportional to its strength in parliament and on the ground, after massive pro-Hezbollah demonstrations rocked the country.

Expect a lot of outside meddling in Lebanon during the next two weeks -- on all sides.

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Bob Dreyfuss
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May 28, 2009
Laura Flanders
Laura Flanders

 

It will be an historic occasion when Sonia Sotomayor takes her seat. Assuming she's confirmed, she'll be the first woman of color and the first person from the Latino community to become a Supreme Court justice.

Announcing this, his first top court appointment, President Obama put it clearly enough: "When Sonia Sotomayor ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the highest court of the land, America will have taken another important step towards realizing the ideal that is etched above its entrance: Equal Justice under the law."

It's pretty simple and kind of stirring stuff. There aren't royals and non-royals, just human beings. And those two words: Equal and Justice.

Equal. Equality is indivisible. It either is or it isn't. We learned that, from among others, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Justice. Those blind, balancing scales -- they either balance or they're tilted. It's not rocket science.

It's hard not to be moved by Judge Sotomayor's story: from Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx to the highest court in the land. Just as the swearing-in of the first African American president inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life -- to wake up early and stand on a very frigid National Mall to watch his inauguration. So, people of all sorts feel good about the nomination of Sotomayor. As Obama said, it feels as if the nation's making progress.

But what a paradoxical day. At the very same time that one court was moving (possibly) towards an ideal; in another they were stepping back from it.

While the President was lifting up the nation's professed ideals in Washington, in California, justices approved discrimination against same sex -couples under the law, with only one dissent from the lone Democrat.

There aren't a lot of ways of going at this.

Separate isn't equal.

Justice is balanced or tilted.

If Barack Obama doesn't want to be remembered as the President of paradox, it's time he stood up and provided leadership. If you believe in those words etched above the Supreme Court entrance, Mr. President, stand up for all Americans to ascend those marble steps -- to marriage, to the court - Those words again are Equal Justice.

 

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) on cable (8 pm ET on Channel 67 in Manhattan and other cities) and online daily at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com.

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The Notion
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May 27, 2009
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Okay, I know the stealing of "American Idol 2009" isn't on par with the stealing of the 2000 election.

But for American Idol fan(atic)s, and I confess I am one, Wednesday's New York Times report that AT&T workers in Arkansas, Kris Allen's home state, "might have influenced the outcome of the this year's competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Allen" deserves to be investigated by a non-partisan commission with full subpoena power.

(Details of the voting support provided by AT&T representatives were first reported last week in an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)

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May 27, 2009
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

The Nation's Jonathan Schell has spent the better part of a enormously productive career making the case for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The new president seems more open to this message than any of his Oval Office predecessors, stating clearly on the campaign trail that, "This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons." And Obama isn't alone, nor can nuclear abolition still be painted as a partisan liberal issue when former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, among many other credentialed conservatives, have joined the cause.

Huge practical problems have to first be addressed before the threat of these weapons of mass destruction can be eliminated but there's more reason for hope than perhaps ever before. Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote about an important and inspiring new international group gaining traction, Global Zero, which launched in Europe a few months ago with a goal of taking on these problems and eliminating all nuclear weapons in 20 to 25 years.

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May 27, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

There is little doubt that Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, when and if she is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, will be a role model.

As the first Latina on the bench, she would be both a jurist and a constant reminder that this is a richly-diverse and multicultural country that is at its best when we encourage the children of all Americans -- no matter what their race, ethnicity, gender or class -- to study hard, work hard and achieve great things.

National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguía said it best after President Obama announced his selection of Judge Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter.

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John Nichols
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May 27, 2009
Roane Carey
Roane Carey

It is an assumption almost universally acknowledged among the liberal American intelligentsia that while the Israeli occupation is repressive and abhorrent, Israel itself is an open, fully democratic state with a lively, argumentative and very free press.

Perish the thought. After spending three months in Israel on a fellowship, I can say that nearly every member of the liberal Israeli intelligentsia I've talked to says something quite different: that their country's media are seriously diseased, failing to provide the minimal level of fair reporting and serious critical inquiry that are crucial pillars of an open society.

Americans who don't read Hebrew or watch Israeli television news may get a skewed view of the spectrum, assuming that Ha'aretz, the smaller-circulation daily read mostly by intellectuals and the political classes--and foreigners, who devour its English-language edition online--is representative, and that critical columnists and reporters like Gideon Levy, Akiva Eldar and Amira Hass are sprinkled throughout the Israeli media. It isn't, and they aren't. The larger-circulation dailies Yediot and Ma'ariv, as well as the Jerusalem Post and television news, are tilted much more to the right--just like the mainstream US media, which certainly have nothing to teach Israel in this regard.

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The Notion
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