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The Nation

July 20, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Behind each sweet victory, there is usually a sweet idea.

So it is heartening to see that The Roosevelt Institution, the nation's first student think tank, has been channeling its focus on just that: crafting ideas to improve the world.

"One year ago, representatives of progressive college students across America came together at the Roosevelt Policy Expo in DC and at the FDR Home in Hyde Park, NY, to discuss the most pressing issues facing our generation," says the description on the organizations web site. "After setting ourselves three challenges, we returned back to our college and university campuses and performed a year's worth of public policy research … As the year came to a close, we selected the best 25 ideas that we wanted to bring to the public policy discussion."

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July 19, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

The Bush Administration, in advance of a much-hyped Middle East conference in September, continues to push a "West Bank first" strategy in the occupied territories that confines Gaza to a Hamas-led wasteland.

That plan now has at least one high-profile American critic: Colin Powell.

"I don't think you can just cast them into outer darkness and try to find a solution to the problems of the region without taking to account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community," Powell said today.

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The Notion
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July 19, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Yesterday afternoon I had one of the most moving experiences in my time here as editor. It was on a conference call with readers and friends committed to helping The Nation deal with the "Great Postal Crisis of 2007."

Let me backtrack for a moment. In these last weeks, the response from thousands of people to our plea for help as we face this crisis has been nothing short of astonishing. When we turned to our loyal readers and friends, we expected your contributions to help just a little to pay the $500,000 increase in our annual postage bill. (NOTE: This blog was updated May 22, 2008, to correct an error. I originally referred to our $500,000 postage bill.) But your overwhelming response has humbled us--and it has also emboldened us in our fight to overcome this corporate-driven, Time-Warner drafted, unfair and anti-democratic rate increase.

On Wednesday afternoon, Teresa Stack, John Nichols, Bob McChesney and I "met" with 100 of you on an hour-long conference call--to discuss our thoughts and plans, hear your questions and ideas, and thank you in person. There was a powerful sense of community--of allies and supporters who understand how important it is to invest in a strong, free, independent and truth-telling media. The questions that poured in were savvy, on-target and revealed how informed all of you are about the threat facing small, independent media. Your calls flooded in from across the country--from Illinois and Florida, to California and North Carolina. (There was even a call from Nova Scotia.) A caller from Northern Georgia identified herself as "a member of an oppressed minority" --a liberal in one of the reddest of red states. "Keep sending us courage," she implored. "Tell us what to do. Not everyone wants more Time-Warner!"

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July 19, 2007
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury is in the midst of a 37-city tour to promote his Starbury line of shoes and clothing for Steve and Barry's. The sneakers cost just $14.95 a pair and are designed as an alternative to far higher priced kicks endorsed by celebrity athletes and made by Nike, Reebok, Adidas and other companies. (The concept is similar to recent fashion lines launched by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and renowned designer Isaac Mizrahi, who offer cheap-chic clothing for about $20.)

Marbury has said his venture is driven by memories of growing up in Brooklyn and not being able to afford the latest shoes. He says his motivation was also rooted in discussions he had with Knicks coach Isaiah Thomas about the civil rights movement and Marbury's eventual legacy.

Hoping that his discount sneaker idea will become popular, Marbury has gone as far to prove his point as playing in his own sneakers in all his NBA games last season. The idea of $15 quality shoes has been an idea of Marbury's for a long time according to the New York Knicks point guard. In fact he was the first one to approach Steve & Barry's with the idea. The company had previously been popular for university and college retailing. The shoes are manufactured in China but there is a third party involved to prevent sweatshop conditions.

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July 19, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

On so-called philosophical grounds, President Bush opposes health care for children. A bipartisan group of Senators want to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $60 billion over five years, covering 3.3 million additional low-income children. Bush will only except half of that, saying "when you expand eligibility...you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government."

So the President is for children's healthcare--as long as we don't spend too much on it and private insurance companies reap the benefits. Anything less will prompt a White House veto.

That came as news to conservative Republicans Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, cosponsors of the Senate's bill. "It's disappointing, even a little unbelievable, to hear talk about Administration officials wanting a veto of a legislative proposal they haven't even seen yet," Hatch and Grassley said on July 12th. In a follow-up release yesterday, they called the President's proposal a "non-starter."

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The Notion
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July 18, 2007
E.J. Graff

Oh dear, the bell's been rung on another round of the Mommy Wars. According to a new Pew survey, more Americans think mothers shouldn't work full time, and more mothers think that working part-time would be ideal. And without noticing that this "increase" falls within the statistical margin of error and might not exist at all, the news media have raced in bravely to explain that this means something about the future of a) children, b) feminism, c) America, d), the workplace, or e) all of the above.

I've written about the Mommy Wars and the opt-out myth elsewhere. (Feel free to click over there for some serious media critique.) Meanwhile, here are a few things to think about that I haven't seen written about.

--What do the kids think? This survey was all about adults' beliefs, guilts, and cultural attitudes, not about what the kids want from their parents. The social scientists who do ask the kids find that young adults who grew up in dual-earner households also want their own children to grow up with two working parents. However, those who grew up with full-time, stay-at-home mothers are evenly divided. Could it be that having nothing to do but hover over your kids isn't necessarily good for you or for them? (Check out NYU Professor Kathleen Gerson's research here.)

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The Notion
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July 18, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

A night of debate about the war in Iraq yielded two results:

1. Limited progress on getting an honest up-or-down vote on whether to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq on a schedule that might finish before the end of George Bush's presidency.

2. Confirmation that many Senate Republicans who delight in holding press conferences to talk about what's wrong with Bush's war are, in fact, the primary facilitators of that war's continuation.

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John Nichols
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July 18, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

Matthew Blake reports from Capitol Hill:

Full disclosure: this humble reporter left the Capitol at 1 am but continued watching on C-Span until 2:30 am before nodding off. The Senate never slept.

Though it was done through the medium of a partly absurd, often tedious "all-night" debate, Democratic politicians have finally seemed to convey what they can and cannot do to stop George Bush's disastrous Iraq War policy.

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The Notion
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July 18, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Nine times the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Bush Administration for the legal justification of its warrantless (and illegal) domestic spying program. Nine times. To no avail. In the end of June, in a bipartisan 13-3 vote, the committee asked a tenth time – and it issued subpoenas to the President, Vice President, Department of Justice, and National Security Council to put an end to the stonewalling.

Today at 2 PM is the deadline to comply with the request. (There is an unconfirmed rumor of an extension, but nothing definitive.) Few will be holding their breath. As Committee Chair Senator Patrick Leahy wrote in his cover letter with the subpoenas, "Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection. There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."

Indeed the materials requested have nothing to do with the operational details--nothing to make the administration cry "state secrets" privilege--simply the legal rationale behind the program.

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