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The Nation

May 8, 2007

Today I had lunch with Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, SEIU president Andy Stern, and the disembodied head of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Let me explain.

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The Notion
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May 8, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

In an elegant "Talk of the Town" piece on the subject of George Tenet's new book in the current issue of The New Yorker, George Packer levels a strong indictment against the Bush Administration for coming "close to perfecting the art of unaccountability."

Packer's comment, titled "No Shame, No Blame," is smart and on point. Yet, after reading it, I sat bolt upright in bed astonished that Packer could describe what he calls "styles of unaccountability" without including a critical (and self-critical) inventory of pro-war writers and pundits' role in the Iraq debacle. We know about the responsibility Bush officials bear for taking us into the most colossal foreign policy disaster in US history. But what about the wordsmiths who, like Thomas Friedman and Packer himself, came out in favor of this blood-soaked war. Remember Friedman's line -- "something in Mr. Bush's audacious shake of the dice appeals to me"? Or what about the New Yorker's own Jeffrey Goldberg who floated now discredited theories that Saddam was working closely with Al Qaeda?

For a scathing article about how these and other pro-war (but "now I've seen the light") pundits have escaped real accountability, check out Radar's "The Iraq Gamble: At the Pundits' Table, The Losing Bet Still Takes the Pot," by Jebediah Reed. It's a disturbing tale of journalistic "no blame, no shame". Eight pundits are profiled. Four of them, as "Radar" puts it, " were 'the most influentially and disturbingly misguided in their pro-war arguments" and played "a central role in our national decision-making process; The other four writer/pundits were the "most prescient and forceful in their opposition."

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May 8, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

The Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) new report – 2007 Progressive Victories in the States – shows that state legislatures aren't waiting around on Congress to address some of our nation's most pressing challenges. They are taking matters in their own hands and finding progressive solutions.

"Today, state legislators are leading the fight for progressive solutions," said Tim McFeeley, executive director of the CPA. "While the federal government is stuck in partisan gridlock, state governments are enacting far-reaching new legislation."

From the minimum wage and living wage, to prescription drug prices and election reform, to civil unions and reproductive health – it is clear that a network of savvy progressive think tanks and legislators are working at the state level – and they are winning.

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May 7, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

EDINBURGH -- The Scottish rock group The Proclaimers sang a quarter century ago: "I cannot understand why we let someone else rule our land."

Last week's elections for the Scottish parliament suggest that a good many Scots are struggling with the same concern.

For the first time in history, the Scottish Nationalist Party [SNP], which has campaigned for the better part of a century on an independence platform, is the largest party and its leader, Alex Salmond, is expected to head the new government.

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John Nichols
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May 7, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Isn't it time that the US stop all the talk of democracypromotion abroad and start walking the walk here at home? As I suggested last November,let's bringdemocracy home. And while we're facing a crazyprimary schedule and a $2 billion election which will shatter allcampaign fundraising records… here are three recent and ongoingpro-democracy efforts that all good small "d" democrats should knowabout and fully support.

1. DC House Voting Rights Act. The House recently approvedlegislation to grant nearly 600,000 disenfranchisedDistrict citizens a voting representative in Congress as well as afourth seat for largely Republican Utah. (Utah was less than 1000people short of meriting an added seat, according to the 2000 Censuswhich failed to account for thousands of missionaries abroad at thetime.) The Senate will now take up a similarbillintroduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Orrin Hatch.

On Sunday, Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher suggestedone of the reasons the District now stands its best chance since the1970's to gain voting representation: "In the shadow of an unpopularwar and a gloomy cloud of anti-American sentiment around the world, anincreasing number of Republicans are looking for ways to countercriticism that the United States is less than a paragon of democraticvirtue at home."

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May 7, 2007
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

As the almost twenty presidential hopefuls from both major parties careen around the country looking for cash and votes, a disclipined group of students has been politely bird-dogging them from Iowa to South Carolina asking the candidates to detail their plans to combat global warming. This is part of a new national campaign ("What's Your Plan?") to convince Presidential candidates to pay attention to young people and to address key issues such as climate change and college affordability.

So far the young activists have directly engaged several candidates, including Rudy Giuliani, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Chris Dodd, Mike Huckabee and Joe Biden. (See the photo gallery.)

What's Your Plan? is a project of the Student PIRGs' New Voters Project, the largest national nonpartisan youth voter mobilization effort. Since 2003, the project has registered more than 600,000 young voters and made more than 650,000 personalized Get Out the Vote contacts leading up to Election Day to turn out young voters.

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May 7, 2007
TomDispatch

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003, oil was seldom mentioned. Yes, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz did describe the country as afloat "on a sea of oil" (which might fund any American war and reconstruction program there); and, yes, on rare occasions, the President did speak reverentially of preserving "the patrimony of the people of Iraq" -- by which he meant not cuneiform tablets or ancient statues in the National Museum in Baghdad, but the country's vast oil reserves, known and suspected. And yes, oil did make it prominently onto the signs of war protestors at home and abroad.

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The Notion
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May 6, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

PARIS -- During the campaign for president of France, Socialist Sègolene Royal's supporters derided conservative front runner Nicolas Sarkozy as "an American neo-conservative with a French passport."

The line Royal and her backers pushed as she struggled to close the gap in the final sprint to catch up with Sarkozy was that the conservative would abandon France's traditional stance as an independent player on the international stage and make the nation little more than an American puppet-state.

The charge was always something of stretch. Sarkozy may have been more comfortable than Royal when it came to speaking of "friendship" with the US, but he always explained that friendship did not require "submission."

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John Nichols
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May 4, 2007
David Corn

At the start of the scandal triggered by the revelation that World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz had helped arrange generous pay boosts for his girlfriend S...

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