Quantcast

The Nation

April 28, 2008
Christopher Hayes

When you empower people with contempt for government.

3
18028
April 28, 2008
Christopher Hayes

This week, the House considers two financial bills under suspension, HR4332 and HR5519, which would, respectively, create a financial consumer hotline and loosen restrictions on credit unions (a bill the Independent Community Bankers' Association opposes out of concern that it deviates from credit unions' mission of helping the underserved and well-defined niche groups). On the heels of last week's Senate action, the House is expected to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which Sen. Kennedy hails as "the first civil rights bill of the new century of life sciences." The House will also vote on whether to force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue rules regulating combustible industrial dusts that can accumulate and explode, a proposal that's gained momentum since the February worksite explosion in Port Wentworth, Georgia that killed 12 workers. While the dangers of combustible dust have been well-known for years, OSHA has refused to issue any such guidelines. The Democrats may also bring the supplemental war spending bill to the floor.

On the Senate side, members will vote on a bill to reauthorize spending on the Federal Aviation Administration, a bill delayed by controversy over a $25-per-flight surcharge to pay for air traffic control modernization and dogged by recent airline regulation scandals.

Meanwhile, Congress holds hearings on subprime home lending, implementation of the REAL ID Act, secret law and oversight of defense department acquisitions.

18027
April 27, 2008
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

If California's historic 1950 US Senate race had gone the other way there would have been no Checkers speech, no Watergate break-in, no Woodward and Bernstein, perhaps an earlier exit from the Vietnam war. The race pitted the popular Democratic Congresswoman and former actress Helen Gahagan Douglas against a thiry-eight year old Republican member of the House named Richard Nixon. The election, destined to become one of the nation's most infamous, was notable as the race that Nixon acquired his "Tricky-Dick" moniker.

Nixon waged an unrelenting red-baiting campaign, calling Gahagan Douglas "pink right down to her underwear." Two weeks before election day in 1950, according to Greg Mitchell's 1998 book on the race, the Republican Senatorial candidate even
accused his opponent of being the conduit through which decisions made by Josef Stalin in the Kremlin flowed to the United States Congress. (This wasn't true.) The contest is also well-known as the first "modern election" in that dirty campaigning was married to sophisticated media technology for the first time making money (for massive ad buys) even more critical to political success.

Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas, a new comedy/drama by Michelle Willens and Wendy Kout tells the true story of the infamous race in which the young Nixon destroyed the elegant Congresswoman (and wife of Melvyn Douglas). A finalist for the prestigious Eugene O'Neill Conference, the play offers an amusing and insightful window into a formative time for modern American politics.

10
18026
April 27, 2008
John Nichols
John Nichols

The North Carolina Republican Party -- forged by the hand of Dixiecrat segregationists like Jesse ("White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?") Helms -- has never been cautious about playing the race card. When North Carolina Democrats nominated Harvey Gantt, an exceptionally-qualified moderate African-American candidate against Helms in a 1990 U.S. Senate race, the North Carolina Republican machine countered with a series of ads that emphasized Gantt's race and played on fears and prejudices.

Of course, in the politically-correct world of special privileges demanded by contemporary conservatives, no one was supposed to use the word "racist" to describe the pro-Helms ads. And, so, much of the commercial broadcast, cable and print media has to this day allowed the Helms and his partisan allies off the hook for running a campaign that was conceived and implemented with the aggressively racist intent of scaring white voters away from voting for an African-American candidate who they agreed with on the issues and who they knew to be more capable of representing them in the Senate.

Because the media tends to be afraid of calling racists out, Helms and the North Carolina Republicans had no trouble running a blatantly racist campaign. And, when Helms was reelected over Gantt, a powerful lesson was learned.

88
John Nichols
18025
April 24, 2008
Katha Pollitt
Katha Pollitt

I want to do my bit for Obama, so I vowed I would give up attacking Obama-supporting progressives for the duration of the presidential campaign. No circular firing squads for me! Believe me, it hasn't been easy, and now Tom Hayden's "Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream" has pushed me over the edge. Who cares what Tom Hayden's wife, the peaceful organic Barbara, feels when she watches Hillary on TV? Hayden is employing an ancient literary-political device, in which a man wards off charges of sexism by citing the example of a woman: I'm not averse to votes for women, but my wife, sir, won't hear of it! Barbara is female -- so that makes it okay for Hayden quote her comparing Hillary Clinton to "a screech on the blackboard" and Lady Macbeth. Because those are certainly similes that have never been used before! And that have no misogynist connotations, as in a woman who seeks public power is shrill and strident, a would-be despot who'll stop at nothing to achieve her evil ends, and is just so darn unlikeable, too. So bitter! As for Clinton flack "that Kiki person" -- when Hayden makes fun of a woman's girly first name and finds her just too ridiculous even to have a last one, that is not at all like rightwingers mocking Lani --Lani! ha ha ha! -- Guinier back in the day.

By rummaging in the tired old grabbag of male-chauvinist cliches, Hayden undermines the point he eventually gets around to making: that Clinton's attacks on Obama for guilt-by-association with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayres are vile and low and will come back to haunt her should she win the nomination. Not only is she alienating Obama supporters she'll need for the general election, she's inviting attacks on herself for her own past connections with leftwing figures and causes. Hayden calls on progressives to "send a message" to Hillary to "immediately cease her path of destruction." (Cease her path?) Fair enough.

Well, here's my message to Tom Hayden: Cease your path! Every time you and your fellow progressives write your sexist/nasty/catty garbage about Hillary Clinton -- and every time the Nation publishes it, which is far too often -- you alienate women whose energy and votes you will need if Obama wins the nomination. When you start talking about "millions" of young voters and black voters refusing to work for Hillary because of her unfair attacks on Obama you invite "millions" of women to say, well, why should I work for a candidate whose prominent supporters call my candidate Lady Macbeth?

117
18024
April 24, 2008
John Nichols
John Nichols

The whole controversy about John McCain's ties to radical preacher John Hagee has been miscast, both by McCain's critics and supporters – not to mention by our ministerially-obsessed media.

There is not really a comparison between the McCain-Hagee link and the relationship between Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.Obama, the Illinois senator who leads in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, looks to Wright for personal and spiritual counsel but does not have a political relationship with the man.

Indeed, as concerns about some of Wright's statements have been voiced, Obama has gone out of his way to distance himself politically from his former paster – while at the same time voicing his regard and respect for a religious leader who has been a part of his life for two decades.

233
John Nichols
18023
April 24, 2008
Christopher Hayes
18022
April 24, 2008
Christopher Hayes

There's been a lot of fuss about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Senate Republicans successfully threatened to filibuster yesterday. And since Senate members keep saying the legislation would eliminate any statute of limitations on when employees could file for redress--and the news media keeps liberally quoting without immediately correcting them--a few points bear mentioning.

First off: Ledbetter v. Goodyear didn't create the requirement that an employee lodge charges within 180 days after experiencing wage discrimination. Congress did, under title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which declared a worker has to file a discrimination complaint within 180 days of the alleged unlawful practice. Before the Court ruled on Ledbetter last May, every time a worker received a new paycheck, that 180-day clock was restarted--because every unequal paycheck was considered a new illegal practice. What the Court did do was decide, instead, that the 180-day statute of limitation starts to run out from the moment the original, discriminatory pay decision was made. In other words: it's okay for employers to pay workers at unequal rates, so long as they can get away with it for at least 180 days.

The Ledbetter Pay Act wasn't "designed to create a massive amount of new litigation," as Sen. McConnell would have it. What it does is restore the pre-Ledbetter interpretation used by nine Federal circuit courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Far from allowing victims to sue for unlimited amounts of back pay, the law would limit claims filed to a 2-year maximum. So even if the Senate could muster the support to pass the bill, much less override Bush's threatened veto, the best someone who'd worked for nearly 20 years at a discriminatory rate--like Lilly Ledbetter--could hope for would be two years' redress. And maybe some sense of restored justice.

18021
April 24, 2008
Christopher Hayes

This morning, I came thisclose to knocking over this dude, who was yakking on his cell phone while walking out into traffic.

18020