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January 2, 2006 | The Nation

In the Magazine

January 2, 2006

Cover: Cover by Gene Case & Stephen Kling/Avenging Angels

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William Greider writes that industrial society is on a collision course with nature and that the devastation of New Orleans is a metaphor for the fate that awaits us all; Paul Krassner reports from Las Vegas on the first annual Comedy Festival; and Anne Winters's The Displaced of Capital wins the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

Letters

Our editorial statement that "The Nation will not support any candidate
for national office who does not make a speedy end to the American war
in Iraq a major issue in his or her camp

Editorials

NADER'S 'UNSAFE' AT 40

Among the sweetest victories of 2005: Social Security reform has been blocked, pressure to withdraw from Iraq is growing and progressive activists are making progress on local, state and national issues.

Reading Patrick Fitzgerald's sixty-page indictment of publishing magnate Conrad Black and his associates, one gets the feeling that the next stop for this high-living power-broker will be a prison cell.

As Justice Department investigators follow the cash flow from lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence-peddling scandal, the evidence mounts against Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney. Who's next?

Eugene McCarthy was a pure original, a great and good man, whose fundamental historical achievement was to be the standard-bearer for a moral and philosophical campaign against the Vietnam War.

If New Orleans is to reclaim its greatness, the scope of the solution must match the scope of the problem. The city could become the nation's classroom by re-engineering levees, responsibly building neighborhoods and schools and repairing the environment, but time is running out.

The Iraq debate will be a central issue of the 2006 Congressional elections, and there is reason to believe antiwar candidates will prevail. The first step in that process is to encourage support for such candidates.

Columns

TruthDig

The best outcome for US policy is the hope that Shiite and Sunni fanatics can check each other long enough for the United States to beat a credible retreat and call it a victory, albeit a pyrrhic one.

The 9/11 Commission's startling follow-up report that savages the Bush Administration's inadequate efforts to protect the country from terrorism was met by the media with a collective yawn. And so we remain vulnerable, amazed and, if sensate, terrified.

This just in: The Pentagon offers yet another lesson in democracy. Just don't look for any bylines.

Articles

2006 marks Rembrandt's 400th birthday, and an array of exhibitions, from the sublime to the silly, will open in Amsterdam, Washington and beyond. As the aesthetic hype escalates, can great art withstand great commerce? Can consummate genius triumph over cute?

As the House of Representatives voted to allow oil drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich decried
the back-door methods and contemplated the impact on the
indigenous Gwich'in people.

How realistic is it to stop the Bush Administration from pursuing its
war agenda? Former prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega offers some
hard-core advice about how to challenge the status quo.

In the gloom of post-election 2004 few people, if any, could have
anticipated the wild surprises of 2005. Focusing on three unforeseen
developments of the past year, a meditation on
how life has changed in unexpected ways.

Lenny Bruce was a lone voice at a time when irreverent comedy could land him in jail on obscenity charges. But the spirit of Lenny Bruce hovered over the first annual Comedy Festival in Los Vegas, where the nation's top comics used laughs to bring down the establishment.

Industrial society is on a collision course with nature. The devastation of New Orleans is a metaphor for what can happen next to us all. Will America decide to reshape the future in positive terms, or sit back and wait for the inevitable destruction to occur?

If a society is measured by the treatment of its prisoners, we are in deeper trouble in New Orleans than we realize. The biggest prison crisis since Attica is now unfolding in the devastated city, with inmates jammed into inadequate facilities, often abused and unrepresented by attorneys or advocates.

The nation might believe it has moved on from Katrina, from the name so
childish and somehow slightly foreign, not Sherry or Ann or Margaret.
Moved on from the scenes of dark-skinned people in

Faced with the challenge of rebuilding, New Orleans seems stuck in the mud--not just mired in the muck caking the city but also trapped by centuries of policy mistakes, especially the fantasy that it can be separated from its surroundings.

Books & the Arts

Poetry

Pasted bumpily on brick, life-sized. Inside,
in a former foundry's casting vault, my father in the role
of Agamemnon died. A thin-browed bronze mask skating

Poetry

"A shift in the structure of experience..."
As I pass down Broadway this misty late-winter morning,
the city is ever alluring, but thousands of miles to the south

Poetry

Anne Winters's The Displaced of Capital, winner of the 2005 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, is a reflective, documentary and visionary volume of poetry inspired by the city of New York.

Book

Two new books on indolence, How To Be Idle and Bonjour Laziness, issue low-energy cries for political apathy, a shorter work week and the fine art of slacking off.

Book

John Banville's latest novel, The Sea, winner of the Man Booker Prize, is a painstaking narrative of memory, grief and many losses, remarkable for what it richly conveys about what it is to be alive, while continuously experiencing loss.

Book

The GOP is an object of popular loathing, yet prospects seem dim for ousting it from power. Three new books explain why: Off Center explores the GOP's genius for subverting the mechanisms of accountability, and Death by a Thousand Cuts and Stand Up Fight Back examine how the Republican machine dominates issues from tax cuts to energy conservation. Plus, the Clinton biography The Survivor looks at the man who once made liberals feel like winners, yet whose legacy holds them back.