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January 9, 2006 | The Nation

In the Magazine

January 9, 2006

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

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William Greider writes that with persistence and strong convictions, insurgent Democrats can transform their party, Kathryn Schulz takes a deep look at neuro-ethics and Stuart Klawans reviews Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Match Point and King Kong.

Letters

TENNESSEE'S HEALTHCARE CUTS

Rochester, NY

Editorials

We need to learn a new language of peace and love that we can speak, even shout, to our leaders who only understand the language of greed and murder.

In a report issued December 20, Representative John Conyers Jr.
documents the misconduct of President Bush and his Adminisration,
and makes the case that they should be censured by Congress for violating a series of federal laws.

While the Democratic Leadership Council issued a report advising Democrats to behave more like Republicans, Senator Russ Feingold has transcended party lines, forging a large, bipartisan coalition to revise the Patriot Act to better protect Americans' civil liberties.

Striking graduate teaching assistants and NYU administrators are hunkered down for a protracted fight, as President John Sexton has threatened strikers with loss of their teaching stipend and ability to teach. This could have a chilling effect on campus union organizing nationwide.

The Bush Administration believes it can ignore the rule of law--in pursuit of torture, Pentagon surveillance of antiwar groups and now, domestic spying. We must continue to insist that in a democracy, the rule of law cannot be ignored.

In the wake of the Iraqi elections, Congress must make any future funding for American forces contingent on establishing a clear-cut deadline for withdrawal to quell the insurgency and the use of diplomacy to elicit international involvement in the rebuilding of Iraq.

A belligerent President has vowed that warrantless domestic spying will continue. He also hopes to quash open debate of the issue in Congress on security grounds. Given the palpable outrage over the President's contempt for basic constitutional law, will illegal wiretaps lead to the undoing of the Bush presidency?

The Bush Administration is not a dictatorship, but it has all the markings of one in embryonic form. Bush has declared himself to be above the law, and members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. Either the President upholds the laws of this country, or he must leave office.

Columns

TruthDig

The unfolding Jack Abramoff corruption scandal exposes the hypocrisy of
the GOP "revolution," which promised to restore morality to Washington
but instead sank deepinto a cesspool of corruption.

TruthDig

Why is it not bigger news that these infamous Iraqi scientists have been quietly released from imprisonment in Iraq without any charges being brought by their US captors?

Chastised by Russ Feingold for extrajudicial spying, the President who would be king invokes the divine right of kings.

Music

Bush is on the defensive. The GOP is mired in corruption. The media are waking up. Civil liberties are beginning to matter. See? Good things did happen in 2005.

2005 added up to this: No credibility for the President, or for the Democrats, or for the New York Times, which took a year to figure out whether the Constitution is worth fighting for. 2006 should be exciting.

Articles

New York City's first transit strike in a quarter-century resulted in an agreement that both the union leadership and the MTA insist is the greatest contract ever--but that the union's left opposition calls a disastrous sell-out.

New York City transit workers, now back on the job after a two-day strike, are fighting for the rights of future workers and against the lie that abstract, neutral economic necessity, not the ideas and interests of the rich and powerful, are driving the demolition of what remains of social solidarity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murders of four American
churchwomen in El Salvador, George McGovern and Representative Jim
McGovern journey to El Salvador to assess what has changed and how the
legacy of the churchwomen affect human rights worldwide.

The right present for a leftist? Herewith, some innovative ideas, many just a click away.

Congress has passed legislation allowing evidence obtained through torture to be used against terror suspects in court. But human rights groups and some Congressional leaders will fight back in 2006, with court challenges, hearings and tough questions on executive privilege for Samuel Alito and other Bush nominees.

The election of former coca farmer Evo Morales as Bolivia's first
indigenous president appears to be an enormous victory for the left, as
yet another Latin American nation turns away from Washington-driven
economics. But will Morales be able to live up to his promise of
home-grown solutions for this cash-poor yet resource-rich nation?

Discrimination is on the rise for Australia's Muslims and others of Middle-Eastern descent, as Prime Minister John Howard's draconian anti-terror laws echo the fear-mongering tactics of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

With persistence and strong convictions, insurgents can change a political party. Galvanized by the war and disgusted with weak-spined party leaders, rank-and-file Democrats may at last be ready to bite back.

As neurotechnology expands our abilities to rejuvenate aging brains, rebound from trauma and enhance moods or sexual prowess, we need a consistent set of neuroethics about how that technology should be used.

Books & the Arts

Film

Munich is a first-rate spy thriller featuring an assassin who reveals his soul. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain gives two extraordinary actors time and space to develop a rare emotional interplay. Match Point puzzles with a dirty-minded energy. And Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong is true to the Depression-era original.

Book

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, portraits of the Moroccan immigrants in Spain, gracefully evokes the unease of immigrants caught adrift between the stagnation of their old homes and the hope of their lives on a new shore.

Book

As Nazis dropped bombs in Warsaw, poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote a collection of literary criticism that sought to trace the rise of totalitarianism by deconstructing the mythologies of Western modernity.

Book

Tony Judt's Postwar, a massive summary of European public life since World War II, is a triumph of narrative that will allow readers familiar with the history to experience it again.