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November 7, 2005 | The Nation

In the Magazine

November 7, 2005

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

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Gore Vidal reads the signs of the decline of American
empire, John Nichols writes a prescription to clean up Ohio
politics and Jon Mooallem reviews new biographies of Marilyn
Monroe and Benito Mussolini.

Letters

Our readers write back on Darwin, New Orleans, and Bill Bennett.

LYNNDIE ENGLAND, READ THIS

Cambridge, Mass.

Editorials

Frozen in memory as the simple woman who helped to bring down
segregation, Rosa Parks was far more complex and formidable than the
popular imagination makes her out to be . A fuller picture of her life
should make us also remember the many unsung heroes and heroines who
came before and after her.

POLITICS AND THE PRIZE

The Senate will soon consider the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAIR) that is anything but for the workers whose health has been impaired by asbestos. It's a move by major corporations to significantly reduce their liability.

As House Republicans use the cost of recovery from Gulf Coast storms as
an excuse to rip last-minute holes in the social safety net, it's not
too late to change priorities.

Harriet Miers's slender public record makes it imperative that her
advice the president on personal, executive and constitutional matters
be fully disclosed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Indictments or not, what America knows now about the outing of Valerie
Plame is that Bush Administration officials deliberately leaked
information that potentially damaged the nation--then lied about it.

For Iraqis fed up with the violence and chaos of the occupation,
passage of the new Constitution is just one more US-imposed measure that will
set the stage for civil war.

Columns

Column Left

Congress has decided to grant the gun lobby its most fervent and irresponsible wish: blanket immunity from civil lawsuits.

Saddam Hussein went to trial on Wednesday declaring he was still the president of Iraq. A series of odes a decade ago to Hussein's dictatorial days show the tyrant was always out of touch with reality.

With leading Republicans facing the slammer and Bush in a tailspin,
fate has given liberals a huge opportunity. Americans already
share our values--we need a new language to help connect peoples'
deepest needs to the liberal vision.

Follow a mythical voyage through America's nightmare, on a
ship with an uncaring captain, a subsequent shipwreck, and the poor are
left behind to perish.

One twisted tale of how Harriet Miers's confirmation hearings will
unfold.

Articles

Two offensive attack ads in the Virginia governor's race have backfired on Republican
candidate Jerry Kilgore and his attack-dog media consultant. Does this mean GOP smear tactics are a spent force?

The privatization of the nation's greatest, once-public colleges and
universities is well under way. The loss of low-cost higher education
is a quiet tragedy, one that will severely limit the potential of
generations of future students.

It has all the makings of a horror flick, but panic over a
possible bird flu pandemic is following a time-honored script:
sensational media reports, profit-hungry drug manufacturers and
politicians eager to capitalize on fears.

Those who believe that slavery in America was strictly a "Southern
thing" will discover an eye-opening historical record on display at the
New-York Historical Society's current exhibition, "Slavery in New
York."

Rows of plain black boots and empty pairs of baby shoes and dancing slippers are a mute testament to the American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who have perished in Iraq, as shown in a traveling exhibition sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.

As Brazilians vote on a historic measure to ban the sale of guns and
ammunition, foes of gun control have received help from a neighbor
to the north: the NRA.

After a campaign of distortion and deception, the USA Patriot Act is about to be renewed. It's a deeply flawed law that will be used mainly against dissidents, immigrants, Muslims or ordinary people accused of crimes unrelated to terrorism.

There's a way to cure Ohio's dysfunctional electoral system: an
election-reform referendum that allows creation of "swing districts."

It's a tight race, but if Tim Kaine becomes the next governor of
Virginia, Democrats gain what they desperately need to win back
Congress: a big win in a Southern state.

Marc Cooper interviews Gore Vidal about an America that is increasingly
controlled by corporations and suggests that the Gulf Coast hurricanes
and the Iraq debacle signal the breakdown of an empire.

Progressives lack a common set of that tie a movement together. But
they can build on conservatives' proven strategy of slowly creating a
broad consensus.

Advocacy groups like ACORN want New Orleanians to play a
role in the rebuilding of the community they had to leave. The biggest
issue so far: getting refugees of the storm back home.

The Cajun and Creole folks of Ville Platte, LA, learned long ago not to
rely on the government for help. It the wake of hurricanes they
launched a homemade rescue-and-relief effort to save their community.

Books & the Arts

Film

Paradise Now explores the bond among suicide bombers; The
Squid and the Whale
brings two monstrously large characters to
human scale and The President's Last Bang is nastily efficient.

Poetry

heron is gray, not blue, but great enough
against brown-tipped bowed cattails to be
well-named, is known for its stealth, shier

Book

Michael Kimmelman's The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa is a celebration of the intersection between art and life and the random genius of the unexpected.

Book

New biographies of Benito Mussolini and Marilyn Monroe contemplate
exploitation of the body--in life and after death.