Sam Adams shakes up Portland; the House votes for peace; we offer kudos to Kors and send get-well wishes to Ted Kennedy.



By now, The Nation‘s

Joshua Kors

is used to picking up trophies for his 2007 articles (“How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits” and “Specialist Town Takes His Case to Washington”), which exposed the shameful practice of denying Iraq vets their disability and medical benefits. Having won Polk and IRE awards, on May 1 Kors picked up the

National Magazine Award

for Public Interest Journalism, beating out nominees from The New Yorker and BusinessWeek among others. Kors was also recently given an honorable mention in the

American Bar Association

‘s Silver Gavel Awards for fostering understanding of the law, as well as the 2008

Mental Health America Award

for national reporting. Kudos to Kors!


The last time a fellow named

Sam Adams

rose to political prominence, he stirred up a revolution; it might happen again. The current Sam Adams, who just won a landslide election for mayor of Portland, sounds like his namesake when, paraphrasing Scottish writer

Alasdair Gray

, he promises to “work like we’re in the early days of a better nation.” The first openly gay mayor of a major American city, Adams beat his opposition with a campaign that harked back to the days when mayors like New York’s

John Lindsay

, Boston’s

Kevin White

and Portland’s

Neil Goldschmidt

were the rock stars of American politics. Unlike most candidates, the bike-riding city commissioner made no apologies for setting what some critics dismissed as utopian goals. Adams proposed to “make Portland cleaner, greener, more sustainable, smarter, more equal, better educated.”

Even as much of the city’s corporate and political establishment, led by outgoing Mayor

Tom Potter

, opposed him, Adams connected with voters by telling his story: relying on food stamps and living in public housing as a youth, he dropped out of college and declared bankruptcy in his early 20s before pulling his affairs together and emerging as a hyper-competent aide to liberal Mayor

Vera Katz

. Adams ran a hybrid race that was long on specifics–with detailed plans to address poverty and high school dropout rates, renew neighborhoods and promote public transportation and environmentally friendly business development–but longer still on vision. His core campaign promise, expressed in a YouTube-style video that followed the candidate through a day in the city, was to make Portland not just a great town but “the model for a better nation.”   JOHN NICHOLS


“I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for some of the battles that Ted Kennedy has fought…. He is somebody who battled for voting rights and civil rights when I was a child. I stand on his shoulders.” Those were the words Senator

Barack Obama

offered in response to reports that Senator

Ted Kennedy

had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. In his forty-five years as the fighting liberal in the Senate, Kennedy has championed civil rights, labor rights, healthcare, education and a sane foreign policy. He once said that “the best vote I’ve cast in my forty-four years in the United States Senate” was the one against authorizing the Iraq War in 2002. As a result of his opposition to the war and through his tenacious championing of causes lost and found, Kennedy has set the standard for what a great Senator and statesman can be. At The Nation, our hearts sank when we heard the news of his illness, but if there is one thing we know about Ted Kennedy, it’s that he’s a fighter.


With apologies to



, we present a wartime version of its catalog, compiled by

David Morris

, a former marine who has been embedded in Iraq as a reporter for the Virginia Quarterly Review and Salon. His figures present a stunning and concise indictment of the US occupation:

Percentage of Iraqis displaced by war: 20

American cost of Iraq War per second (as of March 2008): $4,563.18

Total number of Coalition personnel in Iraq at the height of the “surge” (including all contractors and civilian support personnel): 343,100

Total number of actual US combat troops in Iraq at the height of the “surge” (excluding support personnel): 38,000

Number of police officers in New York City: 37,000

Number of embedded journalists during March 2003 invasion: 775

Number of embedded journalists during March 2008: 23

Number of US killed and wounded, Hue City, Vietnam, 1968: 147; 857

Number of US killed and wounded, Falluja, Iraq, 2004: 104; 1,110

Number of Iraq veterans diagnosed with PTSD: 300,000

Number of troops stop-lossed: 58,300

Number of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001: 1,668,000

Number of troops deployed after being declared medically unfit: 43,000


Thanks to a growing number of antiwar Democrats and a flood of Republican abstentions, an Iraq War funding bill failed to pass the House for the first time on May 15 when George W. Bush’s request for $163 billion in supplemental funds was voted down 149 to 141. The no vote was made possible when 132 Republicans abstained in protest of domestic spending provisions attached to the bill, but the roll call also showed growing numbers of Democrats prepared to use the power of the purse to end the war.

Since March 2006, eighty Democrats have switched to voting no on war funding, due in part to persistent lobbying by local constituents and peace groups. After voting for funding as recently as December, veteran Democrats like

John Dingell


Dale Kildee

changed their votes in response to pressure from United for Peace and Justice’s Michigan Peace Action Chapter. “They are riding the wave,” says UFPJ’s

Sue Udry

of the additions to the nay camp. “Now it’s safe to vote against the war. There had been pressure on them from their districts, but it had been building slowly. The grassroots peace movement has been hounding Congress for years, and finally it pushed them over.” The lesson of the May 15 vote? “The strength of the peace movement is people’s willingness to keep hounding.”    SUSANNAH VILA

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