Norwegians vote for “social-democratic paradise;” Rep. Joe Wilson’s lie turns lucrative; why are all the taxpayers at the 9/12 march white?



To hear critics of healthcare reform tell it, the whole world hates “socialized medicine.” So, presumably, Norwegians should have leapt at the opportunity to remove the yoke of government oppression from their overly taxed shoulders when conservative parties proposed partial privatization of the country’s healthcare system. Right? Wrong. In the country’s September 14 election Norwegian voters opted to continue striving toward the “social-democratic paradise” talked up by Prime Minister

Jens Stoltenberg

, whose left-leaning coalition surged at the close of a campaign that became a test of the country’s commitment to liberal values and state-run healthcare and pension programs. Stoltenberg, the first Norwegian leader to win re-election in almost two decades, accepted his mandate “to renew, strengthen and improve the Norwegian social welfare state.” Suggested headline for US media: Socialized Medicine Proves Popular.   JOHN NICHOLS


South Carolina Congressman

Joe Wilson

‘s infamous outburst during President Obama’s healthcare speech may not have endeared him to his Democratic colleagues, who voted overwhelmingly on September 15 to reprimand him, but it (and the left blogosphere campaign against him) has made him a cause célèbre of the right wing. As

Michael Kinsley

noted inthe Washington Post, “The more times he is required to write ‘I will not call the President a liar’ on a special blackboard set up in the well of the House, the bigger hero he will become to a large chunk of the population.”

At press time, Wilson has raised more than $1.7 million since September 9–$750,000 of which came in within forty-eight hours of his eruption–outstrippingthe nearly $1.2 million he raised for his entire 2008 race. Wilson’s Democratic rival,

Rob Miller

, hasn’t fared too badly either. Since Obama’s speech, his campaign has netted more than $1.5 million, in large part through a fundraising drive on

, whose members gave in hopes of “defeating the man who yelled ‘liar’ at Obama” or, as one donor put it, “retiring ass clown Joe Wilson.”

Miller, a former marine, lost the 2008 Congressional contest to Wilsonin a 55-45 percent split, having spent just $614,487, $220,000 of which came from his own pocket; so the incident as a whole has certainly helped to even the campaign-cash gap. Still, it’s premature to conclude that Wilson’s heckling will lead to a Miller victory in 2010.

“Folks are making Wilson a hero,” says

Kevin Gray

, a civil rights organizer from South Carolina, who also noted that his state is “the ideological home of white supremacy in the country.” Despite the Miller campaign’s growing pocketbook, Gray believes that Wilson’s constituents will continue to mobilize, making Miller’s chances slim. “It won’t be against Miller,” he says. “It will be against Obama. The black guy.”   ELISABETH GARBER-PAUL


On September 12some 70,000 people participated in a

Taxpayer March on DC

. March coordinators called upon “thousands of local organizers and grassroots Americans” to take to the streets of Washington to protest “the out of control spending, the bailouts, the growth of big government and soaring deficits.” Pretty straightforward economic conservatism, right?

So imagine my surprise when, havingjust arrived at the march, I saw a tall, thin, bearded fellow with a boonie cap joggingup Pennsylvania Avenue shouting, “White power!” A few people looked around awkwardly, not sure how to react, but mostly the crowd just moved along. Why wouldn’t they when just a few paces down the road an elderly man was showing off his McCarthy Was Right! sign, or when numerous placards compared the president to various genocidal tyrants, or when the most common mass-produced poster (courtesyof an antiabortion group) demanded thatwe Bury Obamacare With Kennedy?

This was only a sampling of the hateful language on display at the rally, which was only tangentially about taxation. More accurately, the event was a


-organized, corporate-funded,

Fox News

-fueled celebration of every conservative political and cultural cause of the past fifty years. Moving around in the crowd, I found it impossible to miss the references to disparate issues, from blocking investigations of CIA torture to promoting assault weapons to God’s “judging” America for homosexuality. Confederate flags were flown, Obama was told to “go back to Kenya” and so forth.

Up on the podium, speakers put a more positive spin on the gathering. One actually parroted a famous line from Barack Obama’s stump speech, claiming the tea party was “not here to represent white America or black America. We’re here for the United States of America.” A more candid assessment came a few minutes later, however, when a singer took the stage and summed up the America pined for by those gathered at the base of the Capitol. She was a “proud Christian American,” anti-Communist and Bible-believing. In fact, the most common rallying cry–beyond “You lie!” and “Can you hear me now?”–was that protesters wanted their country back, their Republic restored. A country, one could only assume, that resembled the almost exclusively white crowd.   SEBASTIAN JONES


A longtime contributor to this magazine on the Supreme Court and constitutional issues,

Herman Schwartz

has been honored by Israel’s legal and civil rights community. Twenty-five years ago Schwartz, a professor at the

American University Washington College of Law

, founded the

US-Israel Civil Liberties Law Program,

now a joint venture of WCL and the

New Israel Fund

. The twenty-fifth anniversary celebration in Tel Aviv this summer included the presentation of the first annual

Herman Schwartz Human Rights Award

. Those selected for the program spend a year at WCL studying civil rights and interning with US civil and human rights organizations, and another year working with a public interest group in Israel. Graduates of the program have held high positions with Israeli human rights organizations, become leading criminal defense attorneys or founded human rights organizations in Israel’s Palestinian community. Schwartz told us, “The fellows in this program, Jews and Palestinians, have not only created a human rights bar and jurisprudence but they’ve also fostered a sensitivity to human rights that just didn’t exist before.”

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