New Left Review at 50: Nation 3/5

It is hard not to be intimidated by New Left Review,” Stefan Collini wrote recently in the Guardian.  He’s right: first there is the intellectual range and analytical power of the NLR writers, and now there’s the fact that it has been publishing for fifty years.  The fiftieth anniversary issue–the 299th–reviews the magazine’s history, announces its current agenda and displays the qualities that have made it so significant over the past half-century.
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Big Tobacco & the Historians: Nation 2/25

Forty historians testify for Big Tobacco when they are sued by smokers with cancer; two testify against.  Why the disparity?
A story about seduction — and intimidation — featuring charges of witness tampering, witness intimidation, and subpoenas for unfinished book manuscripts — examples of how Big Tobacco can spend virtually unlimited money when they are challenged in court.
READ The Nation cover story HERE.

Nixon and the Vietnam Moratorium: Nation 1/12

In 1969, as the anti-war movement was reaching a peak, Richard Nixon’s White House staff debated what they could do to “show the little bastards” what kind of man they were up against. They were concerned about what would be the biggest antiwar demonstration in US history on Nov. 15, 1969, when half a million people came to Washington D.C. to demand that an end to the war in Vietnam.

Now, newly released documents from the Nixon Library provide fascinating details about the debate within the White House staff two months earlier about how the president should respond.

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How the Healthcare Bill Will Hurt L.A.: Nation 1/11

Los Angeles County has more uninsured people than anyplace else in the country – three million, many of them immigrants, and many of those undocumented. If the Senate version of health bill passes, with its ban on federal coverage of non-citizens, a million people in California will be denied health insurance–the great majority of them in L.A.

That would be a disaster for Los Angeles.

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Student Protests Push Cal. Gov. to Act: Nation 1/7

Student protests against tuition increases at the 10-campus University of California system pushed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to announce on Tuesday an initiative to guarantee that the state spends more on universities than it does on prisons.

The central role of student protests is not just my theory; it’s the explanation offered by the governor’s own chief of staff. “Those protests on the U.C. campuses were the tipping point” for the governor, Susan Kennedy said in an interview with the New York Times.

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Obama’s Fight Against Secrecy: LA Times, Wed. 1/6

“For a long time now there’s been too much secrecy in this city.” That’s what President Obama said on his first day in office. He was talking about the way George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had used 9/11 as a pretext for pulling a veil over many of their key policies and actions. Last week, Obama announced he was replacing Bush’s executive order on classified documents with a new one designed to reduce secrecy. Obama’s policies are a distinct improvement, but they don’t really solve the underlying problem.

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Fox News Scare Tactics: The Nation, 1/04

“They’ll send me to jail if I don’t sign up for Obama’s health care,” an 89-year-old woman said at my family holiday gathering last week. She was agitated and angry. “Imagine sending someone to jail – at my age!”

Even the Republicans in the room rushed to reassure her: “You’re covered by Medicare. You’re already signed up. Nobody is going to jail.”

“Well I don’t like it one bit,” she said, still upset.

She’s an intelligent and well-informed person; where did she get this idea?

From Fox News, of course.

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“War is Over!” 40 Years Later: The Nation, 12/27

“War Is Over! If you want it” – a full page ad in the Sunday New York Times Dec. 27 must have puzzled many readers. The ad marked an anniversary: it was 40 years ago today that John Lennon and Yoko Ono launched their “War Is Over!” campaign, with billboards in New York, London, Hollywood, Toronto, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens and Tokyo – and in much smaller type at the bottom, “Happy Christmas, John and Yoko.” The message was repeated on posters, leaflets, and newspaper ads.

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Arguing about the Afghan War: The Nation 12/18

The Best Argument for the Afghan War — and What’s Wrong with It:

For those of us on the left, the best argument in favor of the Afghan war is not Obama’s claim that we need to stop Al Qaeda from returning to its bases in Afghanistan. . . . The best argument is that we have an obligation to the Afghan people – especially to the feminists, secular teachers, labor organizers, health workers, democrats, all those working to build a secular, civil society. We encouraged them to help create a real alternative to religious fundamentalism. It would be wrong now to abandon them to the Taliban.
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Bob Dylan’s Weird Christmas Album: Nation 12/13

Fans have been puzzled and troubled by Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album. To help figure out what Dylan is doing, we turned to Sean Wilentz — he’s the official historian at the official website, and he also teaches American history at Princeton. He’s written many books, including “The Age of Reagan.”

Q. “Christmas in the Heart” opens with “Here Comes Santa Claus,” a Gene Autry song which, I have to say, is one of the most annoying holiday songs ever written, even before Bob Dylan sang it. “Hang your stockings, say your prayers” — is this a joke?

A. It’s not a joke at all. This is Bob Dylan looking back to his own childhood. He sings the songs that he heard as a kid in Hibbing. He’s recalling that time and those songs and that spirit.

The way Dylan sings “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” it sounds like a threat, a reason to lock your doors. . . .

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