OBAMA’S CABINET. President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense this week drew fire from his former Republicans in Congress. And as a conservative Republican, he’s certainly not an ideal candidate for progressives either, as Phyllis Bennis notes this week. But Obama’s pick signals his break with the Bush administration and could alter the trajectory of the president’s military policy. Could Hagel’s appointment actually help the anti-war left? Read more from Bennis here. Perhaps the more controversial cabinet pick should be Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary—after choosing Jack Lew this week, progressives have reason for concern. As John Nichols writes, Lew is “the steady defender of deregulation” and “hails from the same inner circle as Geithner and Lawrence Summers.” Read more from Nichols on twelve questions Senate Democrats should ask Jack Lew.
OWNING THE FUTURE. Guest-edited by Antonino D’Ambrosio, and inspired by his film Let Fury Have the Hour, this week’s issue of The Nationincludes a forum that explores how creative responses can transform our world—and be the antidote to the consumerism and cynicism that define our culture. “Ultimately, creative response insists that each of us maintain the courage of our convictions to meet the extraordinary challenges that confront our world,” he writes. “It’s this spirit that answers the question, ‘Who owns the future?’” From musicians like Billy Bragg and DJ Spooky to writers and poets like Hari Kunzru and Staceyann Chin, read more from this remarkable group.
AVOIDING A CLIMATE-CHANGE APOCALYPSE. According to scientists, 2012 was the hottest year on record and the second-worst year ever on the government’s Climate Extremes Index. In my online column for The Washington Post this week, I highlight the catastrophic effects of climate change—with extreme weather like droughts, storms, and heat waves, it’s time to act. The Nation’s environment correspondent, Mark Hertsgaard, calls on the Obama administration to open a national debate on climate change, as he promised after his reelection—and to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. Find out more about the kind of executive actions the Obama administration could take, especially if the climate-change deniers in Congress continue to thwart efforts to pass meaningful legislation. Change might be slow, as Bill McKibben writes this week, but there is also hope in grassroots movements. Read more from McKibben here, and find out what you can do to help.
WELCOME: RICK PERLSTEIN, AURA BOGADO, MICHELLE DEAN. The Nation is pleased to welcome three new bloggers. Award-winning author and former columnist for The New Republic and Rolling Stone, Rick Perlstein will provide analysis on current events and political developments, engaging with the debates of the day through the lens of history. “I’m especially interested in educating folks on the left about the organic continuities in right-wing thought and action,” says Perlstein. “Too often we act as if the forces we’re fighting came about only the day before yesterday.”
Joining Perlstein as new bloggers are Michelle Dean and Aura Bogado. Dean, who has written for The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, Slate, Salon and other publications, will cover pop culture, arts and books, signaling The Nation’s growing commitment to its online pop culture coverage. Dean’s first post reminds us that the blockbuster movie musical Les Misérables owes its birth to a debate over public arts funding. Aura Bogado, a writer for Voting Rights Watch, our reporting partnership with Colorlines, will build on the project’s success by highlighting issues central to Native rights, immigration and the fight for racial justice. Bogado’s first post illuminates the Idle No More movement making major waves in Canada but facing an almost complete media blackout in the US.