THE COSTS OF THE DEBT DEAL. The job-killing debt compromise signed by President Obama last week—raising the debt ceiling into 2013 in exchange for $2.5 trillion in dramatic spending cuts—was supposed to stave off economic calamity. At least that’s what we were told, as Tea Party–led Republican extremists were determined to hold the economy hostage to extort political “leverage.”
No sooner did President Obama sign the debt deal than markets in the US and across the globe tanked. Washington, DC, correspondent John Nichols rightly asks: “Wasn’t the Debt-Ceiling Deal Supposed to Avert a 512-Point Dow Collapse?” For all the talk about “full faith and credit” and “market confidence” in the midst of debt-ceiling negotiations, Thursday’s global sell-off followed by Friday’s dismal jobs report, and the first-ever downgrade of the US credit rating by Standard & Poor’s is continued proof that we’re not going to cut our way to growth.
This week, DC reporter George Zornick reminds us in “Is It Time to Downgrade the Rating Agencies?” that these same rating agencies—which gave their blessing to toxic financial products concocted by Wall Street—were complicit in the 2008 financial collapse. When will Washington learn to ignore them? The downgrade, however, reflects more than just pessimism about the economy. As John Nichols points out in “Downgrading Democracy,” the decision establishes these agencies as “arbiters of American politics” who cite Washington’s inability to resolve their differences as justification for the downgrade. “If S&P can set the parameters of the debate in the US,” writes Nichols, “then it is not just downgrading a credit rating. S&P is downgrading democracy.”
OUR DEMOCRACY DEFICIT. As I told NPR’s Diane Rehm last week, Washington’s preoccupation with a manufactured deficit crisis shows just how disconnected both parties are from the real economy and the struggles people are experiencing every day. Washington’s political gridlock and out-of-touch policy-making is taking its toll not just on the economy, but on the state of American democracy. As Media Matters’s Ilyse Hogue explains in “The Hidden Casualty of the Debt Deal,” irresponsible press coverage, coupled with unheeded expert warnings, disregarded citizen opinion and overlooked citizen action together create the conditions for disengagement from the political process at a time when it’s needed most. “When citizens don’t participate,” she writes, “democracy is in peril.” That’s why the work of groups like Take Back the American Dream, MoveOn and Campaign for America’s Future—who have organized hundreds of demonstrations at congressional offices nationwide—remains critical. As I wrote in the Washington Post last week: unlike the Tea Party, legislators in both parties may soon encounter a populist uprising that actually represents an American majority. Stay tuned for our upcoming issue this week, which examines the impact of deficit hysteria on the state of our democracy.
WISCONSIN’S RECALL ELECTIONS. Stay tuned to TheNation.com this week as Washington correspondent John Nichols reports live from Madison, Wisconsin on the highly-watched recall elections taking place across the state. Be sure to visit Nichols’ blog, The Beat, for the latest.
CONGRATULATIONS CHRIS HAYES: MSNBC’S NEW HOST. Last week, MSNBC announced that Chris Hayes, The Nation’s DC editor, will become host of a new weekend morning program. The new show will debut September 17, 2011, and air 7 am to 9 am on Saturday and 8 am to 10 am on Sunday (that’s four hours of live TV!). We’re delighted to have Chris remain at The Nation as editor at large and are extremely proud of his accomplishment.
As I told the New York Times last week, when I hired Chris some thought it was a gamble, bringing on a 28-year-old to run the DC bureau. I knew then what so many have come to recognize—he was a star: an intellectual omnivore, a person of integrity, independent mind, with an unwavering commitment to journalistic excellence. The range of Chris’s work as a political writer and reporter is remarkable and he has brought intellectual firepower, reportorial storytelling, creative dynamism and stylistic distinction to The Nation’s coverage of political ideas and movements in our capital and country in these last, critical years.
In an interview with TheWrap, Chris said about the show: “I feel extremely strongly given the fact that I can’t do anything about my own white male straightness that I have the duty to double down in efforts to make sure what we present is reflective of the diversity of the country at large in a way that cable news doesn’t always do a good job of.“ On format, Chris added that it will have the “aesthetic sensibility of ‘Morning Joe’ and the substantive perspective and sensibility of ‘The [Rachel] Maddow Show.’ ” Stay tuned for more news about the show!
MULTIMEDIA: THE NATION ON SPORTS. The latest double issue of The Nation takes a close look at the central areas in which sports culture intersect with the pursuit of social and economic justice in our special sports issue—only the second in our 146-year history. In what is both a critique and celebration of sports culture, Nation sports reporter Dave Zirin joins an eclectic group of contributors, including veteran New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte, Deadspin founding editor Will Leitch, former Denver Broncos wide receiver and tight end Nate Jackson, sports scholar Mary Jo Kane and labor reporter Ari Paul. The issue is available here.
Our accompanying multimedia for the issue includes a conversation with Internet celebrities Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam and contributor Neil DeMause for an incisive, hilarious look at how new taxpayer-funded stadiums in New York have damaged small businesses, displaced local residents and yet still received more than half of their funding from local and federal governments. Contributor Paul Wachter, a Middle East expert and squash enthusiast, joins managing editor Roane Carey for a Nation Conversation to discuss the connections between squash and revolution in Egypt. As as Mary Jo Kane reports in her article in the sports issue, far from piquing interest in female sports, hyper-sexualized media images actually serve to suppress interest in—and respect for—women’s sports. Kane has identified categories into which the representation of female athletes consistently fall—from competent athlete to soft-core porn star—here are the six ways the media represents sportswomen. And be sure to listen to sports editor Dave Zirin and contributor Sherry Wolf talk to NPR’s Only a Game host Bill Littlefield about what it was like assembling both sports and non-sports voices for The Nation’s second-ever sports issue.
LOST FOOTAGE OF THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB. Saturday, August 6, marked the sixty-sixth anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons during wartime as the US deployed nuclear weapons on the Japanese City of Hiroshima, followed by another devastating attack on August 9 on Nagasaki. To commemorate these tragic anniversaries, media blogger Greg Mitchell (whose new book Atomic Cover-up is now available) has been offering a daily record of what transpired leading up to the bombings at his blog. The film footage and other photographic evidence of the true effects of the bomb had been suppressed for decades, until this year’s exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York City, where they are now accessible to the general public for the first time. Be sure to take a look at the our slideshow for an unfiltered look into nuclear warfare’s destructive power. And colleague Peter Rothberg highlights the “Top Ten Songs About Nuclear War.” Listen to them here.
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