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This Week: A Jobs Agenda. PLUS: 2012 Heats Up | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: A Jobs Agenda. PLUS: 2012 Heats Up

A JOBS AGENDA. President Obama’s largely symbolic “pivot” to jobs in the wake of the debt ceiling deal is, yet again, unlikely to generate any. As I wrote in the Washington Post this week, we don’t need more symbolic gestures about job creation. We need action. Where both the president and Congress have failed, the grassroots are ready to take up the fight. The American Dream Movement is organizing thousands of people in 435 congressional districts pushing a jobs agenda and a job-creation plan written by 127,000 Americans. Representative Jan Schakowsky has also announced a plan to create 2.2 million “emergency jobs” paid for by higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. And then there’s the Progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget—a robust progressive plan that sets clear priorities for increased revenues and economic growth. With an ongoing cacophony of economists and experts in agreement about the need to create jobs to simultaneously deal with the economy and the deficit, what is required other than will? Great leaders, I wrote this week, when confronted by crisis, act. It’s time to act, Mr. President.

THE NOT-SO-SUPER COMMITTEE. Although the debt ceiling impasse that gripped Washington and brought the US to near default is, for now, behind us—the debate about how to fix the stagnating economy is far from over. In the deal cut between President Obama and Congressional Republicans, a Congressional “super-committee” will decide the fate of an additional $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving, including quite possibly dramatic changes to entitlements. Contributing writer Ari Berman rightly explains this week, in “The Real Problem with the Congressional ‘Super-Committee,’” this newly appointed ”super-committee” wields too much power over the fate of the economy. Tasked with cutting more spending during an economic downturn, the idea of doing anything to stimulate the economy, writes Berman, is totally absent from its purview. He joined Current’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann this week to explain why the scope of the committee, rather than who’s on it, is the real problem.

WISCONSIN RECALLS: WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE. This week, DC correspondent and seventh-generation Wisconsinite John Nichols was on the ground in Madison for the historic recall elections that took place across the state. Nichols joined MSNBC Host Ed Schultz live in Madison among a crowd of cheering, mobilized Wisconsinites eager to oust six state senators most committed to Governor Scott Walker’s agenda of stripping collective bargaining rights. “This is what Democracy looks like!” exclaimed Nichols. While Republicans still hold a 17-16 majority in the State Senate, the Democrats could now form a 17-16 pro-labor coalition with moderate Republican state Senator Dale Schultz, who earlier this year voted against Governor Scott Walker’s attach on unions. Nichols joined Democracy Now! to explain why Tuesday’s election was a victory for progressives and whether activists will not try to recall Governor Walker.

2012 HEATS UP. Contributing Writer Ben Adler offers his assessment of Thursday night’s GOP debate in Ames, Iowa. In general, argues Adler, the debate featured unanimity despite loud, petty arguments—but Republican candidates failed to offer any concrete policy solutions. And now that Texas Governor Rick Perry has joined the presidential race, Adler has five questions that the Governor should have to answer. And Nation contributor Sarah Posner, a senior editor at Religion Dispatches, is on the ground in Ames, Iowa for the GOP debates and the highly anticipated Ames straw poll. Be sure to check-in at TheNation.com over the weekend for her coverage. You can also follow along on Twitter, here.

OF SOLIDARITY AND SNEAKERS. Since riots broke out in London last week, commentators in the UK have struggled to adequately explain the convergence of factors that fueled a spree of looting and violence. Too easily explained as a response to government cuts or racial tensions, what has emerged in England in the wake of the riots is a mix of community solidarity and anger—at the government, at the police and at the rioters without an apparent cause. “It’s taken years to brew the toxic mix of hopelessness, frustration and disenfranchisement, envy, anger and boredom, greed and selfishness, humiliation and recklessness that’s erupted in Britain this week” writes Maria Margonis from The Nation’s London office. Read her sensitive and thought-provoking piece here, where she talks to people affected by the unrest and begins to pull together the threads of the debate surrounding the riots.

SUBPRIME CONTAGION: NO CURE YET. It’s with a mix of pride and sadness that we say farewell to Chris Hayes as The Nation’s DC editor as he joins MSNBC as host of a new weekend morning show. Although he will remain with The Nation as editor-at-large, his final column this as DC editor looks back to when Chris joined The Nation as a contributing writer in 2006, and quickly became The Nation’s Washington editor in November 2007 at a time when the “subprime crisis” was starting to cause concern on Wall Street and Capital Hill. At the time, Hayes reported from a Joint Economic Committee hearing where Ben Bernanke said “scant evidence of spillovers from housing to other components of final demand.” This week, he returns to the subject of subprime mortgages, reporting that the lessons from the precarious division between “prime” and “subprime” mortgages and the extreme inequality they represent, have not been learned. It isn’t just bad for those on the bottom, says Hayes. “In the long run, it’s ruinous for those on the top as well”.

PRIVATE ARMIES IN SOMALIA. In July, in an exclusive exposé, The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill uncovered CIA operations supporting the expansion of the US counterterrorism program in Somalia. Based on extensive on-the-ground investigations in Mogadishu, “The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia” revealed that the CIA is using a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters. This week, reports of CIA involvement in Somalia continued to emerge, as New York Times reported on the role of Bancroft Global Development, an American private security company, involved in the training of African troops in Somalia. Citing Scahill’s July report in The Nation, the first to break the news on CIA operations in Somalia, the piece highlights the growing dependence of the American government on private companies like Bancroft, an issue first exposed by Scahill’s 2007 bestselling book, Blackwater.

IN PICTURES: EUROPE’S TURN TO THE RIGHT. Right-wing gunmen like Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik are a rarity in postwar Europe, Ian Buruma explained in his article in this week’s issue of The Nation. But the nationalist and sometimes outright fascist ideas that fueled Breivik’s radicalization are quickly becoming part of the mainstream conversation in countries throughout Europe. As The Nation illustrated this week, although parties differ in their far-right ideologies, they share an anxiety about multiculturalism, immigration and a perceived “Islamization” of Europe.

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