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This (Past) Week: Occupy Everywhere. PLUS: Battleground Ohio | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

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

This (Past) Week: Occupy Everywhere. PLUS: Battleground Ohio

OCCUPY EVERYWHERE. Inspired by the Arab uprisings, Spain’s indignados and Wisconsin’s mass protests against Gov. Scott Walker, the Occupy movement has gone global. Signs demanding economic equality for the 99 percent have spread to 1,500 cities in eighty-two countries. Its unifying message: getting corporate money out of politics, narrowing the gap of income inequality and meaningful solutions to rampant and prolonged joblessness. I joined The Ed Show last week to explain how the Occupy movement, or the “99 percent movement,” has captured the imagination and opened up a space for political deliberation that had only too recently been drowned out by manufactured crises. These protests around the globe have reshaped the political landscape in the US and other parts of the world. The power of the Occupy movement does not lie in specific demands, as I’ve argued, but in “super-charging” energy for a coalition of different progressive groups fighting to change the status quo and tackle establishment interests and power.

BATTLEGROUND OHIO. Ohioans are just weeks away from voting to repeal Ohio Governor John Kasich’s anti-union bill that dealt a dangerous blow to labor and working people in the state. The referendum (known as Issue 2) has been popular among Ohio’s citizens and is expected to pass—signaling a signature victory for the labor movement. However, as John Nichols reported last week, Republican out-of-state groups are flocking to Ohio to implement campaigns in support of the law—and Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice-president, is leading the charge. As Nichols reported, Cheney’s Alliance for America’s Future is one of the most aggressive out-of-state special interests groups that have elbowed their way into the fight. In a lively discussion on MSNBC’s The Ed Show last week, Nichols explains why the stakes in Ohio’s labor fight are high—for our democracy, for 2012 and for the future of labor.

THE AUSTERITY CLASS. Our cover story this week, by Nation contributing writer Ari Berman, unravels a central paradox of American politics over the past two years: How, in the midst of a massive unemployment crisis, did the deficit hawks comes to rule Washington and deform our politics and economy?

Berman attributes the disconnect between the public and Washington to the prominence of a new “austerity class”—an influential coalition of politicians, wonks and pundits—backed by Wall Street money, who’ve manufactured a center-right establishment consensus that is increasingly at odds with the country’s anti–Wall Street sentiment. Berman’s incisive and analytical reporting has sparked a lively conversation about the increasing tension between this austerity class and the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon. Paul Krugman notes the debate here. Matt Yglesias weighs in, as does The New Republics Jonathan Cohn and Hullabaloo blogger Digby. Berman’s piece also received honorable mentions by The Atlantic’s James Fallows and The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

AFGHANISTAN’S FUTURE. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama announced his plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan: by the summer of 2012, the president plans to withdraw 33,000 troops and plans to have all combat troops out by 2014. But even after these withdrawal deadlines, other troops such as trainers and consultants will remain. Are these goals realistic or even desirable? In our latest installment of Nation Conversations, I spoke to Jonathan Steele, former chief foreign correspondent for The Guardian and author of Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground. Steele argues that the United States must learn from the Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan. The conflict is “unwinnable,” Steele believes; former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev saw this clearly after he inherited the war, but Obama has yet to fully comprehend this reality.

INSIDE LOOK AT UP WITH CHRIS HAYES. The New York Observer’s Kat Stoeffel offers up this terrific profile of Chris Hayes, Nation editor-at-large and MSNBC’s rising young star. Be sure to catch Chris every weekend on MSNBC, joined by diverse and insightful voices for the latest in politics, live Saturdays from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. ET and Sundays from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. ET.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m on Twitter-@KatrinaNation. Please leave your comments below.

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