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John Nichols

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‘NYT’ Public Editor Hits Paper for ‘Terror’ Leak Article

(Licensed through Creative Commons. Courtesy of Wikimedia user haxorjoe.)

Early this week I posted here about a seemingly oft-kilter (and in some ways disgraceful) New York Times piece, which sat at the top of its homepage for quite a while.

The article carried a provocative headline and subheds (one claiming the damage was worse than that caused by Edward Snowden). And it was lightly, and anonymously, sourced. As I wrote:

Yesterday morning the top story at the New York Times site reported on US analysts feeling that the early-August leak to the media on how Al Qaeda communicates had done more to harm our anti-terrorism effort than anything revealed by Edward Snowden. You remember: we briefly closed some of our embassies, for starters.

And the Times quickly recounted how it refused to publish the names that were key in the information, at the request of the government, and only did so after our security folks had given them clearance—after the McClatchy news outlet went with it.

The next day I followed up with McClatchy’s heated response.

Now the Times’s fine public editor Margaret Sullivan has added her prominent voice, in a blog post at the paper that takes the reporter and editor to task. Its title: “An Unacceptable Headline Atop a Questionable Article.” (Yes, she links to my piece.)

It’s hard to know where to start with the lead article in Monday’s Times. In it, anonymous government sources—described in the vaguest possible way (for example, “one United States official”)—are unquestioningly allowed to play their favorite press-bashing hand, featuring the national security card. In so doing, they seem to take a swipe at a news organization that competes with The Times….

She adds:

After all, I’m on the record, repeatedly and perhaps tiresomely, about: 1) the overuse of anonymous sources; 2) setting the bar too low for agreeing to government requests to withhold information (despite some recent encouraging signs to the contrary); 3) the tendency to treat non-Times journalistic efforts with a lack of respect.

The paper’s copy director admits in a note that the headline was a mistake. But Sullivan adds, “That’s a good start in addressing the problems of this article, its sourcing and its placement.” Perhaps that means she will return to that attack on McClatchy in an update or separate post.  UPDATE: She has now received a comment from an editor claiming piece was not meant to be a dig at McClatchy.

Yesterday morning the top story at the New York Times site reported on US analysts’ feeling that the early-August leak to the media on how Al Qaeda communicates had done more to harm our anti-terrorism effort than anything revealed by Edward Snowden. You remember: we briefly closed some of our embassies, for starters.

And the Times quickly recounted how it refused to publish the names that were key in the information, at the request of the government, and only did so after our security folks had given them clearance—after the McClatchy news outlet went with it.

Greg Mitchell unpacks the increasingly heated New York Times-McClatchy leaks dispute.

Will the Right Paint NYC’s Next First Lady as an ‘Angry Black Woman’?

New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio holds up the hand of his wife, Chirlane McCray, as he pronounced her as the future New York first lady during an event with supporters in Manhattan, August 18, 2013. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

After establishing that NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is a “Marxist communist with a history of supporting terrorism,” (as Glenn Beck did this week), how much farther can the right-wing media go?

Well, knowing them, they’ll be sorely tempted to go after de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and paint her as an “angry black woman,” who has (as Beck once said of Barack Obama), “a deep-seated hatred of white people.”

The precedent is there: Remember how the right hammered Michelle Obama during the 2008 campaign for saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country,” (a remark she later put into context) and for supposedly spouting off about “whitey” in a video (which turned out to be a hoax).

In a front-page profile in yesterday’s New York Times, McCray comes across as a fascinating, dynamic woman. But to the right, the narrative of her life is ripe for distortion. Growing up, she was the victim of frequent, vicious racism; and for the Becks and Limbaughs of this world the real crime of racism is that it makes black people want retribution.


She was the seventh-grader too frightened to stand in front of the room because her white classmates would mock her, contorting their mouths to make their lips look big. She was the smoldering teenager who took to writing poems every day to wrestle with her isolation and anger. She was the eldest daughter of one of the only black families in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, who arrived home to see their new house scrawled with racist graffiti.


McCray goes on to become a poet and part of the “Combahee River Collective, an influential collection of black feminist intellectuals, many of them gay,” like her. She met de Blasio at City Hall, where they both worked for Mayor David Dinkins. Bill wooed Chirlane relentlessly. Reluctant to label her sexuality, she said late last year, “In the 1970′s, I identified as a lesbian and wrote about it. In 1991, I met the love of my life, married him, and together we’ve raised two amazing kids.”

Now in the mayoral race, McCray is a top dog, “a mastermind,” the Times writes, “behind the biggest political upset of the year.” Political meetings are planned around her schedule. She sits in on job interviews for top advisers. She edits all key speeches (aides are known to e-mail drafts straight to her).

McCray and de Blasio are as much a package deal as Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, a reality etched into the campaign hierarchy affixed to a wall of the de Blasio political headquarters. It lists “Bill/Chirlane” above a sprawling team of aides.

She may even one-up Hillary: She acknowledges feeling so passionately in 2002 about which way her husband would vote on the next City Council speaker she threatened to divorce him if he backed the wrong candidate.

He sided with his wife.

In other words, if the “angry black woman” charge doesn’t fly, the right could always reposition Chirlane as a ballbuster who controls Bill’s every move—which would neatly position the big guy as a major wimp.

Of course, such twisted depictions may not surface, or they may burp up only in the national media—Fox, hate radio, Drudge. The local wolves, like the New York Post, will have to tread more coyly. After all, this is New York, which will champion Chirlane and Bill’s equal relationship (though let’s hope not as “Billane”). Anyway, de Blasio won the Democratic primary in every borough and won big.

Oh, Glenn Beck has a theory to explain that, too. The Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, see, was “just a distraction,” used to divert media coverage so that “a guy that slipped in that nobody paid attention to, Bill de Blasio” could turn New York City into a communist terrorist utopia.

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“I think this theory,” Beck says, “might, um, hold water.”

Leslie Savan calls out the media’s uneven reporting on de Blasio and Lhota’s ideological histories.

Wendy Davis: Yes, She Can

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibusters an abortion bill in June. (AP/Eric Gay)

Yes, Wendy Davis is making an uphill run for governor of Texas.

She’s a progressive, pro-choice woman with a dramatic personal story, who made her name fighting the powers that be. As such, she does not fit the currently accepted image of a winning statewide candidate in a place where, as Molly Ivins noted, there has been a tendency to elect “good ol’ boy” governors.

But Davis has some history on her side.

And that history counters the narrative of those who would write her off.

If Davis gets Texas voters excited, if she gets them to engage—and re-engage—her candidacy could change the politics of the Lone Star State. A win would be transformational. A strong showing would be transitional.

The key to the calculus is the excitement factor. Can the woman who this spring excited tens of thousands of Texans enough to get them to come to the state capitol to back her filibuster of an assault on reproductive rights now excite hundreds of thousands who don’t usually cast ballots in off-year elections to come vote?

It has happened before.

Less than a quarter-century ago, a populist coalition led by a bold Democratic woman who boldly promised a new politics and a “new Texas” won the governorship. And they did so by boosting turnout, especially among the historically neglected and disenfranchised voters that formed the candidate’s base.

In the gubernatorial election of 1990, Ann Richards replaced a two-term Republican governor, Bill Clements, and beat an exceptionally well-funded and well-connected Republican nominee, Clayton Williams.

The 2014 race to replace retiring Governor Rick Perry is the first open-seat Texas gubernatorial contest since 1990.

If 2014 is a Republican wave year—like 1994, when Richards was removed from office by a Republican upstart named George Bush, or like 2010—then Davis will have a very hard time. To deny that would be foolish.

But if 2014 is a more typical election year—and especially if it is an election year that sees turnout spike among young voters, African-Americans, Latinos and women—it would be foolish to dismiss Davis.

As foolish as it was to dismiss Ann Richards.

Back in 1990, Richards was—like Davis today—an outspoken state official who had made a name by challenging Democratic insiders and Republican money interests. She faced a tough primary to get the party nod, with fellow Democrats suggesting there was just no way Texans were going to elect a woman who absolutely and unequivocally defended the rights of women—especially their reproductive rights—and who was serious about empowering communities that had traditionally been neglected.

The Democratic primary and run-off in 1990 were vicious affairs, with opponents attacking Richards in the crudest and most personal ways. They didn’t just suggest that she was too liberal; one foe ran TV ads that suggested she was “soft” on capital punishment, while another accused her of having drug problems.

Richards won a brutal Democratic runoff race, but she went into the general election with a divided party and a deficit in her campaign treasury. Her Republican foe, Williams, was on the attack and, while he bumbled at several turns, he was rich enough to “own” the airwaves—outspending the Democrat two to one.

Yet, when the votes were counted, Richards won by a 100,000-vote margin, for a 49-47 finish.

What was her secret?

Ann Richards ran as Ann Richards. She was didn’t pull punches or tailor her message to fit the demands of campaign consultants.

Richards was proudly pro-choice. She promised to veto legislation that attempted to limit access to reproductive health services. Her campaign proudly circulated a letter from pro-choice activists that identified the Democrat as a champion in the struggle to defend abortion rights.

Richards defended voting rights. She advocated for low-income Texans and people of color. And she was blunt. Very blunt.

“Power is what calls the shots, and power is a white male game,” said Richards.

She made points that made sense to working women of every race and ethnicity.

“They blame the low income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work,” explained Richards. “They blame the middle income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children.”

Ann Richards made so much sense, and she made it so boldly, so unapologetically, that voters who had grown frustrated with the process got engaged again. And new voters got excited.

Turnout was high on November 6, 1990—roughly 51 percent, as compared to 47 percent four years earlier. And the difference provided the margin by which Richards won.

Turnouts are nowhere near that these days. In 2010, just 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots for governor of Texas. In 2006, it was just 34 percent.

Richards got more people to the polls. And she got their votes, sweeping the communities she has spoken to, and spoken for. Sixty percent of women who came to the polls backed Richards, as did 65 percent of Hispanic voters and 90 percent of African-American voters.

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“She represented all of us who have lived with and learned to handle good ol’ boys,” recalled Ivins, “and she did it with laughter.”

It is often suggested now that, at some point in the none-too-distant future, Texas will “tip” into the Democratic column as women and people of color form a new majority that beats the “good ol’ boys” at the “white male game.”

But the fact is that Texas tipped almost a quarter-century ago. And then it tipped back.

Of course, there are differences between Wendy Davis and Ann Richards.

And, yes, of course, a lot has changed since 1990. The old Democratic courthouse establishment in all those Texas counties has, in many instances, become the new Republican courthouse establishment. The population of Texas has grown dramatically, and the demographics have shifted dramatically.

Some old truths remain, however.

Politics is supposed to be exciting. It is supposed to mean something. It is supposed to present real choices—choices that matter enough to get people to the polls.

Ann Richards practiced the politics of high expectations and high turnouts.

There is good reason to believe that Wendy Davis can do the same.

Yes, of course, Davis will be attacked—crudely, viciously. And, though she has a significant fund-raising network in Texas and nationally, Davis will be outspent. Dramatically.

There is no way she will win by running a cautious or apologetic campaign.

There is no way she will win by trying to identify the mythical center of Texas politics. As Jim Hightower, who won two statewide elections in Texas in the 1980s, reminds us, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”

The key to the 2014 election in Texas is going to be turnout. And the key to turnout is excitement, drama, a sense that something new is possible. Or, perhaps, something old.

Texas Democrats have not prevailed in a gubernatorial race since Ann Richards won an uphill contest in which many suggested she did not have a chance. But Texas Democrats have not has a candidate with the record, the determination and the popular appeal Ann Richards since then. Now, perhaps, they do.

Katha Pollitt calls Wendy Davis her “superhero” after Davis’s bold abortion-bill filibuster.

The Disappearing Voice of the Working Class

Union members and supporters protest Governor Rick Snyder’s “Right to Work” laws in East Lansing, Michigan in December 2012. (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

Writing Contest Finalist

We’re delighted to announce the winners of The Nation’s eighth annual Student Writing Contest. This year we asked students to answer this question in 800 words: It’s clear that the political system in the US isn’t working for many. If you had to pick one root cause underlying our broken politics, what would it be and why? We received close to 700 submissions from high school and college students in forty-two states. We chose one college and one high school winner and ten finalists total. The winners are Jim Nichols (no relation to The Nation’s John Nichols), an undergraduate at Georgia State University; and Julia Di, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Darnestown, Maryland, and Bryn Grunwald, a recent graduate of the Peak to Peak Charter in Boulder, Colorado, who were co-winners in the high school category. The three winners receive cash awards of $1,000 and the finalists $200 each. All receive Nation subscriptions. Read all the winning essays here.   —The Editor

The 2011 protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, which gutted the collective bargaining rights of most public employees, were my first direct experience with democracy. It was exciting and memorable—and not just because I didn’t have to go to school for several days. I felt empowered, connected to the community, and truly hopeful. For the first time, it seemed, people were actually fighting for the rights of working-class families. But the bill passed, Scott Walker won the recall and the senatorial recalls failed to produce a Democratic majority, despite Democrats’ gaining two seats. Almost everyone in my hometown of Madison was dejected. How did we lose?

The answer, I’ve found, lies deeper than being outspent through out-of-state donations. Deunionization has yielded a disorganized and disempowered working class coupled with high wealth and income inequality. The result is a dangerous political imbalance where the wealthy hold too much leverage and few fight for the interests of the average American. A vicious cycle of voter disengagement, obstacles to participation and an unchallenged takeover by moneyed interests drives this imbalance further. That brief feeling of power and engagement I felt in 2011 is, sadly, the exception to the rule.

The decline of unions over the past forty to fifty years resulted from diverse factors including globalization, technological changes, industry deregulation and concerted attacks on union rights by corporate interests and conservative politicians. Over this same time period, inequality has risen dramatically with the top 1 percent of Americans receiving an ever-increasing share of the national income. Despite a 75 percent increase in productivity between 1980 and 2008, workers’ average wages increased only 22.6 percent, whereas up until the mid-70s workers’ income rose in line with their increasing productivity. Professors of sociology at Harvard and the University of Washington, respectively, Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld analyzed the growth in inequality in the private sector from 1973 to 2007. They argue that deunionization accounts for a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality. This discrepancy in wealth translates to an imbalance in political influence, recently exacerbated by the Citizens United ruling.

But the decline of organized labor reduces the political power of average Americans in more ways than just an inability to combat corporate spending. Working-class voters, oppressed by non-participatory work environments and economic hardship, too often become disillusioned with a political system that does not work for them and, resigned to their lack of representation, disengage politically. The participatory work environments that unionized employees are more likely to experience help develop civic skills and a sense of political rights and power, while more authoritarian work environments discourage political activism by reinforcing class power relations. Union members are significantly more likely to vote than non-union members, and Roland Zullo, a labor relations professor at the University of Michigan, argues that unionization increases voter turnout even among non-union members. According to a Dollars & Sense report, turnout among the less wealthy dropped sharply between 1980 and 2000, a period of marked declines in union membership. Voter turnout fell by 9.4 percentage points in the bottom two income quintiles, while increasing 10.1 percentage points among the top three quintiles.

Even those who still wish to participate in the discussion of the policies affecting all Americans may find it difficult to do so. Inflexible work schedules, unreliable or nonexistent transportation methods and burdensome voter ID laws are all obstacles to voting that disproportionately affect working-class and low-income voters. The fewer support systems workers have, the harder it is for them to overcome these odds, leaving corporate America free to consolidate its grip on government.

Together these phenomena conspire to strengthen and institutionalize a political system that works primarily for the wealthy elite, leaving the majority nearly powerless. They form a self-amplifying feedback loop: the more the wealthy elite influence politics and institute their policies, the less confidence working-class voters have in the system and the less likely they are to vote, allowing the wealthy to accrue ever increasing power. Sadly, the further this goes, the harder it becomes to stop, let alone undo. Unions, the strongest weapon the working class has against the elite, already struggling, will only become weaker in this undemocratic environment.

Regaining the lost ground to establish a vibrant participatory democracy will require reuniting labor into a cohesive movement, unions’ allying with other progressive groups, and all progressives’ exploring new methods of organization that take advantage of advances in communication and information technology. Only by returning the tools of government to average Americans through adequate representation can we fix our broken politics. In a New York Times interview, Warren Buffet said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class that’s making war, and we’re winning.” It’s time we fight back.

Shutdown Continues, but Obamacare Is Up and (Mostly) Running

A man fills out an information card during an Affordable Care Act outreach event hosted by Planned Parenthood for the Latino community in Los Angeles, California, September 28, 2013. (Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)

On Tuesday, as federal employees packed up their belongings and the webpages of several agencies went dark, millions of Americans attempted to log onto newly launched government sites to explore their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Many people encountered error messages or slow connections, not because Republicans succeeded in damaging the ACA’s rollout by shutting down the government but because public interest overwhelmed the sites.

Maryland resident Nancy Beigel spent Tuesday evening trying to enroll through her state’s Health Benefit Exchange. “I have been counting the days,” she told me, but said she wasn’t surprised that the sites were bogged down.

Beigel has been waiting for ten years for healthcare reform, since she became unable to work full-time in her mid-40s and lost her employee insurance. For a while she paid for her own coverage, but her premium rose consistently. When it amounted to a third of her income—not counting co-payments for care—she dropped her plan. “I had to make a really difficult decision: do I keep my house, a roof over my head, or do I keep [insurance]?” Beigel said. “I was running up credit card debt like crazy trying to pay for the premium, maxing out cards right and left, and I realized this cannot go on forever. So I gave up [insurance].”

Beigel could not go without care, however. She’s in her 50s now, but has been unwell since long before middle age, and her ailments require constant treatment: fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, blood clots and osteoarthritis. During an emergency appendectomy in 2009, her surgeon discovered a malignant tumor. Later, she recalled, her primary care doctor told her that no one would insure her after a cancer diagnosis. “He said, ‘You’re done.’”

Without insurance, she’s forgone screening recommended by her oncologist, curtailed routine testing she is supposed to receive for her chronic conditions and put off treating a leg problem that makes it difficult to work. Her credit is ruined. Talking about what the Affordable Care Act means to her, she began to cry. “I finally have a chance,” she said. “This is not an entitlement. This is a mercy.”

Nancy Beigel is why congressional Republicans have shut down the government; why millions of public servants are working or not working without pay; why vulnerable women, children and veterans are wondering how soon the benefits they rely on will run out. They’re afraid that if Beigel and millions like her are allowed to taste “the sugar” of health insurance—meaning, if they’re allowed to join the marketplace they’ve been locked out of—it will not only be impossible to repeal the ACA but also difficult to argue that any money spent by the federal government in the public interest is poison.

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But by forcing a shutdown Republicans have squandered whatever political capital was left to squeeze out of the anti-Obamacare furor. Reports on the “glitches” in the online insurance marketplace have been drowned out by shutdown news. In fact, the amount of traffic on the websites offers an early indication that Americans are not so misinformed or confused about the law that they’ll fail to sign up. Conservative pundits like Jennifer Rubin, Robert Costa and Byron York are writing about the GOP’s internal struggle and how the party can extricate itself from the mess, rather than the horrors of healthcare reform.

If Republicans are truly concerned that the ACA will destroy the American way of life as we know it, they would have been better served to let the law fail, and reap the rewards in future elections. But they know that won’t happen. If the law succeeds it will gradually become clear that the GOP wasted three years building a platform around a single, unconscionable goal: denying access to care. Rather than end the American way of life, the ACA will end, or at least chip away at, the American way of making health insurance a luxury reserved for the privileged.

Now that the exchanges are open, the only thing that impacts the future of the ACA is whether they work, which depends on people like Nancy Beigel and young, healthy people signing up. Accordingly, the fight in Congress is no longer about derailing Obamacare. It’s about a small group of hard-right lawmakers in one chamber of one branch of government, empowered by gerrymandering and big-money elections, testing their ability to subvert the system of governance.

Is the Republican battle against the Affordable Care Act really anything like the struggle to end slavery?

Canadians Remain Imprisoned in Egypt Without Charge

After witnessing the violent crackdown of pro-Morsi supporters at the hands of Egyptian security forces on August 16, two Canadians—filmmaker John Greyson and doctor Tarek Loubani—were arrested. The two have been held without charge ever since. 

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Nation contributors Naomi Klein and Sharif Abdel Kouddous join Democracy Now! to discuss the Canadian government’s inadequate response and the hundreds of other witnesses to the massacre that remain imprisoned. 

—Jake Scobey-Thal

Congressman Agrees With Caller: Fighting Obamacare Is Like Fighting Slavery

Congressman John Fleming. (Courtesy of John Fleming)

Congressman John Fleming, a conservative Republican who represents Louisiana’s northwest border with Texas, is one of the Tea Party members driving the shut down debacle over health reform.

Yesterday, he appeared on the Rusty Humphries radio show to discuss the shut down, and was welcomed to the program with a call from a listener, Nick. Nick had a question. Wasn’t the Republican effort to fight “slavery and segregation” in the past akin to the Republican effort against Obamacare today? The caller asked if Republicans are fighting for a similar “moral victory” against healthcare reform that was eventually achieved against slavery.

Fleming responded, “I think your caller is precisely correct.” The congressman went on to list his party’s demands.

The comparison between the Affordable Care Act and slavery is not &ldquot;precisely correct.&rdquot; Healthcare reform vastly benefits communities of color, who disproportionately make up America’s low-income families who will qualify for Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion. The law also invests billions into urban health centers and public health programs designed to help ethnic communities obtain quality care.

Of course, Fleming and the caller also have a curious view of history. It was Democrats, joined by moderate, largely Northern Republicans, who ended legal segregation with President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Notably, it was in Fleming’s district that another government shut down occurred in 1873. In Colfax, Louisiana, an area now part of Fleming’s district, marauding conservative white militias violently overthrew politicians, massacring freed blacks and local soldiers. Their goal was to disenfranchise black citizens of Louisiana and to end Reconstruction, the post–Civil War effort to integrate freed slaves into society.

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Listen to the interview here:

Partial transcript:

CALLER: Yeah I’m hearing a lot of criticism from the left, talking about how “Obamacare’s now the law of the land, you Republicans need to just get on board.” Yeah, but slavery and segregation used to be the law of the land. They had the stamp of approval from the Supreme Court and they passed the Senate and the House. But they were wrong. They were immoral. Republicans were the ones who kept fighting against it, and that was a big moral victory. We won. Republicans did the right thing, and we’re just doing the same thing. But now, now it’s a black president so now you’re racist because you’re actually trying to get something done that’s good for the economy.

RUSTY HUMPHRIES: Nick, you make a great point.[…]

CONGRESSMAN FLEMING: Well I think your caller is precisely correct. Whenever there’s a bad law, it can be repealed or nullified.

Update: Last week, Fleming said the Affordable Care Act was the "worst law in history" on CNN. "Going back to legislation that approved slavery ... this is even more dangerous than that?" asked host Wolf Blitzer. "Yes. Yes. This affects millions," Fleming responded, according to a transcript.

Americans Hate Obamacare, Love Affordable Care Act

Everything you ever wanted to know about healthcare, the shutdown and the Republican messaging machine:

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Marie Myunk-Ok Lee discusses the current healthcare system’s harsh realities for entrepreneurs and creative types.

The Costs of the Shutdown

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

One day into the government shutdown—despite emerging fissures within the GOP and widespread public opposition to their strategy—House Republicans continue to hold the federal government hostage in their attempt to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Fox News has ramped up their spin machine, calling the crisis a “slimdown.” Meanwhile 72 percent of Americans oppose a government shutdown to block the Affordable Care Act.

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MSNBC’s Chris Hayes documents the human cost of the Republican’s intransigence and the growing frustration within the GOP to the Tea Party caucas’ political unteneble position.

—Jake Scobey-Thal

Joining Forces With NARAL Pro-Choice America

The NARAL Pro-Choice America table at the Baltimore Pride rally in 2010. (Flickr user: .m.e.c.)

Fun fact: In 2004, I was a blogger with NARAL Pro-Choice America. They brought me on to write about the election, and I liked them so much I stayed on for a while, blogging and launching their Blog for Choice campaign. Now, almost nine years later, I’m working with NARAL again in a totally different and even more exciting role: as a new member of their Board of Directors. I’m especially thrilled because I’m joining the organization just a few months into the tenure of NARAL Pro-America’s dynamic new president (and my Nation colleague!) Ilyse Hogue.

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NARAL Pro-Choice America has an incredible legacy, but like other mainstream pro-choice organizations, it has had a fraught history with young people—something I haven’t been shy about pointing out. Too many entrenched pro-choice leaders and organizations have perpetuated the myth that young people don’t care about access to abortion, or that they take their rights for granted. As someone who has been working with young people (and a recently young person myself!) I know nothing could be further from the truth. The future of this movement is young people, the work they’re doing, and the innovative ways they’re thinking about reproductive justice and health.

I believe NARAL Pro-Choice America, under Ilyse’s leadership, is fully on board with this reality and working hard to help in any way they can. From their long-standing work helping to elect pro-choice representatives and defeating anti-choice legislation to their newer initiatives on young people—I have tremendous faith in NARAL and their new vision for our pro-choice future. (I also think the fact that NARAL would embrace a board member who has been critical of the organization in the past speaks volumes about their commitment.)

I don’t expect that my new role at NARAL Pro-Choice America will impact my writing here, but if I write about NARAL’s work in any of my pieces, I will remind readers of my relationship in the interest of transparency. I’m incredibly excited about this new role and eager to work with NARAL and Ilyse to curb the assault on reproductive rights, and starting thinking about what a progressive, pro-choice future might look like.

Zoë Carpenter documents the Conservative outrage over Obamacare.

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