TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
Is lobbying going underground? Despite its official decline on paper, Nation Institute reporting fellow Lee Fang argues that the influence industry “is growing very quickly.” In an interview with Democracy Now! hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González, Fang spoke about his latest Nation feature “The Shadow Lobbying Complex,” drawing attention to an Obama executive order banning registered lobbyists. In effect, the order has catalyzed an underground, unregistered lobby industry. Fang also talked about Palantir, a Silicone Valley–based company backed by the CIA and venture capitalists, and the recent uptick in lobby money spent on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Bangladesh.
The last three days have been the bloodiest in Ukraine’s twenty-two-year post-Soviet history. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Nation contributing editor Stephen Cohen railed against the tepid response of Western leaders to this eruption of violence. Warning that the chaos in Ukraine could spark a civil war—or even “a new Cold War divide”—he chastised the United States and Germany for placing responsibility for solving this political crisis squarely in the hands of the Ukranian government. According to Cohen, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel’s implicit support for the anti-government protesters helps to “rationalize what the killers in the streets are doing. It gives them Western license.”
Editor’s note: The interview with Cohen starts at 11:40.
Has the American media mischaracterized the ongoing protests in Ukraine? Nation contributing editor and Russian historian Stephen Cohen thinks so. In an interview on the John Batchelor Show this Tuesday, Cohen criticized American journalists for downplaying the radical ultra-nationalist character of some protesters. “They’re a small minority,” Cohen said, “but they’re organized. They’ve got funds. They’re armed. And therefore they’re exceedingly dangerous when the moderate leadership has collapsed.” Cohen also appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, where he questioned whether American national security is best served by the media’s unanimous “Putin-bashing.”
Incessant partisan handwringing over the impact of Obamacare on the midterm elections discounts a key reality: the Affordable Care Act is working. As Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopolous, premiums are down, companies can no longer deny pre-existing coverage, and over 1.1 million are now enrolled, including growing numbers of young people. In a conversation with Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, Fusion’s Alicia Menendez and ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl, vanden Heuvel insisted, “The broad mass of Americans are not interested in repeal. Mend it, don’t end it. Fix it. Embrace it.”
The senseless murders of Florida teenagers Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin speak to the daily realities of being black in America. Appearing on Melissa Harris-Perry alongside professors William Jelani Cobb and Pedro Noguera, Nation writer Mychal Denzel Smith discussed the burden of violence that young black men face. "I walk around in this young, black male body and I understand that it causes fear, it causes a reaction, it causes police to look at me more carefully. It could kill me."
Following a fierce battle between conservative groups and labor activists, workers at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen plant cast their final votes today on whether to allow union representation at their factory. If they vote to unionize, the Chattanooga location will become the first foreign-owned factory organized by the United Auto Workers. Nation Washington, DC, correspondent John Nichols appeared on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes to discuss the implications of the workers’ decision. The prospect of unionization and the “works committees” being planned for the plant have anti-labor politicians worried the idea could spread—so worried they’ve threatened to withhold tax incentives should the plant unionize. Nichols thinks their fear is justified: “There are a lot of folks saying [works committees] might actually sell in the south.”
In the wake of All-American football player Michael Sam’s coming out, the initial question among sports analysts was whether an NFL locker room was ready for a gay player. However, Nation sports editor Dave Zirin claims that it is not players but executives who are unready. Speaking alongside former NFL player and openly gay activist Wade Davis on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Zirin accused NFL executives of antediluvian cowardice in their reactions to Sam’s revelation. “They sound like scared children when they talk about the prospect of drafting a player of the character of Michael Sam,” claimed Zirin.
If American children had to work multiple jobs in order to pursue their dreams, it would stir up a whirlwind of controversy. Yet this is a common experience for many amateur American athletes hoping to compete in the Olympic Games, and it receives almost no media attention. Appearing on CSPAN’s Washington Journal, former US Olympic luge competitor and Nation contributor Samantha Retrosi railed against the “privatized sporting hierarchy” that exploits young athletes. “Athletes essentially are property of corporate sponsorship,” Retrosi told host Peter Slen.
The Sochi Olympics are a prime example of celebration capitalism: an exorbitant, nationalism-boosting affair that allows participant countries to distract from economic inequality and civil rights abuses at home. In this panel at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Nation sports editor Dave Zirin joins 2006 Olympic luge competitor Samantha Retrosi and Jules Boykoff, a politics professor at the Pacific University of Oregon, to discuss the profound political implications of the Olympic Games. Citing severe environmental degredation, harsh crackdowns against activists, and the installment of a sweeping surveillance system, Zirin refers to this year’s event as an “unreal clusterfuck of injustice.”
Editorial note: Dave Zirin’s comments start at 12:22.
In the buildup to what are being described as the most corrupt Olympics in history, a broad spectrum of activists has raised issues with Sochi 2014. The list of concerns includes environmental degradation, rampant corruption, labor abuses, indigenous rights and animal mistreatment. Only two days before the opening ceremony, Nation contributor Samantha Retrosi and sports editor Dave Zirin appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss these pressing issues. Echoing sentiments shared in her recent article for The Nation, Retrosi commented on the “cruelty and exploitation” embedded within the Olympics, while Zirin claimed that “what’s happening in Russia is particularly bad, even by Olympic standards.”