TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
To bolster our flailing economy and ease the huge unemployment rate, President Obama talks about "coming together across party lines" and investing in small business. But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tells Laura Flanders that it's not that simple—and even when it comes to supporting small businesses, cross-party progress can be difficult to achieve.
"The role of the Republican party in the Senate has been obstructionist and filibustering from the beginning," Sanders tells Laura Flanders on GritTV, citing the tax breaks that the right has endorsed for the richest in America. Sanders, who published a piece called "No To Oligarchy" in the Nation last week, suggests something called the Responsible Estate Tax Act, legislation that would ensure that the majority of families—save the top .03 wealthiest percentile in America—wouldn't have to pay a dime upon losing a loved one. "What we are fighting for now," Sanders says, "is to stop the decline of the middle class, the increase in poverty and the incredible gap between the very, very rich and everybody else."
“While the technology exists to drill at 5,000 feet, we have absolutely no clue what to do or how to do it when something goes wrong," says Nation Washington editor and Rachel Maddow Show guest host Christopher Hayes. "We have learned that a mile below the sea is a very difficult and dangerous place to drill for oil, but we must still meet our energy needs, right?" How about shallow water drilling? If something goes wrong there, we know how to handle it and cap the spill. Except for Tuesday's incident where a barge crashed into an abandoned oil well off the southern coast of Louisiana, which the US Coast Guard estimates will take ten to twelve days to stop. “There’s got to be a less environmentally disastrous way to meet our energy needs.”
There's always hydraulic fracturing—or "fracking"—which involves pumping highly-pressurized water, sand and some mysterious mixture of chemicals into the ground to force natural gas to the surface. "But ya know what’s also in the ground?" asks Hayes. "Water… water we drink." Michael Klare, professor, author and Nation defense correspondent, says "We’ve been extracting oil and natural gas and coal for a very long time," so most of our easy-to-reach oil fields have been depleted. All that's left is drilling deep off shore in places like the environmentally fragile Arctic region. "Any kind of oil spill there would have devastating consequences for wildlife," warns Klare.
In New York, a rally is planned tonight outside Citi Field in Queens where baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks will play the New York Mets. Demonstrations have already taken place outside ball parks in cities across the country, demanding that baseball owners move the 2011 All Star Game out of Arizona. The owners will have to make their decision carefully considering that 30 percent of its players are Latinos. Nation sports editor and Bad Sports author Dave Zirin tells Democracy Now! that this is "not exactly news you’re gonna hear on SportsCenter." These demonstrations are so important because "what they’ve allowed people to do is nationalize the issue and have it not be just an Arizona issue.”
Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, holds fundraisers for Arizona's SB 1070 legislation supporting politicians in the owner's box of what is a publicly-funded stadium in Arizona. “This is political money laundering and it happens in our cities around the country," says Zirin. "We are underwriting right wing politicians and right wing politics through sports." A couple players from the Diamondbacks have come out and spoken against SB 1070, only to be shut down very quickly by team management and Major League Baseball itself. Within hours of the law being passed, 18 baseball players came out against the Arizona Law, but now they're being pressured to keep their opinions to themselves.
The unemployed and their fluctuating ranks do not make for a natural political constituency. But with so many people out of work for more than 99 months—15 million to be exact—this group is unfortunately becoming more stable. If just a fraction of these people were well organized and politically active, Nation Washington editor Christopher Hayes says, imagine how the 2010 midterm elections would go for Republicans, "whose members have referred to out-of-work Americans as ‘hobos,' 'on the dole,' 'spoiled' and 'lazy.’”
While guest hosting The Rachel Maddow Show, Hayes asks Washington Independent economy reporter, Annie Lowrey, "How effective are the online efforts to organize unemployed people?" This group, which she calls "the unemployed netroots" is only six months old. Their benefits have extended, but these people are still gathering online on sites like, Unemployment Lifeline, The Layoff List and U3. Lowrey says they've started to gain political power and have begun "demanding things from people who are running from office or are representing them.” This group is "taking a page out of the Tea Partiers book" and standing up for their interests, forcing Congress and the media to ask, "If all of these millions of people are connecting online, what kind of effect might they have?"
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is just one home run away from being the seventh and youngest player to hit 600 home runs in major league history. So as guest-host of The Rachel Maddow Show, Nation Washington Editor Christopher Hayes wonders "why isn’t the whole country whipped up into a home run frenzy, chomping at the bit every time the slugger steps up to home plate?" According to Nation Sports Editor Dave Zirin, it's because A-Rod's "the Courtney Love of baseball."
After Rodriguez admitted to steroid use in the past, Zirin says, the industry him "in the Major League Baseball version of the Witness Protection Program.” Owners have avoided all accountability for the steroid era, so celebrating A-Rod brings up uncomfortable questions about how much owners knew about steroid use and when did they know it. As one anonymous player asks, "Why is it when it comes to steroids, distribution is a team issue, but punishment is an individual issue?"
Today the Senate will get its hands on the text of the long-awaited energy bill—but it'll be a skeleton of what comprehensive climate change legislation should look like. The bill, scaled back heavily due to Republican opposition and cowardice on behalf of the Democrats, only includes liability for oil spills, promotion of natural gas, energy efficiency and green jobs—no carbon emissions caps. Nation writer Christian Parenti joined guest host and Nation Washington Editor Christopher Hayes on The Rachel Maddow Show last night, explaining that President Obama has the power to implement serious energy policy—with or without the help of the Senate—by having the federal government employ green technologies.
"An easier way would be for the federal government to use the power of the purse to transform the way it is already purchasing energy, buildings, vehicles, to buy clean technology" says Parenti. In his recent article, "The Big Green Buy," Parenti outlines the potential for the federal government to purchase environmentally-friendly technologies in bulk. If the government—which makes up 38 percent of the US economy—buys clean, the price gap between clean and dirty technologies will shrink, making clean technologies affordable to everyone, no Senate hassles involved.
“Are we gonna be a media system which is vetting and holding standards or are we going to be bullied as a country by a right-wing media, which peddles fears and slanders," asks Nation Editor and Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. The Today Show's Matt Lauer says that media bias has been happening for years. "This is not about media bias," she replies. "It’s about the mainstream media with a few exceptions." To put the media in its place, the White House should institute procedures and “get a spine,” as vanden Heuvel says. "It is feeding the zealots of our system by not standing tall and confronting the forces of hate and fear in a country that has a lot of economic pain.”
Lauer thinks that if you say the word "race" or "racism," it immediately elicits fear in people, which makes them do unreasonable things because they are worried about being associated with those words. Vanden Heuvel says that there are media organizations doing good things like the Atlantic Journal-Constitution and CNN, while FOX News hasn't retracted their story at all. "This was a ginned-up, fabricated story,” she explains. “And this country can’t afford this kind of fake journalism.”
Up until a few days ago, most of the nation didn't know who Shirley Sherrod was, but for people who have made a life and a career out of studying civil rights, like Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Lacewell, that name was no news to them. Shirley Sherrod is the wife of Charles Sherrod, a foundational member of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the founders of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Lacewell explains that Sherrod “was not just a bureaucrat working away in Georgia; this is a woman who is part of a family that has made real contributions to advancing the conversation on race in America.”
And even though right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart only showed a short excerpt of Shirley Sherrod's NAACP banquet speech and the administration rushed to judgment, Harris-Lacewell told Morning Joe that some good could come out of this scenario. She says that a national conversation on race is a bad idea, but a national classroom on race should be considered. Embedded under all of this mess is a beautiful story of Sherrod, the Spooner Family and interracial cooperation around issues of justice, Harris-Lacewell says. “The real narrative that Ms. Sherrod was telling is the narrative of someone who’s father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan, who developed prejudices and yet found a way through her advocacy and work to be a true advocate for this white farm family.”
The rapid and misguided condemnation—and subsequent resignation—of Shirley Sherrod has reignited a lot of questions about the role of race in America's political landscape. As Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Lacewell explained last night on Countdown, American politicians have long been assigning blame to black women—and "the mythical welfare queen" in particular—for a whole host of problems.
"The villification of black women for sport and political gain has been sort of a basic part of the American political strategy for both the Republican and Democratic parties for a couple of decades now," Harris-Lacewell says. And the fact that the NAACP, the organization that should have come to Sherrod's defense, lacked the basic understanding of her background that would have helped them correct the problem is the worst of it. "To say her last name alone should have prompted, for the head of the NAACP, an immediate moment of pausing," Harris-Lacewell says.
The Nation magazine tonight won an unprecedented come-from-behind victory, rallying from two runs down in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat D.C Comics, 12-11. The thrilling victory came after ten-plus years of twice-a-season, often brutal defeats at the hands of D.C. Comics, a publishing league juggernaut known for their offense. The Nationistas are now 4-2 on the season.
Playing before a crowd of dozens at Lower Manhattan's Murry Bergtraum Field, The Nation jumped out to an early 9-4 lead. Circulation Fulfillment Manager/left-center fielder Katelyn Belyus had three hits for The Nation, who went ahead early with a 4-run fourth keyed by leadoff hitter and Intern Director Max Fraser. The Nation took a four-run lead into the top of the seventh, when four two-out runs by D.C. Comics sent the game into extra innings.
In extra innings The Nation's defense kept it close: a dramatic diving catch by Left Fielder and Nation Contributor Ari Berman (author of the forthcoming book Herding Donkeys) helped keep the game tied in the eighth. Pitcher and and Vice-President of Advertising Ellen Bollinger pitched a complete game for The Nation on a humid summer night, holding D.C. Comics to five earned runs and baffling the Comics squad. Shortstop and Lapham's Quarterly contributor Elias Altman added two sac flies for The Nationistas.
Trailing 11-9 in the bottom of the ninth, The Nation stormed back with a series of singles until a dramatic one-out, two-run double from Nationistas Coach John Bollinger sent America's oldest news weekly to their first walk-off victory since the Clinton administration.
"We left blood on the field tonight" said Bollinger, in a post-game speech to the team. The Nation now has wins over The New Yorker, Pro Publica and The Scientific American. The Nation plays The Paris Review on Friday, in a rematch of last summer's heated two-run Paris Review victory. New York–based Nation fans can come out for Friday's game, or for The Nation's remaining grudge matches against The New Yorker and Harper's—follow @thenation on twitter for details.