TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
As despots and strongmen across the Middle East and North Africa struggle against their own citizens for control of their countries, should the US be doing more to help along this popular unrest? On Russia Today, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and NYU's Stephen Cohen say the US should allow the uprisings to take their own course if we really want to play a productive role in the future of the region. What the world is witnessing, vanden Heuvel and Cohen say, are not really democracy movements so much as they are the outpourings of nations fed up with living under dictatorships.
The repression of these strongmen was fueling terrorism, vanden Heuvel says, as dictators increasingly interacted with their citizens through their militaries or security forces. With newly-opened societies, economic and social development will be critical, and the US now has a chance to support "civic governance" in the region.
What we should not do, vanden Heuvel says, is intervene in Libya: "I wish the UN had more capacity to end violence and bloodshed in places like Libya," she says, but if the US attempts to get involved unilaterally in the country, it would dangerously destabilize the situation and might even get in the way of forces who, vanden Heuvel thinks, are very close to ousting Qadaffi.
Is unrest in the Middle East sending gas prices off the charts? Or could the oil panic have more to do with Wall Street speculators exploiting fear? On The Ed Show last night, The Nation's Chris Hayes says that the Obama Administration may be too "politically afraid" to confront the speculators on the escalating costs for fuel and food, but if they want to have any chance of curbing the volatile swings in price, they'll have to act quickly and aggressively.
"When gas prices hit four dollars, the country's politics go haywire," says Hayes. With so many of the government's gas cost "overseers" in the pocket of big Wall Street donors, and with Republicans blocking funding for the administrations key regulatory bodies, Hayes isn't expecting significant interventions from Obama any time soon.
For more on the gas price scare and what Obama can do about it, read Hayes's "Will Federal Regulators Crack Down on Oil Speculation?"
At a time when Citizen’s United has made it possible for corporations to dominate the political arena, unions serve as the last line of defense against the privatization of the public sector and as one of the few remaining voices for the working class. That's why the right is trying to take labor down. The Nation’s Naomi Klein joined MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show last night to talk about how the GOP has manipulated the current financial situation to push through unpopular policies that would have never gotten them elected.
Wisconsin isn't alone in their fight against the GOP's attempt to end collective bargaining for public workers: sixteen states currently face similar assaults. A particularly egregious bill that recently got an OK from Michigan’s House of Representatives would allow the governor to declare a state of emergency on any city, town or school district, in which the governor could then appoint an emergency power that could dismantle contracts and dismiss elected officials. The most frightening thing about this proposal: it could be used to put a corporation in charge of a whole city. According to Klein, conservatives are trying to consolidate power so that they can begin auctioning off public services, and in Michigan's case, entire municipalities.
“What this fight is really about is not unions vs. taxpayers, as we’ve been told. It’s a fight about who is going to pay for the crisis created by the wealthiest elite in this country,” Klein says. “Is it going to be regular working people? Or is it going to be the people who created this crisis? That’s the debate we need to have.”
Click here to read all of Klein's articles for The Nation.
Is Natalie Portman, a Harvard-educated career woman having a child with her fiance, a bad example for America's young women? Former Arkansas governor and possible 2012 presidential contender Mike Huckabee thinks so, and after Portman won Best Actress at the Academy Awards last week, he called in to a radio show to say just how unfortunate it is "that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children."
But on MSNBC's The Last Word Friday night, The Nation's Melissa Harris-Perry says Huckabee is way off the mark: single mothers, Harris-Perry says, do have "restrictions and difficulties" that we should all recognize, but "our children, our lives, are not the scourge." Harris-Perry emphasizes that "more and more women are choosing to opt out of marriage through divorce or by delaying marriage," and what really impacts young women are the structural opportunities too often denied to them, opportunities such as a decent education, access to family planning and counseling for jobs and college. Marriage as an institution might deserve closer scrutiny, Harris-Perry explains, but people simply making "different decisions" about their own lives deserve to be left alone.
Will the labor dispute between NFL players and owners lead to a lockout? The Nation’s Dave Zirin joined former Denver Broncos player Nate Jackson on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show to examine the options. If the owners force a lockout, Zirin says, players would lose access to team medical facilities and team trainers, a disastrous proposition. One player’s pregnant wife recently induced labor to make sure their child’s birth would be covered under player health benefits.
The owners, Zirin says, would like an agreement that is “socialism for the rich” and “capitalism for the fans and players.“ NFL owners are some of “the wealthiest, most well-connected people on the planet,” while players come from “poor socioeconomic backgrounds,” typically play three and a half years and die twenty years before the average American male.
What’s more, “the fans pay for stadiums with tax dollars,” Zirin says, but they can’t even afford to buy tickets to the games. He says fans make the game go around and should have more voice in determining what happens.
Protesters vacated the Wisconsin Capitol building last night under an agreement that the building would then be fully opened again to the public within 48 hours. Some of the protesters had not left the building for over a week to stand against Governor Scott Walker's anti-worker budget bill. The Nation’s John Nichols joined the MSNBC’s The Ed Show to report on the situation in Madison and the future of the 14 Senators who left the state to prevent Walker from forcing the bill through the legislature.
Walker ramped up threats against those Democratic senators to return to Wisconsin yesterday, issuing an order that they could be forcibly detained. But if the senators returned now with the building closed, citizens would be excluded from the debate, Nichols says.
Nichols warns that the senators should take caution in any agreement to return, because Democratic Assembly members have been frustrated with the way Walker has treated them throughout the process. “The Assembly members thought that they had deals for an open, honest and free-wheeling debate but at the end of the day they ended up with a 17-second vote in which most Democrats were not allowed to vote on this fundamental issue,” he says.
When President Barack Obama framed an NFL lockout and the possible cancellation of the 2011 season as a quarrel between billionaires and millionaires, he missed the point, The Nation’s Dave Zirin told GRITtv.
“It’s the difference between 31 of the richest people in the United States, who have generational wealth, against a workforce that will work on average three and a half years and then have debilitating health problems for the rest of their lives,” Zirin says. “On top of all that, they tend to come from socioeconomic backgrounds the likes of which people in the owner's box cannot imagine.”
For more on this issue, check out Zirin’s latest piece “Taking Sides in the Looming NFL Lockout.”
Under the guise of deficit reduction, the GOP is actually pushing women out of the public sphere and back into the home, says The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. With Mike Pence’s bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood, or the proposal to drastically cut funding from the Head Start program, for example, Republicans are not only trying to nix family planning services but also steer women away from the workforce with compulsory motherhood, Harris-Perry writes in her latest column.
The attacks on family planning and abortion, Harris-Perry says, will actually lead to even more abortions and negative women’s health outcomes. Publicly-funded family planning services prevent more than a million unintended pregnancies each year and without these services, an estimated 400,000 additional abortions will be performed. While low-income women will undoubtedly bear the burden of the lack of reproductive services and unwanted pregnancies, many women, rich and poor, will still find a way to get abortions if this legislation passes, Harris-Perry says.
For more coverage on the attack on reproductive health check out Bryce Covert’s "With State Budgets Withering, Get Ready for the ‘Womancession" and Katha Pollitt’s "In It’s War on Choice has the GOP Gone Too Far?" Also, starting tomorrow, Sharon Lerner will be guest blogging on the consequences for women of the anti-choice policies of the new crop of Republican leaders.
This past Saturday, hundreds of activists disrupted business-as-usual at Bank of America locations in cities across the country. The coordinated actions were the first for US Uncut, a new grassroots organization dedicated to exposing corporate tax cheats and bringing attention to the tax loopholes they exploit. To explain how US Uncut evolved out of the original UK Uncut, The Nation’s Johann Hari joined US Uncut’s Ryan Clayton on The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann. Hari says that UK Uncut was born out of the UK government’s massive cuts to public services which coincided with corporations still partying, as Hari says, like it’s 1997.
“Liberals here were as demoralized as liberals are in the US,” Hari says from London. They were “feeling angry and impotent.” But as Hari reported in his Nation article, “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party,” the Uncut idea spread all over Britain, and as people began to take action they started having a tremendous impact on the debate. Faced with budget-slashing politicians in Wisconsin and across the country, will US Uncut be able to start a real anti-austerity movement in America?
Wisconsin protesters are bracing for Governor Scott Walker to give his budget address today, as a judge orders the Capitol building to reopen to the public after being locked down for the past few days. The Nation’s John Nichols joined MSNBC’s The Ed Show Monday to describe the situation in Madison.
Wisconsin saw its largest protest in the state's history on Saturday, a crowd swelling to more than 100,000 that Nichols describes as a diverse grouping of people from all areas of life in the state. The protesters are pushing the governor to accept the compromise deal that unions have put forth, but Walker has insisted that his bill include provisions that would end collective bargaining rights for public workers.
And, according to Nichols, the situation is about to intensify. “What the governor is proposing is a nearly a billion dollar cut in public education funding. That will be devastating to our urban schools especially, but also to rural schools,” he says. “My sense is that the outcry will be a louder roar than what we’ve heard up to this point.”