TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
While Beltway media portray a dual effort by Republicans and Democrats to avoid a government shutdown, the unavoidable question must be asked: Hasn’t a shutdown been the GOP’s goal the entire time? The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry agreed with Rachel Maddow on her show last night that many of the programs—and individuals—that have been targeted for funding cuts are beloved in American society; post office employees, teachers, Medicare. But the Republican Party, with little resistance from Democratic leaders, has been able to successfully demonize these figures and programs.
According to Harris-Perry, the GOP has manipulated popular opinion by linking these programs and workers with “less beloved” figures in American society: African-Americans, poor people and immigrant populations.
“The growth of the African-American middle class in the 1970’s was mostly men working at post offices and women working as teachers,” she says. “Republicans have been very successful in linking…even things for example like public schools to populations and communities that are less beloved, more stereotyped, more stigmatized. They’ve been able to lap those onto each other and sort of create these anxieties in populations that actually need and benefit from—on a daily basis—government actions.”
And its not a coincidence, she says, that these attacks were launched during tax season, when negative feelings towards the government may be strongest.
If the GOP has its way in the budget battles, it will childishly force an unproductive government shutdown. That’s why, Katrina vanden Heuvel said on The Ed Show last night, President Obama has to be the “adult-in-chief,” leaving John Boehner to look like “an appeaser” who has allowed himself to be “a hostage of Paul Ryan.”
“You’ve got the Tea Party in the sandbox trying to score political points,” vanden Heuvel explains, all while Ryan is trying to balance a budget by taking funding away for vital social programs. Obama and the Democrats should have the courage of their convictions, says vanden Heuvel, and push for a “different kind of social contract.” They should engage in less talk about crisis. But “Obama hasn’t reset the terms of debate.” Streams of revenue that could be tapped to help those at the bottom who are suffering are not on the table.
On the same day that President Obama officially launched his re-election campaign this week, the GOP unveiled its budget plan, calling for an overhaul of Medicare. But wait: as Rachel Maddow said last night on her show, “The one thing that everyone knows they like, frankly, is Medicare.” So why are the Republicans proposing deep cuts in funding to the government’s healthcare program, and then handing it over to the private sector within the next ten years? The Nation’s Chris Hayes joined Maddow to talk about this absurd political strategy to target a widely popular program.
During the healthcare reform debate, the GOP accused Democrats of attempting to gut Medicare. Now that they’ve caught the austerity bug, they’ve have changed their tune on Medicare as well. According to Hayes, the real danger will come if the Democratic party engages with the Republicans on Medicare cuts, rather than just calling them out on their ridiculous proposal.
“The only way that the Republicans are not destroyed politically on this is if the White House gives them cover for it,” Hayes says. “If the White House basically says ‘We’re going to work in a bipartisan way to reform the program… then it lives and then, you know what? Medicare is in serious danger.”
On The Rachel Maddow Show last night, The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill explained the US’s shift in policy toward Yemen and what brought the change about. Protests have been raging in Yemen for weeks and have created a crisis of legitimacy for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but, as Scahill says, the United States “sent a message to Yemen” that it was siding with a “brutal dictator.”
Not only have Saleh’s snipers been killing his own people, Scahill says the strongman has been misusing US military aid that was supposed to go toward fighting Al Qaeda by funneling it into projects that quiet his own domestic opponents. Despite the regime’s violence, Scahill finds it notable “how incredibly nonviolent the protests have been.”
If Saleh is forced out, it is impossible to say what will happen and how it will impact the US. Scahill does, however, think the people who will be calling the shots will be the tribes, not Al Qaeda, the US or the military.
For more, read Scahill’s latest piece in The Nation, “The Dangerous US Game in Yemen.”
How will President Obama’s 2012 election campaign take shape when his re-election campaign manager, Jim Messina, has a history of alienating grassroots constituencies? The Nation’s Ari Berman joined MSNBC’s The Last Word to discuss his latest piece on Obama’s controversial move of appointing the former White House deputy chief of staff as his campaign manager.
Most troubling, Messina doesn't see eye to eye with progressives on issues like healthcare or gay rights. “This is now the man who will be the top liaison to Obama supporters and would really need to gin them up for the 2012 campaign,” Berman says. “It really makes you wonder, is this going to be Obama ’08, a grassroots bottom up campaign, or is this going to be very much a top-down conventional centrist campaign?”
According to The Nation's Jeremy Scahill, the United States is worried that if President Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, “the vacuum that would exist” in Yemen could be terrible for US counterterrorism operations. Scahill joined Martin Bashir on MSNBC to discuss why the US is intervening in Libya but refusing to take action in Yemen.
Saleh is a “thug,” says Scahill, someone whose snipers shoot protesters in the head. Yet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants a “political solution” to the growing instability in Yemen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claims it is not the US’s business to meddle in the internal affairs of Yemen.
Scahill says that “the Bush administration created this theory that the world is a battlefield” and it therefore follows that the US can strike anywhere it sees a threat. The Obama Administration has not challenged this “theory,” and has authorized a fair amount of covert violent actions.
For more, read Scahill’s latest piece, in this week’s issue, “The Dangerous US Game in Yemen.”
In the nationwide struggle to protect the ability of unions to collectively bargain, progressives have been much more successful in framing the debate as a fight for basic rights on the state level than they have at the national level. The Nation’s John Nichols, who has been covering this fight for months, joined MSNBC’s Hardball to discuss the strategies behind the national standoff over who will bear the brunt of austerity cuts.
The national Democratic party has failed to win the debate around unions because they tend to relay their message in “stilted, weak, compromising terms,” Nichols says. In Wisconsin, the message was “an injury to one, is an injury to all,” and in response there was a bipartisan outpouring of support against Governor Scott Walker's proposals, he says.
“In a sense these state struggles have borrowed a page from some of the more militant Republicans. Conservatives don’t pull their punches. They talk tough, and you’re seeing these unions talk tough, be aggressive—and people like it,” he says.
In efforts to target Al Qaeda members in Yemen, the US has unintentionally weakened President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime. Most dangerous are its use of bombing operations, which have killed civilians, important tribal figures and members of the Yemeni government. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill joined Democracy Now! this morning to discuss his new investigative report on the US government’s gamble in supporting Saleh as one of its “war on terror” puppets.
The US has been notably quiet on the uprisings in Yemen, including the demonstrations by hundreds of thousands recently calling for Saleh's resignation. Scahill asks, could Obama's silence on the situation be due to the strategic role the nation, and its president, plays in the regional counterterrorism program?
In September 2009, General Petraeus signed an executive order which gives US special operations forces the credence to conduct “kill-or-capture” operations in any country they identify as a threat. This Bush administration concept of the “world as a battlefield” has been pushed forward by the Obama administration and particularly exploited in Yemen. Saleh’s willingness to open Yemen up to US lethal operations and accepting large quantities of US aid has tarnished his domestic reputation and is a factor in what is driving Yemeni citizens to the street in protest, Scahill says.
Should the US arm Libya's rebels? For The Nation's Jeremy Scahill, the answer is an emphatic “No.” On MSNBC's Ed Show, Scahill says that the talk of arming “freedom fighters” in Libya brings to mind the disastrous dirty wars of the 1980s, conducted behind the American public's back with covert forces. What's happening in Libya, Scahill says, is a civil war, and the United States shouldn't be arming “1,000 or so rebels that don’t have much military training."
But the more important question may be why the US is taking such a different strategy in Libya than we have in Yemen. In his major article in this week's issue of the magazine, “The Dangerous US Game in Yemen,” Scahill explains that for years the US has carried out a covert war within Yemen, and supported an autocratic leader as he repressed his people.
“Do you think we should take out Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, who double deals with Al Qaeda all the time?” asks Scahill. Schultz says that’s "Bush talk," and that Obama has gone through the UN to launch the intervention in Libya. To which Scahill responds: “We're bombing Yemen. When did the president go to the UN to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in Yemen?”
In Japan, fears about nuclear fallout have only been getting worse as disaster cleanup crews struggle with radioactive water leaking out of the Fukushima plant. The Nation’s Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos, thinks crews will be working to encase the water in sand and concrete, which is what happened in the aftermath of Chernobyl.
Joining Martin Bashir on MSNBC, Parenti argues that “with technology that’s as dangerous as atomic power, people need to be very, very careful about what they don’t know.” A large part of northeast Japan, Parenti concludes, is now going to be a “sacrifice zone,” a contaminated area which will remain inhospitable for thousands of years.