TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
As discussion about whether violent rhetoric influenced the shooting in Arizona this past weekend continues, Frances Fox Piven—professor, Nation writer and author, most recently, of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America—joined Democracy Now! to talk about Glenn Beck’s suggestion that she has plotted violent overthrow of the US government, bears responsibility for the financial crisis and is comparable to the right-wing Hutaree militia.
Piven says that “right wing operatives” recently visited her home to interview her for a video that would be part of their “term paper." The "operatives" turned out to both be individuals working for Andrew Breitbart’s blog. According to Piven, Beck “picked” her (and her late husband, Richard Cloward) because she wrote “a little article” for The Nation last year talking about the problems in organizing the unemployed, so the unemployed can have an impact in American politics.
“Unnerved” by these Beckheads but not “afraid,” Piven concludes that Glenn Beck does not deserve to be singled out. For Piven, Rupert Murdoch has done much more to create an atmosphere in which Beck's rhetoric is accepted, and has taken advantage of the tragedy "to create a demonology in which it is the left, the Democratic left, that is the source of many of our troubles.”
Eric Alterman, columnist for The Nation and author of the new book Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama, appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning to comment on the shooting in Arizona, his book and President Barack Obama. He explains how American “democracy has become so corrupt, in fact, that while it looks like a democracy from far away and the motions that people go through are the motions that people would go through if there were a democracy…it contains none of the substance of a democracy." Specifically, he cites money in politics and the power of right wing media as reasons why our democracy is so dysfunctional.
On the shooting, Alterman explains that although Jared Lee Loughner, who has been arrested for the shooting in Arizona, didn’t seem to have listened to Glenn Beck on Fox and then gone out to shoot to people, Americans “don’t live in a society of only sane" people. America is a society with “lots of disturbed people who have access to an amazing amount of firearms,” Alterman explains, because, for example, people can get weapons that used to be banned under the Clinton crime bill.
When pushed by host Brian Lehrer to explain why he was so critical of President Obama and the people of this country in Kabuki Democracy, Alterman clarifies: “I don’t think I’m very critical of Barack Obama. I think I’m very sympathetic to Barack Obama.” A “very strong Obama supporter” during the campaign, Alterman also explains that the reason Obama has made a lot of mistakes and failed to fulfill certain campaign pledges is because of obstacles presented by our political system itself.
Jeff Biggers, a Tucson-based journalist whose recent piece for TheNation.com, "What's the Matter With My Arizona?", charts the trajectory of his state's increasingly-deregulated gun culture, appeared on Democracy Now! Monday to discuss Jared Lee Loughner’s assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. After the act of violence, which killed six people, including a 9-year-old girl, and wounded others, Biggers describes his childhood in Arizona: “This is a gun state. I think across the nation, not only in Arizona, we all grow up with guns. I had my first gun—fired my first gun when I was eight years old at a summer camp with the YMCA here in Tucson, Arizona. And, I cut my political teeth, for example, when I was 17, with Congressman Morris K. Udall, who was a very proud member of the NRA, who defended gun rights.”
In a following segment with the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, Chip Berlet, Biggers addressed how the violence might impact democracy: “We have a radical right state legislature who is really obsessive and hell-bent on having some sort of confrontational defiance of federal authority. And many people here in Tucson are really trying to come to grips [with] how there can be more public events to have greater access to politicians, and that really has been jeopardized.” Biggers predicted, “Ultimately in the future, we’re going to be having less access to our elected officials and more influence, even more influence with the gun lobby and other lobbyists.”
With Rahm Emanuel back in Chicago running for Mayor, President Obama this week appointed financial executive and former Clinton administration official William Daley as his new White House chief of staff. Daley, the Midwest chair of JPMorgan Chase, a board member of Merck and former head of SBC, also served as Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, and will likely lead Obama's 2012 re-election drive.
The problem with Daley? As The Nation's Ari Berman writes, "He shares the corporate centrism of Emanuel and, when it comes to economic issues, may be worse." In another move sure to please Wall Street, Obama plans today to name former Goldman Sachs consultant Gene Sperling to lead the White House National Economic Council, the post recently vacated by Lawrence Summers. Berman joined Democracy Now! this morning to explain what these appointments mean for Obama's presidency and the future of our economy.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the 112th Congress and the beginning of John Boehner's (R-OH) reign as Speaker of the House. What can we expect from "the man behind the tan?" Nation Editor and Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel joined Ed Schultz on The Ed Show last night to talk about Boehner's corporate and banking ties and what that will mean as he takes control of the House gavel.
"Boehner is very much in the Tom DeLay mold," she explained. "John Boehner is notorious for having a very close circle of corporate titans. He's flown on their corporate jets, he goes golfing with them." Vanden Heuvel also emphasized the role the media is designated to play in getting to the nitty-gritty of his political modus operandi and "beyond his tan, beyond those tears and looks at the policies which are going to make millions of Americans cry." Sense of humor in hand, she reminded viewers that Boehner had voted against a food safety bill in the recent lame-duck session. "What is he, for salmonella vs. the people?"
Why do Americans worship athletes, and why do we continue to view sports as a near-holy sanctuary into which things such as politics should never enter? "We love sports because it provides escape and the promise of magic," says The Nation's Dave Zirin, "But beneath the pyro, it's a fun-house mirror of who we are as a country."
Zirin recently sat down with ESPN's Scoop Jackson to explain why politics have always been an inextricable part of sports. In fact, Zirin made his new movie, Not Just A Game: Power, Politics & American Sports, to examine this long and fruitful history of politics in sports. From Billie Jean King to Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown to Pat Tillman, "no matter the 'ism' we're talking about," Zirin says, "racism, militarism, sexism, commercialism—the point of the film is that there is politics and promise woven throughout."
It says something about the 111th Congress that there was so much resistance to a bill giving health benefits to 9/11 emergency responders—one that was fully paid for and had widespread public support.
Now that the bill has passed, The Nation's Chris Hayes speaks with one of its most vocal advocates, House Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York), about how progressive legislation ever makes it through Congress. The answer? Often it's because of "unstoppable pressure" from outside the Beltway, and the amount of media attention being brought to bear on an issue.
Read Chris Hayes's latest column on how the Senate sorely needs filibuster reform here.
As Barack Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it was almost like he was on the campaign trail again, talking about the values of pluralism that this country is built on. Rachel Maddow speaks with Princeton professor and Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry about how central civil rights and social justice issues will be to the success or failure of the Obama presidency, and the fight for equal rights that faces queer people in the US beyond the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Watch the clip, then read Melissa Harris-Perry's new article, "Obama in the Age of Accommodation."
"Man, it's fun to cover Julian Assange! He's got a mansion, he's got a bracelet, he's got a website," Dylan Ratigan jokes to open up a mega panel discussion featuring The Nation's Ari Berman, Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney and radio host Sam Seder.
Why is the media going crazy over Assange while no one's paying attention to Bradley Manning, who's actually doing serious time and facing rough conditions in prison for allegedly leaking classified information? And how much does the content of Bernie Sanders' 8 1/2 hour filibuster rant match up with Obama's beliefs?
In a recent interview, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour defended the white segregationist Citizens Councils while looking back on the South of his youth, saying they opposed the KKK. Though he quickly apologized for his remarks, the whole thing smacks a little too much of historical revisionism.
Nation columnist and Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Perry appeared on MSNBC's Hardball with Mississippi's Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) to discuss Barbour's comments and their deeper implications. Both argue that painting a rosier picture of the Citizens Councils in the present blocks America from learning anything productive from a dark time in its history. "The history of America tells you that when you start hearing people talk about this kind of separation, secession, nullification, states rights, you are aiding and abetting a history of the most ugly kind of violence," Harris-Perry says.
You can read Melissa Harris Perry's Nation columns here.