Is President Obama a disappointment? In the midst of a rough week for progressives (first healthcare reform, then Copenhagen) I was on MSNBC’s The Ed Show debating whether or not President Obama is a sellout. "Sellout" was Ed’s word, not mine–he’s not one to pull punches–but we had a lively segment about the frustrating direction of some of the President’s biggest policy decisions this month. Here’s video:
Regardless of the substance of these policy initiatives, one thing that struck me is how much is going on right now. Just days before Christmas with half the East Coast snowed in, and we’re grappling with decisions (healthcare, climate change, Afghanistan) that could define a generation.
It’s been a busy week at The Nation too. One of the reasons I’m doing these "Around the Nation" posts is to flag for readers some of the big stories from our orbit, and to highlight new features at TheNation.com. Here are three big updates you may have missed:
1. We launched a new audio feature, "The Breakdown." It’s a beta launch this week–we want your feedback on the audio player itself and the structure of the new feature–but the idea is simple: every Friday The Nation‘s Chris Hayes will answer questions about the week’s news from readers, submitted via Twitter, email or voicemail. This week’s topic is climate change, and Chris explains some of the solutions on the table, including a carbon tax and cap and trade, and the differences between them. You can listen here or download the MP3:
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If you have comments, suggestions or a question for the next episode, email thebreakdown [at] thenation [dot] com or tweet your ideas at Chris. He’s @chrislhayes on Twitter. The feature will run regularly starting in January.
2. Two critical Nation investigations are moving forward. In November Aram Roston shook up the debate over military contracting in Afghanistan with his stunning report, "How the U.S. Funds the Taliban." We were heartened on Wednesday to hear that Roston’s story has sparked a congressional investigation. Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) and the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs have launched a comprehensive inquiry into the Department of Defense’s multibillion dollar trucking contracts in Afghanistan. Working off Roston’s original investigation, Rep. Tierney has requested a range of documents from the DOD and is preparing to hold hearings.
Graft and corruption in Afghanistan have emerged as central obstacles to a peaceful withdrawl. We’re hopeful that the Tierney investigation could yield some real accountability and reform. Here are the full details.
Also this week, investigative journalism non-profit Pro Publica announced a wholesale expansion of reporter A.C. Thompson’s reporting (begun here in The Nation) on police violence and vigilantism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Thompson has partnered with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans to investigate widespread charges of police misconduct after the storm. Thompson and the Times-Pic are asking readers for tips and help identifying both victims and rogue police officers in a series of photos they’ve obtained. If you or someone you know is familiar with New Orleans and might be able to help, click here.
Both investigations are examples of The Nation at its best. Exposing and challenging abuse and corruption is why we come to work everyday; it’s also why we’ve focused our end of year 2009 fund appeal on support for our investigative reporting. If you want to help us fund more Rostons, Thompsons and Scahills, click here.
3. We’re aggregating reports from Copenhagen: The Nation tried a new approach for our coverage of Copenhagen, partnering with a collaborative of independent news organizations including Mother Jones, Treehugger and Grist to bring you a wider view of the two-week gathering. Here’s some essential reading–a wrap-up of the gathering and an explanation of what (if anything) was accomplished from Kate Sheppard and our former D.C Editor David Corn, now of Mother Jones. I wanted to thank our partners for their hard work. I especially want to thank The Nation‘s Naomi Klein, Mark Hertsgaard and Rob Eshelman, who have been living off stale sandwiches and coffee for two weeks and working almost 24-7 in the streets and in the bowels of the Bella Center to provide comprehensive coverage.
The summit, and our collaboration, are now coming to a close but the work is really just beginning. Over the coming months we’ll continue to track the progress of the movement to stop climate change; see our current cover for a stark view of what’s at stake.
That’s all for this week, and likely the last "Around the Nation" for 2009. Please leave your questions and feedback in the comments. As always you can also follow me on Twitter, @KatrinaNation.