No Magazine Is an Island
This is less a letter to the editor and more a note of concern about the decline of international news in The Nation. In the March 5 issue, there were precisely zero articles or columns on foreign affairs, unless you count the review by Stuart Klawans of several foreign films. I guess the age of foreign correspondents is long gone when magazines are so financially strapped.
The issue was still full of good content, but The Nation is increasingly turning away from the rest of the world.
Never Mind Armageddon
Re “How to Get to a Fossil-Free USA,” by Bill McKibben [March 5]: Wind and solar power are not robust sources of baseload energy; nationally, they supply less than 8 percent of our demand. Across the country, about 65 percent of our electrical grid is fueled by natural gas and coal.
The best way the world can reduce its carbon footprint is to replace fossil fuels with nuclear power. There is no practical way to reduce or capture the CO2 generated by burning coal and natural gas, and the problems with nuclear power are solvable. Dr. James Hansen, the retired NASA scientist who first alerted us to the danger of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, believes that the solution is to power the grid with nuclear energy. McKibben has done a great job of highlighting the problem with fossil fuels, but his solutions are inadequate and unrealistic.
Re Karen J. Greenberg’s review of Jeremi Suri’s The Impossible Presidency [“Policy Overload,” March 5]: To me, the system of checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers assumes that each branch of government will continually vie for power and be checked by the other two. While I agree that our system has become ever more top-heavy, this has been exacerbated by a Congress that is all too happy to abdicate its powers, causing the president to step in with executive orders, as Obama did with DACA, net neutrality, and parts of the Affordable Care Act, to name a few. Those who were all too happy to see Obama take such measures now see the folly of such a system, when the next president simply rolls it all back and issues new orders of his own.
Given the amount of attention that has been lavished, until recently, on presidential elections at the expense of all others, I wonder if this isn’t how most Americans think it should work.
Behold the Nothing That Is…
Re Stuart Klawans’s review of Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames [March 5]: The inadvertent transposition of the words “a” and “cold” in line four of Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man” effects its own strange trick of perspective, reducing the already vestigial consciousness in the poem to mere duration, unlikely to personify anything. Or could this have been deliberate? Is Klawans making a graphematic incursion into Stevens’s poem, analogous to Kiarostami’s animated manipulation of Bruegel’s The Hunters in the Snow?
Eileen M. Brennan