Cover of May 6, 2013 Issue



John Nichols on the USPS and Saturday delivery, Liliana Segura on Boston hero Carlos Arredondo, James Cersonsky on a celebrity-studded fight against mass incarceration, and Laura F...

Nation Notes

As our venerable columnist Katha Pollitt goes on leave to work on a book, we welcome our widely read blogger and contributor Jessica Valenti as a guest columnist in her stead. Over the past year, Jessica has been writing for on feminism, reproductive rights and sexuality, among other topics. She'll explore those subjects, and more, in her “Body Politic” column, which will
 appear biweekly until Katha returns. Read More

Tragedy in Boston

We're still searching for the elusive balance between safety and liberty. Maybe, in the response to this attack, America can get it right.


Gauging the Intentions of Kim Jong-un

The North Korean kid says that he's sure he Can hit us Yanks with missiles in a hurry. Is this for real? Should we begin to worry? Is this guy's favor something we need curry To keep the bombs from coming in a flurry?  If Rodman flees, we'll know it's time to scurry. Read More



Andrew Cuomo: Gov for All Seasons? Ithaca, N.Y. Eric Alterman describes Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to global warming as progressive [“The Cuomo Conundrum,” April 8]. But Cuomo’s response to global warming is troubling. While he talks about it—which is a good thing—Cuomo is considering allowing the oil and gas industry to frack New York. Contrary to industry propaganda, fracking does not help reduce global warming. In fact, because fracking inevitably leaks methane—which exacerbates climate change much more than carbon dioxide—fracking is a major climate threat. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo has better, safer energy options. A recent peer-reviewed study by Cornell and Stanford scientists shows that New York could shift to renewable energy by 2030. Under the plan, 40 percent of energy would come from offshore wind farms, 10 percent from onshore wind farms, 38 percent from solar sources and 5.5 percent from hydroelectric plants. Not only is the plan good for public health and the environment; it is good for New York’s economy—creating 4.5 million construction jobs and 58,000 permanent jobs from the new energy facilities alone. The economic benefit of the plan is estimated at $314 billion during construction and $5.1 billion a year afterward. Governor Cuomo has the chance to be a true leader on climate change—if he stands up to the oil and gas industry and bans fracking in New York. Robert W. Howarth Washington, D.C. Eric Alterman says that Governor Cuomo need not worry about wealthy people fleeing New York State if taxes get too high. Perhaps not, though hedge-fund billionaire and lifelong New Yorker John Paulson publicly flirted with a move to Puerto Rico. I suspect he won’t be the last, especially if New York’s taxes, combined with federal ones, push upper-income New Yorkers into marginal rates exceeding 50 percent. But the real problem is not seen in booming Manhattan or gentrifying Brooklyn, where high taxes are outweighed by the attractions of city life. New York’s economic woes are exemplified by small cities like Poughkeepsie, Schenectady and Utica, and larger ones like Syracuse and Buffalo, which fifty years ago were thriving manufacturing centers but now languish, losing industries and people. Economic revival can be aided in such cities by state policies, such as university-connected business “incubators.” But if there is to be a real economic revival, it must be generated by entrepreneurial energy, by young people willing to start businesses and families in upstate New York. Anyone contemplating staying in or moving to, say, Utica, to start a business knows that he or she will pay higher taxes and deal with a tougher regulatory climate than in, say, Texas. Andrew Cuomo is not wrong to worry about such matters. And liberals should, too. Peter Connolly Victor, N.Y. “The complexity of the issue makes it easy for politicians to portray themselves as supporters of reform and then defang it behind closed doors,” says Eric Alterman about campaign finance reform in New York. And so it has been done. The NYS Fair Elections Bill being promoted by a broad coalition of good progressive organizations is doomed to fail, as it contains two fatal flaws. First, Citizens United did not bend the campaign cost curve even a smidgen. The increase in total spending in 2012 was predictable by extrapolation. The big difference was in the movement of money from direct contributions to outside groups. This proliferation of Super PACs and related organizations is poised to make a mockery of even ideal public financing schemes. With public funding available to all, a “corporate candidate” can refuse large direct contributions and use taxpayer money for direct campaign expenses, safe in the knowledge that his corporate godfathers will decimate his opponent with “independently” placed ads. What self-respecting capitalist would leave this perfectly legal savings opportunity in the public treasury? The avoidable flaw is of the back-room variety. Party leaders (viz., Sheldon Silver) have insisted that parties be allowed to help publicly funded candidates running on their tickets. Sounds like a reasonable point—until the limits are known. The way this bill is written, the parties reserve the right to contribute from $50,000 for assembly seats to an astonishing $2.5 million—each—for governor and lieutenant governor. This is money the parties get from the special interests the law aims to disempower! But its path to the publicly funded candidate is through the party bosses, exacerbating one of Albany’s biggest problems. This is a bill progressives should take the time to read and ponder before mindlessly supporting it. Samuel A. Fedele Breaking the Backbone of America Onancock, Va. William Greider’s “The New (Business) Left” [April 8] is a timely reminder that a great deal of what gets done in America happens outside Washington and New York. In the rural Virginia county where I live, much help for people in need is carried out by nonprofit groups and churches that stage fundraisers—from bake sales, to concerts, to golf tournaments, to spaghetti dinners. Often, small-business owners lead these events—like the chef who raises money for the food bank, or the financial planner who chairs the United Fund, or the factory owner who organizes a dinner for the Boys & Girls Club. And small-business people donate money, buy advertising in program booklets, provide materials at cost, and allow their business to be used for selling tickets or staging car washes. These people are fighting illiteracy, sheltering the homeless, protecting victims of domestic violence or paying electric bills for people in crisis. As Greider makes clear, small-business people are pretty much ignored by Washington. Our political class, including the current occupant of the White House and his team of Wall Street–admiring advisers, promote international big business to the detriment of local small business. Tilting the playing field this way will destroy most local businesses and discourage young people from starting new ones. Washington, which fails to tax the rich adequately as it cuts programs for those in need, is taking a box cutter to the social fabric of rural America. Haydon Rochester Jr. Typo Patrol A typo caused a “1” to go missing in Sarah Woolf’s “Noted” item [April 22], which stated that “only an estimated 1,500 of Warsaw’s Jews survived the Holocaust.” The estimate is actually 11,500. Read More


Noose York

Listen to Lemon Andersen read "Noose York" AudioPlayer.setup("", {width:610,animation: "no",remaining: "yes",noinfo: "yes",transparentpagebg: "yes"}); It looks like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now. AudioPlayer.embed("mp3player_1", {soundFile: ""});   Waiting for a Crown Victoria on the corner of Central & Putnam in the Bushwick section of Old Medina Waiting here on the corner for a Crown Victoria which finally shows up after running past a traffic light without the thought of a fast child crossing the street chasing her mother’s milk grocery list in hand. Pulling up to a hard stop heavy-footed brake The car doors unlock in a dominos spill. The driver jumps out points his finger and barks, “What are you doing here, got any drugs on you buddy?” This is not the cab I was waiting for, not the Spanglish taxi man who always tells me on my way to JFK I could get more bang for my dollar Americano if I spend my money in DR. “Static, static” His partner who jumps out of the passenger side with a walkie-talkie chirping is shaped like a radio DJ Too many crack-of-dawn diners in his blood He grips his pistol and also barks, “Hey big guy, where were you coming from?” The kids up the block take their eyes off the moon and I am center stage under that same moon, luminous against the storefront dry cleaner, shoved toward the cold glass by the hype man behind the badge face pressed tough against the cold glass, needle-and-thread neon sign rat-a-tat-tatting. I stare at the Selena-shaped tailor sewing inside. Wanting to speak, even if I stutter, I still have to utter the words to these officers for those kids who were staring at the moon, for their older brothers, their uncles dragging their backaches back from a prideful hard day’s labor. Wanting to speak for them with valor capture for these blue bloods the beautiful confidence snatched every day on this corner I pull out the heart to say, “Yes sir, no…” An empty can crooning, “No sir, yes…” The rhythmless words cut off by the rattlesnakes these nerves cut short by the quotas because history on this corner has proven that collars have to be made by the end of the month and these backward numbers have nothing in common with real suspects real crimes Like outta-town gun laws and Walmart shoppers. I go over the speech in my head “What are you going to arrest me for, officers?” Shit, that’s easy. “Do I look suspicious by the trends I wear for standing on the corner waiting for a cab? On the corner of a street you don’t own…” Damn, too liberal. “Sir, why do these men only get stopped for being black, for owning their brown skin?” That is it! That’s the stinger. But just then the radio DJ checks my chin and my pockets while his partner kicks my legs wide and to the side, and I finally yell out, “Do you even know who Israel Putnam was?!” Intermission… Do you know this corner was named after an American revolutionary who killed the last remaining wolf of Connecticut in a town called Brooklyn? You wouldn’t know that, hype man, cause you did not go to school to research the beat of your streets to uphold the law That’s right, this same corner where your guns make me feel like breathing air is a felony waiting to happen. Is it because of the way we look? How does this deep hooded sweater I wear over my head come with a license for you to kill when I wear it to block out the frozen world while the projects are overheated. Maybe it’s my sneakers I bought them for running, but if I run we all know what happens next. It can’t be the color of my skin when you both look like distant cousins If you go back far enough, aren’t we all… Then again maybe not, cause in my family we were raised not to point at people especially at officers cause they don’t point back with their fingers. You want to stop and frisk someone, stop and frisk the mayor cause his pockets are low and his money is high and the teachers are as broke as a joke. You will get more out of his spare change than what you can get out of these rabbit ears right now. You want to arrest somebody go arrest that new neighbor across the street, the one right there double-timing it with the checkers-game flannel shirt that could be mistaken for gang colors on me. Arrest him for not helping the doña next door with her bags of empanada ingredients up the stairs cause he is too busy constructing, plotting a blueprint plan to open up a Vietnamese restaurant run by Mexicans, when Doña Margo been dodging hollow tips right here, on the corner of Central & Putnam right here, when your precinct wouldn’t even drive down this block thirty years ago. You want to arrest me, arrest me for being honest cause I was lying before. The words never came out, never blossomed…. Never. Too scared of this new city pushing me out Too many front-page posts warning me it will be my word against yours The truth is that you know like I know that a law like stop-and-frisk is built to send more Puerto Ricans to Orlando Blacks to Camden and the Dominicans to Amish country, Pennsylvania But they will be back when it’s over. Cause they gotta go home We all gotta go home. Read all of the articles in The Nation's special issue on New York City. Read More

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