Archive for the ‘The Nation’ tag
Thank you to The Nation interns, David Petraeus’ affair is literally the least offensive thing he’s ever done
Allison and Jamie thank The Nation interns and discuss David Petraeus’ affair, and how it’s literally the least offensive thing he or the CIA have ever done.
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Since my whole world is now Occupy Wall Street, that’s all I’ve been reporting on for The Nation and In These Times. Posting the articles on Facebook and Tweeting them helps enormously, and is much, much appreciated.
At The Nation: Occupy Wall Street: Cutting Edge, Old-Fashioned Village, in which I explore the duality of OWS, simultaneously a cutting-edge revolution, and also a return to the simpler village-like community.
And In These Times: Will Police Ever Join The Ninety-Nine Percent? I ask the question following discussions with OWS activists in which they express optimism that some police will join the movement. Is that probable?
My world has recently become all things Occupy Wall Street, so I’ll be documenting similar domestic and international actions at In These Times in my new blog, “Uprising.” I’m super psyched about this turn of events. Here’s a sort of teaser piece I wrote for ITT about the crackdown on the occupy movements in multiple states.
I’ll also still be covering OWS for The Nation. I wrote my latest article on zero sleep after stumbling home in the wee hours after the incredibly intense showdown at Liberty Park between Mayor Bloomberg and the protesters. It was like the build up to Helm’s Deep, but for realsies. And unions instead of elves.
I posted a recap of the #OccupyWallStreet protest thus far with lots and lots of videos at The Nation, and a follow-up to my Truthout piece about how Darrell Issa, the GOP, and moderate Dems have targeted the United States Postal Service for destruction.
Speaking of blogging, I have an exciting announcement I’ll be making soon that has to do with where you’ll be able to read my preachy liberal rants in the future. Check back here for the update.
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I’m still blogging about the budget cuts for The Nation. My latest article is about how citizens have started going to jail in order to protest austerity measures, and includes some insane video from CNN about a recent protest in Washington.
The Nation‘s Ari Berman discusses Jim Messina, Obama’s Enforcer who makes Rahm Emanuel look like a stray kitten. Berman is the author of Herding Donkeys, a book about the improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from a lonely minority to a sizable majority. Also on this episode, more on the back and forth nail-biter judicial election in Wisconsin, the looming government shutdown, and nationwide budget protests. Also, Jamie burns some bridges as he recaps a night of vegan fundraising.
Jamie will be at the Higher Ground in Burlington, VT April 9th. Get tickets here!
I’ve been blogging over at The Nation about all of this US Uncut business. The most recent post can be read here, and the rest are available in the archive:
Yesterday, I appeared on GRITtv with a very-much-kidding (please don’t send me emails asking if he’s for real) J.A. Myerson:
And perhaps most importantly (I don’t just mean relatively speaking when it comes to my news, but for all of humanity’s news, ever,) my friend Ian Murphy is running for Congress. You might remember him from that time he horrifically offended you with his profane manifesto in the Buffalo Beast, or from that other time he pwned Scott Walker. Anyway, feed your face this:
For all of you weak liberals out there who watched this and are all, “Hey, he looks crazy. I’m not voting for him.” Ask yourselves this: C’mon. How much worse could things get? Eh?
Journalist Johann Hari talks UK Uncut, US Uncut, and decides who he’d rather fight: David Cameron or Nick Clegg. Also, Godless Maniac Joseph Thoennes reports from Madison, Wisconsin about the protests and spirit of solidarity in the Capitol.
Beforehand, Allison and Jamie dispell some myths about the Wisconsin protests and unions, and offer some advice about how to stick to your Progressive ideals when your friends are being little assholes about it.
Much like Tunisia’s influence on Egypt, the spirit of Wisconsin appears to be spreading with the murmurs of uprising in Indiana due to some deceptively named “right to work” legsilation.
This, and all CR podcasts, are brought to you by the good folk at Vegan Essentials (http://veganessentials.com/). Buy cruelty-free products there and tell ‘em Citizen Radio sent you!
The crisis confronting capitalism is a vivid demonstration of the vapidity that underlay the appeal of globalization (a k a the Washington Consensus) as a mantra for all seasons, all times, all countries and all continents. Mass unemployment once again threatens the advanced capitalist world, as it has during thirty-four business cycles since 1854. Ehrenreich and Fletcher map today’s conditions, underline the weaknesses of the left on every level and then pose the old question, What is to be done?
Before addressing the question, a few points of disagreement. Despite mocking those on the left who, in the past, saw every downturn as an opportunity to proclaim that the end of capitalism was nigh, the authors fall into the same trap. This time, we are told, the “patient may not get up from the table.” I don’t agree. Capitalism is always faced with crises, which are part of the deadly logic of an economy based on a state-buttressed market system. It has failed many times before but has recovered, including during periods when it confronted real political challenges. Its ability to adapt and survive should not be underestimated, even though it will do so, as before, at the expense of the majority it exploits.
Until the emergence of a viable sociopolitical and economic alternative, perceived by a majority as such, there will be no final crisis of capitalism. In order to save themselves, today’s elites will consider approaches to the crisis that preserve the status quo. The choice they are faced with domestically is between establishing a public utility credit and banking operation geared to reviving a productive sector, or shoring up a discredited, deregulated Wall Street/City of London operation based on fictive capital. The bailouts in New York and London are designed to do the latter. Globally, it’s more difficult to accept a loss of Atlanticist control, but if pressure continues to mount, the Far Eastern bloc might suggest a new set of institutions based on multilateral rather than imperial control, leading to dismantling but also renewal.
What of the alternatives? With the post-1990 entry of capitalism into Russia, China, Vietnam, etc., the global media networks crowed that the capitalist Cinderella had defeated the ugly sisters, communism and socialism. The shift was experienced by a majority of the world’s less-privileged citizens as a collapse of all anti-capitalist perspectives.
A new mood for change developed slowly: the Caracazo in 1989, Seattle a decade later, followed by the birth of a World Social Forum to counter the ideology of Davos, followed by a set of mass social movements in South America. The dramatic collapse of the Argentinian economy led to workers’ self-management experiments, factory occupations and district soviets (councils) in Buenos Aires to discuss a different future. In Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, the social movements challenging the neoliberal order produced governments that represented a new form of radical social democracy that seeks to combine state, socialized, cooperative, small-scale private and individual enterprises. These popularly elected governments broke the isolation of Cuba and obtained its help in constructing health and education infrastructures that benefit the majority. If Cuba, in turn, learned the importance of political pluralism from its new allies, the results would be beneficial.
What happens in Latin America is important for the United States. The backyard has moved indoors. The large Hispanic population within US borders maintains links with its past. The effect has sometimes been negative–e.g., among Cubans in Florida, but there, too, the mood is changing. The social movements in South America challenged deregulation and privatization more effectively than organized labor has done in North America or Western Europe. If adopted in the United States, this model could build popular pressure for a nationalized health service, massive investment in education and reduced military spending, and against bailouts for the car industry and sinking airlines. Let them fall, so that a public transportation infrastructure can be built based on an ecologically sound and more efficient train service that serves the needs of all. Without action from below, there will be no change from above.
Tariq Ali is an editor at New Left Review. His latest book is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power (Scribner).
Other Contributions to the Forum
Immanuel Wallerstein, “Follow Brazil’s Example”
Bill McKibben, “Together, We Save the Planet”
Rebecca Solnit, “The Revolution Has Already Occurred”
Robert Pollin, “Be Utopian: Demand the Realistic”
John Bellamy Foster, “Economy, Ecology, Empire”
Christian Parenti, “Limits and Horizons”
Doug Henwood, “A Post-Capitalist Future is Possible”
Mike Davis, “The Necessary Eloquence of Protest”
Lisa Duggan, “Imagine Otherwise”
Vijay Prashad, “The Dragons, Their Dragoons”
The Nation was kind enough to include one of my essays in their latest book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover. Obviously, the book is extremely timely and the other essays are awesome, so I highly recommend you purchase it. The Nation is a rare jewel: a highly-regarded, liberal source of news that pays freelancers well, and doesn’t shy away from provocative thoughts and sometimes naughty language (meaning my writing style).
My essay is called “Youth Surviving Subprime,” and it addresses how the subprime crisis is affecting our country’s youths, and how the shady lending practices resemble predatory tuition loans sometimes issued to students. The subprime mess is a generational problem, and I felt youths were underrepresented in the media’s discussion of the crisis. Hence, the article.
Support The Nation and independent media, and purchase this excellent book.
America’s economy is in meltdown. Banks have failed, foreclosures are sweeping the housing market, and stocks have suffered their worst losses since the Great Depression. Faced with a complex and spiraling crisis, the government has poured billions of taxpayer cash into a bailout with no end in sight.At every step of the way, The Nation, America’s oldest weekly magazine, has tackled the most urgent questions facing the nation’s leaders and its citizens with clarity and insight. Meltdown draws together nearly twenty years of the best of their coverage of the financial crisis and explores what steps President Obama and his new administration must take to ensure a more secure future for everyone.
Other contributors include:
- William Greider on Alan Greenspan’s flawed ideology
- Robert Sherrill on why the bubble popped
- Thomas Frank on the rise of market populism
- Christopher Hayes on the coming foreclosure tsunami
- Barbara Ehrenreich on the implosion of capitalism
- Kai Wright on how the subprime crisis is bankrupting black America
- Naomi Klein on Bush’s final pillage
- Joseph E. Stiglitz on Henry Paulson’s shell game
- Jesse Jackson on trickle-down economics
- Katrina vanden Heuvel and Eric Schlosser on why America needs a New New Deal
The nation’s fast-darkening circumstances define the essential dilemma of Barack Obama’s presidency. His instinct is to govern by consensus, in the moderate middle ground of politics. Yet dire events are pushing the new president toward solutions more fundamental than those he had intended. The longer he resists taking more forceful action, the more likely it is that he will be overwhelmed by the gathering adversities.
Three large obstacles are blocking Obama’s path. The first is one of scale: his nearly $800 billion recovery package sounds huge, but it is perhaps two or three times too small to produce a turnaround. The second is that the financial system–still dysfunctional despite the bailouts–requires much more than fiscal stimulus and bailout: the government must nationalize and supervise the banks to ensure that they carry out the lending and investing needed for recovery. This means liquidating some famous nameplates–led by Citigroup–that are spiraling toward insolvency. The third is that the crisis is global: the US economy cannot return to normal unless the unbalanced world trading system is simultaneously reformed. Globalization has vastly undermined US productive strength, as trade deficits have led the nation into deepening debtor dependence.
While Washington debates the terms of Obama’s stimulus package, others see disappointment ahead. The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, an outpost of Keynesian thinking, expresses its doubts in emotional language that professional economists seldom use. “The prospects for the US economy have become uniquely dreadful, if not frightening,” Levy analysts reported. The institute’s updated strategic analysis warns that the magnitude of negative forces–the virtual collapse of bank lending, private spending, consumer incomes and demand–”will make it impossible for US authorities to apply a fiscal and monetary stimulus large enough to return output and unemployment to tolerable levels within the next two years.” Instead, the unemployment rate is likely to rise to 10 percent by 2010. Obama’s package amounts only to around 3 percent, annually, of GDP in a $13 trillion economy. Levy’s analysis calculates that it would require federal deficits of 8 to 10 percent of GDP–$2 trillion or more–to reverse the economic contraction. And yet, the institute observed, it is inconceivable that this level “could be tolerated for purely political reasons” or that the United States could sustain the rising indebtedness without terrifying our leading creditors, like China.
Stimulus alone by a single nation will not work, in other words, given the distorted economic system that Obama has inherited. The stern warning from the Levy analysts and other skeptical experts is that the United States has no choice but to undertake deeper systemic reforms right now, rather than wait for recovery. Will Obama have the nerve to tackle these fundamentals? To do so he would have to abandon some orthodox assumptions about free trade and private finance that he shares with his economic advisers.
The most obvious and immediate obstacle to systemic change is the dysfunctional financial system. It remains inert and hunkered down in self-protection, despite the vast billions in public money distributed so freely, no strings attached, in the last days of the Bush administration. We will learn soon enough whether Obama intends to start over with a more forceful approach. Obama and his advisers are eager to get another $350 billion in bailout funds, but they have remained silent on whether this will finance a government takeover of the system. Without such a move, the taxpayers will essentially be financing the slow death of failed institutions while getting nothing in return.
The most complex barrier to recovery is globalization and its negative impact on the economy. Given our grossly unbalanced trade, we have kept the system going by playing buyer of last resort–absorbing mountainous trade deficits and accumulating more than $5 trillion in capital debt to pay for swollen imports, while our domestic economy steadily loses jobs and production to other nations. Renewed consumer demand at home will automatically “leak” to rival economies and trading partners by boosting their exports to the US market–which subtracts directly from our GDP. This is the trap the lopsided trading system has created for recovery plans, and it cannot be escaped without fundamental reform.
To put it crudely, Obama’s stimulus program might restart factories in China while leaving US unemployment painfully high. In fact, some leakage may occur via the very banks or industrial corporations that taxpayers have generously assisted. What prevents Citigroup and General Motors from using their fresh capital to enhance overseas operations rather than investing at home? The new administration will therefore have to rethink the terms of globalization before its domestic initiatives can succeed.
A global recovery compact would require extremely difficult diplomacy but could be possible because it is in everyone’s self-interest. The United States could propose the outlines with one crucial condition: if the trading partners are unwilling to act jointly, Washington will have to proceed unilaterally. A grand bargain could start with US agreement to serve once again as the main engine that pulls the global economy out of the ditch. That is, the United States will have to continue as the buyer of last resort for the next few years, and China and other nations will have to bail us out with still more lending. In the short run, this would dig us into a deeper hole, but the United States could insist on a genuinely reformed system and mutually agreed return to balanced trade, once global recovery is under way.
Congress can enact the terms now–a ceiling on US trade deficits that will decline steadily to tolerable levels, as well as new rules for US multinational enterprises that redefine their obligations to the home economy. Unlike in other advanced nations, US companies get a free ride from their home government when they relocate production abroad. That has to change if the United States is to reverse its weakening world position. Tax penalties plus national economic policy can drive US multinationals to keep more of their value-added production at home. These measures can be enforced through the tax code and, if necessary, a general tariff that puts a cap on imports. Formulating these provisions now for application later, once the worst of the crisis is over, would give every player the time to adjust investment strategies gradually.
President Obama and his team may at first scorn the notion of saving the world while negotiating a bailout for the United States. They will be reluctant to talk about reforming the global system by threatening to invoke emergency tariffs. But we are in uncharted waters. Impossible ideas abruptly begin to seem plausible. Six months from now, if the Obama recovery does not materialize, the president may discover he has to reinvent himself.
William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and–due out in February from Rodale–Come Home, America.