e h t d e l l i K t a h W cratic Party? o m e D A new report offers a bracing autopsy of the 2016 election—and lays out a plan for revitalization. WILLIAM GREIDER NEW! Read your subscription on an iPad or iPhone FREE! Visit TheNation.com/app NOVEMBER 20/27, 2017 THENATION.COM Artistic Dispatches From the Front Lines RI5HVLVWDQFH The Farm Bill of the Future A new Nation series PETER KUPER TheNation.com/OppArt We read with interest and enthusiasm the special issue titled “The Future of Food” [Oct. 30]. However, we are saddened that there was no real discussion of the upcoming renewal of the US Farm Bill in 2018 (other than a brief reference in Lindsey Shute’s piece). Yet the upcoming legislation to renew and revise the Farm Bill gives liberals and progressives a chance to reconnect with rural America. Here is how this happens. Liberals and progressives should begin by putting much more emphasis on supporting small farms that grow more nutritious food. This provides jobs for young adults in rural America who are currently out of work and may be interested in a career in farming. A Farm Bill that contains adequately funded programs to train people in sustainable-farming techniques can provide incentives for young people in rural America to remain instead of migrating to urban areas. In other words, such programs can help reverse the depopulation of rural areas across the country. Implementing these measures in the Farm Bill also means more nutritious food available for everyone in America. There is ample evidence that the demand for healthier food is growing each year. Since the Farm Bill covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, we can also encourage recipients of SNAP to switch to healthier food choices. This will help to address the obesity and diabetes epidemic in the United States, which is a growing problem, especially in rural America. There should also be much greater funding of research into sustainable farming, including organic-farming methods, and ways to use technology in support of sustainable farming that are scalable. This research is badly needed to counter the decades of fund- ing into research for large-scale production farming, which has created as many problems as it solves. The Farm Bill is massive, with many parts. We recognize that it will not be simple to turn these ideas into operational Farm Bill language. But these ideas are gaining support across America, giving liberals and progressives a golden opportunity to show that we are the ones who care about rural America, not the conservatives who have time and time again used the Farm Bill to support large-scale agribusiness with no concern for the health and welfare of everyday Americans—especially rural Americans. Douglas Hillmer silver spring, md. Jon H. Oberg lincoln, neb. Lone White Wolves Laila Lalami’s “The Color of Terrorism” [Oct. 30] was one of the greatest articles ever written. I was literally nodding along by the end. Lalami writes: “We are supposed to accept that mass shootings can happen because no one can predict when an armed man will snap.” All of us with like minds have to believe this; however, I would rewrite the sentence to say, “We are supposed to accept that mass shootings can happen because no one can predict when an armed white man will snap.” Lalami’s arguments were pointed and truthful. Yes, there is a distinct difference between “unavoidable” and “preventable.” The media had no idea what to call the Las Vegas shooter as soon as they found out he was a white millionaire—especially on Fox News. The phrase “lone wolf” just candy-coats the truth. Frank E. Shirley yakima, wash. Comments drawn from our website firstname.lastname@example.org (continued on page 26) The Nation. since 1865 UPFRONT 3 Trump’s Year—Very Sad! John Nichols 4 The Price of Injustice Peter Edelman 5 The Score Mike Konczal Trump’s Year—Very Sad! T he best moment for Donald Trump’s presidency came in the early hours of November 9, 2016, when the “billionaire populist” claimed a victory that surprised him as much as it did the rest of the world. It’s been downhill for Trump—and the United States—ever since. The final count revealed that Trump actually lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million and only stumbled into the White Justice Department’s investigation into the hacking House because an archaic Electoral College system of the 2016 presidential election by the Russians.” allows losers to assume the presidency. Trump has For as long as Trump occupies the White House, never come to grips with the reality that more Amer- he is going to be dogged by the questions he raised icans wanted Hillary Clinton as their president— when he admitted firing Comey because of the way a fact confirmed by the tweeter in chief’s obsessive the FBI’s investigators had approached “this Russia griping about his former rival, his outlandish claims thing.” Trump’s ability to generate fake-news cover about “illegal voting,” and his appointment of a for the wrongdoing of his associates, and for his own “very distinguished” voter-fraud panel that is itself a high crimes and misdemeanors, will dwindle with fraud. Yet even as the popular-vote loser each new indictment. on election night, Trump was viewed a But what if there had been no scanCOMMENT good deal more favorably than he is now, dals or inquiries? What if Trump had after nearly a year of reckless governgoverned without chaos—including the ing. Trump garnered 46 percent of the firings or resignations of a nationalvote last November; now the Gallup security adviser, a secretary of health tracking poll puts his approval rating at and human services, a chief of staff, a just 33 percent—and there’s good reason chief strategist, a communications directo believe those numbers will crumble tor, a press secretary, and a Sebastian as Americans absorb the news that the Gorka? He’d still be politically vulnerpresident’s former campaign manager able. Trump’s personal style is erratic and is under indictment for “conspiracy against the frightening—especially when he’s threatening to United States,” tax fraud, money laundering, and obliterate countries like North Korea. Yet there’s a other charges. method to the madness of his political style. Trump The measure of Trump’s presidency, like that knows that his base is on the right wing of the Reof Richard Nixon’s, may ultimately be made with publican Party, and he plays to it: defending those investigations, indictments, and articles of impeach- who march with neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” ment. But even if Robert Mueller’s inquiry into ginning up attacks on NFL players who express alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign solidarity with the victims of police violence, and falls short of taking Trump down, it confirms the issuing an endless stream of “Muslim bans.” He has assessment of former White House counsel John also kept the Wall Street wing of the GOP on board Dean, who knows a thing or two about what hap- with promises of massive tax cuts and the dismanpens when a president goes off the rails. In June, tling of the administrative state. Dean argued that Trump’s firing of FBI director The agenda that Trump has embraced—in part James Comey should be seen as “the worst mistake because of his own malice, in part because he knows of his young presidency, because the ham-fisted so little about policy that he must borrow from manner in which he handled it resulted in Deputy others—is that of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who is filling the cruelest conservatives. With cabinet picks and in for the recused Attorney General—having no judicial appointments, with executive orders and choice but to select a special counsel to continue the budget plans, this president has positioned himself COLUMNS 6 Deadline Poet Memories of a Conversation Between Donald Trump and a Gold Star Widow Calvin Trillin 8 Subject to Debate A New Day for Justice Katha Pollitt 10 We the People Safety in Numbers Kai Wright Features 12 What Killed the Democratic Party? William Greider A new report takes an unflinching look at what happened—and offers a plan for the party’s revitalization. 16 American Decay Zoë Carpenter Millions of Americans can’t afford dental care. So what can one clinic do? 20 Conventional Wisdom Richard Kreitner The Constitution lays out two ways to propose amendments. The second has never been used—but that may be about to change. Books & the Arts 27 The Other Foucault Bruce Robbins 31 All About Eva Megan Erickson 32 A Guide to the Louisa County Free Negro & Slave Records, 1770–1865 (poem) Kiki Petrosino 34 Oedipus (poem) D.M. Aderibigbe 35 At Full Boil Stuart Klawans VOLUME 305, NUMBER 14, November 20/27, 2017 The digital version of this issue is available to all subscribers November 20 at TheNation.com. Cover illustration by Nurul Hana Anwar. November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. Number of college men who said they would “force a women into sexual intercourse” if they were assured there would be no consequences 60% Number of rapes and sexual assaults against inmates that are committed by prison staff 200K Number of untested rape kits across the country 19K Number of rape kits that remain untested in Texas—among the highest in the country —Elizabeth Adetiba “What got us here in the first place is gender bias.” Christopher Kaiser, public-policy director at the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, on the backlog of untested rape kits The Price of Justice State and local governments are plundering the poor. V era Cheeks, a resident of Bainbridge, Georgia, was ticketed for rolling through a stop sign in 2014. The judge hit her with a $135 fine and ordered her to pay it in full immediately. Cheeks said that she was unemployed and caring for her terminally ill father, so the judge gave her three months to pay up, during which time she’d be on “probation.” He sent her to a room behind the courtroom, where a long line of people—all of them African-American—were waiting to pay money to a woman behind a desk. “It was like the twilight zone, totally mind-boggling,” Cheeks recalls. The woman behind the desk told Cheeks that she had to sign a paper indicating that she had been placed on probation and now owed $267—the fine plus $105 for the (for-profit) probation company that would be monitoring her, as well as $27 for the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund. When Cheeks refused to agree to the so-called probation and the additional sums, the woman— who, it turned out, worked for the probation company— told her that the judge would put her in jail for five days. Cheeks still refused, and finally the woman demanded a $50 payment on the spot if Cheeks wanted to avoid being jailed. Cheeks’s fiancé raised the money by pawning her engagement ring and Weed Eater lawn machine. That avoided the crisis for the moment, but Cheeks was told she would still be jailed if she was late on even one payment. Cheeks went home furious. She says that people in town knew something was wrong, but they were all too scared to do anything. She Googled for three hours and found her way to Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who used Cheeks’s case to challenge the threat of jail by private probation companies looking to extract exorbitant fines and fees from people who can’t afford them. Geraghty resolved Cheeks’s issue— and used the case to end Bainbridge’s illegal moneycollecting scheme—by pointing out that incarcerating people unable to pay a fine was unconstitutional. Cheeks was fortunate. She found a lawyer (and a great one at that) and was forced neither to pay an excessive fine nor go to jail when she couldn’t afford it. But many poor Americans aren’t so lucky. While most people in this country believe that debtors’ prisons are a thing of the past, Americans are in jail by the thousands for no other reason than being unable to pay a fine and its accompanying fees—which is unconstitutional, in many instances. Yet even when jail doesn’t ensue, the courts’ policy of garnishing wages and seizing tax refunds creates a prison of another kind. An estimated 10 million people currently owe a collective $50 billion in court debt. Meanwhile, even more people are locked up pending trial on low-level misdemeanors or violations because they can’t afford the bail set for them. Altogether, roughly 500,000 people are in jails across the country simply because they are poor. These men and women haven’t been found guilty of any crime. Rather, most of them have merely been accused of low-level infractions that shouldn’t be crimes at all and that often don’t carry jail time. One result is that many low-income people plead guilty just to get out even if they are innocent, leaving them with a lifetime of collateral consequences. (For more on this, see “The Injustice of Cash Bail,” by Bryce Covert, in the November 6 issue of The Nation.) The criminalization of poverty has metastasized into other areas as well. We see it in the use of police officers as the Most people front line of discipline in schools mistakenly serving low-income students, leading to criminal records for believe that behavior that could be dealt with debtors’ in the principal’s office. We see it in the vigorous prosecution of prisons are vagrancy laws against the homea thing of less. We see it in rules that bar the past. ex-offenders from living in public housing. And we see it in the heartless practice of evicting poor women from their homes for calling 911 “too often,” even when they’re reporting domestic abuse. For far too many people, to be poor in 2017 is to live under the constant threat of incarceration for no other reason than poverty itself. Many of these practices began with the Reagan-era anti-tax revolution and expanded during the Clinton era. States and local governments, starved for revenues, turned to their own residents—especially low-income people of color—to subsidize everything from courts and prisons (continued on page 6) COMMENT 32% on the side of inequality, austerity, and the warped priorities that would rob from domestic programs and run up deficits in order to supercharge military spending and provide tax breaks for billionaires. For those who resist Trump—in the streets and on the campaign trail, as we head toward a 2018 election in which the Republican majorities in Congress must be overturned—it is vital to strike a balance between the need to hold Trump to account and the necessity of opposing the agenda of what is now the “Party of Trump.” We must harness the widespread disapproval of Trump and make it the fuel to get rid of those who enable him—starting with Ryan, who faces the most serious electoral challenge of his career. We cannot be distracted by the fantasy that Trump’s style is the problem— a delusion exemplified by the empty “defiance” of conservatives like Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. We must also provide clear alternatives to Trump’s policies. A cynically crafted centrism will not mobilize the electorate needed to overcome his determination to divide and conquer, to frustrate and suppress the vote. Trump proved in 2016 that it is not enough to run against him. Instead, it is necessary to run on policies that are diametrically opposed to Trumpism: for taxing the rich and busting up monopolies, for higher wages and Medicare for All, for averting wars and addressing climate change—and for reforming a political system so corrupt that it produced JOHN NICHOLS a President Donald Trump. CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR 4 November 20/27, 2017 5 The Nation. T H E S C O R E / B RY C E C OV E R T + MIKE KO N C Z A L The Grifter Economy n October 24, Vice President Mike Pence joined 50 Senate Republicans and cast the tie-breaking vote to give Wall Street its biggest legislative victory in years. Together, they repealed a set of rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that allowed consumers to sue their banks and credit-card companies instead of being required to go into arbitration. The financial industry desperately wanted this protection overturned, because it would again give banks control over handling complaints about their own impropriety. Many people wondered if Donald Trump’s surprise win in 2016 might lead Republicans to overhaul their approach to economic issues. Trump sold voters on his promises to invest in massive public-infrastructure projects, take on bad trade deals, and generally fight for workers against the global elites. But what we see in his agenda isn’t Betsy DeVos has ended reforms, put in place by President Obama, designed to protect borrowers from the student-loan servicing industry. Devos is also rescinding debt forgiveness for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. Worse, she has hinted that she will no longer cooperate with the CFPB to investigate wrongdoing in the student-loan industry. In the past, the CFPB has policed these markets, fining companies that were trying to improperly collect on debts. DeVos may be able to eliminate this crucial function of the CFPB. Thus far, President Trump hasn’t initiated any large-scale projects to rebuild America. But the reconstruction efforts on recently destroyed infrastructure have a distinct grifter quality to them. Whitefish Energy—until last month, a two-man company—was awarded a $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico’s electric grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. This move was likely part of an effort by the board overseeing Puerto Rico’s troubled finances to privatize the island’s energy sector. The terms of the no-bid What we see in Trump’s agenda contract were extraordiisn’t blue-collar nationalism; it’s the narily generous, including limitations on who could beginning of a grifter economy. audit the company’s profits and costs. The White House has denied any involvement blue-collar nationalism; it’s the beginning with Whitefish Energy, though the company of a grifter economy. The administration’s hails from the same town as Ryan Zinke, economic plans are filled with low-grade, Trump’s secretary of the interior. This is a penny-ante efforts to allow the scheming move straight out of the grifter’s playbook: and powerful to swindle ordinary people. It’s not just the banks. Under the Obama capitalizing on a natural disaster, in this case administration, the Centers for Medicare and by turning it into the opportunity to sell public Medicaid Services barred nursing homes that resources to private, well-connected agents. receive federal funding—which is almost all of (Under pressure, Puerto Rico’s electric comthem—from including mandatory-arbitration pany has since said it will cancel the deal.) clauses in their contracts. By using its large These policies are nothing short of a public disaster. Trump’s tax plan is the libertarian budget and footprint, the government set dream of letting the owners of capital pay standards that spread throughout the industry. nothing while putting the costs of governThis is an excellent example of how public ment on the backs of the people. Even the programs can help. People in long-term care, GOP’s final attempted repeal of the Affordespecially the elderly, are particularly vulnerable Care Act had a grifter component: The able to fraud. The Trump administration is Republicans wanted to send health-care dolnow in the process of revoking this rule. lars to the states, but the way their plan was Or take student loans: Education Secretary O structured, it encouraged the states to use those dollars for other purposes, like building stadiums or cutting corporate taxes. Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” in Washington, but he’s only adding to the muck. His administration’s policies have the reek of everyday scammers, swindlers, and con artists, presided over by the grifter in chief. And all of us citizens are the marks. MIKE KONCZAL Feeling Swindled? Welcome to Trump’s Grifter Economy Trump’s recent repeal of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules is part of a scheme that hurts consumers. The deck is stacked... Mandatory arbitration means consumers will rarely win. How often lenders win complaints they initiate ȹ 93% $7,725 Average amount consumers were ordered to pay lenders ...to cheat ordinary people. 1.4 million nursing-home residents are now forced to use arbitration instead of lawsuits. $19.1 million in ﬁnes and restitution were won by the CFPB to help students in debt. The Trump administration plans to stop such reform efforts. Sources: Economic Policy Institute; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; MarketWatch 2017 Infographic: Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz The Nation. More Than Just a Game O Calvin Trillin Deadline Poet n October 27, Catalonia’s parliamentary president, Carles Puigdemont, declared the region’s independence. The following day, Puigdemont could reportedly be found enjoying a glass of wine on the streets of Girona, on the eve of perhaps the most symbolic match in recent Spanish soccer. Girona FC, a small Catalan club, would be hosting the Spanish super-team Real Madrid, a squad long associated with former fascist dictator Francisco Franco. The atmosphere ahead of the game, wrote Guardian columnist Sid Lowe, was “as if Madrid were crossing the border, maybe even the frontline.” It was Puigdemont versus Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, David versus Goliath on a soccer pitch. Real Madrid scored an early goal—business as usual—and looked poised for an easy win. But in the second half, Girona stunned Los Blancos, scoring twice in four minutes, and came out with a victory. “Memorable!” cried the cover of the local paper, Diari de Girona. Puigdemont himself tweeted that the match was “a shining example and a model for many situations,” followed by a winking emoji. Girona coach Pablo Machín was less ecstatic: “In one game you can beat [Real Madrid],” he said, but he prefaced it by noting that “they will win more than they lose.” He might have just as well been talking about the Spanish government. By Monday, Puigdemont had fled the country. —Miguel Salazar (continued from page 4) to private probation companies, piling on higher and higher fines and fees. Oklahoma, for instance, assesses 15 possible fees, including a law-library fee and a forensic-science improvement assessment, for minor infractions like failing to mow high grass and weeds or drinking a beer on the front porch. Between 1996 and 2013, Florida added more than 20 new fees. The Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri, which revealed a system geared more toward gouging residents than public safety, opened the eyes of many to what is going on. But most people still don’t appreciate that Ferguson is everywhere in America today. T here is, however, a rising response. Across the country, a growing movement is pushing back, using everything from law to legislation to policy to dismantle the vicious circle of debt and incarceration that traps so many poor people. Lawyers have been at the forefront of this push. These are attorneys like Thomas Harvey of ArchCity Defenders and Alec Karakatsanis of Civil Rights Corps, who in 2015 sued the city of Jennings, Missouri, just to the east of Ferguson, and succeeded in emptying the jail of its mistreated population. They also obtained $4.75 million for almost 2,000 people who had been locked up for a combined total of 8,300 days. Around the same time, Karakatsanis, along with Sam Brooke of the Southern Poverty Law Center, won the release from jail of 60 people in Montgomery, Alabama, and the termination of the city’s debtors’prison policy. Also in 2015, the ACLU joined forces with a private law firm to rescue Jayne Fuentes, who had been forced to labor on a local work crew to pay off her debts, from this unconstitutional treatment in Benton County, Washington. They also obtained a settlement that ended the county’s debtors’-prison system. Litigation to abolish cash bail is also making headway. Karakatsanis won an enormous victory in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, where he challenged the widespread mistreatment of people during their arraignment. Federal Judge COMMENT POLITICAL FÚTBOL MEMORIES OF A CONVERSATION BETWEEN DONALD TRUMP AND A GOLD STAR WIDOW Donald Trump says he has “one of the great memories of all time.” — News reports In testimony regarding the suit against Trump University, Donald Trump says “I don’t remember” 35 times. — News reports His version, he says, is correct. She’s wrong, and the matter is closed. His memory’s one of the best, Unless he is being deposed. November 20/27, 2017 Lee Rosenthal accompanied her ruling with a 193page opinion holding, essentially, that it is unconstitutional to assess excessive bail, since it creates two separate and unequal criminal-justice systems: one for the wealthy and another for the poor. The case is now under review in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and has the potential to affect policy across the country. Meanwhile, a new wave of policy reform has begun. State judicial leaders have taken a strong stance against high fines and fees and their consequences. They speak out publicly and lobby personally. Many legislators still claim that their cities and counties need the money, but elected officials are joining with chief justices and outside advocates to create change in states like California and Texas, to name just two. Policy reform on bail is making progress, too. Based on careful research, states including Kentucky, New Jersey, Maryland, and New Mexico have adopted a methodology that helps determine whether an accused person will be a flight risk Hundreds of or pose a danger outside thousands of of jail. Not surprisingly, bail bondsmen and unpeople molder derwriters have been in jails for waging a fierce resistance to these changes. When the simple bail reform was pending “crime” of in Maryland, intense lobbeing poor. bying by both bail and insurance interests nearly killed it. More recently, bail-industry representatives filed two cases in New Jersey contending that the state’s reform is unconstitutional. Still, the fight continues, including against some of the most entrenched structures. Rikers Island is a sprawling jail complex in New York City that holds people who have not been convicted of any crime, simply because they cannot afford bail. These include people like Kalief Browder, a young man who killed himself in 2015 after spending three years in Rikers without ever being convicted of a crime. After an intense grassroots campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city will close the complex, marking a profound victory. But the stated time frame for doing so is painfully long. And so the effort to decriminalize poverty continues. As hundreds of thousands of people molder in jails for the simple “crime” of being poor, we must all call out the legislative irresponsibility that finances the courts on the backs of the poor, and we must stand up to the bail bondsmen and their underwriters, as well as the private prison industry and the correction officers’ union, which all profit off the misery of low-income people in a system where injustice reigns. Justice demands it. PETER EDELMAN Peter Edelman is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and the author of Not a Crime to Be Poor. CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR 6 ADVERTISEMENT How To: Repair Your Body One of 2017’s more interesting innovations came when Dr. Rand McClain, the Los Angeles based “Doctor to the Stars,” released his new technique for what some are calling the Body Restore formula. And the reason everyone’s talking about it is because his method is based on technology that was actually partially banned by a U.S. Establishment in 2001. 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But the latest development in this story came when the video version of the presentation was made available to the public online. As of this writing, the video has over 3 Million This is the video that many might not want people to see, but if you want to learn more watch the shocking presentation at www.LCR24.com Dr. McClain calls out both the medical industry and certain agencies. One viewer commented: “Why did I not know this before? Rand is telling it like it is...we need more doctors like this!” You can watch his presentation at www.LCR24.com 8 Pardon My French T he Académie Française, the state-anointed guardian of the purity of the French language, issued a warning on October 26 about a “mortal danger” to the Gallic tongue: gender-neutral pronouns. The academy’s lifelong members, known as the “Immortals,” are notoriously conservative with respect to neologisms and borrowed words, and have rejected such imports as “deadline,” “digital,” and “fashionista.” In 1998, when then–Prime Minister Lionel Jospin sought to institutionalize the use of feminine titles for women ministers in his government, the nearly 400-year-old academy raged that the move would tarnish the language and accused Jospin of keeping a “harem” in his cabinet. (Only eight women have ever been elected to the Académie Française, with the first joining in 1980.) Many writers are seeking to reform a male-centric system of gendered nouns (a group of 50 female directors and one male director, for instance, is rendered using the masculine les directeurs), and they’ve had some success. Gender-neutral nouns have appeared in some textbooks, and a recent study showed that three-quarters of the French support a more inclusive language. Still, as long as the Académie Française has the final say, the French language will—officially, at least—continue to preserve what the institution calls “le patrimoine”: a masculine noun meaning “heritage” and deriving from the Latin word for “inheritance from one’s father.” —Jake Bittle Katha Pollitt A New Day for Justice Sisterhood is finally showing some power! So why do I feel anxious? I t’s been over three weeks since Harvey Weinstein was publicly outed as a sexual harasser and violent bully, a rapist of numerous women and at least one potted plant, and the hits just keep on coming: Director James Toback, chef John Besh, former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, bestselling author and ubiquitous talking head Mark Halperin, Amazon Studios head Roy Price, and Artforum co-publisher Knight Landesman have all been exposed by multiple women as creeps and predators of many years’ standing. (And don’t forget the prequels: Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Cosby.) Even as I was writing this column, former Nation publisher and Nation Institute head Hamilton Fish, the New Republic’s publisher, has been placed on leave following sexual-harassment allegations. Who’s next? For the moment, it really does feel like something is changing in the culture, and not just in the United States. Six and a half years ago, in France, a poll found that 57 percent of French people believed that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then-head of the International Monetary Fund, was the victim of a plot after he was charged with sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper in Manhattan; today, catcalling may soon be subject to a fine. In the United Kingdom, women MPs are protesting “sex pests”—international trade minister Mark Garnier has admitted to calling his secretary “sugar tits” and asking her to buy him sex toys, but he says it was all a joke, ha ha ha—and women presenters at the BBC are banding together to expose harassers at that venerable institution. We’re winning! In numbers, there is strength. Sisterhood is finally showing some power. So why do I feel anxious? Partly, it’s the sheer weight of so many awful revelations of so much terrible behavior over so long a time. Halperin was at ABC for 19 years; Landesman’s tenure lasted for more than 35. Partly, it’s the grossness and ease with which they got away with it, and the way people in a position to do something about it turned away. Marty Peretz, Wieseltier’s boss at the New Republic for over three decades, is still in denial: “I could see how he sometimes overpowered me and overpowered other people on the staff. But that was because of his cerebral capacity.” Oh, so that’s what they’re calling it now. But it’s also because I wonder whether this moment can last. The men who’ve been toppled lately have all been accused by multiple women—82 and counting in the case of Weinstein; a possible 300plus for Toback. But what about men with only one victim—or only one willing to come forward? Are we more likely to believe her than we were before? Or are we still following our own version of sharia, where a woman’s testimony is worth only half a man’s? I worry, too, that the whole thing will explode in women’s faces: All it would take is one false charge, one innocent compliment or awkward remark blown up into an international incident. That was why I didn’t publicize the “Shitty Media Men” list going around on e-mail: Anonymous charges with no attempt at verification just seem like a recipe for disaster. It’s not as if we haven’t had large numbers of women claiming abuse before. Think of the military, where rape and harassment seem to be endemic and are repeatedly exposed, only to fade back into the woodwork: Thank you for your service, sir! This is America, after all, where Donald Trump was accused of crimes from harassment to rape by 16 women, boasted of bursting into the dressing rooms of young beauty contestants, uttered and tweeted vile sexist insults at a wide range of women, and almost 63 million people— including a majority of It’s hard to believe all men, a slender maa country that jority of white women, and 80 percent of white elected Trump evangelical Protes- will take a notants—voted for him anyway. (Then again, tolerance attitude White House press sec- toward the miniretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims that all Trumps all of Trump’s accusers— around us. yes, all of them—are lying.) It’s just hard to believe that a country that elected Trump is going to take a permanent no-tolerance attitude toward the mini-Trumps all around us. Matt Taibbi, who boasted about molesting teenagers and constantly harassing staffers in The eXile, the memoir he coauthored with Mark Ames about his years as a would-be gonzo journalist in Moscow, has gone ILLUSTRATION: ANDY FRIEDMAN WAR OF WORDS November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. November 20/27, 2017 The men who’ve been toppled were all accused by multiple women. What about the men with only one victim—or only one willing to come forward? 9 The Nation. on to an illustrious career at Rolling Stone, and now claims that he and Ames made the whole thing up as “satire.” Silly people, what made you think that a book labeled as nonfiction by its publisher was true? What troubles me the most, though, is what this episode says about who has been shaping our politics and culture. As Rebecca Traister argues brilliantly, Halperin, the coauthor of best-selling books about the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, did much to craft the popular image of Hillary Clinton as a screechy bitch. (He also made poor Elizabeth Edwards, betrayed by her husband and dying of cancer while raising two small children, sound like… a screechy bitch.) Wieseltier, like his bestie Maureen Dowd, who frequently channeled him in her columns, was another Hillary-hater. Wieseltier’s book-review section was notoriously short on women reviewers and reviews of books by women. At Amazon, Price canceled Good Girls Revolt, a well-received miniseries about the women who broke the gender barrier at Newsweek back in the late 1960s, when only men could be reporters, and reportedly passed on a TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies. What you read and what you see, on TV or in the movies or on the walls of a museum; how much your words or art are worth; how the world sees female candidates—men decide these things, the same way they decide how much control you’ll have over your childbearing, or how safe you’ll be coming home late, or whether your rape claim will be taken seriously by the police, who are, after all, mostly men. For all their bravery, the victims who speak out can’t fix the institutions and whole industries that harbored these wrongdoers by themselves. We can all fight for clear sexual-harassment policies and protocols, functioning HR departments, and sanctions on the bullying behaviors that can hide harassment. Men casting about for some way to make themselves useful now that they know how much women put up with every day—please, be our guests. Q PETER KUPER The Nation has launched OppArt, a series of daily artistic dispatches from the front lines of the resistance. To see more, visit TheNation.com/OppArt. 10 The Nation. MIND CONTROL Kai Wright Stranger Than Fiction Safety in Numbers In the service industry, workers can’t just shame one boss at a time. J une Barret left Jamaica and migrated to the United States, looking for safety. It was 2001, and her increasingly open identity as a queer woman was making life untenable back home. When it came up at work and she became a target for harassment, she decided it was time to go. Barret followed her twin sister to Miami. She got off a bus in Florida and went directly to her first job interview. She started working right away, in the home of an aging woman, caring for her as an off-the-books employee of the family. Barret’s been a care worker ever since, and she’s proud of the career. It feels like she’s paying something forward. “When I give care, I think about me. I think about me being 54 years old and going down,” Barret says, by way of explaining how she deals with difficult clients. “I think about: What if something should happen and someone should come in and give care to me?” So it’s rewarding labor—but it has rarely provided Barret the safety she sought in the United States. Rather, it has placed her in one of the lowest-paid, most predatory parts of our economy. Barret has been routinely verbally abused, had her wages stolen, worked around the clock for days at a time without a break. And she has endured the sexual assault that is endemic to low-wage service work—jobs that easily form one of the largest sectors of the American workforce and that are, not coincidentally, overwhelmingly staffed by women. “At one point, there was no work,” Barret destroyed in 1972, under the orders recalls as she begins telling me a story familiar of top CIA scientist Sidney Gottlieb. to millions of women who have done jobs like The CIA continued similar rehers. She had long avoided turning to agensearch through later programs cies, because they take all the money and prolike Project Star Gate. A cache of vide no support. But she was desperate. “They hundreds of thousands of docusaid, ‘OK, we have work’…. So I went to that ments released by the agency earwork. And the very first night, the gentleman lier this year reveals that the CIA started touching me inappropriately, invited me sought to develop psychic and supernatural abilities for military to bed.” Barret says she fought him off. “I’m purposes, including psychostrong. So thank God he didn’t rape me or whatkinesis and remote viewing. Both ever. But the touching and the inappropriate feature prominently in the first stuff—[it was] just vile.” two seasons of Stranger Things. Barret needed the assignment, so she kept —Miguel Salazar quiet. “I know agencies: You can’t whine. You might be taken off that case, and they’ll throw you aside. Because they are getting so much money, they don’t want to upset their clients.” We have belatedly begun a national conversation about sexual assault in the workplace. Women have outed powerful men as not merely boors but calculating predators. We’ve acknowledged this as a bipartisan problem, one that stretches from the White House to Hollywood. And legions of women have bravely spoken up to reveal just how unexceptional Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein are in all of our communities. Our collective dirty secret is being aired: On the left and right alike, we have allowed boys to be boys for far too long. And so maybe we are headed for a reckoning. It should be clear by now that sexual harassment isn’t about sex; it’s about power. But it’s also about more than one individual attacking another. So many women have experienced so much harassment on the job because it’s one of the many tools used to keep men in charge of economic life. It is literally written into the code of our economy. There are few places where that code is more visible—and more confining—than in the service sector. “I know agencies: June Barret was left vulnerable to her cli- You can’t whine… ent’s groping and they’ll throw you grabbing by design. When the federal aside. Because government began they are getting creating job protections during the New so much money, Deal era, Congress they don’t want to explicitly excluded jobs associated with upset clients.” women and black people: domestic and farm work. Generations later, as Barret walked to her job in a strange man’s home, she and her peers still had few rights. She was exempted from the minimum wage, overtime pay, and workplace-safety rules. Everything about the economic arrangement suggested to the man who employed her that she was his property, to do with as he pleased. This is true throughout the service sector. Consider the restaurant industry, where the ILLUSTRATION: ANDY FRIEDMAN T he second season of Netflix’s spooky sci-fi thriller Stranger Things dropped in late October, just in time for Halloween binge-watching. The show, a fictional account of a group of kids who stumble upon a clandestine, government-run laboratory in Indiana, is loosely based on a series of covert projects conducted by the CIA and other US agencies in the decades following World War II. One of the most prominent among these is MK-ULTRA, a psychological-warfare program run by the CIA in the 1950s and ’60s that sought to develop mindcontrol techniques through the use of LSD and other drugs administered to unwitting patients. What is known about MK-ULTRA is largely limited to accounts from the former participants. One of these patients, Farrell Kirk, was referred to as a “living medical mixing bowl” in a 1983 news segment on WJLA-TV; the report described a suicide attempt in which Kirk tried to chew off his own arm. Many of the documents pertaining to MK-ULTRA were November 20/27, 2017 November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. economics of harassment are crystal clear. Fifty-two percent of female restaurant workers report weekly sexual harassment on the job, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. The ROC United survey found that restaurant workers who depend on tips and live in states that exempt tipped workers from standard minimum-wage rules are far more likely to report sexual harassment. Women workers in those states are also three times as likely to report being asked by management to make their outfits sexier. Food servers and care workers are among the largest and fastest-growing segments of our workforce. There are as many people in food service alone (roughly 12 million) as there are in all forms of manufacturing. Women are greatly overrepresented in these jobs, and it isn’t just happenstance that they are among the lowest-paid and least respected parts of our workforce. Women in the service sector have responded to their plight by leading the battle to remake the 21stcentury labor economy. June Barret didn’t just endure the harassment she faced at work; she joined an exploding movement for domestic workers’ rights. She and her co-workers have won the enactment of a bill guaranteeing those rights in eight states and counting. Likewise, the Fight for $15 was sparked and has been fueled by women who walked out of fast-food jobs. Teachers’ unions—led and powered by women—have held the line against the attack on public workers in states around the country. So the resistance didn’t begin with Trump’s presidency. But hopefully, the reckoning we must have with our history of devaluing women and their work will be Q hastened by it. S N A P S H O T / A LV I N B A E Z REUTERS Power to the People? Cars drive past a toppled utility pole in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The FBI is investigating the now-canceled $300 million contract between Whitefish Energy and Puerto Rico to rebuild the island’s electrical grid. 11 June Barret didn’t just endure the harassment; she joined the movement for domestic workers’ rights. The Nation. he democratic party lost just about everything in 2016, but so far it has offered only evasive regrets and mild apologies. Instead of acknowledging gross failure and astounding errors, the party’s leaders and campaign professionals wallowed in self-pity and righteous indignation. The true villains, they insisted, were the wily Russians and the odious Donald Trump, who together intruded on the sanctity of American democracy and tampered with the election results. Official investigations are now under way. While the country awaits the verdict, a new and quite provocative critique has emerged from a group of left-leaning activists: They blame the Democratic Party itself for its epic defeat. Their 34-page “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” reads more like a cold-eyed indictment than a postmortem report. It’s an unemotional dissection of why the Democrats failed so miserably, and it warns that the party must change profoundly or else remain a loser. Reading the particulars of this critique, I had the impression that maybe the party got what it deserved in 2016. I do not mean that Trump deserved to win. Indeed, “Autopsy” mentions Trump’s campaign largely in passing, and the Russians only once. But this analysis does suggest that Trump became president mainly because the Democratic campaign was inept, misguided, smug, and out of touch with the country. Much of the report’s speciﬁcs were already known in “The bits and pieces. But the evidence takes on a sharper edge mainstream and stronger punch as it is laid out in “Autopsy.” The task force that drafted the critique was led by journalist and Democratic media critic Norman Solomon, a Democratic convention story line delegate in 2008 and 2016; Karen Bernal, the Progressive of victims Caucus chair of the California State Democratic Party; Pia Gallegos, a longtime civil-rights lawyer and activist without in New Mexico; and Sam McCann, a New York–based victimizers communications specialist focused on issues of interna- lacks both tional justice. The writers are not promoting any candidate for 2020, though they are obviously kindred spirits plausibility with Bernie Sanders and his aggressive reform agenda. and They do, however, want to provoke a showdown within passion.” the Democratic Party: the Clinton-Obama establish— from “Autopsy: The ment versus the hurt and disappointed party base. The Democratic Party establishment has the money and the governing control; in Crisis” the rank-and-ﬁle agitators have the ﬁre of their brave convictions. This “Autopsy,” in other words, is a text for rebellion and a rough suggestion of what a born-again Democratic Party might look like. This is the heart of its indictment: “The mainstream Democratic story line of victims without victimizers lacks both plausibility and passion. The idea that the Democrats can somehow convince Wall Street to work on behalf of Main Street through mild chiding, rather than acting as Main Street’s champion against the wealthy, no longer resonates. We live in a time of unrest and justiﬁed cynicism toward those in power; Democrats will not win if they continue to bring a wonk knife to a populist gun ﬁght.” The authors are clearly seeking a straightforward repudiation of the governing strategy on economic issues by the last two Democratic presidents. Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama attempted to challenge corporate and ﬁnancial interests, and neither did nearly enough to address the lost jobs and wages that led to deteriorating afﬂuence and fed ILLUSTRATION BY NURUL HANA ANWAR T popular cynicism and distrust. Obama, for example, gratuitously appointed General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to the White House Jobs Council—an odd choice, given that Immelt’s company was a notorious pioneer in offshoring American jobs to foreign nations. Immelt subsequently admitted that he was motivated by GE’s bottom line: American wages were too high, he explained, so he intended to lower them. He succeeded. In this context, blue-collar workers were not mistaken when they blamed the Democrats. During the campaign, Hillary Clinton was virtually silent on the party’s complicity. The Democratic nominee couldn’t very well quarrel with the party’s embrace of Republican dogma on free trade and ﬁnancial deregulation, since it would have meant quarreling with her husband. On the central domestic issue of our time, she had nothing convincing to say. Clinton belatedly announced her opposition to the Trans-Paciﬁc Partnership trade deal championed by President Obama, but at that point it was already dead. The party platform paid the usual respect to liberal economic causes, but who could believe her? Clinton lacked authenticity. A revealing example cited in “Autopsy” of the Democratic Party’s self-congratulatory mentality (and its cluelessness) is the fund-raising mailer it sent to donors in the summer of 2017—eight months after its spectacular wipeout. The mailer was “designed to look like collection letters to its supporters,” the critique notes. “The DNC team scrawled ‘FINAL NOTICE’ across the envelopes and put ‘Finance Department’ as the return address. The message it conveyed, intentionally or not, was: you owe us.” The upstart critics observe: “That, not coincidentally, is a message the party leadership has been sending to core constituencies through its policies and campaign spending priorities.” he condescending approach of party wise guys may seem a trivial matter in the era of high-tech modern elections, but politics is still personal. The failure to sustain the attachments of shared experience and kindred loyalties can be fatal. Representative Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, the Democratic House speaker during the Reagan era, T A DNC fund-raising appeal was designed to look like a collection letter—just one example of how the party is out of touch with the 99 percent. used to tell this story about himself: In his ﬁrst run for Congress, a family friend and neighbor, Mrs. O’Brien, told O’Neill that she would vote for him even though he had failed to ask for her vote. O’Neill was astonished. He hadn’t thought it necessary, since they were such close friends. “Tom, let me tell you something,” Mrs. O’Brien said. “People like to be asked.” That kernel of political wisdom is what the Democratic Party has forgotten. All politics is local, as O’Neill taught. But the party moved uptown, so to speak, and lost touch with the old neighborhood. The party of working people failed to rally the stalwart regulars it could usually count on, and those folks failed to turn out in the usual numbers. In essence, this is the core accusation leveled in “Autopsy”: that the Democratic Party neglected its most loyal voters. It not only forgot to ask for their votes; it ignored the general distress of working people (white, black, and brown). Furthermore, the party didn’t have much to offer those folks in the form of concrete proposals to improve their lives. That’s a controversial claim, but the authors of “Autopsy” offer damning evidence to support it. In midsummer 2016, working-class enthusiasm for Trump was the hot political story, but Senator Chuck Schumer, the soon-to-be Democratic leader in the upper chamber, assured party colleagues that they needn’t worry. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” Schumer predicted. “And you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” At the time, Schumer sounded as though he was just blowing smoke to motivate donors. But in hindsight, this may actually have been the party’s strategy: Bet on middle-class suburbanites offended by the vile Trump to vote Democratic or stay home, which would offset the loss of working-class voters attracted to him. If this was, in fact, the strategy, the party bet wrong on every point. What’s more, this approach may have encouraged Democratic operatives to shortchange black and Latino voters—two faithful groups that had powerful reasons to vote against Trump. The turnout for both was depressed compared to previous presidential elections. According to the authors of “Autopsy,” the Democrats withheld funding for grassroots canvassing and failed to challenge outrageous Republican schemes to suppress the minority vote. Albert Morales, then the Democratic National Committee’s director of engagement for Latino voters, originally proposed a $3 million budget to increase turnout in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. He ended up with $300,000. “It was just pitiful,” Morales said. “Autopsy” warns that November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. Nancy Pelosi insists that Democrats are capitalists—“that’s just the way it is.” “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose… we will pick up two moderate Republicans.” —Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the many Democrats who fatally misjudged the electorate “what ought to deeply worry Democrats moving forward…is the massive swing of white working-class voters from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 and the depressed turnout of black and Latino voters for Clinton relative to 2012 Obama.… To put it in marketing terms: the Democratic Party is failing, on a systemic level, to inspire, bring out, and get a sufﬁcient majority of the votes of the working class.” “As a result of these failures,” the report continues, “Democrats saw dips in voter turnout and voter support among people of color—dips that were disastrously concentrated in swing states. In short, these missteps likely cost the party the presidential election.” nce again, PEOPLE LIKE TO BE ASKED. there is one more bloc of potential voters that the Democratic Party failed to ask—young people— and its failure here is ominous for the future. This new generation is far to the left of the current party, not to mention stone-age Republicans. Bernie Sanders was their man in 2016, and he will continue to be an influential leader in reshaping politics and the governing of the nation. Many young people are even to the left of Bernie. A YouGov poll in January 2016 found that 43 percent of people under the age of 30 had a favorable opinion of socialism, versus just 26 percent unfavorable. A recent poll of 18-to-29-year-olds by Harvard University found that a majority of the respondents did not “support capitalism.” This was too much for Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader. At a postelection town hall, she bolted out of her seat to declare: “I have to say, we’re capitalists—that’s just the way it is.” Maybe it’s time for the Democrats to start a conversation with these young lefties. The Clinton partisans who remain in charge of the party machinery will no doubt reject the conclusions of “Autopsy.” The report suggests that the Clinton-Obama crowd tilted the action away from the party’s core voter blocs—labor, people of color, and young people—in order to court suburban voters and maintain the party’s alliances with high ﬁnance and multinational corporations. This might also explain why the DNC decided not to undertake its own postelection review. Suspicions are already circulatBernie Sanders ing: As Politico reported, “Party regularly polls as America’s most ofﬁcials involved in fundpopular politician. raising say donors repeatedly turn them away with a ‘try again next year,’ especially since it became clear there won’t be an ofﬁcial party autopsy from 2016.” That donor-centric strategy was highly valuable when it came to raising money for Clinton’s campaign. It turned out to be not so good for winQ ning her the election. O TOP: AP PHOTO / J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE; BOTTOM: WIKIMEDIA CC BY-SA 2.0 / LORIE SHAULL 14 Amazing price breakthrough! ADVANCED HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY Under $200 How can a hearing aid that costs less than $200 be every bit as good as one that sells for $3,000 or more? 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What can one clinic do? by ZOË CARPENTER November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. eptember went out hot in east tennessee. caleb didn’t mind; he parked his lawn chair in a shallow pool of shade, clipped a small fan to its arm, lit a cigarette, and settled back to wait. It would be more than 12 hours before the free medical clinic opened its doors. Caleb had read about the clinic online, and that it was best to get there early. Hundreds of people were expected to show up. Caleb had driven up from Georgia to get a cracked tooth pulled. He’s a lean, hard-looking man with a scar running vertically down from his lower lip, the result of a getting bitten by a dog. His teeth are yellowed, many of them dark brown at the gum line. A few years ago, Caleb paid more than $2,000 to have three teeth extracted by a professional, a price that he considered ridiculous. He works odd jobs but wanted me to know that he isn’t poor: He earns enough to own his house and car. “But there’s nothing in the back pocket,” he explained. Since then he’s resorted to pulling teeth on his own, with a pair of hog-ring pliers that he modiﬁed for the job. One time he messed up and crushed an aching tooth, leaving a jagged stump embedded in his jaw; he went after that with a chisel and a hammer. He saved a neighbor $300 recently, he claimed, by pulling a tooth for him. “You know what that cost him? Two and a half shots of Wild Turkey 101.” On the ground beside Caleb sat Michael Sumers, a fellow Georgian with a long neck and wide, darting eyes. Sumers, who never saw a dentist as a child, hoped to get his remaining 14 teeth pulled. He’s only 46 years old. His mouth has hurt him almost constantly for the last ﬁve years, but he hasn’t been able to afford any help. Sumers lives on his disability check, and after paying $700 a month in rent, he doesn’t have much left. “I Caleb has can’t eat steak without my teeth breaking,” he admitted. Chicken is what broke one of Jessica Taylor’s teeth. resorted Another two were broken by her ex-husband’s ﬁst, when to pulling he hit her in the mouth during a ﬁght. I found Taylor sitting on the ground, her back to a tree, a pizza box be- teeth on his side her. “Now I’m here,” she said, explaining why she’d own, with a come to the clinic, “and he’s in hell.” pair of hogOver on the far side of the lot, a group of women sat around a small barbecue grill, smoking cigarettes and ring pliers ﬂipping burgers: Beverly, April, Darlene, and Donna, a adapted for woman with a thin face and gray hair scraped back into a ponytail. All of them hoped to get their teeth worked on the purpose. the following morning when the clinic opened. Beverly smiled, showing me how her two front teeth overlapped. Her parents divorced when she was little, Beverly told me, “and forgot which one was supposed to take care of it.” April, her sister, read about the clinic on Facebook and had been the ﬁrst to pull into the parking lot that morning. At 9 am, when the clinic staff arrived to set up rows of dental chairs, April was there in a pink T-shirt, waiting on the sidewalk. ZOË CARPENTER S of the countless ways in which poverty eats at the body, one of the most visible, and painful, is in our mouths. Teeth betray age, but also wealth, if they’re ILLUSTRATION BY NURUL HANA ANWAR Zoë Carpenter is The Nation’s associate editor in Washington, DC. 17 pearly and straight, or the emptiness of our pockets, if they’re missing, broken, rotted out. The American health-care system treats routine dental care as a luxury available only to those with the means to pay for it, making it vastly more difficult for millions of Americans to take care of their teeth. And the consequences can be far more profound than just negative effects on one’s appearance. In fact, they can be deadly. Wealthy Americans spend billions of dollars per year, collectively, to improve their smiles. Meanwhile, about a third of all people living in the United States struggle to pay for even basic dental care. The most common chronic illness in school-age children is tooth decay. Nearly a quarter of low-income children have decaying teeth, well above the national average; black and Hispanic children also experience higher rates of untreated decay. Neither Medicaid nor Medicare is required to cover dental procedures for adults, so coverage varies by state, and both the very poor and the elderly are often left to pay out of pocket. (Tennessee provides no dental Relief is near as coverage to anyone over 21.) Donna Lowrance of LaFayette, Georgia, In those states where Medicaid gets four teeth does cover dental care, beneﬁts extracted. are limited. Even middle-class Americans can’t always afford necessary care, as private insurance often will not cover expensive procedures. Dental coverage improved modestly during the Obama administration, through an expansion of Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act, but access remains patchy and wholly inadequate. The situation is made more difﬁcult by the dearth of dentists in low-income communities. Less than half of the country’s dentists will treat Medicaid patients. As one dentist tells journalist Mary Otto in her 2017 book Teeth, while his colleagues “once exclusively focused upon ﬁllings and extractions,” they “are nowadays considered providers of beauty.” Offering cosmetic procedures in wealthy cities and suburbs is far more lucrative than treating people in rural areas and poor neighborhoods—whitening alone is an $11-billion-a-year industry. The result is a geographic imbalance, with dentists clustered around the money. Nearly 55 million people live in areas ofﬁcially considered to have a shortage of dental-care providers. At the pediatric dental clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago, there’s a two-year waiting list for children who need dental surgery that requires anesthesia. All of this explains why Caleb and a few hundred other people slept in a parking lot overnight—in their cars, in tents, or out on the ground—and then gathered in the early-morning dark, waiting for the pop-up clinic to open its doors. Held at a sports arena outside Chattanooga, the clinic is one of dozens operated each year by the nonproﬁt organization Remote Area Medical. Appalachia is RAM’s home territory, but the group now runs weekend clinics in medically underserved areas across the United States, from California and Texas to Florida and New York, providing basic medical, dental, and vision care—as well as veterinary services, occasionally—fully free of charge. Dozens of doctors and dentists from across the country volunteer their services. The group’s founder, Stan Brock, was there to open the doors at 6 am. Brock is a tan, trim man of 81 with a clipped English accent; he is also a former wildlifetelevision star. (A quick search turns up photos of Brock holding a lion cub, a snake fatter than his arm, and a harpy eagle named Jezebel.) The idea for RAM came about after Brock found himself badly injured in a horseback-riding accident in a part of Guyana that was weeks away—on foot—from the nearest doctor. Initially, his intent was to ﬂy doctors and medical supplies into remote regions of the world’s poorest countries. Brock got his pilot’s license and a small plane, and started ﬂying medical missions into Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Brazil. He founded RAM in 1985; a few years later, the mayor of Sneedville in northern Tennessee read about the group’s work in a newspaper. The local hospital had closed and the only dentist had left town, so the mayor asked Brock for help. Brock put a dental chair in the back of a pickup truck and drove to Sneedville, where more than 50 people lined up to have their teeth worked on. Ninety percent of RAM’s operations are now in the United States. Little else has changed about the nature of Brock’s work in the two and a half decades since the Sneedville clinic, despite swings of the political pendulum and the passage of numerous health-care reform packages. When I asked Brock about common ailments among the thousands of people who attend RAM clinics each year, he said, “I can tell you that without any hesitation—it’s the same everywhere we go. They’re all there to see the dentist. They’re all there to see the eye doctor. They’re not there to see the medical doctor.” The health-care system treats the eyes and teeth as being distinct from the rest of the body—no matter that an infection that starts in the mouth can move quickly into the bloodstream and then throughout the body. Unlike many other acute physical problems, a cracked tooth or the gradual blurring of vision cannot be ﬁxed in an emergency room. Nevertheless, more than 2 million people show up in the nation’s emergency rooms with dental pain each year, though hospitals can usually do little besides prescribe antibiotics and painkillers. y the time the sky lightened, nearly 200 people had been ushered into the arena. Outside, the line still wrapped around the building. A woman at the back clutched a ticket numbered 631. Her teeth had been hurting her for a year and a half, but there was no guarantee she’d be seen. Inside, vol- B The Nation. The intent was to fly doctors into the world’s poorest countries. Then Brock got a call from Tennessee. Clarity of vision comes to RAM patients through eye tests and free glasses. Vision care is not included in many healthinsurance policies. November 20/27, 2017 unteers checked the patients in at rows of folding tables. Dental patients were sent to wait in the bleachers, which filled up quickly. One by one, the people in the bleachers were summoned to a chair overseen by Dr. Joseph Gambacorta, a dean at the School of Dental Medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Gambacorta peered into their mouths to determine whether they needed ﬁllings, a cleaning, or—as was most often the case—extractions. Thirty-six-year-old Jennifer Beard from Dayton, Tennessee, sat uneasily in the chair, her mouth open. She’d already lost all but eight of her teeth. “What do I need to do? I haven’t been to the dentist in a long time,” she admitted in an apologetic tone. “My mom and dad died, and I lost my job.” It took Gambacorta about 10 seconds to assess the damage: “I hate to tell you this, but you need them all out.” Preventing tooth decay doesn’t necessarily require a lot of money: Toothbrushes and ﬂoss don’t cost very much, Gambacorta pointed out. But it does require constant attention, and neglect is serious. One dental student who has volunteered at several RAM clinics told me about a man who arrived with a mouthful of rotting teeth; asked how often he brushed them, he replied, “Well, doc, I don’t.” Diet and habits like smoking also hasten decay. But all these risk factors are ampliﬁed by limited access to professional care. When routine care is unaffordable and decay goes untreated, minor problems can become critical. What starts out as a toothache can become an infection in the jawbone, which can then spread to the bloodstream. In one now-famous case initially reported by Mary Otto, a 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver died from an abscessed tooth that would have cost $80 to pull. Driver’s family had lost their Medicaid coverage, and his mother was preoccupied with trying to ﬁnd a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth. Driver died when the bacteria from his tooth spread to his brain— and after more than $200,000 in surgeries and six weeks in the hospital. “Six, eight, 10, 15, 16, and two,” Gambacorta said briskly to an assistant with a clipboard, naming the teeth that had to be extracted from the head of a ﬁdgety 30-year-old who’d last seen a dentist nearly a decade ago, when he was in Navy boot camp. Gambacorta took a second look. “Are you sure you ZOË CARPENTER (2) 18 don’t want the bottom ones out, too?” he asked. “Put 18, 19, 31, and 32 on the list, too.” While some patients’ teeth were so decayed that Gambacorta had no choice but to recommend their removal, he hesitates to turn people into “dental cripples” unnecessarily. “Everyone’s eager to get them all out, but they don’t know what that means for after,” he told me. People assume that having dentures is easier than dealing with their rotted teeth, particularly if they’ve been in pain. But dentures come with their own complications, including the fact that people who use them tend to eat softer, less nutritious foods. On the main ﬂoor of the arena, behind a wall of green curtains, stood four parallel rows of dental chairs—50 in all. I found April, still wearing her pink shirt, waiting in chair 22, her gums already numbed. Caleb was in chair 13; he was quiet and nervous, with little of the nonchalance he’d projected the previous afternoon while describing his pliers. Later on, I found him smoking a cigarette in the parking lot, a new gap where his top left tooth had been. “It’s embarrassing,” he said of the gap. Still, he was grateful. He was getting free eyeglasses, too; he hadn’t realized how badly he needed them. Donna grinned at me from chair 25 as a third-year dental student prepared to pull four of her teeth. The ﬁrst three came out easily, in a matter of minutes. But the fourth was stuck. It took the oral surgeon who was overseeing things a few swings of his right elbow, as if he were ﬂapping a wing, to yank it free. Donna whimpered in pain, but a few minutes later, her mouth stuffed with gauze, she gave me a thumbs-up. The incessant ache she’d lived with for so long had already started to fade. ver the course of two days, more than 800 people received care from RAM. Sheila Barrow, a pretty woman of 55 with dimples and long blond hair, said it was the fourth RAM clinic she’d attended. This time, she was there to have one tooth filled and another pulled. Barrow has health O The dental gap is only partly mitigated by RAM’s pop-up clinics, which serve hundreds of poor Tennessee residents. “RAM will be holding these events until kingdom come— instead of being where we should be, which is in the Third World.” —Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical insurance through Tennessee’s Medicaid program, but no dental or vision coverage. She worked for UPS, but after four knee surgeries, she’s now dependent on disability benefits. “They’ve been a lifesaver,” she said of the free clinics. “I don’t know what I’d do without them.” And yet it was clear that free clinics like RAM’s barely paper over the yawning dental-care gap. On Saturday afternoon, I found Michael Sumers in the parking lot, waiting for a ride home. All of his top teeth were gone. He’d gotten four pulled, not the 14 he was hoping for— there wasn’t enough time. Up in the bleachers, Gambacorta and another volunteer had discussed how to triage patients as it became clear that the need was greater than the number of dentists. Treating everyone in line meant that some people would have to choose between getting a tooth pulled or another one ﬁlled. It should be unnecessary to say that a system that requires people to spend the night in a parking lot to see a dentist, or to pull their own teeth with pliers, or that leaves an infected tooth to kill a child, is grotesquely broken. Yet there is no urgency for reform in Washington, particularly with the party in power more inclined toward cutting health beneﬁts. Part of the fault belongs with dentists’ associations, which have fought proposals for a national health-care system as well as smallerscale reforms, like giving hygienists more autonomy to provide preventive care in public schools. The fault also rests with the policy-makers who have ignored dental care entirely when debating overhauls to the healthinsurance system. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings have repeatedly introduced legislation to expand dental coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and the Department of Veterans Affairs; the latest version, introduced in 2015, never received a committee vote in either chamber. Unless something changes in Washington, Brock predicted, “Remote Area Medical will be holding these events from now until kingdom come—instead of being Q where we should be, which is the Third World.” The Nation. The Nation. A t noon on tuesday, september 12, 71 delegates gathered in the chamber of the State House of Representatives in Phoenix, Arizona. A sign near the entrance featured an official logo that bore a gold-plated inscription: Article V: History in the Making. Nominated by 19 Republican state legislatures, the men and women in Phoenix—all of whom, the Arizona Republic said, “appeared white”— assembled to organize a convention of the states, a never-before-tried method for amending the US Constitution. November 20/27, 2017 “Some are saying about us, ‘They are no Hamilton. They are no Jefferson,’” said Kelly Townsend, the Arizona state representative who served as chair of the Phoenix convention, speaking to a reporter. “No, we are not. But we are the stewards now. They found the courage to stand up, and now it’s our turn.” The US Constitution is the most difﬁcult to alter of any in the world. Article V lays out two ways to propose amendments: with the support of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, or by a convention of states called by Congress upon the request of twothirds of the states. Whichever way it’s put forward, an amendment then has to be approved by threequarters of the states—either by special conventions The Nation. Caption Caption TK quissitae et, nus auteculparum restem fugia vendioRoriberior si omnis eos et litae debis num ende corpos amet eum TK or by both houses of the state legislatures (save for Nebraska, which has a single chamber). The ﬁrst method for proposing an amendment—the one that begins with Congress—has been employed all 27 times the Constitution has been changed. In the nearly two and a half centuries since the Constitution was ratiﬁed, the second method—a convention of states—has never been used. As its name suggests, the purpose of the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention in Phoenix was to set the ground rules for a future convention that would consider only that single amendment. Pitched as a reasonable constraint on the proﬂigate spending habits of Congress, and predicated on long-debunked arguments equating the ﬁscal responsibilities of a nation with those of a household, the balanced-budget amendment has been a decades-long obsession of the conservative movement. Its passage would result in the almost immediate contraction of the federal government, whose expenditures could no longer exceed revenues in any given year. Powerless to borrow its way out of a recession, the government would have to cut spending at the very moment it was most needed. The result would be catastrophic. Much of the movement’s momentum comes from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporateﬁnanced behemoth that pushes conservative legislation through state legislatures. ALEC’s preferred mode of politicking—writing model bills and ﬁnding compliant lawmakers to introduce them—makes it well suited to coordinate action in dozens of state capitals. Meanwhile, the State Policy Network, a collection of 64 think tanks in 49 states—funded by the Koch, Coors, DeVos, and Walton families—produces op-eds and other promotional materials that tout the need for such a convention. Twenty-seven states have passed resolutions calling for a convention to propose the measure, according to the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, which helped organize the Phoenix meeting. That tally includes several resolutions passed many decades ago, and some of those states could rescind them as the movement approaches the two-thirds threshold. But supporters are unfazed. A motion passed in Phoenix suggests that the movement’s backers hope to hold a convention of states before the end of 2018. That’s unlikely, but not impossible: There are seven states where such a resolution has yet to pass but where both houses of the Legislature are controlled by Republicans—just enough to hit the magic 34. Though it has the most states signed on thus far, the movement for a balanced-budget amendment isn’t the only one eyeing an Article V convention. The Convention of States (COS) Project advocates for one that wouldn’t be limited to the balanced-budget amendment, but would be free to consider other small-government reforms. Advised by former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, until recently president of the archconservative Heritage Foundation, the COS Project emerged out of Citizens for Self-Governance, a group started in 2015 by Tea Party impresario Mark Meckler to create “the largest grassroots army in the history of the United States.” Last January, Meckler explained the Article V movement to a conservative paper: “The hordes have broken through the gates of Washington, DC, and now, at this very moment, is the time we should tear the structure down.” A motley coalition, ranging from the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause to the far-right John Birch Society, has now emerged to prevent an Article V convention. In January, Richard Kogan of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a study on the potential negative effects of a balanced-budget amendment. An otherwise valuable contribution to the debate, the report was spoiled by a sidebar warning that a convention “could open up the 21 “The hordes have broken through the gates of Washington, DC, and now we should tear the structure down.” — Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance Richard Kreitner, a contributing writer to The Nation, is working on a history of American disunion. Constitution to radical and harmful changes.” Apparently, in order to criticize a particularly egregious proposal for amending the Constitution, one must also swear off one of the few democratic provisions already in it. The arguments against a convention of states are often ahistorical, relying on mistakenly gloriﬁed notions of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. An editorial in The Washington Post last April was typical, suggesting that, while the original convention “turned out pretty well,” a new one might meet with “far more doleful results.” The editors were particularly worried that the Constitution’s requirement of support from threequarters of the states to ratify any amendment might itself be tossed aside in a convention. It wasn’t altogether implausible, the paper observed: “The 1787 constitutional convention ditched preexisting ratiﬁcation rules; who is to say a 2018 convention could not?” The editorial was referring to a provision in the Articles of Confederation that required the states to unanimously approve any amendments—a stipulation that was ignored by the 1787 convention. But if the Constitution that emerged from those proceedings “has worked pretty well for a pretty long time,” as the Post argued, why assume that updating it wouldn’t turn out just as well? In his report, Kogan noted that the Philadelphia convention “went far beyond its mandate.” It did so, of course, to come up with the very document that is now apparently too sacred to revisit. This contradiction—praise for actions of the framers, followed by warnings against trying to replicate their efforts—can be found throughout the arguments against a new convention. Just think, the Post urged its readers, of how much could go wrong: “Sparsely populated states could impose their will on the majority of Americans who live in densely populated ones.” Of course, that’s exactly what happened in 1787, and we’re still living with the consequences. It’s why Wyoming (population: 586,000) enjoys the same representation as California (population 39,250,000) in the Senate and has a disproportionate inﬂuence in the Electoral College. It’s difﬁcult to imagine a new convention producing a political system more skewed toward rural states than the one we have now. An op-ed in the Post in 2014 offered a more general objection: November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. One can readily imagine a convention leading to extensive “log-rolling,” where delegates backed certain changes to the Constitution in return for others’ support for their own preferred changes. A sprawling package of alterations could emerge, designed to build support for the overall package by including the favored ﬁxes of single-issue constituencies. “There was nothing particularly sacred about the origin of this government.” Yet the delegates in Philadelphia in 1787 also backed changes pushed by others in exchange for support for their own favored measures. They too agreed to a “sprawling package of alterations.” With a few reservations, American schoolchildren are still taught to revere it. S even years ago, liberals scoffed at the Tea Party for its worshipful invocations of the founders. These days, protesting in 18thcentury costume has become one of our few bipartisan practices. Outside the Capitol in — Algie Simons, a Phoenix, an anti-convention demonstrator dressed as founder of the Socialist Alexander Hamilton told a reporter that his character had Party, writing in 1911 been “instrumental in writing the Constitution, and we are trying to maintain that Constitution and not have it changed.” That, of course, would be the same Alexander Hamilton who worked longer than anyone to repeal the Articles of Confederation and replace them with a constitution more pleasing to the rich. “The republic is sick,” Hamilton wrote in 1781, “and wants powerful remedies.” The left wasn’t always this historically naive. As the writer Daniel Lazare described in his 1996 book The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy, constitutional change was at the center of the original Progressive agenda. Populists called for a system of national referendums, while Socialists pushed amendments for a graduated income tax, women’s suffrage, and the abolition of the presidential veto. The Progressive Party’s Robert La Follette ran for president in 1924 on a platform demanding congressional power to override Pro-con-con: Oklahoma State Supreme Court decisions as well as the election of fedSenator Julie Daniels eral judges. The 17th Amendment, which instituted the talks with another popular election of senators, passed in Congress after delegate at the recent members were spooked by the growing movement to adplanning convention in Phoenix. dress the issue via a convention of states. Between 1911 and 1929, there were 18 proposals in Congress to amend Article V to lower the bar for new amendments. Meanwhile, intellectuals challenged the infallibility of the founders. “There was nothing particularly sacred about the origin of this government which should render any attempt to change it sacrilegious,” the journalist Algie Simons, a founder of the Socialist Party, wrote in 1911, two years after New Republic co-founder Herbert Croly, in The Promise of American Life, decried the country’s “insidious tradition of conformity—the tradition that a patriotic American citizen must not in his political thinking go beyond the formulas consecrated in the sacred American writings.” Compare that with a 2016 report—ominously titled “The Dangerous Path”—in which Common Cause professed to “sound the alarm” about the Article V move- AP PHOTO / BOB CHRISTIE 22 November 20/27, 2017 ment. It quoted, approvingly, former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who once said that a new convention would be “a horrible idea.” His reasoning: “This is not a good century to write a Constitution”—as if we can afford to wait for a better one. Something is seriously wrong when progressives align themselves with the most hidebound originalists while conservatives embrace the doctrine of a living Constitution. The institutional left’s opposition to thoroughgoing reform has created a vacuum that’s being gleefully ﬁlled by the right. During her fall book tour, Hillary Clinton told Vox that an Article V convention would be “disastrous for our country,” because it might lead to “pull-em-up-by-the-roots change.” That, however, is just what this nation needs and what the restive voters of both parties so obviously seek. Rather than ridicule the efforts to adapt the Constitution for the present day, small-D democrats ought—with eyes wide open— to join them. TOP: COURTESY OF NICOLE GIRARD; BOTTOM: VIA HLS.HARVARD.EDU “P roposed amendments to the u.s. Constitution seldom go anywhere,” read the headline of a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Only 20 of the more than 700 proposals introduced in Congress since 1999 have come up for a full vote in either chamber. Unsurprisingly, entrenched interests with a vested stake in the status quo have blocked any initiative that threatens them. A convention of states, therefore, is the best remaining option for sorely needed constitutional reforms. One part of the “package of alterations” so feared by The Washington Post could be an amendment to suppress the inﬂuence of money in politics. Just a few years ago, only progressives were trying to push an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Now a handful of conservatives have become interested in the cause. Richard W. Painter, the former White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, has argued that the corporate funding of elections increases wasteful spending and interest-driven government regulations. John Pudner, who worked on Virginia Representative Dave Brat’s insurgent primary campaign against former House majority leader Eric Cantor, leads a group called Take Back Our Republic, which goes after “those who seek to buy political favor.” Polls consistently show bipartisan support for campaign-ﬁnance reform. Perhaps the most prominent opponent of Citizens United has been the Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who ran a long-shot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Given the impossibility of getting a “representational integrity” amendment passed in Congress, as well as the apparently successful conspiracy to keep the judicial branch in Republican hands for the foreseeable future, Lessig’s only hope rests with a convention of states. In a recent phone call, Lessig observed that the movement behind the Phoenix convention is strictly partisan and therefore likely to fail. Article V is clear: Any amendment would have to be ratiﬁed by special conventions or by both chambers of the legislature in 38 states. A truly Anti-con-con: A protester speaks during a rally in Phoenix against a new constitutional convention. “What I do fear is a country that has become convinced it is no longer mature enough to consider amendments to its constitution.” “crazy” amendment, as Lessig put it, would draw opposition from at least 13 states, guaranteeing its defeat. No amendment has ever made it into the Constitution without popular support. The left’s scare tactics about Article V, Lessig said, only help feed the very fund-raising machine that is the cause of our problems. He has received e-mails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee soliciting money to ﬁght the pro-convention menace, and Emily’s List sent one out in late September. “I don’t fear a so-called runaway convention,” Lessig said, addressing the idea that delegates might go after gay marriage or reproductive rights. “What I do fear is a country that has become convinced it is no longer mature enough to consider amendments to its constitution, that believes it is too sacred for ordinary people to touch. I just reject that. Basically, it’s saying there’s nothing we can do but go ahead with a constitution that, as currently interpreted, is subverting representative democracy.” A nother piece of such a package could be the abolition of the antidemocratic Electoral College. Designed to bolster the power of slaveholders, the Electoral College now acts as political life support for their ideological descendants. Though states that benefit from it may protest, it’s possible that, as the popular-vote margins of defeated candidates over victorious ones grow — Lawrence Lessig, Harvard law professor larger, more people will recognize the Electoral College for what it is: a threat to the government’s legitimacy. Throughout American history, there have been hundreds of attempts to abolish the Electoral College. All began in Congress, and all failed. It’s time to try another way. The convention might also come to an agreement on term limits for Supreme Court justices. Lost amid last year’s imbroglio over replacing Scalia was the absurd nature of the position itself: Why should a president be able to appoint justices who shape the life of the nation many years after that politician has left ofﬁce? The rights, liberties, and general welfare of the American people could remain subject to the whims of Chief Justice John RobCitizens United foe: erts, a former lawyer in the Reagan administration, until Lawrence Lessig the middle of this century. says we shouldn’t A few constitutional scholars have suggested nonfear a “runaway renewable 18-year terms on the Supreme Court, which convention.” would see a new justice nominated every other year. The idea has won favor on the left and the right. In a small but signiﬁcant way, term limits could restore a modicum of sanity to the Supreme Court selection process. No longer would concerned citizens have to consult the tea leaves to see how long this or that octogenarian might hold out. Every president would get to nominate two justices per term. (If a justice did die in ofﬁce, her seat could be ﬁlled by a lower-court judge or a retired justice.) As constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has said, “Eighteen years is long enough to allow a justice to master the job, but not so long as to risk a Court that reﬂects political choices from decades earlier.” According to one poll, two-thirds of Democrats and over three-quarters of Republicans support term limits for Supreme Court justices. The question would at least provoke lively and proﬁtable discussion in a convention of states, and perhaps even gain widespread support. Other issues now pressed by the left—the right to health care, education, housing, the vote, even a basic income—could also be raised in a convention of states. Delegates might be encouraged to think more daringly about ways to make the government itself more responsive and transparent, such as through federal ballot initiatives, referendums, or the popular recall of elected ofﬁcials. There’s no reason that bold progressive ideas can’t be “The introduced and advocated with just as much tenacity question is and organizational panache as the Kochs bring to the balanced-budget crusade. The left shouldn’t be afraid of whether we a “runaway convention.” It should welcome one. will get a In his chapter on an Article V convention in Repubconversation lic, Lost: The Corruption of Equality and the Steps to End It (2015), Lessig suggests a grand bargain: “The key is a about simple compromise. We get to consider our proposals if constitutional you get to consider yours.” A week after the phoenix planning convention adjourned, I spoke on the phone with Sanford Levinson, a legal scholar who, for more than a decade, has been a prominent liberal supporter of a new constitutional convention. A North Carolina native and a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Levinson argues that we should put “our undemocratic Constitution,” as he termed it in the title of a 2006 book, up to a vote. If a majority voted against it in a national referendum, there would be a new convention to reconsider the whole structure. Rather than have the delegates appointed by state legislatures or chosen in special elections, Levinson would like to see a lottery select a few hundred Americans to participate in the convention. “If you plucked out the most obscure American and said, ‘You’re going to have a chance to wrestle with the most fundamental issues and to decide how your children and grandchildren would live,’ they would rise to the occasion,” Levinson argued at a 2011 Harvard Law School conference. “The fact is, we are not talking about rocket science. We’re talking about making fundamental value judgments that require some information, but delegates could get that information during the convention.” He would also delay for a decade the implementation of any reforms, to allow the participants to debate changes on the merits and not through the lens of short-term partisan advantage. “The most basic, fundamental question,” Levinson told me, “is whether we will get a serious conversation about constitutional reform only after a genuine catas- November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. reform only after a genuine catastrophe.” — Sanford Levinson, University of Texas law professor Colonial chic: An activist dressed as George Washington protests a convention of states. trophe.” He noted that countries tend to approve new constitutions only when they emerge from some calamity, as in Germany and Japan after World War II, or as a way to avoid one, as in South Africa in the 1990s. Far from exacerbating the country’s divisions, Levinson said, a new constitutional convention would be a productive way to address our debilitating political tensions. “We are a very divided country,” he observed, “but one of the reasons we’re divided is the complete frustration, across party lines, that nothing really matters because, whoever is elected, there’s any number of reasons your agenda will not get through.” As bad as things look, Levinson hopes the awful state of US politics has pushed Americans to the verge of a breakthrough. “My belief is that it’s in a time of potential catastrophe that you might actually generate some clarity of mind,” he said. “That’s what led to the 1787 convention—the belief that they had an imbecilic system, which if they didn’t change would bring warfare, dissolution, and economic collapse. They understood the need to act to prevent things from getting even worse.” T hough there has never been an article V convention of states, the preliminary planning meeting in Phoenix was not without precedent. The event’s official website, hosted by the Arizona Legislature, trumpeted the fact that the delegates were doing something that “has not happened in over 156 years.” “This is indeed historic,” an assemblyman from West Jordan, Utah, told the Arizona Republic on opening day. “This is the first time since 1861 that we’ve been here.” Both were referring to the Washington Peace Conference, when 131 delegates from 21 states gathered at Willard’s Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue a month before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration to ﬁnd a way out of the secession crisis. Left unexplained by the convention’s website and the gentleman from Utah was how the invocation of a failed attempt to prevent the Civil War was supposed to make anyone feel better about the proceedings in Phoenix. But the evident implication—that an Article V convention is our best remaining chance to prevent a breakdown in the US constitutional order— might not be far off base. Article V’s provision for a convention of states is the Constitution’s safety valve, a last resort when the ordinary functions of politics are obstructed and the pent-up pressures grow too great. Its purpose was to prevent the kind of constitutional coup d’état to which the framers themselves resorted when the existing system proved unresponsive during a crisis. As the delegates in Philadelphia knew, it was precisely the growing sense that the Articles of Confederation could not be amended that sealed their demise. In the late 19th century, the New England poet and journalist James Russell Lowell warned against thinking of the Constitution as “a machine that would go of itself.” Without regular maintenance, it would sputter, stall, break down. Today, our government is a malfunctioning mess, and it will not ﬁx itself. If we don’t open Q the safety valve soon, the machine will explode. COURTESY OF NICOLE GIRARD 24 *LYHDJLIWRI Save Up to 76% RɲWKH&RYHU3ULFH All gifts only $39. 97 The Nation, the magazine that can’t be bought makes a great gift. Order Today! To order, please use enclosed cards or visit T H E N AT I O N . C O M / 2 0 1 7 H O L I D AY For gifts outside the US: Canada, add $26. All other overseas orders, add $59 (for airmail delivery). Payable in advance. US funds only. Check payable to The Nation. Savings based on $4.99 cover price. The Nation publishes 34 issues a year. The number of issues per month varies. 26 The Nation. The Nation. 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SUBMISSIONS: Go to TheNation.com/submission-guidelines for the query form. Each issue is also made available at TheNation.com. Printed on 100% recycled 40% post-consumer acid- and chlorine-free paper, in the USA. (continued from page 2) Facing Up to Facebook Something will have to be done about Facebook, and it had better happen soon [“Antitrust Facebook,” Oct. 30]. Mark Zuckerberg and company are having fun, just like the guys at Apple did many years ago. But there’s a universe of difference. Zuckerberg and the rest of the crew are what I call “Harvard detached,” as could only happen in this day and age. They would play with a nuclear bomb if it were fun, they are so totally disconnected from what they have created. Walter Pewen Toxic Present, Toxic Past I must respond to, and expand on, “Mass Exposure” by Rene Ebersole in The Nation’s special issue on food [Oct. 30]. Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and whoever else made and sold Agent Orange to the US military during the Vietnam War are guilty of producing a chemical to kill weeds and foliage despite knowing that it causes cancers in humans. I should know: 50 years ago, I was in combat in Vietnam with the US Marines. I now have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as do other men who served with me and others I see going for treatment at the cancer center. Government just looks the other way when big chemical companies make a profit to kill people—even more so with what we’ve got in the White House today. Then, as now, profits are more important than the lives of people, period. For shame. Stuart Novotny austintown, ohio Nuclear Insanity Incompetent leaders engage in delusional thinking [“Dropping the Bomb,” Oct. 30]. There is no longer such a thing as “nuclear supremacy,” a phrase Donald Trump has used. It existed only when the United States alone had the bomb. While the US arsenal may deter a lesser nuclear power, and a limited nuclear strike would not be civilization-ending, a large nuclear strike by the United States, even with no retaliation from Russia or China, would be suicidal for this country, making any expansion of the arsenal moot. There can be no nuclear supremacy, only nuclear suicide, and people who believe that a nuclear war is winnable are idiots. We can only hope that Europe, which would be caught in the middle of a nuclear battle, will bring some sanity to the chestthumping by some countries. Michael Robertson Backyard Sustainability “The Future of Food: A Forum” [Oct. 30] was a good overview of the alternatives to agribusiness domination of the food production and supply system, but it’s missing perhaps the most important perspective: that of the consumer. From backyard composting to micro-plot or “keyhole” gardening to food preservation and storage, there are multiple strategies that individuals and families can employ to move in the direction of sustainability and at least mitigate the effects of a highly probable crash in a huge but fragile system whose bottom line is profit. Most of us are only one or two generations removed from these practices, which can be implemented immediately, incrementally, economically, and independently. A step back in this regard could result in a huge step forward toward food security and sustainability/ survivability in these most unAlan Watts certain times. AP PHOTO / MICHEL LIPCHITZ Books & the Arts. Michel Foucault (center) with Jean Genet (right) at a Paris demonstration in the wake of the killing of Mohamed Diab by police in 1972. THE OTHER FOUCAULT What led the French theorist of madness and sexuality to politics? A t his death in 1984, Michel Foucault left a letter stating that he wanted no posthumous publication of his work. He should have known better: The hunger for further clarification and elaboration of the master’s positions would prove irresistible. So too has been the flow of posthumous publications, the most eagerly awaited of which have been the dozen or so book-length compilations Bruce Robbins’s most recent books are The Beneficiary, due out this month, and the collection Cosmopolitanisms, co-edited with Paulo Lemos Horta. by BRUCE ROBBINS of his annual lectures at the Collège de France, which began to appear in English translation in 2003. The shape of Foucault’s intellectual trajectory was already controversial during his lifetime. Readers asked, for example, whether his late turn to the ethics of self-care was a betrayal of his earlier Nietzschean prophecy that the concept of “man” was destined to disappear. How could he distinguish between right and wrong in human actions without a commitment to the self and the human? Had Foucault finally renounced Nietzsche, and if so, was that a good or bad thing? The lectures, diverging as they often Foucault: The Birth of Power By Stuart Elden Polity. 240 pp. $26.95 Foucault’s Last Decade By Stuart Elden Polity. 272 pp. $26.95 do from the books that made Foucault famous, only added to the controversy. They are—along with various manifestos, unpublished drafts, interviews, and other miscellaneous writings—now also the subject of two fascinating new books by Stuart Elden: Foucault: The Birth of Power and Foucault’s Last Decade. In the 28 former, Elden tries to soothe some of the long-standing tensions between Foucault and Marx, in part by displaying hidden continuities between Foucault’s early work on madness and knowledge and his later work on power. In the latter, Elden deals with the 10 years after Foucault finished the manuscript of Discipline and Punish and began (on the same day!) The History of Sexuality. He shows how much of Foucault’s interest in sexuality was actually an interest in governmentality, or technologies of rule. When Foucault talked about subjectivity, Elden argues, he was also talking about the formation of subjects in the political sense, or how human beings become subjected to power. Elden doesn’t claim that his answers are definitive. He notes that more than half of the 110 boxes of Foucault’s papers, classified by France as a national treasure and held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, remain closed to researchers, thus leaving all interpretations provisional. But one collateral payoff of his close look at Foucault’s career is what he reveals of Foucault’s own confusions and uncertainties about his project and what he was really trying to do. Reading Elden, one gets to watch one of the last century’s most celebrated thinkers in the unfamiliar role of a stumbling dissertation writer, hesitantly trying out different answers to that dreaded question: “What is your basic idea?” T hanks to Foucault, generations of students have been instructed that power is not what or where you might expect it to be. It should not be imagined sitting grandly at the top of a pyramid where the sovereign alone has the final say. The French Revolution having come and gone, it was finally time, Foucault declared, to cut off the king’s head in political theory. Power should no longer be imagined as residing only within institutions like the state and its police force. Power does not need to send tanks rumbling down the main arteries of the capital; rather, it flushes quietly and continuously through society’s capillaries, where it tends to pass unnoticed. Power can also be gentle and relatable. It doesn’t always tell you no; often it encourages you to pursue your desires. It doesn’t always shut you up; often it encourages you to talk, November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. especially about yourself. In all these ways, power is more effective and more insidious. The opening of Discipline and Punish, a set piece by which many thousands of undergraduates have been initiated into the mysteries of higher education, contrasts the gory and excruciating public torture and execution of a would-be assassin in 1757 with a simple timetable of the activities at a reformatory in 1838. In the prerevolutionary world, power is explicit, crude, and violent; in the postrevolutionary world, it expresses itself through mere scheduling. Coercion, Foucault tells us, can be painless, nonpunitive, and apparently humane. All that microscopic scrutiny of your habits and activities can look as though it were motivated by nothing but a desire for your rehabilitation. In retrospect, Foucault’s revised theory of power seems to have emerged out of the protests of May 1968. Foucault missed those upheavals; he was teaching in Tunisia. But they galvanized him, directing much of his energy in the 1970s toward activism and, through activism, toward theorizing the nature of modern power. Foucault’s early work, sometimes described as “archaeological,” focused on how what was known and said was constrained by invisible discursive structures. Foucault’s idols, in this phase, were literature, art, and madness, all of which could be credited with exposing the arbitrariness of existing knowledge, or at least standing outside its ordering categories. This early work was certainly subversive—if questioning the foundations of knowledge isn’t subversive, then what is?—but it was not self-evidently political in the sense of fighting for or against anything. Elden doesn’t dispute this narrative, but he does argue that Foucault’s writings became political earlier than is generally thought and stayed political to the end. A major object of his first book is to link up Foucault’s developing concept of power with his activism in the early ’70s, especially on psychiatry and the prison. The cover of Foucault: The Birth of Power is a photograph of Foucault speaking into a bullhorn at a post-1968 demonstration (the bullhorn is so close to the inclining head of the aged JeanPaul Sartre that you tremble for his auditory well-being). This activism happened while Foucault was still in his archaeological period. In the second book as well, Elden shows that Foucault didn’t need to use the word “power” in order to address it. Interestingly, it appears that when Foucault did start focusing on power, the more strenuous forms of activism dropped out of his own timetable. Of course, he maintained the habits of petition-signing and namelending—duties expected of all French intellectuals as the price of membership. But he directed most of his energy toward writing. A compulsive, meticulous scholar, Foucault was known to spend 12 hours a day sitting in the Bibliothèque Nationale. You can see why he developed a theory of the “specific” intellectual, whose political engagement is restricted to and shaped by his workplace. B orn in 1926 in Poitiers, Foucault was the son and the grandson of highly successful provincial doctors. Given the medical thinking on homosexuality at the time, it is not surprising that despite his academic brilliance, his youth was not a happy one. Nor is it surprising that he revolted against his mother’s Catholicism and the bullying of his medical patriarchs. But Foucault’s ability to do well in school got him out: At the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he professed himself lucky in the mentors he found, including the existentialist Jean Hyppolite, the physician and philosopher of science Georges Canguilhem, and the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. While representing the French government abroad at several cultural centers—his animosity toward the state was clearly not unlimited—Foucault came upon the subject of his dissertation: He began to fashion out of his influences a unique and compellingly revisionist view of mental illness and how it had been defined by and against the Enlightenment. His 1960 thesis, published in English as Madness and Civilization, was celebrated by many but largely ignored by the French left. How the line between sanity and insanity was drawn had not (yet) become a leftist issue. This neglect wounded Foucault deeply. As he broadened his scope to other so-called abnormalities, he sometimes went out of his way to provoke his Marxist contemporaries. And yet, as Elden shows, there were many positive references to class and modes of production in the lectures—often more than in his books. Those who have found Foucault too anti-economistic, too literary, or too enamored of the powers of discourse, Elden argues, are missing Foucault’s own interest in the materiality of the world. CALVIN TRILLIN The inimitable Calvin Trillin, The Nation’s Deadline Poet, is a literary legend whose wry commentary on the American scene and books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” On the cruise, he’ll share insights taken from his 50 years in journalism and talk about how satire can work in the age of Trump, when truth truly seems stranger—and more disturbing—than ﬁction. He’ll also crack jokes. We’ll also be joined by Victor Navasky, John Nichols, Stephen F. Cohen, Joan Walsh, Dorian T. Warren, Ai-jen Poo, George Goehl, and award-winning entertainers William Bolcom and Joan Morris. PATRICIA J. WILLIAMS DAVE ZIRIN ERIC LIU REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL December 1-8, 2017 Holland America | MS Westerdam Ports of call in Mexico: Cabo San Lucas | Mazatlán | Puerto Vallarta A full list of speakers can be found on our website: nationcruise.com 30 That interest becomes particularly clear in Elden’s elucidation of the term dispositif, which rose to prominence in Foucault’s later work along with his innovative notion of power. Commonly translated as “apparatus,” “mechanism,” “organization,” or “infrastructure,” a dispositif is not just a collection of hidden rules governing what can be said or known; it’s a collection of “relations of power, practices, and actions.” In other words, it’s material, even materialist. Foucault’s vocabulary here, though, seems studiously neutral, as if he is suggesting that, embodied in infrastructures, power too might be neutral—not the enemy of those striving against injustice, but (as Marxists might say) something that had to be taken over and repurposed. For Elden, it was not just the latent materialism in Foucault’s early work that reveals its political implications: His interest in the mores around madness and sexuality was itself about power. When Foucault swings his attention from madness to sexuality, it’s not because the norms surrounding the body are more material than those of the mind. Foucault was interested in sexuality and the body less for their own sake than for their place in the larger history of subjectivity, which is itself part of power’s still larger and more important history. When Elden proposes that power is already present as a theme in “The Order of Discourse,” even if “the language is still largely absent,” he reveals a neglected continuity within Foucault’s thought. He is also making a delicate dig at Foucault’s embrace of the idea that history is fundamentally discontinuous: If period X has different names for certain concepts, the argument goes, isn’t it really dealing with different things? No, Elden replies, in effect Foucault was at work developing his idea of power even before he had the word for it. Elden’s argument is refreshing, but one wonders why he is so intent on giving Foucault the gift of consistency. There is an obvious irony in seeing Foucault treated here as an “Author” in the most reverential sense, as if the author of “What Is an Author?” had not taught us to be skeptical about scholarship’s habit of using an author’s name to impose consistency on a body of writing that often responded to different situations and therefore exploded off in different directions. O n discontinuity, as on so much else, Foucault’s most powerful inspiration came from Nietzsche. Whether or not Foucault always saw “the will to know” as inextricable from Nietzsche’s “will to power” (Elden says the November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. answer is yes, always), Nietzsche taught him to be wary of viewing any advances of knowledge in a progressive and linear fashion, an error that Nietzsche saw as characteristic of modernity. And like Nietzsche, Foucault also harbored an enormous tenderness for those natural, instinctive, not-yet-classified ways of being that exist outside a normalizing modernity. But Foucault and Nietzsche differ in their reading of who the deviants are: For Nietzsche, they are the strong (the infamous “blond beasts”), whereas for Foucault, they are the weak. And it is here that one begins to see a more significant political difference as well. For Nietzsche, slave morality was logical; it was a move in a class war. Though it involved a major sacrifice (of sensual pleasure and immediacy), it was also a winning move: The weak won out over the strong, bending the old aristocratic barbarians to an egalitarian morality that was alien to their nature. For Foucault, the ruling class did not invent the dispositif of sexuality in an act of class war against the working class; rather, he believed, they invented it for themselves. Foucault’s narrative is perplexing for a variety of reasons. Why would, for example, the ruling class want to do such a thing? And if the new regime of sexuality served no one’s interests, why has it prevailed? Like his somewhat ghostly understanding of power as something that exists even if no one possesses or enjoys it, Foucault’s vision of morality—in particular, sexual mores—seems to entail a war without a victor. Foucault’s more ecstatic followers have embraced his defiance of the logic of subject and object as a brilliant and unquestionable philosophical doctrine. In their reading of Foucault, no one is coercing or defeating or profiting; concepts like profit and victory are too crude. But these questions matter a lot right now because, in 1978–79, Foucault had the uncanny foresight to dedicate some of his Collège de France lectures to the subjects of neoliberalism and what he called “biopolitics.” At the time, “neoliberalism” had not yet become today’s clear favorite in the contest to name the dominant ideology, as it has in the past four or five decades. And biopolitics, or politics working at the level of bodily life, had not yet become a fashionable slogan for those on the left who did not see the point of politics in the old-fashioned sense—that is, politics at the level of the state. But, looking back from the vantage of 2017, one intriguing and, in any case, inescapable issue for Foucault’s followers is whether he should be considered a prescient critic of neoliberalism or an early adopter of its mili- tant anti-statism. Did he help, from the left, the rise of the right’s dominant ideology? Or were his lectures—collected in the 2008 volume The Birth of Biopolitics—a source of prophetic and practically useful insight into the specific nature of power in our time? On the subject of neoliberalism, many of Foucault’s followers downplay the agency of corporations. For them, neoliberalism isn’t a set of powerful interests in pursuit of higher profits, but instead a vague and somewhat mysterious “rationality” or “governmentality” without any particular origin. No one would dispute that this rationality now pervades a great many institutions, but what gets missed by this train of thought is how neoliberalism is also nothing if not a strategy to increase capitalists’ share of the world’s resources by dismantling the regulatory agencies of the government. It is, therefore, a part of a more elaborate class war between ruling and financial elites and those who are disempowered. Thanks to Elden’s scholarship, we can distinguish between Foucault and many of his followers. An earlier version of one of the chapters of Foucault: The Birth of Power was published as “A More Marxist Foucault?” and in that chapter, Elden shows how Foucault, more the careful historian than the philosopher, filled his lectures with an acute consciousness of class interests and subordinated voices—voices “silenced in the book that follows.” Discipline and Punish may have featured a “curious absence” of “those subjected to power,” but his lectures did not. And yet the question remains: Why did his books diverge so significantly from the lecture courses and activist dossiers that he wrote around the same time? Elden doesn’t offer any answers, but it’s better to now have an understanding of the more Marxist Foucault, however inconsistent that makes him. I n the United States, Foucault’s readers have tended to assume that if he talked about neoliberalism, he was against it. That is at best a half-truth. Foucault showed some enthusiasm for the neoliberal economist Gary Becker, who wanted to take morality out of society’s treatment of crime. The fact that Becker’s motive was to cut government budgets (imprisonment is expensive for the taxpayer) was secondary in Foucault’s reading, though he would no doubt have had something to say about the irony that decades of neoliberal antistatism, after his death, would result in intensified state coercion and a vast expansion of the prison population. Foucault’s target during much of his activist years was the moral norms that made psychiatric patients, gays, and others into so-called “abnormals,” and this would possibly have remained his primary focus even if he had lived to decide, with the feminist social philosopher Nancy Fraser, that the recognition of marginalized identities had become the basis for a “progressive” or Clintonian neoliberalism. On the other hand, Elden shows us a Foucault who, luckily for us, does not flee from inconsistency. Unlike Nietzsche, he didn’t always deplore the moral norms of democracy. If politics, as Foucault insists in one of his characteristic reversals, is merely war pursued by other means, it seems inconceivable that the side of the powerless (call it the left) has never won a victory or that the democratic reforms and improvements of the past two centuries are all scenes of defeat. Modernity cannot be all power, all the time. One advantage to pairing Foucault’s life with his ideas is that, in Elden’s biography, we are given ample evidence that Foucault was not wedded to this belief. As Elden observes, Foucault rejoiced in 1981 when the new Socialist government abolished the death penalty in France, which many commentators attributed to his and his friends’ work throughout the 1970s. He was also open to working for François Mitterrand’s government and was disappointed when he was passed over. The turn to ethics in Foucault’s final years, which Elden discusses in both books, is one more example of the productivity that Foucault derived from his inconsistencies. Here, too, he backs off from the premise that moral norms are nothing but weapons that power turns against the powerless. In one sense, Foucault is consistent in his earlier repudiation of knowledge: It’s better to care for the self, he says now, than to seek to know it. In another sense, he contradicts his earlier repudiation of humanism: The self and its freedom are no longer mere ideological illusions, and Foucault comes close to recognizing that, as a producer of knowledge, he himself has been exercising power. The moral is: The apparatus of knowledge—to which he so richly contributed—is only as good or as bad as the uses to which it is put. Elden doesn’t quite say so, but for the late Foucault, the turn to ethics also became something of a proto-politics. It’s as though he were proposing his “care of the self” as the one sure way not to tyrannize over others. Not to tyrannize—call it democracy—suddenly becomes the operative premise. Here is Foucault, the radical democrat, struggling to break free of his Q own brilliance. 31 The Nation. Eva Moskowitz at a pro-charter-school rally in Albany in 2015. ALL ABOUT EVA Reforming our educational system requires more than just opportunity by MEGAN ERICKSON T he worst fate for a conservative is to be dependent on the state. The worst fate for a liberal is to be without opportunity. These two competing ideologies have informed a century of tinkering within American education. Conservatives have had occasional success chipping away at government spending, as President Trump seems poised to do. But it’s liberals like Success Academy founder and chief executive Eva Moskowitz who have managed a more inspired achievement: They’ve redefined the goals of educational policy. Once oriented toward Megan Erickson teaches at a New York City public school. She is the author of Class War and is on the editorial board of Jacobin magazine. The Education of Eva Moskowitz A Memoir By Eva Moskowitz HarperCollins. 400 pp. $27.99 equalizing resources, most school reformers these days worry about equalizing test scores and securing future opportunities for students. “If the day ever comes when I think something is okay simply because district schools do it, I hope my board fires me,” Moskowitz quotes herself saying in her memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz. “To achieve excellence, one must fight such compromise with every fiber of one’s being.” “Excellence” is subjective, but the test scores from Success’s students are AP PHOTO / MIKE GROLL November 20/27, 2017 32 November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. not. In August, the network of 46 charter schools announced that its students— predominantly children of color from lowincome families—had outpaced some of New York State’s highest-performing (and wealthiest) districts on math and reading tests. Of course, those numbers come with a caveat: Success serves fewer students who are still learning English and students with disabilities than do traditional public schools, and it serves very few students with severe disabilities. Moskowitz urges those who would “try to explain away our results” to consider Bronx 2, a school in the network whose demographics are similar to nearby PS 55. Yet this is a misleading suggestion, because an overall comparison shows that Success still serves fewer students from both groups and therefore can maintain higher scores. But facts don’t get in the way of the sense of righteousness that animates Moskowitz’s story. Our protagonist describes herself as a “redhead with the voracious appetite for data,” someone who has struggled all her life against complacent bureaucracy— represented mainly by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the largest teachers’ union in New York City, which, she argues, has prioritized adults’ needs over poor kids’ by advocating job protections for teachers. In a book full of uphill battles, courtroom hearings, and repeated references to her own fiery personality, Moskowitz offers just one perfunctory scene of a young Eva in her imaginary classroom, reprimanding the neighborhood kids for their lack of effort. One of her first dates with her highschool sweetheart, Eric Grannis—who, like Moskowitz, attended the city’s prestigious Stuyvesant High—is characteristically unromantic: The highlight comes when he gets her to ask herself, “If I trusted private industry to make food, why not schools?” (Reader, she married him.) Moskowitz can be sentimental, but she A Guide to the Louisa County Free Negro & Slave Records, 1770–1865 The first box is for all the good white men. The ones who freed their slaves on Christmas. It’s always Christmas in the first box. The day Delpha shall go out. The day Viney shall go out. These good white men only desire the guardian care of those under age. After that, they shall go out, just as Winney shall go out at the age of twenty-one entirely free from me or mine or any other person whatsoever. Delpha, Viney, & Winney shall go out on Christmas Day. The first box slides open to show their certificates. The good white men of this county believing that all men are by nature equally free have left many of these. One certificate is for Viney. One for Winney. One for Delpha. But these good white men can only free the slaves they truly own. One man observes the above mentioned negroes are disputed in their titles to me, namely Delpha, Viney, & Winney. He doesn’t say more about the dispute. He doesn’t say what happens on Christmas Day. This good white man has said all three should go out precisely on Christmas Day, but now it is different. It is very different now, even though Christmas has come. The good white man writes I only free as to my right & title given under my hand. The box slides open to show certificate after certificate. It’s Christmas. It’s only the first box. KIKI PETROSINO reserves such moods for pro-charter-school business titans like Michael Bloomberg, who, in her description, descended “like Plato’s philosopher king” from “fathomless wealth and privilege to become ‘Mayor Mike’ and govern over the shadowy affairs of municipal government.” Even here, though, one suspects there may be more mercenary reasons for her admiration: Back in 2002, Bloomberg made the case for mayoral control over the city’s schools at widely covered hearings that Moskowitz initiated in her early role as a member of New York’s City Council. The council lacked the authority to change the law, but it was the first of many shrewd publicrelations events that she arranged with the intent of informing the public about the flaws of the education system, and it captured Moskowitz at her best: orchestrating a one-woman performance of “accountability” that would ultimately destroy local control over education—a decades-old victory that had been won by the workingclass black families of New York’s Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhood. I n 2005, after six years on the City Council, Moskowitz set her sights on the office of Manhattan borough president. She hoped it would serve as the “perfect test case for whether it was possible to stand up to the teachers’ union and live to tell the tale.” Moskowitz lost that race, but she wound up with two job offers, one from the New York chancellor of schools, Joel Klein, and the other from hedge-fund managers John Petry and Joel Greenblatt, who asked her to oversee what would become the first Success Academy, in Harlem. Though she respected Klein, Moskowitz took the job with Petry and Greenblatt. She was drawn to their wider ambitions and access to money: Petry and Greenblatt spent their downtime holding fund-raising parties for Success Academy at the swank W hotel. At the same time that he was recruiting Moskowitz, Petry was also in the midst of founding Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a charter-school advocacy group that would go on to successfully push President Obama to appoint Arne Duncan as the US secretary of education. Their longer-term vision was even bolder: They wanted to figure out how to set up a school that cost no more to run than district schools but achieved far better results, and then replicate that model throughout the country. Cracking that nut, Petry and Greenblatt were convinced, could revolutionize American education. November 20/27, 2017 The first decade of the new millennium proved to be a heady time for anyone with a few million dollars to spare and a burning desire to transform public schools. While most Americans were satisfied with the education that their children were receiving, years of behind-the-scenes advocacy had created a bipartisan consensus among policy-makers that the system was broken and in need of fixing. Extensive research pointed to the deleterious effects of rising child poverty and class segregation on academic achievement. But a new generation of meritocratic elites searched for other causes—ones linked to opportunity, not economic or social inequality, and that might be remedied by innovative solutions honed in the marketplace. Charter schools, which receive government funding but operate outside the school system and can be publicly or privately owned, were promoted as one of those solutions. It’s a stretch to equate charter schools with tech start-ups, but they borrow from the start-ups’ vocabulary of boldness, efficiency, and passion, and they rely on a similar set of policies: relaxing regulations and injecting competition and consumer choice into the system in order to break the “monopoly” of the public sector and lift the quality of services for all. As with most start-ups, fund-raising and networking with business leaders have been key to the survival and growth of charter schools—in particular, Moskowitz’s Success Academy network. One of the first items on her agenda after taking the job was to meet with Don Fisher, founder of the Gap, who’d called to congratulate her when she challenged the UFT during contract hearings as a City Council member, and who offered her $1 million on the spot. (In that first school year, Moskowitz made $371,000.) Years later, when Success Academy board members expressed concern that she was running her employees into the ground, Moskowitz met with Mickey Drexler, of the Gap and J. Crew, and Chuck Strauch, a South Carolina businessman, who helped her “adopt private sector best practices and deal with scaling issues.” In 2011, as Success Academy added schools in Brooklyn, hedgefund billionaire Dan Loeb donated $3 million to the cause. Along the way, the network also received donations from the Walton Family and Broad foundations, generosity that Moskowitz chalks up to being lucky (the title of her book’s penultimate chapter). But luck has very little to do with Success Academy’s growth. From the begin- The Nation. ning, it was intended as a new, privatesector-inspired model for the American public school. “The underlying drive is to build something that can spread, can be recreated in different cities,” Petry told The New York Times; “otherwise it’s not as meaningful to us.” As Moskowitz describes it, this model requires “trusting” families to be “critical educational consumers.” And, of course, they are, when they can be—and the more time and money a parent has, the more critical he or she can afford to be. The question is: What does it mean for parents and their children to be “consumers” of education, selecting from an array of options subsidized by billionaire benefactors? Some Success families would find out the hard way. U nlike in district schools, students at Success Academy are required to keep logs of the hours that their parents have read to them at home. Poor parents, Moskowitz insists, “can support their kids in school, if it is demanded of them.” And if the demands don’t work, shame will. She recalls getting one parent to cooperate by inviting the woman’s mother, who “seemed...more responsible,” to a meeting about her son’s progress. Forget the paternalism of this scene for a second—Moskowitz’s belief that achievement is more about morals than material circumstances hinders her ability to serve families who, regardless of their intentions, simply can’t meet these requirements. Take, for example, the more than 7 million American workers who hold down multiple jobs to make ends meet. When these parents are forced to disenroll their children because they can’t meet the school’s demands for reading time at home, is it really a choice? And when students with special needs leave because they weren’t given appropriate accommodations by the school, or were suspended for minor infractions—as 13 Success families recently alleged in a federal civil-rights lawsuit—is that a choice? (Moskowitz had also publicly released one child’s school records using the alias “John Doe,” an action that she inexplicably repeats here. If you’re wondering how many times the New York City Department of Education has released a child’s record to the public, the answer is zero.) Public-school suspensions are “a useful disciplinary tool” or “really just the equivalent of what at home is called a timeout,” as Moskowitz argues in a chapter called “Extra Credit.” In fact, numerous studies have shown that while suspensions are effective at 33 removing a child from school and relieving frustration among teachers and administrators, they do not improve school safety— and they alienate students. At the state level, children have a constitutionally guaranteed right to a free education. Repeated suspensions, or suspensions lasting 45 days—as yet another Success Academy student with special needs received this past spring—are a violation of that right. They’re also discriminatory: Black kids are far more likely to be suspended than white kids, which is why Martin Luther King Jr. opposed measures giving teachers the right to remove disruptive students from their classrooms. Sadly, Moskowitz’s reflections on Success Academy’s draconian behavior policies are limited to an ad hominem attack on New York Times reporter Kate Taylor. Instead of engaging with the critical ethical questions raised by Taylor’s reporting—which suggests that there’s a network-wide pattern of shaming and punishing children for underachieving—Moskowitz depicts the Times reporter as a clueless private-school-educated suburbanite who just doesn’t get how urgently poor kids need a world-class education. It’s not that students are systematically being singled out, Moskowitz writes; it’s that “Success isn’t ideal for every child. If we think a child would do better in a different school, whether it’s a specialized program or just a school with a different approach, we’ll tell a parent that, as we should.” District schools run by the New York City Department of Education do not have the option of sending children with behavioral issues or special needs elsewhere—nor should they, since the United States has consistently affirmed by law that it is the responsibility of public schools to educate all students in the least restrictive environment possible. Because the students at Success Academy are chosen by lottery, and thus their selection appears to be egalitarian, the network advances the idea that district schools could achieve the same high test scores if they’d only adopt practices borrowed from private enterprise. But even charter schools with a lottery system “choose” students indirectly by limiting the services they provide or by instituting demanding requirements for parental involvement. This is an important part of Success Academy’s seeming success, since social and economic disadvantages have more bearing on student performance than do in-school factors. To use the word much loved by the business community, Success’s results simply aren’t “scalable.” More importantly, the hard truth of 34 The Nation. “school choice” is that it leaves families with a multitude of options but few rights. Vouchers make private schools more accessible to poor students, and charters make independently run schools accessible to students whose parents have the resources and knowledge required to enroll them. But the only “choice” on offer here is freedom from government oversight and the elimination of democratic control of schools. In fact, while charter schools don’t show better academic outcomes, on average, than traditional public schools, they do have an increased risk of segregation. (In the United States, parental “choice” was mainly invoked by Catholics enrolling their children in parochial schools until the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, when “freedom of choice” programs left segregation intact in the South and resegregated schools in the North.) Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, and now Donald Trump have all said it: Education “is the civil-rights issue of our time.” But the civil-rights movement was not just a fight over space at a lunch counter, and it certainly wasn’t a struggle for more educational opportunity. Civil-rights activists fought for educational equality as part of a general struggle for social and economic equality. They also believed that educational equality wasn’t possible while other forms of inequality were still rampant. So while Moskowitz’s staff “thought [she] was nuts” for protesting the NAACP when it joined the United Federation of Teachers in a lawsuit that challenged the controversial practice of “co-location”—allowing charter schools like Success to take over space in the facilities of district schools, as happened in Harlem—it’s not surprising that the two organizations would wind up opposing her. And it wasn’t because the NAACP lent its credibility to the UFT, as Moskowitz charges, but because the needs of teachers and students are not intrinsically at odds with each other—in fact, they are usually interconnected. For reformers like Moskowitz, children from low-income families only need the “opportunity” to attend schools like hers. The extent to which this worldview has Oedipus To end this brother, you climbed the moon to a far country, and never came back. By that I mean when the police broke their way into a room, billowing with suspicion, your body was a continent of maggots. By that I mean, when the telephone brewed with some voice, Mama’s hand went down, fallen skyscraper, and never came up again, be ni o. By that I mean, your death birthed another death. By that I mean, the neighbours pleaded with me to unpack my two bags of grief. By that I mean, they watched me dissolve inside their teary eyes. D.M. ADERIBIGBE November 20/27, 2017 become the conventional wisdom among policy-makers is evinced by the fact that Moskowitz, a proud lifelong Democrat, made President Trump’s short list for education secretary. But working parents don’t need someone to save their children from public schools; they need higher wages. They also need job protections—the same protections that Moskowitz has spent her career trying to end for teachers. And they need well-funded public schools, which charter programs help to defund. Meritocratic education reformers believe that leaders have a right to lead because they are the most talented among us, and that schools—not workplaces—are the appropriate focus of reform efforts, because schools are the natural instrument with which to select a gifted and committed minority from the largest possible pool of future productive adults. They insist that we are all equally entitled to toil and sweat in the pursuit of excellence—and so we do, dutifully checking off standards and filling in the bubbles on Scantron tests from preschool on up. For these reformers, the real enemy isn’t poverty but mediocrity. That’s why it’s wrong, in Moskowitz’s view, for educators to “use poor children’s circumstances as an excuse for failing to teach them.” But it’s also wrong to peddle the myth that opportunity is out there for the taking, if only students, teachers, and schools are willing to work harder for it. To say that hundreds of children who are educated in district schools “won’t have a fair chance in life because of the inadequate education they are receiving” is to imply that charterschool students will. But the students who graduate from Success Academy face the same economic reality we all do: an economy dominated by low-wage jobs with few protections and devised to benefit many of the same businesses that have donated to and advised Success. The Education of Eva Moskowitz tells one story about education and inequality: that poor children are suffering in bureaucratic and inadequate public schools and need both demanding educators to toughen them up and wealthy philanthropists to fund those efforts. But there’s another, more compelling story in which corporations and the wealthy contribute to public schools not through the beneficence of their donations, but by paying their fair share in taxes. Because it is businesses that are indebted to schools, not the other way around. That’s not a story you’ll hear from Moskowitz, but Q it’s the one worth telling. November 20/27, 2017 35 The Nation. Véro Tshanda Beya in Félicité. AT FULL BOIL What made the New York Film Festival count for more than a tally of masterpieces? by STUART KLAWANS CELINE BOZON I got everything I wanted from the 55th New York Film Festival on the night I watched Félicité by Alain Gomis, a writer-director who knows how to make a movie percolate. First he gets a simmer going in his title character (Véro Tshanda Beya) as she sits, lost in thought, in a bar one night in Kinshasa. Her face in close-up is as silent and magnificent as the sculpted head of a god, but not nearly so impassive. Every time Gomis cuts back to her from the bursts of gossip, boasting, and argument that flicker around the room, you see sparks in her eyes—from sorrow, maybe, or anger. Then the bar’s owner turns up the heat, demanding to know why there’s no music. Félicité stays put, but a half-dozen men seated around her respond to the complaint by grumbling their way into the cul-de-sac that serves as a bandstand, where they wake up their instruments and start fomenting a groove. Patrons nod and shimmy in their chairs; the temperature rises. Then Félicité promenades to the microphone, throws back that monumental head, and sings. Sweating and shouting break out; people are on their feet. One of them struts forward to plaster banknotes on Félicité’s forehead. At that, she finally smiles. The movie’s popping at full boil, and you’re caffeinated, ready for whatever may come. Like a good many of the selections in each year’s NYFF, Félicité tells the story of a working person struggling against adversity and injustice in a locale far from the polite bustle of the festival’s Lincoln Center home. In this case, you’re projected into the jammed and ramshackle streets where Félicité—a single woman, no longer in her first youth—must chase after cash for surgery for her injured son. (The healthcare system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo apparently practices the same pay-as-you-go method to which many Re- 36 publicans want the United States to revert: Until Félicité comes up with the money, her son can just lie in the hospital, bleeding from a compound fracture.) But unlike the average social-problem picture, Félicité isn’t about exemplary figures making their way through representative incidents. It’s about an irreducible individual—two of them, actually: the stubborn, often standoffish Félicité and Tabu (Papi Mpaka), the large, hard-drinking, but thoroughly kind rogue who loves her. That makes Félicité one of the experiences I craved most from this edition of the NYFF: something like a Dardenne brothers movie, but with a driving beat, a goofy love story, and the interpolation of some mysterious, blue-tinted images of orchestral performances and forest settings to remind me that Félicité’s mental world isn’t all slums and soggy francs. Put differently, Félicité is an outgoing, exploratory movie, brimming with curiosity and feeling—qualities you might expect from an international festival that promises revelations. I can’t say that all the selections in this year’s main slate met that description. But plenty did, whether their primary impulse was to document, satirize, spin out baroque narrative conundrums, or tell a plain story straight from the heart. The main slate’s only pure documentary, an audience favorite, was the lovely and loving Faces Places (Visages Villages), a collaboration between Agnès Varda, 88 years old at the time of production, and the 33-year-old photographer and installation artist JR. Shot in a spirit of spontaneity on a series of road trips, then playfully assembled by association of ideas, the picture delivers just what its title implies: images of the faces of laboring people, collected in towns and rural areas throughout France. These come with stories about the subjects as well as teasing portraits of the filmmakers, whose art-world Mutt-and-Jeff act (tall and skinny male hipster, short and round old lioness) would come off as cute if it weren’t for the intimations of mortality hovering around Varda. You encounter isolation and loss in the film, as well as pleasure and workplace solidarity. But the overriding impression—perfect in a film dedicated to photography—is of the potential for the human personality to abide. Look at JR’s photomural of an elderly woman living in a semi-derelict coal-mining town, after he’s pasted her image onto the row house she refuses to abandon. You see the face of someone strong enough to have been made from bricks. November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. A s often happens, documentary tendencies ran through some of the festival’s best fictions, notably The Florida Project by Sean Baker (whose previous film was the astonishing Tangerine) and The Rider by Chloé Zhao: the first an excursion into the candycolored stucco dilapidation of the residence motels and junk shops clustered a few streets away from Disney World, the second a trip into the ranches and rodeo arenas of South Dakota’s High Plains. The mood of The Florida Project varies from wide-eyed delight to jittery shrewdness to weary responsibility, depending on which character we’re following. The principals are an untamed 6-year-old motel inmate (the superb Brooklynn Prince), who is always up for mischief and adventure; the girl’s scuffling single mother (Bria Vinaite), whose elaborate tattoos and hair of a color not seen in nature advertise the fun-loving, dirty-minded defiance of one of the undeserving poor; and the motel’s put-upon manager (Willem Dafoe, living his role without a moment’s self-regard), whose kindness somehow keeps overcoming his disgust. I wish Baker had thought of an ending for The Florida Project; having brought his characters to the point where they have no solutions, he finds none of his own, other than to force the naturally occurring ironies of his setting into a final grand statement. But that’s a two-minute lapse, after nearly two hours of grit, outrage, and beauty. As for The Rider, its naturally occurring mood is one of elegiac grandeur. Brady Jandreau leads the nonprofessional cast as a young rodeo cowboy who can no longer compete because of the crack he’s put in his skull. Taking himself down a painful notch, he patches together a still-dangerous living by training other men’s horses. The film’s pace is measured; the dialogue, terse; the story, minimal. But everything Zhao puts on the screen feels alive and true, especially the scenes of Jandreau handling horses. Impossible to script or fully plan, these long moments are like gusts of South Dakota weather made as permanent as sculpture. I suppose there’s also a documentary element, or at least an autobiographical one, in Lady Bird, the second feature written and directed by Greta Gerwig, and the first she’s done solo. The central character (played by the unfailingly persuasive Saoirse Ronan) mirrors Gerwig’s past by attending a Catholic high school in Sacramento, coming of age around the time of the second Iraq War, and having a theatrical streak, which in her case is rarely channeled into formal performance. The creative energy goes more often into fighting with her sternly sympathetic mother (Laurie Metcalf), agitating to go east for college, and getting into unfortunate misunderstandings with boys. These are normal incidents for a standard coming-ofage picture, but Gerwig and Ronan redeem them by making their heroine as finely tuned as an antenna, always quivering with signals about the new selves she might momentarily try on. A similar depth of personal feeling, though perhaps less self-amused, runs through The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), by one of Gerwig’s frequent collaborators, Noah Baumbach. The movie crackles with an emotional energy, and cackles with a rueful laughter, that have been missing from his recent films, but which return in full force now that Baumbach has again taken up his theme of children being twisted into odd shapes by a parent’s monstrous self-regard. Dustin Hoffman holds forth as the bumbling, embittered old sculptor who has done the twisting; Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel are the grown children, still seething and suffocating hilariously. Under Baumbach’s direction, their comic timing is faultless—though none can beat Emma Thompson in the role of the sculptor’s current wife, who seems to have kept herself preserved in alcohol since 1974. A nd now, let’s get to the festival’s bigticket items. “Filmmaking magic” would be weak praise for the art that Todd Haynes brings to Wonderstruck, his adaptation of the illustrated novel by Brian Selznick. So why, at the end, did I feel the enchantment had melted into air, leaving nothing behind? I wanted to love this movie about young people lost and found in Manhattan in two different eras; I wanted to explore it, just like the more modern of its children pores over a mysterious book he’s found. But, it turns out, there’s nothing to discover: The film’s system of motifs and correspondences is so airtight—as sometimes happens with Haynes—that, despite the best efforts of Julianne Moore (a wonder in herself), I ultimately felt all the satisfaction of having watched somebody else solve a crossword puzzle. Now, with Arnaud Desplechin, it’s more like having a feverishly brilliant desperado (usually played by Mathieu Amalric) thrust a half-finished crossword into your hands November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. while raving that you must complete it since it takes aim at well-meaning people for him, immediately, while he cooks you of good conscience and a little money, like a wine-soaked dinner, mutters something the NYFF audience. Claes Bang stars as about James Joyce, and sings the theme the chief curator at a contemporary-art from Marnie, which he hopes won’t distract museum in Stockholm, where he starts out you. Ismael’s Ghosts, shown in New York sleek and smooth but becomes progresin a cut that was 20 minutes longer than sively ruffled due to the bungled marketat the Cannes premiere, casts Amalric as ing of a social-sculpture installation, his an unhinged writerdirector trying to make a film, or get out of making one, about a brother who died or vanished (or did he?), while at the same time struggling with the memory of a wife who died or vanished (also doubtful). Everything in the movie (Desplechin’s, I mean, not Amalric’s) springs at you with the force of discovery. There isn’t a predictable turn of events, a dull choice of image, or a settled Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird. opinion anywhere in the film, which needs own ill-advised venture into street philanthe extra 20 minutes to make room for thropy, and the provocations of an Ameriwhatever is currently on Desplechin’s mind: can journalist (Elisabeth Moss) who seems astrophysics, Lacanian psychology, Renais- gosh-darn innocent at first, but might be sance perspective, the diplomatic corps. an imp dispatched by the forces of chaos. With Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marion Östlund’s craft is immaculate, his range Cotillard as Amalric’s Vertigo twins. ambitious, his shifts of tone breathtakIn Zama, Lucrecia Martel creates a ing. It’s also clear that he knows museums mood that is equally feverish—as is only from the inside and can be killingly funny natural, since the setting is cholera-infested about them. My only reservation is that 18th-century South America—but also The Square is a pre-Trump project released more stately, given that the title character in the midst of the Trump era, when it’s (Daniel Giménez Cacho) serves as a mag- become convenient for establishment conistrate in a godforsaken colonial outpost servatives (and justifiably inflamed leftists) where the proud Spaniards insist on wear- to blame our situation on the bad faith of ing wigs in the 100-degree heat. Based on fancy-pants liberals. Sure, there’s bad faith, a novel by Antonio di Benedetto, Zama be- but whatever the curator’s faults, I can comes increasingly elliptical and fantastic think of worse sinners. as the magistrate maneuvers to be posted to or that reason, perhaps, I felt that Spain, only to slip further and further away the NYFF films that best captured from his goal: out of the governor’s office my mood were neither the scathing and away from the flirtations and bribes of satires nor this year’s social-problem polite society, into a native village, and then epics, Mudbound and BPM. (Both were out to the jungle on a futile expedition. I might call the film a delirium, but Martel rapturously received, by the way—but talk is too precise for that, and too harshly sa- about exemplary characters living through tirical. You might rather think of this work representative incidents…) Maybe our as a landscape film, whose softly colored, present crisis doesn’t always demand the picturesque surface is disturbed here and most radical or outspoken artistic response; maybe a more relenting cinema can provide there by grubby fools. The satire in Ruben Östlund’s Cannes room to think, and imagine. The pictures winner, The Square, is more up-to-the- that have especially stayed with me (though minute and maybe also more discomfiting, I don’t claim they were the festival’s best) are COURTESY OF A24 F 37 Hong Sang-soo’s On the Beach at Night Alone and The Day After, and Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope. As sly and quizzical as ever, Hong has made a pair of films starring Kim Minhee as a sharp-witted young woman embroiled with a more powerful, married older man. In On the Beach, the affair is in the past and the man is a filmmaker (echoing Kim’s actual relationship with Hong, which became tabloid fodder in Korea); in The Day After, the man is a book publisher and the affair will perhaps happen in the future, if the bum gets his way. Both films honor a woman’s wrath, exasperation, incredulity, and contempt at male entitlement, while acknowledging that men are sometimes fueled in their misbehavior by a stupid wistfulness (and, of course, strong drink). Screening at the festival in the midst of l’affaire Weinstein, these humane, clear-eyed, heartbroken comedies seemed more than a delight: They came as a relief, and a welcome act of conscience. But they offered no solution. That remained for Kaurismäki to do in The Other Side of Hope, his fable of a war refugee from Syria finding help and comfort among people in Helsinki who don’t much care what the authorities think. With a generosity worth emulating, Kaurismäki gives his refugee (Sherwan Haji) key lighting worthy of a 1940s movie star, live performances of the best Finnish rockabilly (played by musicians who look like Frank Zappa forgot them in a parking lot sometime in the ’80s), and a conspiracy of newfound friends who are unfailingly loyal, despite running the city’s worst harborside restaurant. It’s all very silly, in the face of the Syrian horrors and European brutalities that Kaurismäki takes pains to acknowledge. To these, he can counterpose only kindness, community, humor, and art. These forces are hardly enough to end an international crisis. But I believe they can save a life, sometimes—and when found on the screen, they make a film festival count for Q more than a tally of masterpieces. 38 November 20/27, 2017 The Nation. Puzzle No. 3448 JOSHUA KOSMAN AND HENRI PICCIOTTO 1`2`3`4~5`6`7`8 `~`~`~`~`~`~`~` 9````~0```````` `~`~`~`~`~`~`~` -````````~=```` `~`~~~`~`~`~~~~ q```w```~e``r`t `~`~`~`~y~`~`~` u`````~i``````` ~~~~`~o~`~~~`~` p`[``~]```\```` `~`~`~`~`~`~`~` a````````~s```` `~`~`~`~`~`~`~` d``````~f`````` ACROSS 29 Earth, between one pole and the other, is associated with nine Across entries (7) DOWN 1 Doctor set up coil to produce healing applications (9) 2 One who protects consumers from decay with a 21 raised (9) 3 Eventually become strangely nude inside of spa (3,2) 4 Soaring poem adopted by God’s band in the ’60s (3,5) 5 Fool takes loss at times in certain housing (6) 6 To begin with, Chaplin and MGM mascot playing a part in African Queen (9) 7 Some Kenyans, initially, might avoid smoking after intercourse (5) 8 Was in charge, for example, when ascending an overhang (5) 14 What your eyes sometimes do: take it easy when restricted by incomplete rule (5,4) 16 Is fellow brought in by sorcerer to be a bad boss? (9) 17 Rev. Spooner’s trade: automobiles for chocolate (5,4) 18 Park fan’s van lacks leads, like Bill Clinton (8) 1 Flawless piano (upright) rings loudly (7) 21 By chance, nurse hoisted a firearm (6) 5 Claimed organization makes a kind of point (7) 22 Females work on portent (5) 9 Pushed the original high-school-equivalency certificate? (5) 23 Santa’s reindeer, for instance, upset company on a holiday (5) 10 Communicated with Obama or Bush, and used no introduction (9) 25 Religion is escape (5) 11 Hide flip-flops around rear of house to make sharp buzz (9) 12 Most important boundary in gym (5) 13 Type of feline finally made bloody (8) 15 Turkey infiltrates US spies, returning with nuclear power (6) 19 Pronounced Cap’n Crunch, say, to be like some killers (6) 20 Dot warns unreliable narrator (2,6) 22 Ahead of the French, Horton heard one sound (5) 24 One periodical in a really vacuous make-believe (9) 26 Sways and vomits tea all over the place (9) 27 Climbing plant for want of which modgnik a was lost? (5) 28 Without artifice in Mexico City, you invested in pro-choice group (7) SOLUTION TO PUZZLE NO. 3447 ACROSS 1 anag. 5 M(AG)ICAL (claim anag.) 10 RAT + I + O 11 F([e]IGHT + C)LUB 12 G(R AND F)ATHER 13 & 16D & 22 BEE + RHO + USE 14 anag. 17 hidden 19 C + REEP (rev.) 20 GO + SSAME + R (a mess anag.) 23 BE + N(GALT)IGER 26 2 defs. 27 CO + BRA 28 rev. hidden 29 2 defs. DOWN 2 hidden 3 B(ROAD + J)UMP 4 DEF + LATE 5 MUGS + HOT 6 GAT + OR 7 C(EL + E.B.)RATE 8 [l]LIB + RETTO (rev.) 9 2 defs. 15 CL + EVEREST 17 HEAR + TACH + E 18 SCO[tch] + URGES 20 GON(DO)LA (along anag.) 21 anag. (&lit.) 23 BAN + TU 24 GAB LE (rev.) 25 “Rome” ~OUTBID~MAGICAL D~L~R~E~U~A~E~I RATIO~FIGHTCLUB U~R~A~L~S~O~E~R GRANDFATHER~BEE ~~~~J~T~O~~~R~T ~SCHUBERT~HYATT S~L~M~~H~~E~T~O CREEP~GOSSAMER~ O~V~~~O~T~R~~~~ USE~BENGALTIGER R~R~A~D~I~A~A~O GREENHORN~COBRA E~S~T~L~E~H~L~M SATSUMA~DIETER~ The Nation (ISSN 0027-8378) is published 34 times a year (four issues in March, April, and October; three issues in January, February, July, and November; and two issues in May, June, August, September, and December) by The Nation Company, LLC © 2017 in the USA by The Nation Company, LLC, 520 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018; (212) 2095400. Washington Bureau: Suite 308, 110 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002; (202) 546-2239. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription orders, changes of address, and all subscription inquiries: The Nation, PO Box 433308, Palm Coast, FL 32143-0308; or call 1-800-333-8536. 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