Living in the USA

The California recall: Harold Meyerson; plus Alan Minsky on the legacy of Occupy Wall Street

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Harold Meyerson on the sweeping Democratic victory in the California recall: its national significance for the 2022 midterms, and where it leaves California Republicans (with Larry Elder as their leader?). Also, our national politics update: today’s Reconciliation Report, and episode 15 of What Does Joe Manchin Want? Today: the Dems’ revised voting rights bill.
Later in the show: this week is the 10th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and “we are the 99 per cent” – we’ll have an assessment of the achievements and limitations of that movement with Alan Minsky, now executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, and at the time an Occupy activist. 9-16-2021

Political Update: Harold Meyerson; Abortion in Texas: Rick Perlstein; ‘Summer of Soul’: John Powers

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Democrats are headed toward passage of both the bipartisan infrastructure bill AND the reconciliation bill: Harold Meyerson reports.
Plus: Abortion politics and Republican power – Rick Perlstein explains the long history of how abortion became a Republican issue – starting in 1972, His latest book is “Reaganland.”
Also: our favorite documentary of the summer that just ended was “Summer of Soul” — John Powers liked it too – he’ll explain why. 9-9-2021

Afghanistan & American politics: Harold Meyerson & Andrew Bacevich; Ella Taylor on Barbara Lee

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Afghanistan in American politics, past and present: Harold Meyerson explains why the disastrous end of our Afghan war won’t matter in the elections in 2022 and 2024.
Plus: the Taliban Triumph: Andrew Bacevich comments on 20 years of American hubris and ignorance, promises made, and promises broken.
Also: there was only one member of Congress who voted against the authorization for the use of force in Afghanistan, back in 2002: Barbara Lee from northern California. Now there’s a documentary out about her: “Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power.” Ella Taylor has our review.8-19-2021

Art Spiegelman: ‘Street Cop’; David & Margaret Talbot: The Sixties; Ella Taylor: Ady Barkan

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The great comics artist Art Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, has a new book out: Street Cop, illustrations for a story by Robert Coover, published by He talks about working on that during the pandemic, and about his most controversial drawings – at the New Yorker, and The Nation.
Also: here’s a new book about the sixties–about the heroism, and the disasters, of the movements of that decade. The authors are the brother and sister team David Talbot and Margaret Talbot–David is the founder of, and Margaret writes for the New Yorker.
And our critic Ella Taylor reviews “Not Going Quietly,” the documentary about activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS.  8-13-2021

Harold Meyerson on Infrastructure; Alan Minsky on Nina Turner; Gregg Golsavles on the Delta variant

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The deficiencies in the bipartisan infrastructure bill will be remedied in the big one that Dems aim to pass via reconciliation, says Harold Meyerson.
Also: The significance for Progressives of the defeat of Nina Turner in the Cleveland House primary: Alan Minsky comments.
And Gregg Gonsalves explains three things Biden needs to do to stop the gobal spread of the Delta variant, and the next variants that will come along.

Bipartisanship Lives! Harold Meyerson; Boyle Heights: George Sanchez; Dick Gregory: Ella Taylor

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The one trillion dollar infrastructure bill has made it to the floor of the Senate—where it is expected to pass. bipartisanship lives! Harold Meyerson comments – also on the California recall, and on the most successful economic justice movement of the past decade: the Fight for $15.
Plus: the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. It’s known today as the heartland of Chicano culture. Historian George Sanchez will explain how its multicultural, interracial past made it a bastion of progressive democracy. His new book is Boyle Heights.
Also our TV critic Ella Taylor talks about a documentary on the life of Dick Gregory, the Black comedian of the sixties turned political activist. It’s called “The One and Only Dick Gregory,” and it’s on Showtime.  7-29-2021

That ‘Bipatisan’ Infrastructure Bill: Harold Meyerson; Utopia: Jeet Heer; Alvin Aliey: Ella Taylor

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Senate Republicans blocked taking up the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Wednesday-Democrats are trying one more time to satisfy GOP demands on this one. Harold Meyerson comments.
Also: “Utopian” has been a term of abuse in politics for a long time now, synonymous with “irrational” and “impossible.” Instead, we are told,
we should focus on realistic plans to improve things. But The Nation is publishing a special issue in defense of utopia. Jeet Heer explains how the dreams of a good society keep hope alive and expose the inadequacy of present structures.
Also: our TV critic Ella Taylor talks about the new PBS American Masters documentary on choreographer Alvin Ailey.  7/22/2021

Biden’s Big Budget: Harold Meyerson; The Sixties: David & Margaret Talbot; Anthony Bourdain: Ella Taylor

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Biden’s Big Budget: Harold Meyerson comments on the Democrats’ agreement to spend $3.5 trillion, and on Bernie’s new status as the architect of some of the most progressive elements of the bill. Plus: plutocrats in space.
Also: triumphs and disasters of the sixties: there’s a new book about the movements of that decade, about some of heroes, and some of the problems. The authors are the brother and sister team David Talbot and Margaret Talbot–David is the founder of, and Margaret writes for the New Yorker. The book is called “By the Light of Burning Dreams.”
Plus: our TV critic Ella Taylor talks about ‘Roadrunner,’ a new documentary about Anthony Bourdain, whose massively popular TV shows about food around the world came to focus on politics more than cooking. Bourdain committed suicide in 2018. The film is made by Morgan Neville, whose previous work includes “20 feet from stardom,” the great film about backup singers, and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” about Mister Rogers.  7-15-2021

Voting after the Supremes’ Ruling: Harold Meyerson; Critical Race Theory: Kim Crenshaw; ‘Summer of Soul’: Ella Taylor

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The Supremes gave the green light last week to Republican moves to make it harder to vote — that gives Democrats and voting rights groups more work to do. Harold Meyerson comments.
Also: “Critical Race Theory” has been attacked on Fox News nearly 1300 times. It’s being banned from public schools and colleges in something like 15 Republican states. But what IS “critical race theory”? And why is this happening now? Kimberlé Crenshaw explains; she teaches law at Columbia and UCLA, and she’s probably the most prominent figure associated with critical race theory—she coined the term 30 years ago. She’s also creator of the concept “intersectionality.” And the hashtag #SayHerName.
Also later in the hour: our TV critic Ella Taylor talks about “Summer of Soul”, a documentary about a music festival in a park in Harlem in 1969 –it’s the most powerful and moving thing I’ve seen about the sixties anywhere – and the story it tells was completely forgotten –the footage sat in a basement for nearly 50 years, and no one cared. Also: “No Sudden Move,” a new caper film by Steven Soderbergh starring Don Cheadle and Benecio del Toro.  7-8-2021