Living in the USA

Biden and the working class: Harold Meyerson; Dems and the Senate: John Nichols; Margo Jefferson’s memoir

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Recent polls show Biden’s level of support among non-college voters of all races is down to 39% – that’s 9 points less than his level of support from those same voters in the 2020 election – Harold Meyerson comments.

Next: Democrats in the Senate are going to lose the seat vacated by Joe Manchin in West Virginia – can they hold all the others in November? John Nichols has our analysis, starting with Maryland, where Democrat Angela Alsobrooks will face Republican “moderate” Larry Hogan, the popular anti-Trump former governor.

Plus: The wonderful writer Margo Jefferson talks about “Constructing a Nervous System” – her memoir about growing up in a middle-class Black family in Chicago. (First recorded in April 2022)  5-23-2024

The US, Jews, and Palestine: Harold Meyerson; Elizabeth Kolbert on Climate, Katha Pollitt on Judith Butler

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The most important event in the history of Israel and Palestine was not the 1948 founding of Israel and the Nakba, or Israel’s 1967 occupation of Palestinian territories. It was the outlawing of immigration of Jews (and others) to the US from Russia, Poland, and Eastern and Southern Europe. That was the purpose of the immigration restriction act passed by Congress in May, 1924, 100 years ago this month. Without that, the Jews of Europe would never have moved to Palestine, Harold Meyerson argues.

Also: The New Yorker’s award-winning climate writer Elizabeth Kolbert talks about her fascinating new book, “H is for Hope: Climate Change from A to Z.’”

Plus: Judith Butler may be the most famous feminist theorist in the world today. Now Butler has a new book out, with the provocative title, “Who’s Afraid of Gender?” Katha Pollitt provides a critique.  5-16-2024

The mob attack at UCLA: David Myers; Hamas and Rape: Azadeh Moaveni; The Age of Insecurity: Astra Taylor.


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Lots of pro-Palestine encampments on college campuses have been attacked by local police, but UCLA was different: a pro-Israel mob attacked the encampment on April 30.  The attack continued for three hours before police stepped in, and they didn’t arrest any of the attackers.  The next night, the police themselves attacked and shut down the encampment.  David Myers has our report.

Also: There’s no doubt that Israeli women and girls were raped during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7; but there is little evidence to support Israel’s charge that rape was a “premediated, systematic” strategy by Hamas—offererd as a justification for their destruction of Gaza and killing 35,000 civilians.  At the same time, evidence is growing of sexual abuse of Palestinian women held in detention by Israel.  Azadeh Moaveni reports on the findings of her reporting for the LRB.

Plus: There are two kinds of insecurity in our lives today, Astra Taylor argues: existential insecurity, the unavoidable issues of life and death, and manufactured insecurity—intended to make workers more submissive to authority. Communal action can do a lot to reduce that. Her book is “The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together As Things Fall Apart.”  (First broadcast in September, 2023.)  5-7-2024

Gaza Protests From UCLA to Columbia: Harold Meyerson; Rural Voters: Anthony Flaccavento

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On Tuesday, April 30, UCLA failed to protect students when 200 pro-Israel militants — who were not students — attacked the pro-Palestine encampment on campus. On Wednesday, thousands of pro-Palestine supporters gathered outside Royce hall; and during the early morning hours on Thursday, May 2, police raided the pro-Palestine encampment themselves and made over 200 arrests. Harold Meyerson contrasts UCLA’s treatment of peaceful protests against Israel’s destruction of Gaza with that of other US universities (recorded after Tuesday, before the Thursday morning raid).

Also: Rural America is Trump country. In 2016, Hillary got barely 30 percent of the rural vote. Biden did only a little better in 2020. But he can do a lot better than that this year — and he needs to, if he’s going to carry some of the swing states. Anthony Flaccavento will explain — he’s co-founder and executive director of the Rural Urban Bridge Initiative.

Plus: Arthur Danto visits Las Vegas — not to gamble, but to look at the art. Arthur was an American art critic, philosopher, and professor at Columbia University. He died in October 25, 2013. (This interview was recorded in March 2000.)  5-2-2024

UAW victories: Harold Meyerson; Palestine & Israel: May Pundak

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History was made last Friday in Chattanooga, when  workers at Volkswagen’s factory there voted to join the United Auto Workers — by an overwhelming margin, 73 to 27 percent. This was the first major union victory in the South in many decades, and it may mark the rebirth of a powerful union movement. Harold Meyerson comments; he’s editor-at-large of The American Prospect.

Plus: Transforming the two-state solution for Palestine and Israel to meet today’s realities: a federation, something like the European Union.  That’s the project of the visionary group A Land for All. May Pundak, co-executive director, explains.  4-25-2024

Anti-War Democrats: Harold Meyerson; Trump’s Bad Week: John Nichols; Quality TV: John Powers

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Opposition to Biden’s unqualified military support for Netanyahu now includes the center of the Democratic party. That reminds some people of 1968 – Harold Meyerson comments.

Also: Trump has had a very bad week – in court, in the polls, on the stock market. John Nichols explains.

Plus:: TV right now is featuring several prestige historical dramas.  John Powers compares and contrasts two shows that feature Asians at the center rather than white men: “The Sympathizer,” centering on a spy for the Communists in Vietnam and then n California in the seventies, with “Shogun,” about feuding 17th century Japanese warlords.  John is critic at large for Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  4-17-2024

Abortion Politics after Arizona: Harold Meyerson; Hamas and the PLO: Hussein Ibish; Birmingham 1963: Diane McWhorter

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The Arizona Supreme Court’s action affirming a near-total ban on abortion is great news for Democrats, and not just in that state: Harold Meyerson comments.

Also: Why did Hamas decide to provoke massive Israeli retaliation now? Hussein Ibish, who writes for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Daily Beast, says Hamas had a clear political goal on October 7: to defeat the Palestinian secular nationalists of Fatah and gain control of the PLO.

Plus: 61 years ago this week, in April, 1963, the Birmingham civil rights campaign directed by Martin Luther King was reaching a climax. April 7, Palm Sunday, police used dogs to attack Black people at a march. the dramatic photos appeared on front pages around the world. Then, 4 Black girls were killed at a church bombing, and then Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Diane McWhorter wrote the definitive history of that crucial campaign–her book is called “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the climatic battle of the civil rights revolution.” (broadcast originally in 2001.)  4-11-2024

Blue Cities in Red States: Harold Meyerson; Standing Together: Sally Abed; “Super Sad”: Gary Shteyngart

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Cities throughout America are Democratic, often raising minimum wages and strengthening rent control. However, in states where Republicans hold unchecked power, state governments are blocking cities from acting. Harold Meyerson reports on preemption and “pre-preemption.”

Plus: Standing Together, Israel’s biggest Jewish-Palestinian grassroots movement, is organizing against the war and for a Palestinian state. Sally Abed, one of the group’s founders, will explain their vision, their strategy, and their recent actions.

Also: from the archives, Gary Shteyngart talks about his novel “Super Sad True Love Story” –It’s about a world where the Bipartisan Party rules and where everybody gets their news either from Fox Liberty Prime or Fox Liberty Ultra.  And then our hero Lenny meets Eunice.  (recorded in July, 2011.)  4-4-2024

“Vote Yourself a Raise”: Saru Jaramayan; Cities against the war: John Nichols; Roots of Jan. 6: Jeffrey Toobin

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Minimum wage initiatives on the ballot in battleground states could mobilize potential Democratic voters who are unenthusiastic about Biden. Saru Jayaraman of One Fair Wage is on the podcast to explain the strategy, and reports on organizing in Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio.

Also: 100 American cities and towns have formally called for a cease-fire in Gaza—ranging from Chicago, the biggest, to small towns in Vermont. John Nichols has our report.

Plus: The ideological roots of the January 6 insurrection go back decades before Trump entered politics — back to the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. Jeffrey Toobin will explain; His new book is ‘Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism.’  It’s being published in paperback next week.  3-28-2024

Why Dems are Smiling: Harold Meyerson; Jews v. AIPAC: Alan Minsky; Free Speech on Campus: David Cole

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In the Ohio primary this week, Sherrod Brown got the opponent he wanted – a MAGA car salesman who’s never won anything. Harold Meyerson comments.

Plus: In the campaign to end American funding for Israel’s war in Gaza, a key front is the fight against AIPAC. This week, more than a hundred prominent American Jews have joined in a statement opposing AIPAC and its efforts to defeat Democratic candidates who have criticized Israeli government policy toward Palestinians. The signers include author Ariel Dorfman, actors Elliott Gould and Wallace Shawn, and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s. Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, will explain.

Also David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU, will make the case for freedom of speech on campus and against cancel culture, starting from that confrontation between Elise Stefanik and the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn.  3-21-2024