Living in the USA

Dems scale back big plans: Harold Meyerson; plus Dave Zirin on ‘The Kaepernick Effect’

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The latest on the Democrats’ reconciliation bill: Harold Meyerson reports on the big cuts demanded by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Also: gubernatorial elections threaten Democratic power in Virginia, and Republican power in Texas.
Plus: The Nation’s sports editor Dave Zirin talks about what he calls
“The Kaepernick Effect” – how an NFL quarterback who had never been an activist made “Taking a knee” THE symbol of protest against racial injustice, & how hundreds, if not thousands, of young athletes followed his example. Many of them—often high school students, women as well as men—faced ostracism, condemnation, death threats, and more. Dave Zirin’s new book is “The Kaepernick Effect.”  10-21-2021

Winning in 2022: Harold Meyerson; Draft Resistance: Bruce Dancis; “Pauli Murray”: Ella Taylor

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What’s the best strategy for the Democrats for 2022, when the odds are against them for holding the House and Senate? Pundits say the Dems should stop talking about climate, immigration, and the police. Harold Meyerson disagrees.
Plus: draft resistance in the Vietnam era: there’s a new documentary, “The Boys Who Said NO!” with it’s online launch this weekend, and an online event Sunday at 5pm featuring Joan Baez, Daniel Ellsberg, and others–we’ll speak with one of the resisters featured in the film, Bruce Dancis, about his time in prison – he served 19 months.
Also: our TV and film critic Ella Taylor talks about the new documentary about Pauli Murray, one of the most fascinating, and little known, activists and strategists of the civil rights and feminist movements. It’s playing now on Amazon Prime Video.  10-14-2021

Biden Backs the Left: Harold Meyerson, plus Melina Abdulla on the LAPD, & Louis Menand

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Biden backed the Progressive Caucus in insisting that the bipartisan infrastructure bill not be voted separately from the reconciliation bill. But the question remains: What does Kyrsten Sinema want? Harold Meyerson comments.
Also: The co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, Melina Abdullah, will talk about the LAPD showing up in force at her house twice in the week since she filed a lawsuit over last year’s similar incident – we call it ‘swatting,’ and we also call it retaliation.
plus: we’ll talk about the use of the concept of ‘freedom’ during the cold war – Louis Menand will explain – His book is ‘The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War’–has been longlisted for the National Book Award.  10-7-2021

Reconciliation: The Solution–Harold Meyerson; Carol Sobel on the LAPD, & Occupy at 10

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How to cut the cost of the Democrats’ “Reconciliation Bill” without eliminating programs? Harold Meyerson says make it a four-year bill program instead of ten. Also: reapportionment in California, and a new mayor for LA.
Plus: Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel talks about the LAPD’s dramatic increase in the use of dispersal orders in response to the protests of the last couple of years–declaring “this is an unlawful assembly” & “you are ordered to disperse.” Carol represents Black Lives Matter Los Angeles in a lawsuit against the LAPD.
And we’re still thinking about Occupy Wall Street,which began 10 years ago–Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce of the City University of New York have been studying, and thinking about, the achievements and limitations of the Occupy movement.  9-30-2021


Filibuster reform: Harold Meyerson; Haitian refugees: Amy Wilentz; ‘The Stone Face’: Adam Shatz

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Our Washington political update starts with the Fox News report, “Democrats tee up filibuster reform by forcing issue on immigration, voting rights.” Harold Meyerson comments on that – and on reports that Dan Quayle saved American democracy on January 6.
Also: Amy Wilentz on Haitians and Haiti – and Joe Biden’s disastrous decision to deport those 15,000 Haitian refugees who crossed the border at Del Rio, Texas, sending them back to a country ravaged by assassination, earthquake, poverty, and gang violence.
And we have the story of a Black writer who moved to Paris in the fifties and discovered French racism – aimed at Algerians. Adam Shatz explains—he’s written the introduction to the new edition of a novel called “The Stone Face,” by William Gardner Smith, originally published in 1963 and now republished by New York Review Books.  9-24-2021

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