Living in the USA

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

The Gates Foundation: Tim Schwab; Kyrsten Sinema: Aida Chavez; plus Katha Pollitt on Dr. Seuss, and Eric Foner on Obama

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First, the divorce last May, and then Warren Buffett resigned as a trustee last week; so, who exactly IS Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, giving his money to? Tim Schwab, writer of award-winning reports on the Gates Foundation, explains.
Next Up: the political transformation of Kyrsten Sinema: Aida Chavez of The Intercept reports.
Also: Dr. Seuss Enterprises took six of his books out of print because they contained racist drawings. Katha Pollitt comments.
And, Obama’s best-selling autobiography, “A Promised Land” reminds us of a time when Donald Trump barely existed on our political landscape and in our consciousness. Historian Eric Foner comments.  7/1/2021

Voting rights: What Now? Harold Meyerson; Jimmy Carter: Kai Bird; ‘Rebel Hearts”: Ella Taylo

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Tuesday Republicans blocked the Senate from even beginning to consider voting rights legislation. Chuck Schumer said afterwards, “In the fight for voting rights, this vote was the starting gun, not the finish.” Now what? Harold Meyerson comments.
Also: Most of us think of Jimmy Carter as a failure as president, the Democrat who opened the door to Reagan, and the only president whose work AFTER leaving office was better than his work IN office. Kai Bird says we need to reconsider Carter and his presidency: He had more accomplishments, and was more complicated, than people realized. Kai’s new book is called “The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter.”
And Ella Taylor talks about LA’s rebel nuns of the sixties – Sister Corita and her friends at Immaculate Heart College. They’re the subject of a new documentary, called “Rebel Hearts.” 6-23-2021

The GOP vs. Voting: Harold Meyerson; Advice to Men: Katha Pollitt; “In the Heights”: Ella Taylor

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Republican efforts to make it harder to vote, and easier for their judges and state legislatures to reverse elections they have lost, may backfire: Harold Meyerson comments. Also: rethinking the Green New Deal.
Also: Katha Pollitt talks about a new book of advice for men – Jordan Peterson’s international best-seller “Rules for Life”. Rule Number One: “stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”
And our TV critic Ella Taylor will review “In the Heights,” the wonderful new Lin Manuel Miranda musical on HBO Max about young people of color singing and dancing in Washington Heights at the north end of Manhattan. 6-16-2021

The Filibuster vs. Democracy: Alan Minsky; Israeli politics: Amy Wilentz; ‘Lupin’: Ella Taylor

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What does Joe Manchin want? Doesn’t he want Democrats to have equal voting rights? Without filibuster reform, Republican attacks on voting will broaden. Alan Minsky explains: he’s Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America.
Plus the earthquake in Israeli politics: Amy Wilentz comments on the end of Bibi Netanyahu, after 12 years as Prime Minister, and on the new governing coalition that includes for the first time in Israeli history an Israeli Palestinian Islamist party as part of the government. Amy, who was Jerusalem bureau chief for The New Yorker, will talk about what this might mean for Palestinians inside Israel, and on the West Bank and in Gaza.
Also: TV talk with Ella Taylor, who reviews “Lupin,” the French comic heist series about a sort of Robin Hood who’s a Black immigrant, reckoning with racism in France and the country’s legacy of plunder. Season two opens Friday on Netflix.  6-11-2021

Progressives & Biden: Alan Minsky; Tulsa & history: David Perry; Tulsa on TV: Ella Taylor

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Progressives and Biden:  the threat of a bipartisan “compromise” on infrastructure; Biden’s ‘American Families Plan,” $1.8 Trillion for workers, students and families, financed through higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans—and healthcare reform, which will pass only with filibuster reform in the senate. Plus: Enbridge Line 3, the tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota, will face nonviolent direct action protests this Monday, organized by the Treaty People Gathering.
Also: White politics and Black history in Tulsa: historian David Perry talks about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and how it was covered up, as a “riot,” for most of the century.
And more on Tulsa: our critic Ella Taylor talks about documentaries about the events there—on PBS and the Nat Geo channel, as well as on the History channel. Plus: highlights of Pride month on TV.  6-3-2021

Bipartisan Biden? Harold Meyerson; Adam Shatz on Edward Said; Ella Taylor on “Don’t Look Back”

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A group of moderate Republicans led by Mitt Romney are offering Joe Biden a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure-one trillion that would fund traditional roads and bridges, leaving out all of his proposals for a Green New Deal. Will he go for it? Harold Meyerson comments.
Also: As many Democrats urge Biden to take steps toward self-determination for Palestinians, Adam Shatz recalls the life and work of Edward Said, the most prominent voice of Palestinians in America until his death in 2003.
Plus: we celebrate Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday with Ella Taylor by watching “Don’t Look Back,” the wonderful 1967 documentary by D.A. Pennebaker, about Dylan’s 1965 tour of England.  5-27-2021

Palestinians v. Israel: Rachel Kushner; California’s Economic Boom: Harold Meyerson: ‘Underground RailRoad”: Ella Taylor

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Rachel Kushner reports on Palestinian life inside the refugee camp that’s inside Jerusalem, and on the current crisis–her report, originally published in the New York Times magazine, appears in her new book of essays, “The Hard Crowd.”
also: Harold Meyerson comments on Gavin Newsom’s plan to give money to almost all Californians, and to provide massive funding for homeless housing and universal preschool.
and our critic Ella Taylor talks about “The Underground Railroad,”premiering Friday on Prime video–10 one-hour episodes of a historical drama about American slavery, and escaping from slavery.  People are saying it’s “the most ambitious take on American slavery since ‘Roots’” –that was on TV in 1977, more than 40 years ago.  5-13-2021