Start Making Sense

Child Care for All belongs on the Progressive Agenda: Katha Pollitt, plus David Klion on Bernie’s foreign policy and Antony Loewenstein on Afghanistan

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Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage – and how about adding Child care for all to the Progressive agenda?  That’s Katha Pollitt’s proposal—she argues it will help huge numbers of people.
Also: Bernie’s foreign policy: in 2016 he ran on domestic issues almost exclusively. This time around, if he runs—and it looks like he will–he’s going to say more about foreign policy—a lot more. David Klion explains; he’s profiled Bernie’s foreign policy advisor, Matt Duss.
Plus: Peace in Afghanistan?  Trump says it’s close – and Antony Loewenstein says it will bring massive corruption around mining the minerals of that country—and do nothing to help local communities.  2/13/19

The State of the Union is Not Good: John Nichols on Trump, plus Sasha Abramsky on TPS and Elizabeth Kolbert on climate change

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John Nichols says that, although Trump’s State of the Union speech included a call to “embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” his actual proposals were “cynical and crude.”
Also: Temporary Protected Status—TPS—has allowed immigrants and refugees from half a dozen countries to stay in the United States for decades—but now Trump is trying to get rid of all of them. Sasha Abramsky reports on the human toll of this cruel policy.
Plus: Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker on Trump, climate change, and species extinction—she says “we need courage, not hope.” Her book The Sixth Extinction won the Pulitzer Prize.  2/6/19

2019 Will Be the Worst Year of Trump’s Life: John Nichols on politics, plus Sarah Jaffe on the LA teachers strike, and Sean Wilentz on slavery and the constitution

What will 2019 be like for Trump? Will it be like Nixon in 1974—the Watergate year, which ended with his resignation? Or more like Clinton in 1998—the Monica year, which culminated with an impeachment trial in the Senate in 1999? He won that vote easily and came out more popular than before. John Nichols looks at the investigations coming up in the House, leading us to conclude that 2019 will be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life.
Also: The LA teachers’ strike is, among other things, a battle over the future of the Democratic party: will it embrace austerity and the steady erosion of social services, or will it fund the progressive agenda? Sarah Jaffe reports.
And Americans have always struggled over the place of black people in America, starting at the beginning, with the Constitution. Was the Constitution a pro-slavery document? Or, as Lincoln argued, did it point toward abolition? We ask Sean Wilentz—his new book is No Property in Man.  1/24/19

The anti-immigrant temptation on the left: David Adler on politics, Pedro Noguera on the LA teachers strike, and Kate Aronoff on the battle of ideas

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A political movement combining a left-wing economic program with anti-immigrant initiatives: it’s developing right now in Germany and France – could it happen here? David Adler explains: he’s the Policy Coordinator for the European Spring — Europe’s first transnational party, led by Yanis Varoufakis. He writing has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, and Jacobin—and now he has the cover story in the new issue of The Nation.
Also: 31,000 teachers are on strike right now in Los Angeles–it’s the biggest strike in a long time in the second biggest school district in the country, with 600,000 students. And it’s not just about salaries and benefits; the teachers say they want smaller classes, which means more teachers. Pedro Noguera reports.
Plus: Like everybody else on the left, we’re excited about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her proposal for a Green New Deal –but “the Left needs more than good ideas”–that’s what Kate Aronoff says. We need to change the economic and political consensus shaped by the right and build a political and intellectual infrastructure that can match theirs.  1/16/19

The Issues Republicans Are Afraid to Touch: Harold Meyerson on Politics, plus Aaron Maté on Russiagate and Alex Press on Amazon workers

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Now that the Democrats are in charge in the House of Representatives, Harold Meyerson says, we can learn a lot about progressive political opportunities by studying “the Republican dogs that didn’t bark in the night” – the political issues Republicans didn’t attack in the recent elections–because they have widespread public support. Harold is executive editor of The American Prospect and a regular contributor to the LA Times op-ed page.
Also: Aaron Maté says new studies show that Russian social-media involvement in US politics in the recent election was small, amateurish, and mostly unrelated to the candidates—and that pundits have exaggerated the effects of Russian trolls posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Plus: now that the holidays are over, it’s time to talk about the hundreds of thousands of workers who were Christmas temporaries at Amazon warehouses – Amazon calls them “seasonal associates” and describes the places they work as “fullfillment centers.” Alex Press explains—she’s an assistant editor at Jacobin. 1/10/19

The Best of 2018: Seymour Hersh on Trump, Barbara Ehrenreich on ‘Wellness,’ and Amos Oz Remembered

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Our most popular interviews of the year, starting with Seymour Hersh, one of our heroes; he says “don’t underestimate Trump.” He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his expose of the My Lai massacre—he was a 33-year-old freelancer at the time. Since then, he’s won pretty much every other journalism award. He’s worked as a staff writer for The New York Times and The New Yorker. He’s also written a dozen books, most recently ‘Reporter: A Memoir.’
Also: Barbara Ehrenreich is another hero of ours– the author of more than a dozen books, including the unforgettable “Nickel and Dimed.” Now she has a new book out, a bestseller, and it’s terrific: it’s called “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainly of Dying, and killing ourselves to live longer.”
Finally, Amos Oz died on Dec 28 –He was an Israeli novelist and unyielding critic of the occupation of the West Bank and a campaigner for a two state solution. His novels were translated into dozens of languages, and he also wrote for The Nation. Here we revisit an interview we did with him in 2004, about mideast politics.  1/2/13

The Facts of Russiagate have been Obvious for a Long Time: David Klion on Putin and Trump, plus Amy Wilentz on Trump’s Mental Status and Bill McKibben on Climate Change

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For our year-in-review show, we open with a Russiagate update with David Klion – he says it’s basically a corruption scandal whose basic facts have been obvious for a long time—and one that should bring down Trump’s presidency.
In a lot of ways, Trump himself was the biggest story in 2018–we ask Amy Wilentz the key question: “is Trump crazy?” She discusses the mental and emotional status of the president, as analyzed by 27 psychiatrists in ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,’ a book edited by Bandy X. Lee. The book was number four on the New York Times bestseller list.
And the biggest story of the year, for all of humanity, has been catastrophic climate change —Bill McKibben says “it’s not just an environmental issue.” 12/27/18

2018: The Year of the Progressive–John Nichols, plus Erwin Chemerinsky on Obamacare, and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on left internationalism.

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John Nichols presents the highlights of The Nation’s annual Progressive Honor Roll—our heroes in Congress, in state politics, and in leading protests at the border.
Also: is Obamacare unconstitutional? A federal judge ruled last week that all of Obamacare violates the constitution if he’s upheld by the Supreme Court, 20 million people will lose their insurance coverage. The case has the potent name “Texas versus the United States.” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at UC Berkeley, explains why that ruling is likely to be rejected at the Supreme Court—by vote of 9-0.
Plus: right-wing authoritarians have been coordinating political campaigns and disrupting elections across national boundaries – a project masterminded by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. It’s time now for the left, especially the American left, to go on the offensive and reclaim its tradition of internationalism. Atossa Araxia Abrahamian reports on the project of Yanis Varoufakis—and Bernie Sanders—to organize a Progressive International.  12/19/2018

 

William Barr: Another Jeff Sessions? David Cole, plus Dave Lindorff on Pentagon Accounting Fraud and Marc Cooper on the Revolution in Armenia

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Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, is more qualified to do the job than Matt Whitaker–but so are thousands of others. His record, however, show’s he as bad as Jeff Sessions—if not worse. David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU and The Nation’s legal affairs correspondent, explains.
Also: a report on The Nation’s investigation of Massive Accounting Fraud at the Pentagon – Dave Lindorff found that $21 million cannot be accounted for. For decades, he says, the Pentagon has been “deliberately cooking the books to mislead Congress.”
Plus: the Armenian Revolution: “a small light of hope and progressive democratic change in a Europe increasingly shadowed by authoritarian and dictatorial forces, especially in most of the former soviet-bloc states of Eastern Europe.” That’s what Marc Cooper says—he’s spent months in Yerevan, where elections on Sunday confirmed the victory of the revolutionaries.  12-12-18

 

The Dark Side of George H.W. Bush: Harold Meyerson, plus Katha Pollitt on White Women and Trump and Eric Foner on Frederick Douglass

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George H. W. Bush paved the way for today’s Republican party with his racist Willy Horton campaign, nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and pardoned the Iran-Contra conspirator whose trial would have exposed his own abuse of power. Harold Meyerson explains — he’s executive editor of the American Prospect.
Also: Katha Pollitt finds lessons from the midterms about white women who support Trump – she argues that they are unlikely to change their minds, and that we’d do better following the example of Stacey Abrams and mobilizing the nonvoters.
Plus: Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist, was the most famous black American of the 19th century. Historian Eric Foner says Douglass’s political ideas can help us in our struggles today. 12/5/18