Category: Start Making Sense

 Jane Mayer on the Reclusive Billionaire Who Made Trump President:
Start Making Sense 3/23

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The hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer was probably the most important backer of Trump for president. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has the first in-depth report on this little-known figure and former Breitbart News funder.

Also: Is Trump like Nixon? Both won by exploiting the resentments of the white working class; both covered up crimes committed by their campaigns against the Democrats. But Rick Perlstein, author of the classic book Nixonland, says the answer is no: Trump is not like Nixon.

Plus: Tom Hayden finished a book on the antiwar movement of the 1960s before he died in October: Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement. It’s out now from Yale University Press. Steve Wasserman, Tom’s editor and publisher, comments.

Democrats Need to Understand Why the Rust Belt’s White Workers Still Support Trump: Start Making Sense 3/16

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Why do many white workers who voted for Trump still support him? The Nation sent D.D. Guttenplan to Ohio to find out—he’s returned now with his report.

Also: should the feminist movement welcome people who are anti-abortion? Wouldn’t that make the resistance to Trump stronger? Katha Pollitt doesn’t think so.

And: Ari Berman reports on a big victory for voting rights in Texas, where a federal court ruled that the state intentionally discriminated against black and Latino voters with its redistricting maps.

 This Is the Resistance: More Than 5,000 Grassroots Groups Have Sprung Up
Start Making Sense 3/12

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Joshua Holland surveys the new grassroots resistance groups that have sprung up since the election—he found more than 75, and that number is likely growing.

Indivisible is the biggest of these groups, with more than 5,000 local groups, at least two in every Congressional district. Jeremy Haile explains—he’s one of the authors of the Indivisible Guide.

March 8 was International Women’s Day, and Rebecca Solnit talks about about the exciting shape feminist activism has taken over the last few years—she calls it “fearless,” “unapologetic” and “gorgeously transformative.” Rebecca’s new book is The Mother of All Questions.

 How the Democrats Can Beat Trump on Tax Reform: 3/1

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Harold Meyerson says it’s time for the Democrats to move beyond simply saying “no” to Trump and challenge him with alternative tax proposals that would really help working-class people. Meyerson is executive editor of The American Prospect.

Plus: The New York Times has published two articles suggesting that Ivanka will save us from her father. Needless to say, Amy Wilentz doesn’t agree.

Also: This week we are celebrating the 90th birthday of Harry Belafonte—he’s been a central figure behind the scenes of the civil-rights movement since the 1950s, and he did some amazing things on TV in the crucial year of 1968. Joan Walsh explains.

 Jane Mayer: Dark Money and Donald Trump: Start Making Sense 2/21

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T
he Koch brothers, the GOP’s biggest donors, didn’t support Trump for president—but he’s supporting their pro-business and anti-environmental agenda now. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker explains; her book Dark Money is out now in paperback.

Plus: What Trump has actually done that matters, not just what he’s tweeted, during his first month: George Zornick reports.

Also: Who’s the political figure in our history most different from Donald Trump? The answer is easy: Eleanor Roosevelt. Blanche Wiesen Cook comments—the third and final volume of her biography of Eleanor is out now.

 The West Coast Is Leading the Resistance Against Trump: “Start Making Sense” 2/16

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alifornia, Oregon, and Washington are leading what could become the largest resistance movement against federal policy in more than a century. Sasha Abramsky reports.

Also: Are evangelical Christians hypocrites for supporting Trump? Katha Pollitt says they understand how politics works; now it’s payback time for the president.

Plus: Almost two dozen lawsuits have been filed against Trump’s Muslim travel ban—is that too many? David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU, says that lots of judges ruling against the president is a good thing.

Keith Ellison: How the Democrats Can Win. “Start Making Sense,” 2/9

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The Democrats need to “champion working families and give voters a reason to show up at the polls in 2018 and beyond”—that’s what Representative Keith Ellison says. The Nation has endorsed him for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Also: What can Ivanka possibly do for women who work? Amy Wilentz examines the website of our de facto first lady to find some answers.

And historian Eric Foner talks about another time in our past when the federal government was as vicious as Trump wants it to be: the 1850s, when the Fugitive Slave Act was the law of the land.

How Far Outside the Legal Mainstream is Neal Gorsuch? David Cole on “Start Making Sense” 2/2

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David Cole, the national legal director of the ACLU, discusses Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and its implications for constitutional rights and liberties in the Trump era and beyond. Cole also says that last weekend’s demonstrations against Trump’s Muslim ban were crucial to the court victories the ACLU has won so far against the executive order.”

Also, Zoë Carpenter reports on what Trump has actually done in his first days in office, as opposed to what he has tweeted.

Plus, John Nichols takes the long view, explaining the significance of recent victories against gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

Our Insane Clown President: Matt Taibbi on The Nation podcast 1/26

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Matt Taibbi
says “Trump made idiots of us all.” He covered the campaign for Rolling Stone—and his new book is Insane Clown President.

Also: The Women’s March last Saturday was glorious—what’s the next step? Joan Walsh comments—and responds to David Brooks’s argument that the marchers focused on the “wrong issues”: reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change—which, he said, are only “for upper-middle-class voters in university towns and coastal cities.”

And Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the Law School at UC Irvine, is suing Donald Trump—for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits officials from taking money or gifts from foreign governments. To determine whether and how much he has received from foreign governments, the plaintiffs are seeking Trump’s tax returns.

We can’t just protest Trump: The Nation podcast 1/19

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Fran Piven argues that social movements need to “make trouble” to effectively challenge Trump—starting with sanctuary movements that will enlist large numbers of people in resisting his deportation efforts.

Plus, David Cole says defending First Amendment freedoms to criticize the president will be a major task in the coming year.

And Katha Pollitt talks about the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday, and about the danger of underestimating Trump.