Start Making Sense

Can ‘herd immunity’ lead to ‘re-opening America’? Gregg Gonsalves on Covid-19, plus Allissa Richardson on Black Cell-Phone Videos

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A group of scientists are calling it “The Great Barrington declaration”—a strategy to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic by age-targeted reopening. The advocates call it “focused protection”; they say it would create herd immunity. Gregg Gonsalves argues that it will not—and that “we can do better.”
Also: Cell-phone videos of police killing Black people have had an immense political impact over the last couple of years. Allissa Richardson comments on the videos and the new Black protest journalism, based largely on Twitter. Her new book is Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, and the New Protest #Journalism. 10-14-20

Trump Gets the Best Medical Care While Working to End Healthcare for Tens of Millions: Amy Wilentz on Covid-19, plus Ari Berman on Voting Rights

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When Trump left Walter Reed hospital, he tweeted “don’t be afraid of Covid-19.” Amy Wilentz disagrees, and argues that, while the president got the best medical care in the world—which we would want for any president—at the same time he’s trying to abolish Obamacare, which provides healthcare for tens of millions of Americans.
Also: Ari Berman talks about voting rights and voter suppression, about the voter protection efforts of the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party, and about recent Supreme Court decisions on voting rights cases.  10-7-2020

That Terrible Debate: John Nichols, plus Katha Pollitt on Melania

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Biden debated Trump on Tuesday night—John Nichols has our analysis, and suggests that it may be the Republicans who pull out of the remaining debates, given the damage their candidate did to his candidacy and the rest of the Republican candidates.
Also: Remember the days of the hashtag “Free Melania”? Remember how we said she was a hostage in the White House? Now there’s a book that says we were all wrong about that—Katha Pollitt talks about Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s “tell-not-quite-all,” Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship With the First Lady.  9/30/2020



Expand the Court! Elie Mystal on Court Packing, plus Sonia Shah on Climate Disasters

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We need at last two more justices on the Supreme Court—and more would be better—as many as ten more.  Elie Mystal explains—he’s the magazine’s justice correspondent.
Also: how climate change is forcing migration out of low lying coastal areas: Sonia Shah reports on what happened in the Bahamian island of Abaco after Hurricane Dorian last September—and what we need to do now about migration forced by climate change. Sonia is an award-winning reporter; her new book is The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move. 9-23-2020

Trump Needs Wisconsin to Win, but Biden Is Ahead: John Nichols With Good News from a Swing State, plus David Nasaw on Refugees

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Voting by mail in Wisconsin will not be thrown into chaos by the state supreme court—John Nichols reports on a state Trump needs to win, where Biden is ahead.
Plus: Refugees—after World War II in Europe, and today. Historian David Nasaw explains—his new book is The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons, from World War to Cold War. 9-17-2020

Chris Hayes: The Catastrophe of Trump; plus Joan Walsh: Politics on TV in 1968

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We are in “one of the most perilous and fraught moments for American democracy since the mid-nineteenth century,” says Chris Hayes; what’s hopeful is that “the movement we’ve seen in the streets is the largest protest movement in American history.” Chris of course hosts “All In” weeknights on MSNBC; he’s also editor-at-large of The Nation, and he spoke recently with Katrina vanden Heuvel at a Nation magazine online event.
Plus: Politics on TV–in 1968, when Harry Belafonte hosted the Tonight Show, for an entire week—and his guests included Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Also: Aretha Franklin. Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, talks about the new documentary, The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show—she’s one of the producers, and it’s streaming now on Peacock. 9-10-2020

White Backlash Politics: Harold Meyerson; Black Lives Matter: Jody Armour; Cuban doc: Ella Taylor

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After Kenosha: will Trump’s efforts to mobilize white backlash voters succeed, the way Nixon did in 1968? “No,” says Harold Meyerson.  Trump is the incumbent, not the challenger; the Democrats don’t have a war to defend; and whites are a smaller proportion of the electorate than they were in 1968.
Also: Radically Changing our broken criminal justice system- –Jody Armour’s visionary radicalism. He teaches law at USC and he’s a prominent defender of Black Lives Matter – and his new book has just been published: it’s called “N*gger Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law.”
Plus: Ella Taylor recommends “Epicentro,” sort of a documentary about Cuba—it’s streaming now on 9-3-2020

Trump in Kenosha: John Nichols; Black Lives Matter in Europe: Gary Younge

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Tump’s visit to Kenosha on Tuesday was part of a backlash strategy, with right wing militias and their allies encouraged to provoke violence with Black Lives Matter demonstrators, followed by Trump claiming he alone can bring an end to “chaos and looting.” John Nichols was in Kenosha for Trump’s visit – he reports on what happened there, and why a backlash strategy won’t work in Wisconsin.
Also: There’s a huge movement in Europe supporting Black Lives Matter. Gary Younge describes some key examples and comments on the effort to address racism in Britain, France, and elsewhere in Europe – and on the English falling back on the argument that racism there is “better” than in the US. Gary lives in London, teaches at the University of Manchester, and is a member of the editorial board of The Nation.  9-3-2020

Rick Perlstein: The Republicans from Reagan to Trump: plus Pramila Jayapal: From Investment Banker to Community Organizer

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Rick Perlstein talks about the rise of Reagan, from what seemed like a career-ending defeat in the 1976 GOP primary, to his narrow victory in the popular vote in 1980–and how the darkness of the culture war has shaped the Republican Party that Trump came to dominate.  Rick’s long-awaited book, 1100 pages long, is “Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976-1980.”
Also, Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus–she represents Seattle in the House–talks about how she went from being an investment banker as a young immigrant to a lifelong organizer.  Her new book is “Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change.” 6-26-2020

The DNC & the GOP: Harold Meyerson; Melina Abdullah: Facing the LAPD; Ella Taylor: “The 24th”

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The Democratic National Convention featured several Republicans but almost no Bernie supporters: Harold Meyerson comments.
Plus: A Black Lives Matter leader in LA confronts the LAPD—outside her house. Melina Abdullah is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles; she’s also professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State Los Angeles—and last week she was on the front page of the paper in LA. We asked her what happened.
Also: Virus-time TV with Ella Taylor – today Ella recommends “the 24th” – a new feature film about an all-black army regiment sent to Texas in 1917, and the violent confrontation with local racists that followed –it’s a true story about the only racial insurrection in American history where more whites were killed than blacks–16 whites died, including 5 policemen, and 4 of the Black soldiers. over a hundred Black soldiers were courmartialed – for mutiny. Thirteen were hanged immediately, and six more later.  8-20-2020