Start Making Sense

Jews Against AIPAC—Plus, Free Speech on Campus

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In the campaign to end American funding for Israel’s war in Gaza, a key front is the fight against AIPAC. This week, more than a hundred prominent American Jews have joined in a statement opposing AIPAC and its efforts to defeat Democratic candidates who have criticized Israeli government policy toward Palestinians. The signers include author Ariel Dorfman, actors Elliott Gould and Wallace Shawn, and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s. Alan Minsky, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America, is on the podcast to explain.

Also on this episode: David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU, makes the case for freedom of speech on campus and against cancel culture, starting from the confrontation between Elise Stefanik and the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn.

Transcript HERE 3-21-2024

What the Polls Get Wrong About Biden—Plus, Turmoil in Haiti

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After gangs took over most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, agreed to step aside. Longtime Haiti observer Amy Wilentz analyzes the forces at work shaping the country’s next steps.

Also on this episode: The polls and the pollsters are missing the political potential in 9 million people who have turned 18 since the last election. Steve Phillips is on the podcast to explain. His book How We Win the Civil War is out now in a new edition, updated for the 2024 election.

Transcript HERE  3-14-2024

Biden After Super Tuesday, plus A Voting Rights Amendment

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After Super Tuesday: John Nichols reports on the evidence of weaknesses of both Biden and Trump, as well as some signs of strength, in the wake of voting in primaries in 16 states.

Also: Now is the time to add the right to vote to the constitution – that’s what Richard Hasen says. And, he argues, there are good reasons why Republicans could support that–maybe not this year, but sometime soon. Rick is professor of law and political science at UCLA and author of the new book “A Real Right to Vote.”

Transcript HERE 3-7-2024

Abortion could make Florida a swing state in 2024; plus ‘Ukrainians in Exile’

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An abortion rights amendment to Florida’s constitution has gotten enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Now it’s up to the state’s supreme court to decide whether people will get to vote on it, potentially transforming the electorate there in November. The Nation’s abortion access correspondent, Amy Littlefield, is on the podcast to report.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: This week is the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To commemorate the anniversary, The Nation has released a new documentary short film, Ukrainians in Exile. We’ll speak with the filmmaker, Janek Ambros.

Transcript HERE 2-29-2024

“Renters are the sleeping giants of LA politics,” plus the Hidden History of AIDS

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A political battle is underway in Los Angeles, where landlords, multi-millionaires, and the police are trying to defeat the leading progressive on the city council. Their key issues are protection for renters and new taxes on mansions.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: A new podcast brings us stories from the early days of HIV & AIDS. It’s about how the epidemic decimated poor communities of color and the people who refused to stay out of sight. WNYC’s Kai Wright and The Nation’s Lizzy Ratner are behind the new show, Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows.

Transcript HERE 2-22-2024

The Families that Made Fortunes Selling Opium, plus the News from Haiti

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The blue-blood families that made fortunes in the opium trade: Amitav Ghosh recounts the origins of much of the wealth for the 19th century New England elite on this episode of the Start Making Sense podcast. He wrote the cover story for The Nation’s latest print issue. His new book is called Smoke and Ashes.

Also on this episode: The latest US moves in Haiti are framed in democratic rhetoric but are deeply anti-democratic in their effect. Amy Wilentz is on the podcast to explain. She’s written two books about Haiti, most recently the award-winning Farewell Fred Voodoo.  2-15-2024

Jeff Merkley on a Ceasefire in Gaza, Sean Wilentz on Disqualifying Trump

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Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is one of our leading progressives, and one of 5 Senators to call for a cease-fire in Gaza. He’s on this episode of the Start Making Sense podcast to explain why, and to discuss his new book, “Filibustered! How to Fix the Broken Senate and Save America.”

Also on this episode: the case for disqualifying Trump as a candidate, based on the 14th Amendment banning those who have engaged in insurrection from holding public office. That case goes before the Supreme Court this week. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has our analysis.

Transcript HERE 2-8-2024

Heroes of the Left, Plus Healthcare for the Undocumented

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The Nation’s annual Progressive Honor Roll features movement leaders who provide hope for 2024. John Nichols tells their stories.

Also: California moved one step closer to universal healthcare on January 1, when it expanded coverage to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status. Sasha Abramsky reports.

Transcript HERE 2-1-2024

New Hampshire Left And Right, Plus Frantz Fanon Today

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On this episode of Start Making Sense, John Nichols has our analysis on the New Hampshire primary – Biden’s big win, and Trump’s furious victory speech.

Also: Adam Shatz talks about Franz Fanon, whose books “Wretched of the Earth” and “Black Skin, White Masks” made him a huge figure on the left, not just in the ’60s when they were published, but in the era of Black Lives Matter when his shadow looms larger than ever. Now he’s the subject of Adam’s new book, “The Rebel’s Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon.” Adam is the US editor of the London Review of Books, and former Literary Editor of The Nation.  1-25-2024