Start Making Sense

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

Reasons for Hope from the Iowa GOP, plus “American Fiction”

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John Nichols reports on Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa, and explains why Iowa is the state with the biggest shift from blue to red between Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2020.

Also: The new film “American Fiction,” starring Jeffrey Wright, takes up the question, do Black writers have to “write Black”? The film is based on the novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett, which is considerably wilder and more uncompromising than the film. John Powers comments—he’s critic at Large on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Transcript HERE  1-18-2024

Only Joe Biden Can Stop the War in Gaza, plus ‘Corporate Bullsh*t’

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Israel’s war in Gaza has been going on now for three months, and the IDF said over the weekend they plan to keep the war going for another year. Amy Wilentz talks about Netanhayu’s use of the war to hold on to power.

Also: the lies that protect profit, power and wealth in America: they are documented, and dealt with, in a wonderful new book co-authored by Joan Walsh. It’s called Corporate Bullsh*t.

Transcript HERE  1-11-2024

Reasons for Hope in 2024: John Nichols, plus the Bill Gates Problem: Tim Schwab

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Hope is different from optimism – it’s an embrace of uncertainty, and a basis for action. The polls look bad for Joe Biden, but Democrats’ chances are much brighter in the House, and perhaps the Senate. John Nichols talks about reasons for hope in 2024, starting in the tipping point state of 2020, Wisconsin.

Also: Bill Gates is now the 6th richest man in the world, with 104 billion dollars. He’s spent the last 20 years giving away some of his money – the Gates Foundation gave away $7 billion in 2022. But with the money comes a host of problems. Tim Schwab will explain; his new book has a great title: “The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire.”

Transcript HERE  01-04-2023

Katha Pollitt’s End-of-Year Giving List, plus Bob Dylan’s Xmas Album

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Our holiday giving list: Katha Pollitt presents her list of groups that need—and deserve—our support: Gaza aid, abortion assistance, and organizing against Trump.

Also: Bob Dylan fans have been puzzled and troubled by his Christmas album ever since he released it in 2009. To help figure out what Dylan was doing, we turned to Sean Wilentz. He’s the official historian at, and he also teaches history at Princeton.

Transcript HERE  12-28-2023

Feminists and rape: the case of Hamas; plus Moms for Liberty

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Why have American feminist groups been slow to condemn rapes of Israeli women and girls by Hamas? That’s the question posed by Katha Pollitt, The Nation’s award-winning columnist.

Also: They call it “the parents’ rights movement.” We call it a culture war against public education. It failed as a Republican election strategy in 2023, but what about 2024? Randi Weingarten has our analysis – she’s president of the AFT.

Transcript HERE  12-21-2023

Democrats are Sleepwalking Toward a Trump Victory; plus Israel’s future

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Joe Biden has historic achievements as president, but polls show him to be the candidate least able to defeat Donald Trump in the 2024 election. Democrats need someone else to run and an open primary. Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large of The American Prospect, and he joins the show to make the case for Biden to not run again.

Also on this episode: What conditions are needed for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank? David Myers – professor of Jewish history at UCLA and contributor to the LA Times, the Forward, and the Atlantic – is on the podcast to comment on what it would take to get to Palestinian self-determination.

Transcript HERE  12-14-2023

Randi Weingarten on the Peace Movement in Israel; Gary Younge on ‘Rustin’

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Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, spent Thanksgiving weekend in Israel; she reports on meetings with shared society groups and peace movement leaders, and on the role of the US in bringing not just peace but equality and justice to Palestinians.

Also: Who was Bayard Rustin before the 1963 March on Washington? Gary Younge comments on the remarkable life of a gay Black pacifist and former communist, the subject of a new biopic on Netflix, ‘Rustin.’ Gary wrote “The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream.”

Transcript HERE  12-7-2023

Ending the War in Gaza: D.D. Guttenplan; plus John Powers on ‘Slow Horses’

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People with very different visions of what a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians might look like must work together to stop the war: That’s what D.D. Guttenplan argues.  He’s Editor of The Nation.

Also: Also: “Slow Horses,” the British spy series based on the books by Mick Herron, is starting its season 3 this week.  John Powers has our review.

Transcript HERE  11-30-2023

Why We Need the Israeli Left Now More Than Ever

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What comes after Israel’s war on Hamas? The Israeli government seems incapable of thinking about that. Now, the ideas of Israel’s left-wing, pro-peace camp are needed more than ever. Dahlia Scheindlin, a political scientist based in Tel Aviv, is on the podcast to explain.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: “California has always been a place to write home about.” David Kipen reads letters and diary entries from Charles Mingus, Vita Sackville-West, Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sontag, Thomas Pynchon, and Mike Davis – David’s new book is Dear California: The Golden State in Letters and Diaries.

Transcript HERE  11-22-2023