Start Making Sense

The Class Struggle This Summer

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The Teamsters reached a historic agreement for UPS workers this week, protecting and rewarding more than 340,000 UPS Teamsters nationwide. We had been headed for the biggest strike in decades, scheduled to start next week, but now we have what looks like one of the biggest labor victories in decades. The Nation’s John Nichols is on the Start Making Sense podcast to report.

Also on this episode: Hollywood actors and writers have been on strike–the Writers Guild of America since May, and the Screen Actors Guild since July 14. The studios are showing no signs of settling. WGA member and Nation writer Ben Schwartz joins the show. He argues that the studios and streamers are likely to fracture before the unions do.

Transcript HERE  7-27-2023

Picket Line Near You HERE 


The War on Black Studies, plus Hollywood on Strike

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Remember how the state of Florida banned the African-American studies curriculum proposed by the College Board on the grounds that it might cause guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress in students? Now, teachers, scholars, and activists have been fighting back. Historian Robin D.G. Kelley explains.

Also: last week the actors joined screenwriters on the picket lines outside film and TV studios in LA and New York – the writers have been out for 75 days. The issues: compensation in the age of streaming, and protection against AI. Josh Gondelman comments—he’s a member of both SAG and the WGA.

Transcript HERE  7-20-2023

Cornel West Should Run as a Democrat, plus Supreme Court Wins and Losses

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Cornel West is running for president as the Green Party candidate. On this episode of Start Making Sense, editor in chief, D.D. Guttenplan, explains why he ought to run in the Democratic primaries, instead.

Also: The Supreme Court, in the term that just ended, was not completely terrible. It surprised us all by doing some good things, especially with regard to voting rights. David Cole, the National Legal Director of the ACLU, is on the podcast to analyze what happened and why.

Transcript HERE  7-13-2023

Summer of Strikes, plus After Affirmative Action: Jane McAlevey on Labor, John Nichols on Education

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Two nationwide strikes may be in the works right now. The Teamsters have been negotiating with UPS for a new contract, and the Auto Workers have been preparing to strike at least one of the Detroit auto makers. These have the potential to provide swing-state voters with a political education in the lead-up to the 2024 election. The Nation’s Strikes Correspondent, Jane McAlevey joins the podcast to discuss.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: After affirmative action, what should progressives do to help people of color and other working class students get into college, and pay for it? The Nation’s National Affairs correspondent, John Nichols comments on the politics and economics of higher education.

Transcript HERE  7-6-2023

The Battle on the Abortion Borderland, plus RFK Jr.

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Crossing the abortion borderland from Texas to New Mexico: Amy Littlefield describes the heroic work being done in both states to provide help to people seeking abortions, one year after the repeal of Roe, and reports on the new obstacles being raised by anti-abortion forces.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense, 20 percent of likely Democratic voters tell pollsters they support Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his primary challenge to Joe Biden. Joan Walsh joins the podcast to tell the story of her history with Kennedy and his anti-vax crusade.

Transcript HERE   6-29-2023

How Democrats can win Working-Class Voters; how Doctors are Fighting—against Hospitals

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How can Democrats win back at least some white working class swing voters? We have some striking new research about that. Katie Rader joins the Start Making Sense podcast to discuss the issues that are most likely to mobilize them.

Also on this episode: Doctors these days are caught between caught between the Hippocratic oath–“first, do no harm” — and “the realities of making a profit from people at their sickest and most vulnerable.” Eyal Press is on the show to report on the ways doctors are fighting back.  Transcript HERE   6-22-2023

Cornel West Should Not Be Running for President; plus the GOP vs. Divorce

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Cornel West is running for president as a third party candidate, so he’s not going to get many votes. Nevertheless, Joan Walsh argues, he could discourage Democrats from voting, which would make Trump’s election more likely.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: you might think Republicans would take a breather after banning abortion in the states they control, but no! Instead, they’ve set their sights on a new target: no-fault divorce. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt is on the podcast to discuss.  6-15-2023

The Far Right’s Takeover of Shasta County, plus the Enslaved Black Family: Sasha Abramsky on politics, Brenda Stevenson on history

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Shasta County, California, north of San Francisco, is a pretty place, but right wing extremists have taken over the Board of Supervisors there. They’ve driven out public health workers and pushed to make the county what they call a “Second Amendment sanctuary.” They’re dubbing it a blueprint for the rest of the nation. The Nation’s Sasha Abramsky reports.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense, historian Brenda Stevenson dissects the Black family both under slavery and after. Stevenson is the author of a new book on the history of the enslaved black family, titled “What Sorrows Labour in My Parent’s Breast.”  6-8-2023

Is Planned Parenthood Too Cautious? Plus: Writing and Politics

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Has Planned Parenthood gotten too cautious and too corporate? Are the risk managers running the organization? Eyal Press reports on the courage of independent abortion services, and the failures of Planned Parenthood.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: What does it mean to be a politically committed writer? That’s the central question of Adam Shatz’s talks new book, “Writers and Missionaries: Essays on the Radical imagination.” He joins the podcast to discuss. Shatz is The Nation’s former literary editor and the US editor of the London Review of Books.  5-25-2023

Jeffrey Toobin on the Roots of Jan. 6; Adam Hochschild on Anti-Woke History

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The ideological roots of the January 6 insurrection go back decades before Trump entered politics — back to the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. Jeffrey Toobin joins the podcast to explain. His new book is Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: Ron DeSantis is campaigning for president promising to “stop woke history.” That is, to stop teaching about slavery and its legacy of institutional racism. Adam Hochschild found the history guide DeSantis wants: the Hillsdale College “1776 Curriculum.” He reports on what’s in it —and what’s not.  5-18-2023