Start Making Sense

It’s Not Just Joe Manchin: Joan Walsh on ‘Moderate’ Democrats, plus Kai Bird on Jimmy Carter

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Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are not the only Democrats opposed to filibuster reform—Dianne Feinstein says she won’t vote for it, either. And there are more Democrats in the Senate staying the same thing. But without filibuster reform, the rest of the Democrats’ agenda is dead—starting with protection of voting rights and elections. What’s wrong with these people? Joan Walsh comments.
Also: Many people think of Jimmy Carter as a failure as president, the Democrat who opened the door to Reagan, and the only president whose work after leaving office was better than his work in office. Kai Bird says that’s wrong—Carter had more accomplishments, and was more complicated, than people realized. Kai’s new book is called The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter.  6-16-2021

What Does Joe Manchin Want? John Nichols on Filibuster Reform, plus Amy Wilentz on Israeli Politics

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Republicans are not just making it harder to vote—they’re making it easier for judges and state legislatures to reverse the results of elections they have lost.  Congressional action could block these changes—but that requires filibuster reform, and Joe Manchin says he won’t vote for filibuster reform.  What does Joe Manchin want?  John Nichols comments.
Also: Amy Wilentz comments on the earthquake in Israeli politics: the end of Bibi Netanyahu, after 12 years as Prime Minister, and a new governing coalition that includes for the first time in Israeli history and an Israeli Palestinian Islamist party as part of the government.  Amy, who was Jerusalem bureau chief for The New Yorker, talks about what this might mean for Palestinians inside Israel, and on the West Bank and in Gaza. 6-9-2021

White Politics and Black History in Tulsa: David Perry on the Massacre Commemoration, plus Katha Pollitt on Advice for Men

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Joe Biden went to Tulsa on Tuesday to commemorate the fact that, 100 years ago this week, in 1921, a white mob attacked an all-Black neighborhood there–one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.  Historians think it left 300 dead and 10,000 homeless. David M. Perry comments on the political issues around the historical facts — he’s a journalist and historian whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Nation.
Plus: Katha Pollitt talks about a new book of advice for men – Jordan Peterson’s “Rules” start with “stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”   6-2-2021

Democrats, Israel, and Palestine: John Nichols, plus Robin D.G. Kelley on “Exterminate All the Brutes”

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While Joe Biden has pledged an “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” many Democrats in Congress, and outside of Congress, have been moving away from unquestioning support for Israel since the Israeli attacks on Gaza last week. John Nichols reports.
Plus: It’s probably the most radical show that’s ever been on TV: Exterminate All the Brutes, the 4-part, 4-hour documentary about colonialism and genocide, by Raoul Peck, playing now on HBO Max. Historian Robin D.G. Kelley comments.  5-26-2021

Palestinians’ “Second Front’ Inside Israel: Saree Makdisi, plus Eric Foner on “The Underground Railroad”

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Palestinians and Israel: Saree Makdisi talks about what Netanyahu has called “the second front”: Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are increasingly subject to attack by right-wing Jewish mobs, and who are increasingly active in support of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Gaza (photo at right). Saree is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the London Review of Books, as well as The Nation.
Also: The big TV event of the month-—maybe of the year—is The Underground Railroad, a ten-part series on Amazon Prime Video, directed by Barry Jenkins and based on the Colson Whitehead novel. It’s being called “the most ambitious take on American slavery since Roots”—and that was on TV almost 40 years ago. Eric Foner comments on the imagined and real history in the series; he wrote the book on the hidden history of the underground railroad: it’s called Gateway to Freedom.  5-19-2021

Shifts Among Dems on Israel: Harold Meyerson; Palestinians Inside Israel: Saree Makdisi; “The Underground Railroad”: Ella Taylor

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Harold Meyerson talks about breakthroughs in the House and the Senate on Palestinian human rights–including a Senate letter from Dems initiatied by Jon Ossoff.  Also: remember Jared Kushner’s mideast peace plan?
Plus: The Palestinians’ ‘Second Front,” inside Israel: Saree Makdisi explains the roles of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the current crisis.
Also: our TV Critic Ella Taylor talks about “Crime of the Century,” the new Alex Gibney documentary on HBO about how Big Pharma pushed Oxycontin, which has killed half a million Americans.  5-19-2021

Palestinian Lives–and Deaths: Rachel Kushner on refugees and Adam Shatz on Edward Said

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Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been escalating this week.  For this podcast we have two segments about Palestinians; neither is about the current crisis, which changes daily. Rachel Kushner visited a Palestinian refugee camp in 2016 – Shuafat, the only one inside Jerusalem – alongside a community organizer as he tried to solve massive problems. Her report, published originally in the New York Times Magazine, appears in her new book of nonfiction, “The Hard Crowd.”
And Adam Shatz talks about Edward Said, the leading voice of Palestinians in the US before he died in 2010.  Said was also The Nation’s classical music critic, and Adam Shatz, now an editor for the London Review of Books, was The Nation’s literary editor–his work included editing Edward Said’s pieces for the magazine.  5-12-2021

Rapists, Misogynists, Creeps, and their Books: Katha Pollitt on Blake Bailey, plus Louis Menand on Cold War Culture

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Blake Bailey’s new book about Philip Roth was taken out of print by the publisher after Bailey was accused of rape and attempted rape and “grooming” his teenage students for sex with him when they reached 18. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt argues that, while she believes the women—Bailey probably was a rapist, as well as a misogynist and a creep—readers should nevertheless have the chance to buy the book and come to their own conclusions.
Also: Literature, art, and the idea of ‘freedom’ during the Cold War, from George Orwell to James Baldwin to The Family of Man: Louis Menand has been thinking about all of this. His new book is The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War. Menand teaches at Harvard and writes for The New Yorker.  5-5-2021

Mazie Hirono: Reform the Filibuster! plus Tim Schwab on Bill Gates, and Katha Pollitt on Dr. Seuss

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Mazie Hirono, Senator from Hawaii: She’s the only immigrant currently serving in the Senate, and she was the first Asian American woman elected to that office, starting in 2013. She talks about the need for filibuster reform and Supreme Court reform, about the storming of the capitol on January 6, and about her vote on Amy Coney Barrett: “Hell No.” Her new autobiography is Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story.
Also: Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, has spent the last 20 years giving away his money—through a $50 billion foundation. But who exactly has he been giving that money to? Tim Schwab has some answers—his three reports in The Nation on the Gates Foundation just won this year’s Izzy Award, named after I.F. Stone and awarded by the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College “for outstanding achievement in independent media” during 2020.
Plus: We’re still thinking about how Dr. Seuss Enterprises took six of his books out of print because they contained racist drawings. Right-wing media were pushing this story nonstop; according to a recent poll, more Republicans said they’d heard “a lot” about the move to withdraw some Dr. Seuss books than said the same about Biden’s huge Covid-19 relief bill. Katha Pollitt comments.  4-28-2021

The Chauvin Verdicts and the Movement That Made Them Possible: Jody Armour on Minneapolis, plus Mark Hertsgaard on Earth Day

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Guilty, guilty, guilty! The verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis made history—and came only after millions of people took to the streets, for months, in hundreds of cities across America; and only after a decade of sustained organizing by Black Lives Matter. Jody Armour comments—he’s the Roy Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, and author of N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law.
Also: Earth Day 2021 is the world’s largest civic event—three days of climate action by millions of people around the world, including Joe Biden hosting a global climate summit on April 22: and pledging to take bold action to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the US in the next ten years. Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environmental correspondent, says that for starters we need to start using the term “climate emergency” rather than “climate issue” or “climate crisis.”  4-21-2021