Start Making Sense

Palestinian Lives And Deaths: Rachel Kushner and Adam Shatz

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For this week’s Start Making Sense podcast we have two archival segments about Palestinians; neither is about the current war.

In 2016, Rachel Kushner visited Shuafat, the only Palestinian refugee camp inside Jerusalem. She went alongside a community organizer as he tried to solve massive problems. Her report, published originally in the New York Times Magazine, appears in her 2021 book of nonfiction, The Hard Crowd.

Also on this episode, Adam Shatz talks about Edward Said, the leading voice of Palestinians in the US before he died in 2003. 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.

(This show was first broadcast in May, 2021)

Transcript HERE  11-16-2023

Abortion and the Democrats: John Nichols, plus Gaza and History: Fintan O’Toole

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Tuesday’s vote tested the potency of abortion rights as an issue for Democrats, with a referendum in Ohio and the election of a new state legislature in Virginia. John Nichols has our analysis of those elections, and some others.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: What is Israel’s endgame in its war with Hamas? Over the past 50 years they’ve tried two radically different strategies in Gaza, and neither succeeded. Fintan O’Toole explains that history. He teaches at Princeton and is an advising editor at the New York Review of Books, where he’s been writing about Israel, Hamas, and Gaza.

Transcript HERE  11-9-2023

After a Gaza Cease-fire: D.D. Guttenplan; plus the UAW Victory

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A cease-fire in Gaza is only the beginning of what Israel and the Palestinians need. D.D. Guttenplan, The Nation’s editor, argues that “both peoples will have to find a way to share the land—in peace, yes, but also with justice.”

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: victory for the United Auto Workers in their strike against the big three automakers, GM, Ford, and Stellantis. Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect, explains what’s in the new contract, and what it took to get there.

Transcript HERE  11-2-2023

Adam Shatz on Israelis, Palestinians, and Hamas

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In response to Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7, Adam Shatz says Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life has never been more callous or more flagrant. But Israel can’t extinguish Palestinian resistance by violence any more than the Palestinians can win an Algerian-style liberation war.

The only thing that can save the people of Israel and Palestine is a political solution that recognizes both as equal citizens. Shatz is the former literary editor of The Nation and now US editor of the London Review of Books, where he wrote about Israel and Gaza.

Transcript HERE  10-26-2023

Gaza and Us: Amy Wilentz

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Israel and Gaza, Hamas and the Palestinians, war crimes and mideast history: On this episode of the Start Making Sense podcast, we have comment and analysis from Amy Wilentz, Nation contributor and former Jerusalem correspondent of The New Yorker.

Transcript HERE  10-19-2023

The UAW’s Historic Victory—Plus, Elon Musk and American Democracy

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The UAW won a historic victory in their strike against GM—an agreement that EV workers will be covered by the union contract. Harold Meyerson explains, and also comments on Israel’s war against Hamas.

Also: Elon Musk has been a leader in the transition to renewable energy, and has made Twitter into a threat to democracy. He has become the face of 21st-century capitalism. David Nasaw has our analysis.

Transcript HERE  10-12-2023

Bill McKibben: Power to the People in Maine, plus Clinton’s ‘Fabulous Failure’

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Voters in Maine will decide next month whether to turn the state’s private utilities public. If that happens, it would be a huge step toward dealing with the climate crisis, and a model for other states. Bill McKibben explains — of course he’s an author and environmentalist and co-founder of, currently working with the new environmental group Third Act, for people over 60.

Also: Our politics today is haunted by the failures of Bill Clinton—the “centrist” who “triangulated” with Republicans, lost on healthcare, and proclaimed that “The era of big government is over.”  Nelson Lichtenstein explains Clinton’s turn to the right, and the lessons for today’s Democrats – his new book on Clinton is “A Fabulous Failure.”  10-5-2023

Dahlia Lithwick on Voting Rights, plus Katha Pollitt on ‘The Forgotten Girls”

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The right-wing super-majority on the Supreme Court has returned to a case about racial gerrymandering in Alabama, where Republicans have defied the Court’s order. Dahlia Lithwick will comment about that, and about her book “Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America”—it’s out now in paperback.

Also: Two girls grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in a small town in Arkansas. One made it out and became a successful journalist and writer; her best friend, who had been super smart as a kid, fell into drugs, getting pregnant too young, and petty crime. How did their lives turn out so different? Katha Pollitt talks about the new memoir by Monica Potts, “The Forgotten Girls.”

Transcript HERE  9-28-2023

Trump and the Auto Strike, plus the Politics of Insecurity: Nelson Lichtenstein plus Astra Taylor

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Trump and the UAW strike, plus ‘manufactured insecurity’: Nelson Lichenstein plus Astra Taylor

The UAW strike against Detroit’s Big Three is rapidly becoming a major political battle as Donald Trump speaks to auto workers in Detroit, challenging Biden’s massive initiatives for America’s transition to electric vehicles. Nelson Lichtenstein provides historical perspective on what’s at stake.

Also: there are two kinds of insecurity in our lives today, Astra Taylor argues: existential insecurity, the unavoidable issues of life and death, and manufactured insecurity—intended to make workers more submissive to authority. Communal action can do a lot to reduce that. Her new book is “The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together As Things Fall Apart.”

Transcript HERE  9-21-2023

Gary Younge: from Mandela to Black Lives Matter; plus Amy Wilentz on Haiti in September

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Gary Younge, the award-winning former columnist for The Guardian, talks about Black writing and Black writers—and his own writing about Mandela, Obama, Trayvon Martin, and Claudette Colvin.

Also on this episode of Start Making Sense, the news from Haiti, where the UN, with US support, is authorizing a new security force. Made up of mostly Kenyan troops, it’s supposed to restore “law and order” in Port-au-Prince. The Nation’s Amy Wilentz is on the podcast to report.

Transcript HERE  9-15-2023