Start Making Sense

Amy Littlefield on the fight for Abortion Rights, plus Chesa Boudin on Progressive Prosecutors

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It’s all up to the states now, where activists are fighting to elect pro-choice candidates and strengthen laws protecting abortion rights, and grassroots groups are preparing an enormous logistics operation to move people across entire regions of the country that are about to go dark on abortion access. Amy Littlefield, The Nation’s abortion access correspondent, weighs in.

We also have the elected District Attorney of San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, on progressive prosecutors and their opponents. Progressive prosecutors have been pushing for criminal justice reform for a while now, Boudin explains, seeking to end mass incarceration and deal with police misconduct, which began with the election of Larry Krasner in 2017, followed by Boudin in 2019, and George Gascon in 2020. Of course, the defeated law and order forces pushed back. In San Francisco, opponents have collected enough signatures to force a recall vote on Boudin on June 7.  5-12-2022


Rebecca Solnit on How People Change and Why We Care; plus Eric Foner on 1776 and 2022

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Why did we stop believing that people can change? Don’t we want people who did bad things to understand the damage they caused? Don’t we want them to acknowledge it and make reparations? Bestselling author, Rebecca Solnit explains.

Also on this week’s show, Historian Eric Foner comments on the ways Republicans have made the teaching of American history a key battleground in their culture war against Democrats in the upcoming elections —especially the history of the American revolution.  5-5-2022

David Nasaw on Biden’s disgraceful Ukrainian refugee policy and Katha Pollitt on what abortion opponents are really thinking

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Biden’s “new and improved” procedure for admitting Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. is “disgraceful.” Historian and Nation contributor, David Nasaw joins us to discuss the shortcomings of the policy, and how it excludes all asylum-seekers who aren’t white and European.

Also: Abortion and its opponents. Do opponents of abortion really believe abortion providers are “baby-killers”? There’s some new research about that that found opponents help family members and friends get abortions. Katha Pollitt explains.  4-28-2022

Jane McAlevey on Amazon Workers’ Next Big Battles and Margo Jefferson on “Constructing a Nervous System”

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The Amazon workers on Staten Island have won a historic victory—but now they must prepare to strike, and to win support for their strike from the community power structure. The Nation’s Strikes Correspondent, Jane McAlevey explains why, and how

Also on this week’s show, we have a conversation with Margo Jefferson about her new memoir, “Constructing a Nervous System.” Her earlier memoir, “Negroland,” won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and before that she won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism for her work as book and arts critic for the New York Times. She’s also written for The Nation.  4-21-2022

Gustavo Arellano on The Sheriff vs. Black L.A., and Michele Goodwin on Ketanji Brown Jackson

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The sheriff of Los Angeles County: he’s got 10,000 deputies, in America’s biggest county, with 10 million people – and he’s become LA’s biggest political problem as he faces reelection. LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, recently interviewed the LA sheriff, Alex Villanueva, and is on the show to talk about the LAPD’s war on L.A.’s black community.

Also: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson won’t be seated on the Supreme Court until late June, but we’re still thinking about the significance of her confirmation as America’s first Black female supreme court justice and of that horrible confirmation hearing she endured. We have UC Irvine Law professor and Nation contributor, Michele Goodwin on the show to reflect.  4-14-2022

How the Ukraine War Could End: Anatol Lieven; Plus E.J. Dionne & Miles Rapoport: 100% Voting

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How could the war in Ukraine end? Anatol Lieven says Russia could gain control of the entire Donbass region and then declare a cease-fire – but if we want Russia to withdraw, we’ve got to give it incentives to do so. Lieven is a senior fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and a contributor to The Nation.

Also: What if everybody voted? What if voting was a duty, not just a right, an obligation, something like jury duty? E.J. Dionne and Miles Rapoport explain; their new book is 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting.  4-7-2022

Joan Walsh on Ginni Thomas, and Astra Taylor on Abolishing Student Debt

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Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will be called to testify before the House Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. Joan Walsh has our analysis of the text messages she sent supporting the riot, and of their significance for the court — as well as our politics.

Also: Monday April 4 is the Day Of Action to Abolish Student Debt, when thousands of young people will gather in Washington D.C. to say “Pick Up the Pen, Joe” — and abolish student debt via executive action. Astra Taylor will explain; she’s co-founder of the Debt Collective.  3-31-2022

Fighting about the Constitution: Fishkin & Forbath, plus P.E. Moskowitz on antidepressants

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The Senate confirmation hearings for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, have been following a familiar script: opponents look for scandal, and nominees say very little about how they’ll decide cases. Progressives instead should be arguing—inside and outside the hearings—that the Constitution requires protecting our “republican form of government” from becoming a “moneyed aristocracy” or “oligarchy,” Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath explain. Their new book is called The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy.

Also this week, P.E. Moskowitz talks about the dangers and the benefits of antidepressants, from both a scientific and personal perspective. Their piece, Breaking Off My Chemical Romance, is featured in The Nation’s new special issue on drugs.  3-24-2022

What The Media Should Be Doing During Wartime; plus: Comics As Propaganda

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Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder of Jacobin, has become President of The Nation. He joins us to talk about what independent media can and should do during wartime.  Also: Bhaskar on “the Left in Purgatory”– at the end of a period of rapid politicization, settling into either gradual decline or slow advance.

Plus: the changing politics of comic books, from WWII to today: critic J. Hoberman explains how comics served as wartime propaganda in the 1940s, how they were condemned as causing juvenile delinquency in the 1950s, how new kinds of superheroes emerged and then conquered Hollywood, and made billions for the studios–at a time when America was definitely NOT a superhero in the world. Hoberman reviewed the book “Pulp Empire” by Paul S. Hirsch.  3-17-2022

Jamie Raskin: Why It’s Been So Hard to Nail Trump; plus Michael Kazin on the Democrats

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Jamie Raskin, member of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, talks about the committee’s evidence against Trump–and the committee’s future if Republicans prevail in the midterms. He represents Maryland’s 8th District in the House, and was manager of Trump’s second impeachment trial. His new book is “Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy.”

Also: Historian Michael Kazin joins us to explain what the Democrats have done wrong ––and what they’ve done right–– not just in the last week, but in the last century. His new book is “What It Took to Win: A History of the Democratic Party.”  3-10-2022