Start Making Sense

We Have a Problem With White Men: They Support Trump—Kai Wright, plus Jill Lepore on Trump and History and Michael Kazin on Hubert Humphrey

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62 per cent of white men voted for Trump, 31 per cent for Clinton.  Kai Wright has our analysis–he’s host of WNYC’s podcast The United States of Anxiety, and he’s also a columnist for The Nation.  It’s easy to get confused by the crosscurrents of misogyny and racism and xenophobia, he argues; they are not  discrete issues, but rather “the interlocking tools of white men’s minority rule.”
Also: Trump’s place in American history: Jill Lepore of the Harvard history department and the New Yorker talks about her new book These Truths which starts in 1492 with Christopher Columbus, and ends in 2016 with Donald Trump.
And we’ll recall the 1968 presidential election, when Richard Nixon won, and many of our current problems began.  The man who almost defeated Nixon was Hubert Humphrey, the onetime Minnesota senator who had become LBJ’s vice president.  Anti-war activists hated Hubert Humphrey in 1968–Michael Kazin explains.  10/25/18

Can Progressive Momentum Transform The Democratic Party? Jeff Cohen, plus Sasha Abramsky on Arizona and Joan Walsh on Georgia

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What lessons have the Democrats learned from the disaster of 2016?  Jeff Cohen talks about the progressives’ fight to win the party away from dependence on corporate contributions —and instead to mobilize the grassroots.  Jeff is one of the co-authors of “Democratic Autopsy—One Year Later” at TheNation.com.
Also: Arizona is a red state, ground zero for Trump’s anti-immigrant politics, but it’s changing.  Sasha Abramsky has returned from Tucson, with a report on how and why the Democrats seem likely to flip a key House seat there.
Plus: A historic challenges to the Republicans is underway in Georgia, where Stacy Abrams is campaigning to become the state’s first black governor, and first female governor.  The polls have her tied with her opponent, a far-right figure endorsed by Trump.  Joan Walsh just got back from Georgia with a report.  10/18/18

Women’s Anger—and Kavanaugh’s Rage Rebecca Traister, plus David Cay Johnston on Trump’s tax crimes & John Nichols on impeaching Kavanaugh

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Rebecca Traister sees in the Kavanaugh hearings a typical case where women’s anger was marginalized or made to sound hysterical or infantile or threatening—but men’s anger was taken to be valid and righteous. But that is changing, she argues: women’s anger increasingly is “in the beating heart of many political and social movements.” Her new book is Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.
Also: David Cay Johnston talks about the “Mountain of Tax Cheating” by Donald Trump, as exposed in the massive New York Times report on where Trump’s money came from, and the violations of tax laws in his past. David is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter who has written for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and is now editor of DCReport.org.
Plus: What the Democrats can do about newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when they win the House in November and take control of the House Judiciary Committee in January: John Nichols talks about investigations that could lead to the filing of articles of impeachment. 10/10/18

Yes We Have an Activist Community Fighting Kavanaugh: Joan Walsh, plus D.D. Guttenplan on a new radical majority & Michelle Chen on the Fight for $15

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Joan Walsh explains why we lack confidence in the re-opened FBI background check into Kavanaugh’s past, and talks about the activists who are fighting the nomination, and the senators who need to be told “do not vote for this man.”
Plus: D.D. Guttenplan talks about some alternatives to those old white Republican men who shouted and pouted at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week–his new book is “The Next Republic: the Rise of a New Radical Majority.”
And while the eyes of the nation search for news on the FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, the hard work of fighting for social change goes on–for example in St. Paul, where a campaign for a $15 minimum wage is being fought right now.  Michelle Chen reports.

The Case Against Kavanaugh: Katha Pollitt; plus Harold Meyerson on the Financial Crisis and Mouin Rabbani on Oslo

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Katha Pollitt considers the arguments made by Brett Kavanaugh’s defenders in response to the charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old when he was 17, and the evidence supporting Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser.
Also: On the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, Harold Meyerson argues that the recovery was a disaster all over again—and that we are still suffering from its political consequences.  Harold is Executive Editor of The American Prospect.
Plus: 25 years ago, President Bill Clinton presided over a handshake on the White House grounds between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, agreeing to the Oslo Accords, which, we were told, laid the foundation for peace between Israel and a Palestinian state. Mouin Rabbani comments—he’s a fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies and a contributor to the London Review of Books and The Nation.  9/19/18

Fighting Climate Change—and Donald Trump: Bill McKibben; plus Steve Phillips on moderate Republicans and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on the inequality industry

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As world leaders (except for Trump) gather in San Francisco this week for the Global Climate Action Summit, Bill McKibben comments on California’s new law mandating 100 per cent clean electricity by 2045—and on the next task: keep oil and gas in the ground.
Also: Should Democratic strategy focus on winning the votes of moderate Republicans? Steve Phillips points to one key factor: there aren’t that many of them.  Steve is the author of the New York Times best seller, ‘Brown Is the New White: How a Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority.’
Plus: the inequality industry: Atossa Abrahamian examines the new focus on inequality at the IMF, the Ford Foundation, and other elite institutions, and argues that there’s a big political difference between seeking to reduce inequality, and fighting for a world of equality.  9/12/18

We’re at a “Which Side Are You On” Moment: Randi Weingarten,
plus Mark Hertsgaard on climate politics and David Cole on Kavanaugh

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In Oklahoma and West Virgina and Missouri, teachers have led amazingly successful battles against Republican budget-cutting and tax breaks for the wealthy. Although the Supreme Court’s Janus decision sought to cripple the ability of public sector unions to engage in politics, recent polls show that unions are more popular than ever. Randi Weingarten comments on the big picture of unions and politics – she’s president of the American Federation of Teachers, with 1.7 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide.
Also, At the California Global Climate Action Summit, in San Francisco next week, all the world’s major nations will be represented–except for our own government. Mark Hertsgaard reports on how California, under Governor Jerry Brown, has taken the lead in fighting climate change — and how climate activists have organized at the upcoming summit to demand that the governor end new oil and gas drilling. Mark wrote the cover story for The Nation’s special issue on climate politics.
Plus: Some questions for Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, from David Cole. The legal director of the ACLU and legal affairs correspondent for The Nation says some questions—about current cases—are inappropriate for Democrats to ask in the current confirmation hearings; but there are other questions—on Kavanaugh’s legal philosophy, and on his past statements and decisions—that he should be required to answer.  9/5/18

Melania Trump: Hero of the People? Amy Wilentz, plus Katha Pollitt on the Politics of Motherhood and Lee Saunders on Unions after Janus

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Amy Wilentz takes up the vital question, is Melania Trump a hero of the resistance—or an accomplice of evil? Is she edging “ever closer to open contempt for him,” as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni argues, and finding “increasingly clever ways to show it”? Or is she sticking with her role as wife to a racist tyrant with a clear history of infidelity, and lots of cash?
Also: how mothers and pregnant women are discriminated against and punished – here at home, and around the world. Katha Pollitt talks about how that has happened—and why.
And as Labor Day approaches, we talk labor unions and politics with Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME. His union was the target of that decision by the Supreme Court in June, when it ruled, 5-4, that government workers who choose NOT to join unions may NOT be required to help pay for collective bargaining. Saunders explains what unions are doing to fight back – in the November election, and in the long run. 8/29/18

Centrism Is Not the Answer! Gary Younge; plus Todd Gitlin on 1968 and Farah Griffin on Aretha

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Centrism lost for the Democrats in 2016, and it will lose again in 2018, Gary Younge argues: the party needs not just to oppose Trump, but also to put forward an alternative vision that can earn the support of working-class Americans. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shown how to do it, running on a program of tuition-free higher education, Medicare for all, and a federal jobs guarantee.
Plus: Trump’s 1968 – and ours. In August 1968, 50 years ago this week, young antiwar demonstrators fought the police outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, while the whole world was watching. It was the culmination of an overwhelming year for the anti-war movement. But where was young Donald Trump? Todd Gitlin explains–he’s an activist, a sociologist, and author of “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.”
Also: Aretha Franklin, who died last week, was a musical genius who seems unique; but she came out of a specific place and time: Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s. Farah Griffin, Professor of Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, comments—and explains the central role Aretha played in Angela Davis’s fight for freedom after facing capital charges in California in 1970. Also: Aretha and Obama—at the beginning of his presidency, at his inauguration, and at the Kennedy Center concert at the end.

A Golden Age for News Media under Trump? John Nichols; plus Harold Meyerson on Kavanaugh and Nomi Prins on Trump and Economic Entropy

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The Age of Trump, despite the opportunities it brings to investigative journalism, is hardly a “golden age”, John Nichols argues: cutbacks and layoffs have crippled the nation’s news media—not just in covering the White House, but state and local government as well.  The New York Daily News provides a vivid example of the crisis.
Also: The Democrats need to retake control of the Senate if they are to have a chance of preventing Trump from transforming the Supreme Court into a right-wing bulwark.  Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect analyzes the political battles in key states—and the factors that may weaken Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings.
Plus: Trump has done something genuinely new as president: he specializes in creating uncertainty.  Nomi Prins explains the economic consequences for us, and for our future. 8-8-18