Start Making Sense

Organizing at Amazon: What Went Wrong? Jane McAlevey, plus Amy Wilentz on Hunter Biden

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The union organizing campaign at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, was defeated by a vote of 1798 against and 738 in favor. Jane McAlevey argues that the biggest factor in the vote was the laws that give tremendous advantages to the corporate side—but the union itself made a series of tactical and strategic errors. Jane is The Nation’s strikes correspondent.
Also: Hunter Biden was the target of a massive Republican attack campaign for more than a year leading up to the election; at the same time, the gossip pages seized on his disastrous private life. They made the most of his decades of alcohol addiction and drug abuse, and his subsequent affair with the widow of his brother. Now he’s written a book—it’s called Beautiful Things: A Memoir. Amy Wilentz comments.  4-14-2021

The Fight Against Voter Suppression: Dale Ho on Georgia, plus Karen Greenberg on Ending our Forever Wars

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There’s one political prediction that always comes true: record turnout in one election will be followed by a tidal wave of voter suppression efforts before the next one. So it’s not surprising that, after 2020 had record turnout, 2021 is seeing voting rights under attack nationwide by Republican-controlled state legislatures. Georgia has taken the lead—and Georgia is being challenged in court by the ACLU, along with the LDF and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dale Ho comments: he’s Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
Also: Joe Biden and Congress should end our forever wars–and they can–by starting with three key steps: Karen Greenberg explains. She is director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and author, most recently, of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. 4-7-2021

Global Corporate Taxes: Harold Meyerson; LA’s Homeless: Ananya Roy; “Man Who Sold His Skin”: Ella Taylor

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For nearly half a century, America’s leading corporations have offshored work — to lands where labor is cheap, and they’ve also offshored profits — to lands where taxes are low. Now Joe Biden and the Democrats are trying to do something about that. Harold Meyerson explains.
Also: Protest continues to grow over the recent displacement by the LAPD of the homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake, which the mayor declared a success. Ananya Roy comments–she’s a professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Geography at UCLA, and is director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy.
Plus: Critic Ella Taylor reviews “The Man Who Sold His Skin,” the Tunisian film about a refugee that’s been nominated for an Oscar, and the British film “Moffie.”  4-8-2021

How Kyrsten Sinema Sold Out: Aída Chávez; Breyer Should Retire: Joan Walsh

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The political transformation of Kyrsten Sinema, the new senator from Arizona: She’s one of the two most conservative Democrats in the Senate—but Aida Chavez explains that she started out to the left of the Party.
Also: Should Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retire? He’s 82, and apparently healthy and competent—but his retirement would give Biden a chance to nominate a younger person—he’s promised a Black woman—while the Democrats control the Senate. Joan Walsh comments.  3-31-21

Covid Vaccines: Big Pharma Profits while the Global South Waits–Gregg Gonsalves; John Nichols on Ron Johnson

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The arrival of multiple vaccines against Covid-19 in less than a year after the virus’s emergence is sort of a miracle—but there’s nothing miraculous about the failure of donor nations, along with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, to prepare for, and mount, a global vaccination campaign. Gregg Gonsalves comments.
Also: now that Trump is gone, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has become the leading Republican voice of conspiracy theories and the leading defender of the attack on the capitol on January 6. But will he run for reelection next year? John Nichols explains.  3-24-21

How the Democrats can Win in Ohio: Steve Phillips, plus Carol Sobel on Black Lives Matter and the LAPD

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One of the senate seats being abandoned by a Republican incumbent is in Ohio.  Can Democrats win that seat?  It’s going to be hard  For the last decade Ohio has elected only one Democrat to statewide office–one of our heroes, Senator Sherrod Brown.  Steve Phillips thinks they can send a second Democrat to the Senate from Ohio next year—by following the Georgia playbook and focusing on turning out voters of color.
Also: Black Lives Matter versus the LAPD: a new official report in Los Angeles says the police in LA violated the law by attacking and arresting BLM marchers in last summer’s protests. Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel explains.  3-18-21

Mike Davis: ‘Beware the light at the end of the covid tunnel’; plus Amy Wilentz on Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’

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It’s been almost exactly a year since the covid lockdown began – 220 million Americans have died of Covid-19, and now 90 million Americans have gotten at least one shot of the covid vaccine.  We could have herd immunity in July. But Mike Davis points to the proliferation of variants of the virus and says “beware the light at the end of the covid tunnel.”
Also:  Michelle Obama’s memoir is out now in paperback – It’s called “Becoming,” and it has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide in hardcover, and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, NPR, and a dozen other places.  But the book avoids politics—which seems strange for the person the New York Times called “the most outspoken first lady in modern history.”  Amy Wilentz comments.  (originally broadcast in November 2018)   3-10-21

Parents in Prison: Chesa Boudin; Protest in Haiti: Amy Wilentz

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Chesa Boudin, the recently elected district attorney of San Francisco, talks about prisoners as parents—he grew up with parents in prison (David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin), and wrote about it for The Nation.
Also: Amy Wilentz reports on the huge protests in Port-au-Prince last Sunday, the biggest in decades, and asks: Why is the Biden administration following Trump when it comes to US policies in Haiti?  3-5-21

Katha Pollitt: Trumpers Among Us; Eric Foner: Will Smith’s “Amend” on Netflix

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What are we going to do about the 74 million people who voted for Trump? Katha Pollitt has been thinking about that—and about proposals that we should try to find common ground with the 75 percent who have told pollsters they think Trump “definitely” or “probably” won the election.
Also: Historian Eric Foner talks about Will Smith’s 6-part series on Netflix on the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, which established birthright citizenship and guaranteed equal protection to all “persons”—the series, with a stellar cast, is called Amend. 2-24-2021

Republicans after Trump: Rick Perlstein; Biden and Economic Recovery: Alan Minsky

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The Republicans after the second impeachment: As Mitch McConnell takes the lead in trying to purge Trump from the party, how divided are they? And how much weaker as a result? Rick Perlstein comments—he’s the author of the new book Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976-1980—widely regarded as the best political book of last year.
Also: Biden and the Democrats still have to succeed at changing things enough to win new supporters—and now that impeachment is finished, his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill takes the center of the political stage, including the $15 minimum wage. Alan Minsky comments on that, and on the longer term problem of restoring American manufacturing—he’s Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America.  2-18-21