Start Making Sense

Bill McKibben: From Coal and Gas to Wind and Sun; plus Maia Szalavitz on the Opioid Epidemic and Sean Wilentz on Impeachment

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To replace coal and oil, do we need nuclear power?  Is switching from coal powered electric plants to natural gas a step in the right direction?  And what lessons can we draw from the recent victories—and setbacks–for the climate movement in California?  Bill McKibben has some answers–and some ideas about how to get to a Green New Deal.  Bill’s new book, “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?”, will be published on April 16.
Plus: The House Judiciary Committee is moving toward impeachment proceedings, and asking what kind of precedents—and what kind of lessons–can be found in the Republican effort to impeach Bill Clinton 20 years ago.  Sean Wilentz comments–he’s an award-winning historian who teaches at Princeton.  He writes for the New York Times, the New Republic, Rolling Stone, and the New York Review, where he wrote recently about the Clinton impeachment.
Also: what can we do to reduce the death toll in the current epidemic of opioid overdoses?  Maia Szalavitz suggests our focus should be on harm reduction, and especially on the creation of safe injection sites—Philadelphia may be the first US city to follow the example of Vancouver and many West European cities.  3/7/19

Michelle Goldberg: Trump marks the end of the Reagan era; plus George Zornick on Elizabeth Warren & Michael Walzer on Movement Organizing

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The time is right for a Green New Deal, . Trump’s presidency is not the end of Democracy, says New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg.  Despite what some of our friends have suggested, what we are seeing the end of a political cycle, the one that began in 1980 with Reagan. And now, it’s time for something new.  that means the time is right for a Green New Deal.
Also: For years Elizabeth Warren has been talking about how the political system is rigged by the rich and powerful. But suddenly her position seems almost mainstream among Democrats–almost every contender for the Democratic nomination is rejecting corporate PAC money. George Zornick has our report.
And we’ll talk about movement politics with Michael Walzer–about strategies and tactics and issues and candidates. His new book is “Political Action: A Practical Guide to Movement Politics.”  3-7-19

Michelle Goldberg: The Time is Right for a Green New Deal; plus George Zornick on Elizabeth Warren and Michael Walzer on Movement Politics

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Trump’s presidency is not the end of Democracy, as some of our friends have suggested.  Instead we are seeing the end of a political cycle, the one that began in 1980 with Reagan.  And now, it’s time for something new—and that could be a Green New Deal.  New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg comments.
Also: For years Elizabeth Warren has been talking about how the political system is rigged by the rich and powerful.  But suddenly her position seems almost mainstream among Democrats–almost every contender for the Democratic nomination is rejecting corporate PAC money.  George Zornick has our report.
And we’ll talk about movement politics with Michael Walzer–about strategies and tactics and issues and candidates.  His new book is “Political Action: A Practical Guide to Movement Politics.” 2/28/19

Naomi Klein: To Fight Climate Change, We Have to Radically Rethink What Is Possible; plus Dahlia Lithwick and Manuel Pastor

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Naomi Klein says the Green New Deal needs to follow the example of the New Deal of the 1930s, when nothing would have happened without “massive pressure from social movements” that “changed the calculus of what was possible.” Naomi is a contributing editor at The Nation and author of several number one bestsellers, including “This Changes Everything.”
Plus Dahlia Lithwick talks about the national challenge to Trump’s “national emergency”—the constitutional issues, the political issues, and the dangers of treating as normal his rambling, fact-free, egomaniacal performance in the Rose Garden announcing his “emergency.” Dahlia writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast ‘Amicus.’
And we’ll also look at California’s resistance to Donald Trump: Manuel Pastor will explain the past, the present, and the future of the fights over climate justice and immigration between the biggest state and the worst president. Manuel’s new book is “State of Resistance.” 2/20/19

Child Care for All belongs on the Progressive Agenda: Katha Pollitt, plus David Klion on Bernie’s foreign policy and Antony Loewenstein on Afghanistan

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Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage – and how about adding Child care for all to the Progressive agenda?  That’s Katha Pollitt’s proposal—she argues it will help huge numbers of people.
Also: Bernie’s foreign policy: in 2016 he ran on domestic issues almost exclusively. This time around, if he runs—and it looks like he will–he’s going to say more about foreign policy—a lot more. David Klion explains; he’s profiled Bernie’s foreign policy advisor, Matt Duss.
Plus: Peace in Afghanistan?  Trump says it’s close – and Antony Loewenstein says it will bring massive corruption around mining the minerals of that country—and do nothing to help local communities.  2/13/19

The State of the Union is Not Good: John Nichols on Trump, plus Sasha Abramsky on TPS and Elizabeth Kolbert on climate change

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John Nichols says that, although Trump’s State of the Union speech included a call to “embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” his actual proposals were “cynical and crude.”
Also: Temporary Protected Status—TPS—has allowed immigrants and refugees from half a dozen countries to stay in the United States for decades—but now Trump is trying to get rid of all of them. Sasha Abramsky reports on the human toll of this cruel policy.
Plus: Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker on Trump, climate change, and species extinction—she says “we need courage, not hope.” Her book The Sixth Extinction won the Pulitzer Prize.  2/6/19

2019 Will Be the Worst Year of Trump’s Life: John Nichols on politics, plus Sarah Jaffe on the LA teachers strike, and Sean Wilentz on slavery and the constitution

What will 2019 be like for Trump? Will it be like Nixon in 1974—the Watergate year, which ended with his resignation? Or more like Clinton in 1998—the Monica year, which culminated with an impeachment trial in the Senate in 1999? He won that vote easily and came out more popular than before. John Nichols looks at the investigations coming up in the House, leading us to conclude that 2019 will be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life.
Also: The LA teachers’ strike is, among other things, a battle over the future of the Democratic party: will it embrace austerity and the steady erosion of social services, or will it fund the progressive agenda? Sarah Jaffe reports.
And Americans have always struggled over the place of black people in America, starting at the beginning, with the Constitution. Was the Constitution a pro-slavery document? Or, as Lincoln argued, did it point toward abolition? We ask Sean Wilentz—his new book is No Property in Man.  1/24/19

The anti-immigrant temptation on the left: David Adler on politics, Pedro Noguera on the LA teachers strike, and Kate Aronoff on the battle of ideas

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A political movement combining a left-wing economic program with anti-immigrant initiatives: it’s developing right now in Germany and France – could it happen here? David Adler explains: he’s the Policy Coordinator for the European Spring — Europe’s first transnational party, led by Yanis Varoufakis. He writing has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, and Jacobin—and now he has the cover story in the new issue of The Nation.
Also: 31,000 teachers are on strike right now in Los Angeles–it’s the biggest strike in a long time in the second biggest school district in the country, with 600,000 students. And it’s not just about salaries and benefits; the teachers say they want smaller classes, which means more teachers. Pedro Noguera reports.
Plus: Like everybody else on the left, we’re excited about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her proposal for a Green New Deal –but “the Left needs more than good ideas”–that’s what Kate Aronoff says. We need to change the economic and political consensus shaped by the right and build a political and intellectual infrastructure that can match theirs.  1/16/19

The Issues Republicans Are Afraid to Touch: Harold Meyerson on Politics, plus Aaron Maté on Russiagate and Alex Press on Amazon workers

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Now that the Democrats are in charge in the House of Representatives, Harold Meyerson says, we can learn a lot about progressive political opportunities by studying “the Republican dogs that didn’t bark in the night” – the political issues Republicans didn’t attack in the recent elections–because they have widespread public support. Harold is executive editor of The American Prospect and a regular contributor to the LA Times op-ed page.
Also: Aaron Maté says new studies show that Russian social-media involvement in US politics in the recent election was small, amateurish, and mostly unrelated to the candidates—and that pundits have exaggerated the effects of Russian trolls posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Plus: now that the holidays are over, it’s time to talk about the hundreds of thousands of workers who were Christmas temporaries at Amazon warehouses – Amazon calls them “seasonal associates” and describes the places they work as “fullfillment centers.” Alex Press explains—she’s an assistant editor at Jacobin. 1/10/19

The Best of 2018: Seymour Hersh on Trump, Barbara Ehrenreich on ‘Wellness,’ and Amos Oz Remembered

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Our most popular interviews of the year, starting with Seymour Hersh, one of our heroes; he says “don’t underestimate Trump.” He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his expose of the My Lai massacre—he was a 33-year-old freelancer at the time. Since then, he’s won pretty much every other journalism award. He’s worked as a staff writer for The New York Times and The New Yorker. He’s also written a dozen books, most recently ‘Reporter: A Memoir.’
Also: Barbara Ehrenreich is another hero of ours– the author of more than a dozen books, including the unforgettable “Nickel and Dimed.” Now she has a new book out, a bestseller, and it’s terrific: it’s called “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainly of Dying, and killing ourselves to live longer.”
Finally, Amos Oz died on Dec 28 –He was an Israeli novelist and unyielding critic of the occupation of the West Bank and a campaigner for a two state solution. His novels were translated into dozens of languages, and he also wrote for The Nation. Here we revisit an interview we did with him in 2004, about mideast politics.  1/2/19