Start Making Sense

Naomi Klein: Pandemic Capitalism and the Black Lives Matter Protests; plus Zoe Carpenter on Portland and Ivy Meeropol on Roy Cohn

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The pandemic has slowed the speed of life under capitalism, Naomi Klein suggests in her recent conversation with Katrina vanden Heuvel—and that has created greater empathy and solidarity, expressed in the unprecedented support for the Movement for Black Lives. But the “Screen New Deal”—the virtual classroom and workplace—are bringing greater isolation and increasing corporate power.
Plus: Zoë Carpenter reports from Portland on the ominous developments there involving federal agents in camouflage in the streets attacking protesters—over the objections of local and state officials—which Trump says he will take to other Democratic cities.
Also, how Roy Cohn gave us Donald Trump: Ivy Meeropol talks about her new documentary on Roy Cohn, “Bully. Coward. Victim.” It’s playing now on HBO on demand. 7-23-2020

To Fight the Virus We Need a Massive Campaign of Disruption: Gregg Gonsalves, plus Meagan Day on the Eviction Crisis

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The increasing number of cases of Covid-19, and of deaths, should be scary to everybody, Gregg Gonsalves says. A direct action campaign of disruption is necessary to bring the changes we need—something like the Act Up movement of the eighties. Gregg is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, and he writes regularly for The Nation about the pandemic.
Also: We’re heading for an eviction crisis. On July 31 the direct cash payments of the CARES act expire and right now Republicans in Congress are not renewing it or anything like it. That means millions of people won’t be able to pay their rent on August 1. Meagan Day comments—she’s coauthor of Bigger than Bernie: How We Go from the Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism.  7/15/2020

Mike Davis: The Problem with Dr. Fauci; plus Amy Wilentz on Ivanka, and Debbie Nathan on Rembering Sandra Bland

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Mike Davis argues that, while Dr. Anthony Fauci has been handed a golden opportunity to speak truth to power, America’s most respected doctor remains a team player in an administration bent on disaster.
Also: another episode of The Children’s Hour—Amy Wilentz with stories about Ivanka, Jared, Don Jr., and little Eric. This week, Ivanka is in trouble for wearing a mask—and Don Jr.’s girlfriend tests positive.
Plus: Black Lives Matter: Sandra Bland’s was one of them. This week is the fifth anniversary of the death of Bland in a Texas jail—July 13, 2015. What happened to Sandra Bland? To understand that, you have to begin way before she died. Debbie Nathan reports on the life, as well as the death, of Sandra Bland. (This segment originally broadcast in April, 2016). 7-8-2020

Defund—and Disarm—the Police: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, D.D. Guttenplan, and Zoë Carpenter

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Defunding the police and re-imagining public safety—in Los Angeles—starts with the LAPD, but includes the sheriffs, the school police, and the UCLA police force. Kelly Lytle Hernandez comments—she’s a professor of history at UCLA, she wrote City of Inmates, a history of the LA jails, and she’s the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant.
Also: it’s time to disarm the police. They didn’t always carry guns, and there are other big cities in the world where most cops are NOT armed—like London. D.D. Guttenplan, editor of The Nation, explains.
Also: Black Lives Matter protests are everywhere, even the most unlikely places: for example, Laramie, Wyoming; Florence, Alabama; and even Vidor, Texas—it’s a former Ku Klux Klan haven that Texas Monthly described as the state’s “most hate-filled town.” Nation contributing writer Zoë Carpenter reports.  7/2/2020

How Racism Works in a Liberal Democratic City: Michele Goodwin, plus Mia Birdsong on abolishing the police

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Michele Goodwin talks about her experiences of racism in daily life in Minneapolis—before she became Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California Irvine. Also: removing statues from the Capitol Building honoring traitors and defenders of slavery—there’s one that’s been overlooked: Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
Plus: In the current mobilization around Black lives, everyone can do something, even if it’s not marching in the streets—Mia Birdsong explains. She’s the host of  The Nation’s podcast More Than Enough, about universal basic income, and her TED talk has been viewed almost two million times. Now she has a new book out—it’s called How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community.  6/18/2020

The Protests, the Police, and Juneteenth: Robin Kelley, plus Dahlia Lithwick on Trump

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Juneteenth, a day of celebration and reflection for African Americans, is particularly significant in this season of protest and demands for change by Black Lives Matter. Historian Robin Kelley comments.
Also: The great thing about the protests of the past month is not just that they have been so massive, so sustained, so diverse, so inspiring—the best thing is that they are NOT about Trump. That’s what Dahlia Lithwick says—she hosts Slate’s podcast “Amicus.”  6-17-2020

The People vs. the Police: Jody Armour, plus Amy Wilentz on Ivanka and that Bible

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Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to reform police practices nationwide and hold bad cops responsible—while LA has spent decades trying to reform its police force. Jody Armour comments—he’s the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, and speaks widely on Black Lives Matter and the movement’s agenda. His book N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law will be published in August.
Also: Trump’s disastrous walk across Lafayette Square for that bible photo-op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church apparently was Ivanka’s idea—she’s also been tweeting Bible verses. Amy Wilentz, our Chief Ivanka Correspondent, has a report.  6-10-2020

America in Revolt: Elie Mystal, plus John Nichols with Keith Ellison

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Across America, protests against police violence are met with more police violence.  Elie Mystal talks about the failure of Democratic mayors in deep blue cities to stop their police forces from engaging in racist violence—especially Bill De Blasio in New York City.  Elie is The Nation’s Justice correspondent, and writes the magazine’s “Objection!” column.
Also: John Nichols has been speaking with Minnesota’s attorney general Keith Ellison about what has been happening in Minneapolis, and what is to be done about unending police violence against people of color. 6-3-2020

Thinking Big about politics and the virus: Mike Davis, plus Christopher Shay on the crisis, and Amy Wilentz on Jared and Ivanka

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It’s time to think big about the coronavirus crisis and the 40 million workers who have lost their jobs—while the rest struggle to hold on to what they’ve got.  Everything seems more fragile now, and the cruelty of the system has never been clearer. For some big thinking about where we need to go and how to get there, we turn—again—to Mike Davis.
Also: Christopher Shay talks about The Nation’s special issue on thinking big about the political requirements, and political opportunities, of this historic moment.  He’s a senior editor at The Nation.
And we have a new episode of The Children’s Hour, stories about Ivanka, Jared, Don Jr. and little Eric, told by Amy Wilentz—today, Jared’s failed effort to procure PPE for FEMA, and some outrageous remarks from Don Jr. and Eric—while Ivanka celebrates “exciting platforms the private sector has created to upskill our workforce!” (her exclamation point).  5/28/2020

Does the Evidence Support Joe Biden, or Tara Reade? Katha Pollitt; plus John Powers on TV during the pandemic

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Did Joe Biden sexually assault Tara Reade in 1993?  Katha Pollitt examines the evidence—and concludes that it supports Biden’s denial.  Especially significant: the PBS NewsHour interviews with 74 former Biden staffers, of whom 62 were women; none said they had experienced sexual harassment, assault or misconduct by Biden. All said they never heard any rumors or allegations of Biden engaging in sexual misconduct, until the recent assault allegation made by Tara Reade.
What to watch, and read, while the stay-at-home orders are in effect: John Powers recommends “The Sleepers,” a Czech spy thriller, on HBO GO, and the 1950s Hollywood noir novels of the amazing Alfred Hayes, from New York Review Classics.  John is Critic at Large on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR.  5-21-2020