Start Making Sense

Progressive Dems Win Big in Primaries: John Nichols; plus Yanis Varoufakis on Trump and Europe, and Arthur Goldhammer on Paris in May ’68

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Progressive and populist Democrats had some impressive victories in primaries last week in Pennsylvania, and also in Nebraska and Idaho—defeating centrist, establishment rivals, and showing a new path to victory in November for the party. John Nichols explains.
Also: Trump versus Europe.  He’s threatening European banks and industries with sanctions: if they don’t cut off trade with Iran, they would be barred from American markets and transactions with American banks. We asked Yanis Varoufakis for his analysis—he’s the former finance minister of Greece who led the resistance to European Bankers demanding austerity—now he has co-founded an international grassroots movement that is campaign for the revival of democracy in Europe.
Plus: Fifty years ago this month, in May ’68, students in Paris took to the streets calling for a new kind of revolution. Over the next year or two, there were student uprisings and revolts around the world in many places. But Paris in May 1968 was the best one, the only one to move beyond the campus, with a general strike involving ten million workers threatening the political system. Art Goldhammer, the translator and writer, comments.  5/24/18

From Gaza to Jerusalem: Amy Wilentz; Plus Rachel Kushner on ‘The Mars Room’ and Patricia Williams on lynching

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Every day Trump makes the world less safe; Monday was a big one. Amy Wilentz comments on Ivanka and Jared—and Sheldon Adelson—dedicating the new American embassy in Jerusalem, while the Israeli military killed 60 Palestinians in a mass nonviolent protest at the Gaza border. Amy was Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker and wrote the novel Martyrs’ Crossing about Palestinians and Israelis.
Also: There are 219,000 women in prison in the United States—Rachel Kushner’s new novel, The Mars Room, is a story about of one of them. She explains the mix of fact and imagination that went into the book.
Plus: More than 4,400 African Americans were murdered by white mobs between 1877 and 1950—that’s the conclusion of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal center. The new National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, is dedicated to the victims—it opened last month. Patricia Williams comments; she’s a longtime columnist for The Nation.  5/17/18

Trump has No Plan B on Iran—Except War: Michael Klare, plus D.D. Guttenplan on Texas and Eric Foner on Columbia ‘68

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Trump’s plan on pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal is to pressure Iran to restart negotiations on terms more favorable to the US—but that’s never going to happen, says Michael Klare.  And Trump has no Plan B – except for war—which could quickly involve Israel fighting in Lebanon against Iran’s ally Hezbollah, which has thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli cities.
Also: the coming showdown in Texas between populist Democrats and establishment Democrats: D. D. Guttenplan has returned from the Lone Star State with a report on the political transformation underway there.
Plus: It’s the 50th anniversary of the student uprising at Columbia University, against university complicity in the war—setting the path for that students at hundreds of other schools followed during the next few years.  Historian Eric Foner explains how it happened, and finds lessons for today’s movements for social justice. (SMS 5-10-18)

Trump’s Financial Crimes Are More Likely to Bring Him Down than Russiagate: David Cay Johnston on Trump, plus Bruce Cumings on Korea and Elizabeth Drew on Comey

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Trump’s greatest vulnerability may not be Russiagate, but rather his financial and tax crimes. David Cay Johnston has been investigating and reporting on Trump’s finances for nearly 30 years. He won a Pulitzer Prize at The New York Times, and now he’s editor-in-chief of
Plus: The amazing news from Korea about the prospects for peace and de-nuclearization: historian Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago comments, warning that the Washington consensus opposes a treaty. His books include “The Korean War: A History” and “North Korea: Another Country.”
Also: James Comey has tried to justify his announcement 11 days before Election Day about re-opening his investigation of Hillary’s emails– but what the fired FBI Director said on his book tour is different from what’s in his book “A Higher Loyalty.” Elizabeth Drew, the legendary Washinton journalist, comments–she’s the author of “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall.” The Nation podcast 5/3/18

Comey’s Self-Justification Is ‘Not Good Enough’: Jonathan Freedland, plus Lawrence Wright on Trump and Texas, and Margaret Atwood on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

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James Comey’s monster best-seller, A Higher Loyalty, is “a plea for exculpation,” says Jonathan Friedland, but its self-justifications are “not good enough.” Jonathan is a columnist for The Guardian and a best-selling author.
Also: How long will Texas remain a red state?  Lawrence Wright says demographic and political change is underway, and that Betto O’Rourke’s campaign for the senate, challenging Ted Cruz, is a crucial one. Wright’s new book is God Bless Texas.
Plus: The Handmaid’s Tale, that feminist dystopian novel, is beginning its second season as a TV series on Hulu this week. Margaret Atwood talks about the significance of The Handmaid’s Tale in the Age of Trump (recorded a year ago, just before the first season’s premiere). 4/26/18

How Trump Could Be Reelected—and How Democrats Can Stop Him: Tom Frank; plus Adam Hochschild on guns, and Gary Younge’s return to Muncie.

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Trump is the most unpopular president in history—but could he be reelected in 2020? Thomas Frank says it wouldn’t be hard—if the economy continues to boom and wages go up, even a little. But the Democrats can stop him—if they change their ways.
Also: Adam Hochschild on guns in Trump’s America after the Parkland shootings. He talks about armed militias, about the law in Iowa that permits the carrying of loaded guns in public by people who are blind, and about why the Koch Brothers are major funders of the NRA—even though they are not especially enthusiastic about guns.
Also: Gary Younge returns to Muncie, Indiana, to talk to Trump supporters—and opponents—a year after Trump took office. He found supporters stillenthusiastic, and opponents mobilized as never before. Gary spent the month leading up to the 2016 election in that rust belt city.  4/20/2018

Barbara Ehrenreich: What’s Wrong with ‘Wellness’; plus David Cole on Trump and Mueller, and Katha Pollitt on Stormy and Melania

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Barbara Ehrenreich
talks about the pressure to remain fit, slim, and in control of one’s body, even as the end of life approaches—and about the epidemic of unecessary testing pushed by our for-profit medical profession.  Barbara’s new book is Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.
Plus: David Cole explains why the FBI raid on the offices and residences of Michael Cohen was not, as Trump said, “an attack on our country,” but rather an example of the rule of law.  David is National Legal Director of the ACLU and Legal Correspondent for The Nation.
And Katha Pollitt comments on the recent developments in the legal battle over the payoff to Stormy Daniels by Trump’s attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, and she explains why she likes Stormy, and why she’s sympathetic to Melania.  Katha is a columnist for The Nation.  4/12/2018

A Russia Strategy for Progressives: Katrina vanden Heuvel; plus Mark Hertsgaard on cellphones & cancer, & Stephanie Schriock on Emily’s List

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How progressives should think about Russia: Katrina vanden Heuvel talks about Putin and his history, the democratic opposition inside Russia, and assuring American election integrity in the face of threats from both Russians and Republicans.
Plus: How big wireless muddied the waters on cell phone safety research: Mark Hertsgaard reports on a special investigation by The Nation—and warns about the lack of testing of G5 technology.
Also: How women will turn the House from red to blue: 34,000 women contacted Emily’s List about running for office in the wake of Trump’s election.  Stephanie Schriock, the organization’s president, explains the organization’s training and endorsement procedures, and the project of Democrats retaking the House this November.  4/4/2018

How Trump Radicalized the Parkland Kids in Their Fight Against Guns: George Zornick, plus Micah Sifrey on Facebook and Sue Halpern on Trump vs. Libraries

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Last Sunday’s Rally for Our Lives shows that having Trump in the White House has made the demands of those wonderful Parkland kids more radical. George Zornick comments on the ways the Parkland students have transformed the fight for gun control.
Also: It’s time to break up Facebook: that’s what Micah Sifrey says, as Facebook’s business model—selling users’ data to advertisers, including political campaigns—has exposed the problem of monopoly power on the internet.
Plus: Why does Trump want to defund libraries? Sue Halpern explains; her new novel is “Summer Hours at the Robber’s Library.”

Hey, Democrats Are Actually Running to Win! Joan Walsh on the Democrats’ new strategy; plus Amy Wilentz on Ivanka, and Anna Deavere Smith on the school-to-prison pipeline

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After years of getting beaten in state legislative races, the Democrats have a new energy and a new wave of candidates—especially after last year’s stunning victories in Virginia. Joan Walsh reports.
Plus: Should Ivanka be indicted? She’s been part of some of the Trump administration’s conspiracies to obstruct justice, including the decision to fire James Comey as FBI director. Amy Wilentz reviews the evidence and considers the arguments.
Also: Anna Deavere Smith talks about the school-to-prison pipeline—that’s the subject of her one-woman show, called Notes from the Field, which dramatizes the real-life accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in a system where young people of color who live in poverty get pushed out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. It’s playing on HBO through the end of March.