Start Making Sense

E.J. Dionne: The Coronavirus and the election; plus Melina Abdullah on Black Lives Matter and Katha Pollitt on “Contagion”

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What’s our strategy for beating Trump in November?  Is the Coronavirus making that easier, or harder?  E.J. Dionne analyzes the effect of the virus on politics – he’s a columnist for the Washington Post, and his new book is Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates can Unite to Save Our Country.
Also: How the coronavirus is changing the issues, and the tactics, of Black Lives Matter – a conversation with Melina Abdullah, one of the founders of the LA chapter and a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA.
Plus: Katha Pollitt has some recommendations about what to watch, and read, during those days at home, starting with the classics–Defoe’s “Journal of the Plague Year” and “The Decameron” by Boccaccio.  3/25/20

Paul Krugman: The Coronavirus and the Economic Crisis; plus John Nichols on elections and Amy Wilentz on the Kushners and the Coronavirus

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Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist, says we don’t have an easy way of responding to the economic threats posed by the coronavirus, and Trump’s preoccupation with the stock market is a big mistake. Krugman’s new book is Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future.
Also: we’ll talk about the Republican senators who say paid sick leave for people with the coronavirus will “make workers lazy”—that’s what Ron Johnson says, he represents Wisconsin, and we’ll talk about that with our man in Madison, John Nichols. John also examines everything that went wrong with Tuesday’s elections, and talks about what we must do to ensure there’s no postponement of the November election.
And we’ll also talk about the Kushners and the coronavirus: Jared has been working in some unusual ways, and there’s also virus news about Ivanka and Don Junior. Amy Wilentz reports—she’s our Chief Jared Correspondent.  3/18/2020

Nichols on Bernie’s Next Steps; Steve Phillips on Big Data; Adam Hocschild on “Rebel Cinderella”

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Despite Bernie’s big losses in Michigan and elsewhere on Tuesday, he’s staying in the race to challenge Biden on the issues which Democratic voters support.  John Nichols assesses the situation, and talks about what we need to do now about the coronavirus and the elections.
also: What Big Data says about beating Trump: Steve Phillips explains — he wrote New York Times bestselling book Brown Is the New White and he’s the founder of Democracy in Color.
Plus:  the story of an immigrant sweatshop worker who became one of the most charismatic radical leaders of the early 20th century.  Rose Pastor Stokes has been forgotten, but now a new book tells her amazing story: “Rebel Cinderella.” Author Adam Hochschild explains. 3-11-20

Super Tuesday: The Earthquake. John Nichols and Joan Walsh, plus D.D. Guttenplan on Bernie Sanders

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John Nichols analyzes the bad night for Bernie–and the tasks that remain if Biden is going to be defeated in the primaries.
Plus: Joan Walsh covered the South Carolina primary and saw first-hand the results of Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Joe Biden.  Also: The meaning of Elizabeth Warren’s defeat.
And D.D. Guttenplan presents the case for Bernie and his movement–The Nation endorsed them this week. 3/5/20

Nominating Bloomberg Would Destroy the Democratic Party: Jeet Heer, plus Rick Perlstein on Bernie and Robert Edelman on Sports

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Bloomberg can’t win the primaries, but he might try to get the nomination if Bernie doesn’t go to the convention with a majority of delegates.  Jeet Heer argues that nominating Bernie would destroy the Democratic Party and assure Trump’s reelection.
Plus: political pundits are supposed to put forward strong opinions – that’s their job.  The rest of us may be confused and uncertain and anxious, but the pundits are full of convictions and arguments.  Today we depart from that rule and talk to Rick Perlstein – although he has argued for social democracy for decades, he’s got some doubts of his own about Bernie, while he acknowledges all that Bernie has achieved.
Also: the Cold War was fought in many ways: it was a traditional political and military confrontation, but it was also a cultural contest on a global scale – and one of the most important arenas in the cultural contest was sports. Historian Robert Edelman explains: he’s co-editor of the new book The Whole World Was Watching: Sport in the Cold War. 2/26/20

Elizabeth Warren: Unity Candidate? Joan Walsh, plus Bob Borosage on Bernie and John Sayles on ‘Yellow Earth’

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Pundits have declared that Elizabeth Warren is finished, but we’re not so sure. Joan Walsh points out that, while Warren came in third in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire, only 64 delegates have been selected—there are more than 1,900 delegates still to be picked. The case for Warren at this point remains potent, especially given the success of progressive women in the 2018 midterms.
Also: Bernie has already won the ideas primary in the Democratic Party. That’s what Bob Borosage argues—he sets the agenda for the race and the other candidates define themselves in relations to his positions.
Plus: John Sayles has directed two dozen films, including Matewan and Lone Star. Here he talks about his new novel, Yellow Earth—it’s about what happens when shale oil is discovered underneath an Indian reservation in the North Dakota badlands—and outsiders descend. 2/20/20

After New Hampshire: John Nichols, plus Jane Kleeb on rural America and Amy Wilentz on Don Junior

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New Hampshire’s primary has reshaped the Democratic race: Progressives are coalescing around Bernie, and moderates are abandoning Biden in favor of Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar.  John Nichols reports.
Plus: How the Democrats can win in rural America: Jane Kleeb talks about strategies for winning in red states.  She’s a grassroots organizer based in Hastings, Nebraska, and she put together the coalition of ranchers, farmers, Native Americans, and environmentalists that stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline. She’s chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, and her new book is Harvest the Vote.
Also: another episode of The Children’s Hour: stories about Ivanka, Jared, Don Junior, and little Eric.  Today: Don Junior writes a best-seller!  Just like his father, his mother, and his sister: a  family of literati.  Amy Wilentz reports.  2/12/20

Meltdown in Iowa: John Nichols, plus Rick Hasen on Election Disasters and John Powers on the Oscars and Women

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The problem in reporting the results in Iowa isn’t just a delay; it’s a disaster—that’s what John Nichols says—for the Democrats, and especially for Bernie, who so far appears to have won at least the popular vote. And if Biden did as badly as reports suggest, that’s a huge boost not just for Pete Buttigieg but also for Michael Bloomberg. But there is one excellent result: This may very well be the last of the Iowa caucuses.
Also: there are many other ways elections can go wrong—for example, we could have a cyberattack on the power grid on election day that could cause blackouts in big cities the Democrats need to win. Rick Hasen explains that and other potential threats—his new book is Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy.
Plus: Sunday is the Oscars—Hollywood’s own elections. And the nominees for best director are all men. Is that because there are no good women directors? John Powers thinks there are some other explanations. He’s critic at large on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  2/4/20

Defending Trump Now—and Losing the Senate in November: Joan Walsh on Impeachment Politics, plus Robert Lipsyte on the Superbowl and Morley Musick on the Border Patrol

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Republican Senators in swing states are falling in their approval ratings back home as the Senate impeachment trial unfolds.  In Maine, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, 63 percent of voters want the Senate to allow witnesses and subpoenas in the impeachment trial.  Joan Walsh comments on the politics of impeachment, and on the losing arguments Trump’s attorneys have offered in his defense.
Plus: This Sunday is the Superbowl, the biggest sports event in America- a hundred million people watch the Superbowl these days. The Superbowl—and all of football—is sort of like Donald Trump: both of them provide mass entertainment that promotes tribalism and toxic masculinity while keeping violence in vogue.  The legendary sports writer Robert Lipsyte explains. “Also: the Border Patrol, it turns out, has a youth group – ‘Border Patrol Explorers,’ an extension of the Boy Scouts.  Morley Musick went to the Arizona border to find out who signs up and what they do once they’re in the organization. 1/29/20

Impeachment Has Already Succeeded: John Nichols, plus Andrew Bacevich on the End of the Cold War and Michael Klare on Climate

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51 per cent of Americans now think Trump should be removed from office, according to the new CNN poll (and 45 per cent think he shouldn’t).  That, John Nichols argues. shows impeachment has succeeded—and if Republicans in the Senate block Trump’s removal from office, voters can do it in November.
Also historian Andrew Bacevitch argues that America has squandered its Cold War victory – and considers where Trump fits into the history of the US since the collapse of the USSR.  His new book is The Age of Illusions.
And we talk about climate change –as seen from the perspective of the Pentagon.  Trump may deny that the world is getting warmer, fast, but the Pentagon has been preparing for that for several years now—and is making disaster relief part of its mission.  Michael Klare reports—his new book is All Hell Breaking Loose.  1/22/20