Start Making Sense

Winning in 2022: John Nichols, plus Melina Abdullah on the LAPD and Ray Suarez on “Going for Broke”

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Some pundits say the only way Democrats can hold the House and Senate in 2022 is by appealing to swing voters in Republican states by talking about economic issues—and NOT talking about climate change, immigration reform, or policing. John Nichols challenges that argument.

Also: The co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, Melina Abdullah, talks about the LAPD, and how they showed up, in force, at her house twice in the week since she filed a lawsuit over a similar incident last year. We call it “SWATting,” and we also call it retaliation.

And The Nation and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project are launching a new podcast: “Going for Broke,” personal stories about how the pandemic made it a lot harder for working class people to pay the rent, stay in their homes, or find a new job. Host Ray Suarez provides a preview—he’s best known for his work on NPR and PBS.  10-14-2021

 

America’s Lunatics: Katha Pollitt; plus John Powers on Percival Everett’s Emmett Till novel

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Are we a nation of lunatics? Katha Pollitt has been thinking about that—about the millions of people who say that Satan-worshipping pedophiles control American politics and media, or that, if you’ve come down with Covid-19, you should pick up some Ivermectin at the local feed store.

Plus: The murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 is probably the most famous lynching in American history. Now, there’s a novel about it that’s wild and funny. The author is Percival Everett—it’s called The Trees. And it’s really good. How is it possible to write a comic novel about a lynching? John Powers explains—he’s critic at large on NPR’s Fresh Air.  10-7-2021

Controlling the Police: What is to be Done? Erwin Chemerinsky, plus Eyal Press on Dirty Work

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Many proposals to reform the police were made after the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer the largest protest movement in American history. But the problem, Erwin Chemerinsky argues, is not just the police; the Supreme Court has empowered the police and subverted civil rights. Erwin is Dean of the law school at UC Berkeley, and author of many books—most recently Presumed Guilty.  Also: dirty work—and the people who do it: the low-income workers who do our most ethically troubled jobs. Eyal Press will explain—his new book is Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America.  9-30-2021

Biden’s Disastrous Deportation of Haitians: Amy Wilentz; plus Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce on Occupy Wall Street

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Joe Biden is deporting 15,000 Haitian refugees who crossed the border at Del Rio, Texas, to a country ravaged by assassination, earthquake, poverty, and gang violence—it’s a disastrous move. Amy Wilentz comments; she’s been reporting on Haiti and Haitians for more than two decades.
Also: Ten years ago this week, a small group of young radicals declared “We are the 99 percent” and set up camp in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s financial district. Instead of a few people protesting for a few days, the movement exploded; hundreds of thousands of people joined Occupy camps in more than 600 US towns and cities. CUNY professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce comment.  9-24-2021

How Mosques Became FBI Targets after 9-11: Ahilan Arulanantham on State Secrets, plus Amy Wilentz on ‘The Chair’

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We’re still thinking about the 20th anniversary of 9/11. After that day, Muslim Americans endured years of racism and discrimination, oftentimes at the hands of the state itself.  The fight against government surveillance of Muslim Americans continues today, as the Supreme Court takes up a challenge to government efforts to conceal FBI abuse of power—in a case dating from 2006, when the FBI in LA hired an informer to infiltrate several mosques in Orange County, California. Ahilan Arulanantham explains—he will be arguing the case at the Supreme Court. He’s a Professor at UCLA Law School and Co-Director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy there.
Also: there’s a new comedy on TV about college teachers and campus politics—The Chair, on Netflix, starring Sandra Oh as the first Asian American woman chair of an English department. Amy Wilentz comments—she’s a professor in the English Department at UC Irvine, which has some surprising connections to the show.  9-16-2021

Abortion Politics and Republican Power: Rick Perlstein, plus Eric Foner on Tulsa

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Texas, the Republicans are empowering vigilantes to go after people helping women who seek abortions, turning the state’s citizens as bounty hunters. Rick Perlstein explains the long history of how the GOP adopted abortion as a key issue—Rick’s latest book is Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976-1980, out now in paperback. Also: We’re still thinking about Tulsa, about the massacre of Black people there in 1921, probably the deadliest instance of racial violence in the country’s history. It was covered up for a hundred years—how was that possible? Historian Eric Foner comments.  9-9-2021

What America Owes Afghan Women: Katha Pollitt; P\plus Eric Foner on Black politics and history

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Katha Pollitt reports on Afghan womens’ organizations and what their leaders are saying about support from Americans—starting with the Afghan Women’s Fund, MADRE, and Women for Afghan Women.
Also, Black politics and history, from the 1870s to the 1930s to today: Eric Foner talks bout how our understanding of Black politics and history, starting with Reconstruction, has changed—and about the historian-activists who challenged the prevailing racist historians back in the 1930s, starting with W.E.B. DuBois and James S. Allen—his book Reconstruction: the Battle for Democracy, has just been reissued with a new introduction by Foner.  8-25-2021

The Taliban Triumph: Andrew Bacevich, plus John Powers on Dick Gregory

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Over almost 20 years in Afghanistan, the US lost 2,400 troops and personnel. Another 21,000 Americans have been wounded. The mission cost more than a trillion dollars—including 80 billion dollars to train and arm the Afghan army. But that army didn’t resist the recent Taliban advance and now the Taliban control the country and the last Americans are fleeing. Andrew Bacevich comments; his books include America’s War for the Greater Middle East.
Also: There’s a documentary out now about Dick Gregory, the Black stand-up comedian and political activist of the sixties and after. It’s called The One and Only Dick Gregory, and it’s on Showtime. John Powers comments—he’s critic at large on NPR’s Fresh Air.  8-18-2021

Trump: the Big Loser on the Infrastructure Bill—Joan Walsh, plus Anne Sebba on Ethel Rosenberg

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19 Republican Senators voted in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Tuesday, after Trump demanded they vote “no.” It took significant concessions by Democrats to win their support for the bill—was that a good idea? Should Democrats help Republicans step away from Trump? Joan Walsh comments.
Also: the life, and death, of Ethel Rosenberg, the accused “atom spy”: who she was, before she was framed by the FBI, before she called their bluff and went to her execution. Anne Sebba has written a really good book about that—it’s called Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy.  8-12-2021

The Democrats’ miserable concessions on infrastructure: John Nichols, plus Art Spiegelman on ‘Street Cop’

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We said it couldn’t be done: a bipartisan bill getting through Congress. Now, however, it looks like the $1 trillion infrastructure bill will get the Republican votes it needs in the Senate to pass. But what miserable compromises did the Democrats make to get ten Republican votes? John Nichols explains.
Also: the great comics artist Art Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, has a new book out: Street Cop, illustrations for a story by Robert Coover, published by Isolarii.com. He talks about working on that during the pandemic, and about his most controversial drawings—some of which only The Nation would publish.  8-4-2021