Start Making Sense

Joe Biden and Us: Joan Walsh; plus Barbara Ransby on Biden and Black America, and Gary Younge on Storming the Capitol

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Biden’s inauguration marked a triumph of hope over fear, says Joan Walsh. First we celebrate, and then we go to work debating what is possible and what is necessary—all the things that real people really need. The next four years will bring progressives some political frustration and some disappointments, but that will be so much better than what we’ve had for the last four years.
Plus: In Joe Biden’s first speech as president-elect, he promised Black America that he would have their backs. Now he needs to take prompt action to fulfill that pledge. Barbara Ransby comments—she’s a historian, writer, and longtime political activist, a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, best known for her award-winning biography Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.
Also, Gary Younge, the award-winning former columnist for The Guardian and member of The Nation‘s editorial board, comments on the insurrectionists of January 6. They failed to stop Congress from certifying Biden as the winner of the election—so what WAS the plan? And what IS their future? 1-20-2021

Trump’s Crime: Incitement of Insurrection—John Nichols on impeachment, plus Astra Taylor on debt and Robert Lipsyte on Trump and golf

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As the House moves to impeach Trump—a second time—for “incitement of insurrection,” Republican support for Trump is wavering. John Nichols comments on the historic moment that is at hand.
Also: Biden’s first 100 days begin January 20, and his first acts should include an executive order cancelling student debt—that’s what Astra Taylor says, she’s co-founder of the Debt Collective and has published widely. Other forms of debt cancellation can follow—medical debt, consumer debt, the coming bills for deferred rent and mortgage payments.
Plus: the PGA is cancelling their longstanding plans to hold the U.S. Open at Trump’s Bedminster golf course in New Jersey. The New York Times reports he is more devastated by this than by impeachment. The legendary sportswriter Robert Lipsyte comments on Trump and golf. (This segment originally broadcast in August, 2017).  1-14-2021

The Trump Mob that Stormed the Capitol: Joan Walsh and Eric Foner

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Wednesday was one of the worst days in the history of American democracy—Joan Walsh comments on the Trump mob that stormed the capitol, the capitol police who didn’t arrest them, the Republicans who continue to stand by Trump—and the Republicans who don’t.
Also: Eric Foner provides historical context for Wednesday’s events in Washington, and also the victories in the Georgia Senate races. 1-7-2021

Vaccine Priorities: Politics and Ethics–Gregg Gonsalves on Covid-19, plus John Nichols on politics in 2020

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Vaccine priorities: political and ethical questions about who comes first, after health care workers. Gregg Gonsalves considers the arguments—the choice is between reducing the death toll—which means giving priority to the oldest people—and keeping society functioning—which means giving priority to essential workers. And the Global South must be included in all vaccine distribution plans—because “the virus doesn’t care where you live.”
Also: 2020 in review: the political year began with Bernie winning early primaries and losing the rest; then came the summer of Black Lives Matter, with the largest protest movement in American history; and then Election Day, without fighting in the streets or the courts overturning the results. John Nichols comments.  12-30-2020

White Voters in 2020—and Everybody Else: Joan Walsh on Politics, plus Amy Wilentz on the Trump Kids

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A year, and a decade, of political challenges: Joan Walsh reviews the fall and rise of Kamala Harris, the return of Joe Biden, and the deepening problem posed over the last decade by white voters who now support Trump.
And Amy Wilentz reviews what happened in 2020 to Ivanka, Jared, Don Junior and Eric Trump—boy did those kids get into trouble this year! Jared was put in charge of pandemic response, Ivanka carried the bible for that disastrous photo-op, and Don Junior and Eric tried to outdo their father on the campaign trail. 12-23-2020

From Obama to Trump: Eric Foner; plus John Powers on John le Carré

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Obama’s memoir of his political rise and his first two years in office, A Promised Land, reminds us of a time when Donald Trump barely existed on our political landscape and in our consciousness. Eric Foner comments on what’s in the book—and what Obama leaves out.
Also: John le Carré died on Saturday—he was 89, and one of the greats, author of two dozen books people called “spy novels,” although they were much more than that. John Powers comments—he’s critic-at-large on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. 12-17-2020

Mike Davis: We Need a Commission to Investigate Trump’s Covid Response; plus Amy Wilentz on pardons for the Trump kids

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This week, as the UK began vaccinating people against Covid 19, we consider proposals here in the US to establish a coronavirus commission, empowered to investigate the many failures in the fight against the virus: Mike Davis says that is something progressives should fight for—and insist on subpoena powers.
Also: Will Donald Trump pardon Ivanka and Jared—and Don Junior and Eric? What exactly are their crimes? It sounds like it’s time for another episode of The Children’s Hour—with Amy Wilentz.  12-9-2020

How the Democrats can Win Georgia: Joan Walsh, plus David Cole on the Supreme Court and Trump’s Reapportionment Plan

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Georgia is the center of the political universe right now. On January 5, Georgia votes for two senators, a runoff election that will determine which party controls the Senate and thus the fate of any Democratic initiatives after Joe Biden becomes president on January 20. Joan Walsh comments on the campaigns of Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock as they challenge incumbent Republicans Kelley Loeffler and David Purdue—and on Trump, who once again is eager to make it all about himself.
Also: On Monday the Supreme Court heard arguments on Trump’s effort to change the way seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned. It has been based on a state’s total population, as the Constitution requires; he wants to exclude the undocumented, which would mean California would lose or two or three seats. David Cole reviews the arguments—he’s The Nation’s legal affairs correspondent and national legal director of the ACLU.  12-3-2020

Stacey Abrams: The Fight for Georgia; plus Amy Wilentz: Who is Lara Trump?

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All eyes are on Georgia now, as the campaigns for both senate seats are underway to determine which party will control the US Senate. For Democrats, the starting point for winning in Georgia is the historic work of Stacey Abrams. When she ran for governor of Georgia in 2018 as the first African American and the first woman candidate, she got more votes than any Democrat in Georgia history, including Obama and Hillary Clinton. But because of Republican vote suppression she was not elected. Nevertheless she paved the way for Biden to win the state—a historic victory. We spoke with her in April 2019, about how she built the coalition that now hopes to win two senate seats in January.
Also: How are the Trump kids dealing with the refusal of their father to admit he lost the election? Amy Wilentz comments—on another episode of The Children’s Hour, stories about Ivanka, Don Junior, Little Eric—and Lara. 11-25-20

Covid-19 vaccines: Why does Big Pharma get to keep all the profits? Gregg Gonsalves, plus J. Hoberman on ‘The Chicago 7’

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Monday we had good news on a Covid vaccine from Moderna, created with a billion dollars of taxpayer funding. Gregg Gonsalves takes up the question, Why does Big Pharma get to keep all the profits? Also: Why Mitch McConnell is a bigger threat to Americans than the virus.
Plus: The legendary film critic for the late, lamented Village Voice, J. Hoberman, talks about Aaron Sorkin’s new film, playing now on Netflix, The Trial of the Chicago 7. He asks the question, “is it great courtroom drama—or boomer porn?”  11-18-2020