Start Making Sense

Sarah Posner on the Conservative Takeover of the Southern Baptists, plus Amy Wilentz on Jared

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The transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention into a powerful right wing political force developed over the last 50 years. Before 1973, when abortion became a constitutional right, the Southern Baptists did not have a political position on abortion. Then came what they call the “conservative resurgence”—we call it the “fundamentalist takeover.” Sarah Posner explains that history. Her book “Unholy: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, and the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind” is out now in paperback.

Also on this episode, a new installment of The Children’s Hour: stories about Ivanka, Jared, Don Junior and Little Eric. This week: Jared writes a book! He called it “Breaking History.” We have comment from our Chief Jared Correspondent, Amy Wilentz.  9-15-2022

Amy Littlefield on How Abortion Rights Triumphed in Kansas, plus Barbara Ehrenreich Remembered

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Remember how Kansas was the first state to vote directly on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, and how Kansans surprised everyone by voting to keep abortion rights in the constitution, 59%-41%? Amy Littlefield went to Kansas to report on the election for The Nation and see how the victory had been organized and won.

Also on this week’s episode, we’re still thinking about Barbara Ehrenreich, who died last week. She was one of our best. We’ll listen to an interview with Ehrenreich from 2002, about “Nickel and Dimed,” her unforgettable book about trying to live on low-wage work which had just been published.  9-8-2022

Chris Lehmann on GOP Plans for 2023, Patrick Leahy on Jan. 6

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Republicans are making plans if they win control of the House in November–Chris Lehmann reports that their top targets include the NLRB and the Department of Labor. Chris is The Nation’s new D.C. Bureau Chief.

Also: Patrick Leahy of Vermont has been a senator for almost 50 years. He describes how, on January 6, when senators took refuge from the mob attacking the capitol, they prepared to complete the work of counting the electoral votes in their underground bunker–until he insisted they should wait until they could return to the Senate chamber. His new book is ”The Road Taken.”  9-1-2022


The Mar-a-Lago Raid and the Democrats, plus ‘Dirty Work’ John Nichols on Trump, and Eyal Press on bad jobs

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The Mar-a-Lago raid by the FBI put Donald Trump back at the center of American politics, just before the midterms. Is that good for the Democrats? John Nichols comments.

Also: Dirty work—and the people who do it: the low-income workers who do our most ethically troubled jobs. What does that have to do with the rest of us? Eyal Press explains—his book “Dirty Work” is out now in paperback.  8-25-2022

Abortion Rights Victories in Red States, plus the Crisis in Haiti

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Ever since the Supreme Court abolished the constitutional protection for abortion, activists have been fighting in the states — to protect abortion rights where possible, and to expand them where that’s possible. They’ve had some remarkable success, at least in the short run. Katha Pollitt reports. Also: the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Plus: The Organization of American States released a statement admitting, finally, that the international community was responsible for the crisis ravaging Haiti today. But what is to be done now? Amy Wilentz comments.  8-18-2022

Liz Cheney in the Wyoming Primaries and White Supremacy in Southern California

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Liz Cheney is way behind in the polls leading up to next week’s Wyoming primary. John Nichols went to Wyoming to see her in action, and reports that she’s “fighting to outlast and replace Trump as the manager of the right-wing franchise in American politics.”

Also on this week’s show, a deep dive into Orange County, California. Ronald Reagan once called it “the place all good Republicans go to die.”

But there’s another history of Orange County. LA Times columnist and author of the new book “A People’s Guide to Orange County,” Gustavo Arellano explains that, just as there’s a history of white supremacy and right wing power, the O.C. also has a history of people –especially immigrants– leading a resistance.  8-11-2022

Pramila Jayapal, from Banker to Organizer, plus Eric Foner on the Right to Vote

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Pramila Jayapal is head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and represents Seattle in the House. She will explain how, as a young immigrant from India, she went from being an investment banker to a lifelong organizer. Her book, “Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change,” is out now.

Also historian Eric Foner talks about about voting rights and voter suppression, about who gets to be a citizen, the rights of undocumented immigrants, and about the roots of mass incarceration — –they all relate to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, part of the country’s attempt to redefine citizenship after the end of slavery. His book, “The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution,” is out now in paperback.  8-4-2022


Katha Pollitt on Advice for Men and J. Hoberman on Film in the Age of Reagan

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Jordan Peterson’s books of advice for men have sold five million copies – he says men should work hard, be responsible, demand more of themselves—and make their beds.” Katha Pollitt joins the Start Making Sense podcast to discuss.

Also: The synergy between politics and popular culture has never been clearer or stronger than in the Age of Reagan. J. Hoberman, author of “Make My Day: Film Culture in the Age of Reagan,” explains how this came to be. Hoberman was a legendary film critic for the Village Voice for 30 years and now writes for the New York Review, the New York Times, and The Nation.  7-28-2022

Daniel Squadron on How Trump’s Fake Electors Scheme Could Become Law, plus Amy Wilentz on Ivana

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The Supreme Court next term will take up a case that could make Trump’s fake electors scheme the law of the land. Daniel Squadron explains the situation – and how winning majorities in state legislatures in swing states is the key to preserving democracy in 2024. Squadron is the co-founder and executive director of The States Project.

Also: Ivana Trump, the mother of Ivanka, Don Junior and Little Eric, died last week – Amy Wilentz comments on her memoir, “Raising Trump,” first broadcast in 2017.  7-21-2022

John Nichols on the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally, plus Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua on Climate Change

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On Tuesday the January 6 committee held yet another dramatic hearing, this one on the origins of the ‘Stop the Steal” rally and the events that provoked that 1:30 am tweet of Trump’s urging supporters to come to Washington, where it “will be wild.” John Nichols has our analysis.

Also on this week’s episode, Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua say it’s not too late to act to slow climate change. Their new project, Not Too Late, invites newcomers to join the climate movement, and guides people from despair to possibilities.  7-14-2022