• Abortion could make Florida a swing state in 2024; plus ‘Ukrainians in Exile’

    An abortion rights amendment to Florida’s constitution has gotten enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Now it’s up to the state’s supreme court to decide whether people will get to vote on it, potentially transforming the electorate there in November. The Nation’s abortion access correspondent, Amy Littlefield, is on the podcast to report.

    Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: This week is the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To commemorate the anniversary, The Nation has released a new documentary short film, Ukrainians in Exile. We’ll speak with the filmmaker, Janek Ambros.

    31m | Feb 28, 2024
  • “Renters are the sleeping giants of LA politics,” plus the Hidden History of AIDS

    A political battle is underway in Los Angeles, where landlords, multi-millionaires, and the police are trying to defeat the leading progressive on the city council. Their key issues are protection for renters and new taxes on mansions.

    Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: A new podcast brings us stories from the early days of HIV & AIDS. It's about how the epidemic decimated poor communities of color and the people who refused to stay out of sight. WNYC's Kai Wright and The Nation's Lizzy Ratner are behind the new show, Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows.

    37m | Feb 21, 2024
  • The Families that Made Fortunes Selling Opium, plus the News from Haiti

    The blue-blood families that made fortunes in the opium trade: Amitav Ghosh recounts the origins of much of the wealth for the 19th century New England elite on this episode of the Start Making Sense podcast. He wrote the cover story for The Nation's latest print issue. His new book is called Smoke and Ashes.

    Also on this episode: The latest US moves in Haiti are framed in democratic rhetoric but are deeply anti-democratic in their effect. Amy Wilentz is on the podcast to explain. She’s written two books about Haiti, most recently the award-winning Farewell Fred Voodoo.

    38m | Feb 14, 2024
  • Jeff Merkley on a Ceasefire in Gaza, Sean Wilentz on Disqualifying Trump

    Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is one of our leading progressives, and one of 5 Senators to call for a cease-fire in Gaza. He explains why; and he discusses his new book, “Filibustered! How to Fix the Broken Senate and Save America.”

    Also: the case for disqualifying Trump as a candidate, based on the 14th Amendment banning those who have engaged in insurrection from holding public office. That case goes before the Supreme Court this week. Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has our analysis.

    45m | Feb 7, 2024
  • Heroes of the Left, Plus Healthcare for the Undocumented

    The Nation’s annual Progressive Honor Roll features movement leaders who provide hope for 2024. John Nichols tells their stories.

    Also: California moved one step closer to universal healthcare on January 1, when it expanded coverage to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status. Sasha Abramsky reports.

    33m | Jan 31, 2024
  • New Hampshire Left and Right, plus Franz Fanon

    Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, first in the nation, was also the last chance for Republicans to move beyond Trump. And also the first chance for Democrats to pressure Biden to push for a cease-fire in Gaza. John Nichols has our analysis.

    Also: Adam Shatz talks about Franz Fanon, whose books Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks made him a huge figure on the left, not just in the '60s when they were published, but in the era of Black Lives Matter when “his shadow looms larger than ever.” Now he's the subject of Adam's new book, The Rebel's Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon. Adam is the US editor of the London Review of Books, and former Literary Editor of The Nation.

    44m | Jan 24, 2024
  • Reasons for Hope from the Iowa GOP, plus “American Fiction”

    John Nichols reports on Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa, and explains why Iowa is the state with the biggest shift from blue to red between Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2020.

    Also: The new film "American Fiction," starring Jeffrey Wright, takes up the question, do Black writers have to "write Black"? The film is based on the novel "Erasure" by Percival Everett, which is considerably wilder and more uncompromising than the film. John Powers comments—he’s critic at Large on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

    34m | Jan 17, 2024
  • Only Joe Biden Can Stop the War in Gaza, plus ‘Corporate Bullsh*t’

    Israel's war in Gaza has been going on now for three months, and the IDF said over the weekend they plan to keep the war going for another year. Amy Wilentz talks about Netanhayu’s use of the war to hold on to power.

    Also: the lies that protect profit, power and wealth in America: they are documented, and dealt with, in a wonderful new book co-authored by Joan Walsh. It's called Corporate Bullsh*t.

    37m | Jan 10, 2024
  • Reasons for Hope in 2024: John Nichols, plus The Bill Gates Problem: Tim Schwab

    Hope is different from optimism – it’s an embrace of uncertainty, and a basis for action. The polls look bad for Joe Biden, but Democrats’ chances are much brighter in the House, and perhaps the Senate. John Nichols talks about reasons for hope in 2024, starting in the tipping point state of 2020, Wisconsin.

    Also: Bill Gates is now the 6th richest man in the world, with 104 billion dollars. He’s spent the last 20 years giving away some of his money--the Gates Foundation gave away $7 billion in 2022. But with the money comes a host of problems. Tim Schwab will explain; his new book has a great title: “The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire.”

    35m | Jan 3, 2024
  • Katha Pollitt’s End-of-Year Giving List, plus Bob Dylan’s Xmas Album

    Our holiday giving list: Katha Pollitt presents her list of groups that need—and deserve—our support: Gaza aid, abortion assistance, and organizing against Trump.

    Also: Bob Dylan fans have been puzzled and troubled by his Christmas album ever since he released it in 2009. To help figure out what Dylan was doing, we turned to Sean Wilentz. He’s the official historian at BobDylan.com, and he also teaches history at Princeton.

    34m | Dec 27, 2023
  • Feminists and rape: the case of Hamas; plus Moms for Liberty

    Why have American feminist groups been slow to condemn rapes of Israeli women and girls by Hamas? that’s the question posed by Katha Pollitt.

    Also: They call it “the parents’ rights movement.” we call it a culture war against public education. It failed as a Republican election strategy in 2023, but what about 2024? Randi Weingarten has our analysis – she’s president of the AFT.

    23m | Dec 20, 2023
  • Democrats are Sleepwalking Toward a Trump Victory; plus Israel’s future

    Joe Biden has historic achievements as president, but polls show him to the candidate least able to defeat Donald Trump. Democrats need someone else to run—and an open primary. Harold is editor-at-large of The American Prospect.

    Also: What conditions are needed for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its blocking of Palestinian self-determination? David Myers comments; he teaches Jewish history at UCLA and has written for the LA Times, the Forward, and the Atlantic.

    36m | Dec 13, 2023
  • Randi Weingarten on the Peace Movement in Israel; Gary Younge on ‘Rustin’

    Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, spent Thanksgiving weekend in Israel; she reports on meetings with shared society groups and peace movement leaders, and on the role of the US in bringing not just peace but equality and justice to Palestinians.

    Also: Who was Bayard Rustin before the 1963 March on Washington?  Gary Younge comments on the remarkable life of a gay Black pacifist and former communist, the subject of a new biopic on Netflix, ‘Rustin.’ Gary wrote “The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream.”

    36m | Dec 6, 2023
  • Ending the War in Gaza: D.D. Guttenplan; plus John Powers on "Slow Horses"

    People with very different visions of what a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians might look like must work together to stop the war. That’s what The Nation's editor, D.D. Guttenplan argues. He's on this episode of the podcast to discuss.

    Also on this episode: John Powers joins the show to offer his review of Slow Horses, the British spy series based on the books by Mick Herron.

    30m | Nov 29, 2023
  • We Need the Israeli Left Now More than Ever; plus Letters from California

    hat comes after Israel’s war on Hamas? The Israeli government seems incapable of thinking about that. Now, the ideas of Israel’s left-wing, pro-peace camp are needed more than ever. Dahlia Scheindlin, a political scientist based in Tel Aviv, is on the podcast to explain.

    Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: “California has always been a place to write home about.” David Kipen reads letters and diary entries from Charles Mingus, Vita Sackville-West, Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sontag, Thomas Pynchon, and Mike Davis – David’s new book is “Dear California: The Golden State in Letters and Diaries.”

    42m | Nov 22, 2023
  • Palestinian Lives and Deaths: Rachel Kushner and Adam Shatz

    For this week’s Start Making Sense podcast we have two archival segments about Palestinians; neither is about the current war. 

    In 2016, Rachel Kushner visited Shuafat, the only Palestinian refugee camp inside Jerusalem. She went alongside a community organizer as he tried to solve massive problems. Her report, published originally in the New York Times Magazine, appears in her 2021 book of nonfiction, The Hard Crowd.

    Also on this episode, Adam Shatz talks about Edward Said, the leading voice of Palestinians in the US before he died in 2003. Said was also The Nation’s classical music critic, and Adam Shatz, now an editor for the London Review of Books, was The Nation‘s literary editor. His work included editing Edward Said’s pieces for the magazine.

    (This show was first broadcast in May, 2021.)

    44m | Nov 15, 2023
  • Abortion and the Democrats: John Nichols, plus Gaza and History: Fintan O'Toole

    Tuesday’s vote tested the potency of abortion rights as an issue for Democrats, with a referendum in Ohio and the election of a new state legislature in Virginia. John Nichols has our analysis of those elections, and some others.

    Also on this episode: What is Israel’s endgame in its war with Hamas? Over the past 50 years they’ve tried two radically different strategies in Gaza, and neither succeeded. Fintan O'Toole explains that history. He teaches at Princeton and is an advising editor at the New York Review of Books, where he's been writing about Israel, Hamas, and Gaza.

    39m | Nov 8, 2023
  • After a Gaza Ceasefire: D.D. Guttenplan, plus the UAW Victory

    A cease-fire in Gaza is only the beginning of what Israel and the Palestinians need. D.D. Guttenplan, The Nation’s editor, argues that “both peoples will have to find a way to share the land—in peace, yes, but also with justice.”

    Also on this episode of Start Making Sense: victory for the United Auto Workers in their strike against the big three automakers, GM, Ford, and Stellantis. Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect, explains what’s in the new contract, and what it took to get there.

    37m | Nov 1, 2023
  • Adam Shatz on Israelis, Palestinians, and Hamas

    In response to Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7, Adam Shatz says Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life has never been more callous or more flagrant. But Israel can’t extinguish Palestinian resistance by violence any more than the Palestinians can win an Algerian-style liberation war. 

    The only thing that can save the people of Israel and Palestine is a political solution that recognizes both as equal citizens. Shatz is the former literary editor of The Nation and now US editor of the London Review of Books, where he wrote about Israel and Gaza.

    25m | Oct 25, 2023
  • Gaza and Us: Amy Wilentz

    Israel and Gaza, Hamas and the Palestinians, war crimes and mideast history: On this episode of the Start Making Sense podcast, we have comment and analysis from Amy Wilentz, Nation contributor and former Jerusalem correspondent of The New Yorker.

    29m | Oct 18, 2023
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Start Making Sense with Jon Wiener