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Society & Culture
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Start Making Sense

Updated 16 days ago

Society & Culture
News
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Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the week in news. Hosted by Jon Wiener and presented by The Nation Magazine.

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Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the week in news. Hosted by Jon Wiener and presented by The Nation Magazine.

iTunes Ratings

220 Ratings
Average Ratings
165
27
12
6
10

Start Making Sense

By mijo_no - Jan 30 2020
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This news podcast is one of my favorites. It’s smart and thorough. I enjoy the varying topics.

Great

By gcdem1 - May 01 2018
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Can’t wait for each episode.

iTunes Ratings

220 Ratings
Average Ratings
165
27
12
6
10

Start Making Sense

By mijo_no - Jan 30 2020
Read more
This news podcast is one of my favorites. It’s smart and thorough. I enjoy the varying topics.

Great

By gcdem1 - May 01 2018
Read more
Can’t wait for each episode.
Cover image of Start Making Sense

Start Making Sense

Latest release on Oct 21, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 16 days ago

Rank #1: ISIS and American Muslims; Republicans and American Guns

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Laila Lalami talks about what ISIS wants from American Muslims; Joan Walsh explains the real reason we don’t have gun control; and we remember Chernobyl—Amy Wilentz and Tom Lutz talk about writer Svetlana Alexievich, the new winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Dec 09 2015

46mins

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Rank #2: Trump Will Lose in 2020: Stan Greenberg, plus Naomi Klein on the Green New Deal and J. Hoberman on Reagan and the Movies

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The 2020 election will liberate us from Donald Trump and Republican hegemony. A sweeping Democratic victory will make it possible at last for us to address our most serious problems—because 2020 will bring the death of the Republican party as we’ve known it. That’s what Stan Greenberg says—he’s a longtime pollster and adviser to presidents from Clinton to Obama. He’s also a bestselling author, with a new book out—it has the wonderful title R.I.P. G.O.P.: How the New America is Dooming the Republicans.

Plus: Naomi Klein on the Green New Deal—she says we need to follow the example of the New Deal era of the 1930s, when nothing would have happened without “massive pressure from social movements” that “changed the calculus of what was possible.” Naomi is the author of several number one bestsellers, including This Changes Everything.

Also: movies and politics. No political figure has blurred the line between them more than Ronald Reagan—and no president understood the power of collective fantasy better than Reagan did. That’s what the great movie critic J. Hoberman says—his new book about movie culture in the Age of Reagan is called Make My Day.

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Dec 31 2019

48mins

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Rank #3: Naomi Klein: The Paris Climate Conference Protests Will Not Be Stopped

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Naomi Klein on the Shock Doctrine and the Paris climate protests, Katha Pollitt on Europe’s refugee crisis, Eric Foner on Woodrow Wilson’s racism, and Joan Walsh on the Republicans and the Planned Parenthood killings.

Dec 02 2015

40mins

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Rank #4: Trump’s Tax Returns: Why We Will See Them, and What We Will Find: David Cay Johnston, plus Zoe Carpenter on plastics and Laurie Winer on Stephen Miller

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The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested six years of Trump’s personal & business tax returns earlier this month. Trump has said he won’t do it—and that the law is “100 per cent” on his side.  He’s 100 per cent wrong about that. David Cay Johnston explains why the IRS Director is required to hand over the returns—or face 5 years in jail—and also what we’re likely to find in Trump’s tax returns—about his tax cheating and his money laundering for Russian oligarchs.  David is a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter who is founder and editor of DCReport.org.
Also: Plastics and pollution: the problem isn’t just all the plastic in the oceans; it’s the manufacturing of plastics, a toxic petro-chemical.  The Nation’s Zoe Carpenter reports from the Texas and Louisana gulf coasts.
Plus: In Trump’s latest blowup over immigration, Stephen Miller has played the central role — goading him to close the border, warning him of the dangers of looking weak, and encouraging his sudden purge of his homeland security team. But who is this Stephen Miller?  He grew up in liberal Santa Monica-- what happened?  What went wrong? Laurie Winer will report—she wrote about Stephen Miller for LA Magazine.

Apr 17 2019

41mins

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Rank #5: Socialism is on the Agenda for 2020: Katrina vanden Heuvel, plus Kathleen Belew on White Nationalism and Rick Perlstein on Impeachment

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Capitalism is broken – that's why socialism is on the agenda for 2020.  Katrina vanden Heuvel explains - she's publisher and editorial director of The Nation.
We also look back at some of the big events of 2019, and some of our favorite interviews, starting with the terrorist attacks by white nationalists, 
 in El Paso and elsewhere.  Historian Kathleen Belew says they are NOT isolated events  carried out by loners; in fact they are connected, the work of a movement, with tens of thousands of active members.Also 2019 of course has been the year of impeachment -- historian Rick Perlstein has comment and analysis.

Dec 24 2019

48mins

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Rank #6: White Nationalists in Charlottesville & DC: Eric Foner; plus Bob Dreyfuss on Manafort and Robert Lipsyte on Trump and Golf

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Plus Bob Dreyfuss on Paul Manafort, and Robert Lipsyte on Trump and golf

Aug 17 2017

42mins

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Rank #7: Joe Biden’s Zombie Campaign: Jeet Heer on Moderate Dems, plus Elie Mystal on Senate Republicans and Amy Wilentz on Haiti

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Joe Biden may be the frontrunner, but he’s slipping, and it seems doubtful that he will get better at this.  Big donors are pulling away from him.  But do the “moderates” in the party–-the Wall Street Democrats--have a Plan B? A backup candidate?  A viable alternative?  Jeet Heer evaluates the possibilities—there are a lot of them, but none are very promising.Also: Republicans in the Senate--we will need 20 of them to vote to convict Trump if he’s going to be removed from office.  Is that possible?  Elie Mystal runs the numbers--and concludes, “maybe—if we the people work really hard.”  Plus: Haiti is at the brink of collapse—Amy Wilentz reports on one of Trump’s “shithole countries.”

Oct 30 2019

40mins

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Rank #8: How to Beat Trump in 2020: John Nichols on Strategy, Michael Kazin on Southern Democrats, and Katha Pollitt on Women

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The Democrats’ picking Milwaukee for their convention in 2020 indicates how that Wisconsin is a key battleground the party must win in order to recapture the White House.  John Nichols talks about what it going to take for the Democrats to carry Wisconsin—and Michigan and Pennsylvania—and about the far-reaching tasks that face the party after four years of Trump. 
Also: southern Democrats were an all-white party before the voting rights act of 1965; and then, as LBJ predicted, its members all became Republicans.  And yet throughout the 20th century Southern Democrats in Congress supported Progressive legislation—as long as it didn’t help black people.  Historian Michael Kazin comments—and talks about the party in the South now, where Stacey Abrams and Betto O’Rourke are building something new.
Plus: Halfway through Trump’s term, and the week after International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to look at the big picture of where women stand in the US and in the world—where the US ranks in terms of women’s political representation, legal equality, and recent reports of discrimination and violence.  Katha Pollitt surveys the good news, and the bad news.

Mar 13 2019

42mins

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Rank #9: How TV Made Trump: Tom Carson, plus David Perry on Ilhan Omar and Pico Iyer on Japan

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We all know Trump got famous on TV with The Apprentice – but how many of us ever watched The Apprentice?  Reality TV was a key force in making Trump president.  Tom Carson talks about “Audience of One” by James Poniewozik.  Tom, a longtime writer on pop culture and politics, won two National Magazine Awards during his time as Esquire‘s “Screen” columnist; now he writes for BookForum.Also: Ilhan Omar has endorsed Bernie for president – how does she deal with Trump’s vicious attacks?  David Perry has spent the last few months with her in her Minneapolis district—he says he’s never seen a politician talk as little about themselves as she does in her town halls.Plus: Pico Iyer has lived in Japan part-time for the last 30 years – he says it’s hard to imagine how different that country is from our own.  His new book is “A Beginner’s Guide to Japan.”

Oct 23 2019

41mins

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Rank #10: The Trump Reelection Scenario: Thomas Frank; plus Adam Hochschild on Guns and Gary Younge’s Return to Muncie

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Trump is the most unpopular president in history—but could he be reelected in 2020? Thomas Frank says it wouldn’t be hard—if the economy continues to boom and wages go up, even a little. But the Democrats can stop him—if they change their ways.

Also: Adam Hochschild on guns in Trump’s America after the Parkland shootings. He talks about armed militias, about the law in Iowa that permits the carrying of loaded guns in public by people who are blind, and about why the Koch Brothers are major funders of the NRA—even though they are not especially enthusiastic about guns.

Also: Gary Younge returns to Muncie, Indiana, to talk to Trump supporters—and opponents—a year after Trump took office. He found supporters still enthusiastic, and opponents mobilized as never before. Gary spent the month leading up to the 2016 election in that rust belt city.

Apr 18 2018

41mins

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Rank #11: Chris Hayes: Trump ‘Knew Literally—And I Mean Literally—Nothing About’ His Health-Care Bill

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Chris Hayes assesses the damage to Trump and to the Republicans caused by the failure of their effort to end Obamacare—and the opportunities the major defeat now opens up for progressives. Plus: The deepening crisis facing Trump over questions about his campaign’s collusion with the Russians. Joan Walsh comments. And Amy Wilentz argues that all the publicity about Ivanka and her children is part of a Trump media campaign to distract the public and delight tabloid readers.

Mar 29 2017

42mins

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Rank #12: James Comey’s Self-Justification Is Just ‘Not Good Enough’—Jonathan Freedland, plus Lawrence Wright on Trump and Texas and Margaret Atwood on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'

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James Comey’s monster best-seller, A Higher Loyalty, is “a plea for exculpation,” says Jonathan Friedland, but its self-justifications are “not good enough.” Jonathan is a columnist for The Guardian and a best-selling author.

Also: How long will Texas remain a red state? Lawrence Wright says demographic and political change is underway, and that Betto O’Rourke’s campaign for the senate, challenging Ted Cruz, is a crucial one. Wright’s new book is God Bless Texas.

Plus: The Handmaid’s Tale, that feminist dystopian novel, is beginning its second season as a TV series on Hulu this week. Margaret Atwood talks about the significance of The Handmaid’s Tale in the Age of Trump (recorded a year ago, just before the first season’s premiere).

Apr 25 2018

43mins

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Rank #13: Naomi Klein: To Fight Climate Change, We Have to Radically Rethink What Is Possible; plus Dahlia Lithwick on Trump’s ‘Emergency’ and Manuel Pastor on Calif. vs. Trump

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Naomi Klein says the Green New Deal needs to follow the example of the New Deal of the 1930s, when nothing would have happened without “massive pressure from social movements” that “changed the calculus of what was possible.”  Naomi is a contributing editor at The Nation and author of several number one bestsellers, including “This Changes Everything.”
Plus Dahlia Lithwick talks about the national challenge to Trump’s “national emergency”—the constitutional issues, the political issues, and the dangers of treating as normal his rambling, fact-free, egomaniacal performance in the Rose Garden announcing his “emergency.”  Dahlia writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast ‘Amicus.’
And we’ll also look at California’s resistance to Donald Trump: Manuel Pastor will explain the past, the present, and the future of the fights over climate justice and immigration between the biggest state and the worst president.  Manuel’s new book is “State of Resistance.”

Feb 20 2019

41mins

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Rank #14: Republicans and Impeachment: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly--Joan Walsh, plus Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan and Azadeh Moaveni on ISIS Women

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The big question about impeachment is not the House -- there now seem to be enough votes there to pass at least one article of impeachment--the big question is about the Senate and whether some Republicans will abandon Trump.  Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake says that at least 35 Republican senators would vote to remove Trump from office--IF they could vote in private.  Joan Walsh comments.Also: Afghanistan held elections on Saturday.  Trump had declared a couple of weeks ago that negotiations with the Taliban were “dead”-this was after he had promised to end the American war there. How WILL that war end? Andrew Bacevich has been thinking about that.Plus: Thousands of Muslim women left their homes in the US and Europe to travel to Syria to join ISIS, the Islamic State, especially after it declared a Caliphate in 2013.  Many of them were educated and successful –  Why did they do it? Azadeh Moaveni wanted to find out—she spent years interviewing former ISIS women in camps in Turkey and Kurdistan.  Her new book is Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS.

Oct 02 2019

42mins

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Rank #15: Is Trumpism Fascism? Katha Pollitt; plus Mike Lux on Political Strategy and Harold Meyerson on Jonathan Gold

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Katha Pollitt is not happy with leftists calling Trump a “fascist” – maybe there’s a better term for his attacks on democracy, which have a lot in common with authoritarian leaders in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Hungary, Poland, and other places.  The foundation for all of them: austerity, pushed by the big banks and right-wing parties, which creates the economic anxiety that fuels racism and anti-immigrant sentiment.
Plus: left politics can win all over the country, not just in New York City and Chicago and LA – that’s what Mike Lux says , he’s a longtime strategist for the progressive movement and Democratic candidates.
Also: Jonathan Gold, who died on July 21, was the first food writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.  He wrote, not about high-end restaurants, but about mom-and-pop places in immigrant neighborhoods of Los Angeles.  Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect talks about the significance of Gold’s writing about immigrants and their food in the Age of Trump.

Aug 01 2018

38mins

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Rank #16: Sherrod Brown: How to Beat Trump; plus D.D. Guttenplan on Joe Biden and Thom Hartmann on the Supreme Court

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Sherrod Brown, the senior senator from Ohio, was re-elected in 2018. He won by 7 points—in a state Hillary Clinton had lost—by 8 points—just 2 years earlier. What are the lessons for 2020? “You need to talk to workers,” he says, “and you need to fight for workers—all workers.” Now he has a new book out: Desk 88 – Eight progressive senators who changed America.

Also: why Joe Biden is the wrong candidate to take on Donald Trump: D.D. Guttenplan, The Nation’s editor, explains why the magazine has published an “anti-endorsement.”

Plus: this week the Supreme Court heard arguments about the fate of DACA residents—whether those young people brought here as small children should be deported. But why should that be decided by the nine justices on the Supreme Court? In a democracy, shouldn’t that be decided democratically? That’s Thom Hartmann’s argument—not just about DACA, but about all of judicial review. His new book is The Hidden History of the Supreme Court.

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Nov 13 2019

44mins

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Rank #17: “Whiteness Is All They’ve Got”: Gary Younge on Trump’s Working Class Supporters; Plus D.D. Guttenplan on Jackson, Miss., and Amy Wilentz on Ivana

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Gary Younge interviews Trump’s white working class supporters; D. D. Guttenplan spends a week reporting on Jackson, Mississippi; Amy Wilentz talks about Ivana.

Dec 20 2017

38mins

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Rank #18: How the Dems Can Win in 2020: Lessons of the Virginia Victories--Joan Walsh, plus Jeet Heer on Trump and War Crimes and Bryce Covert on Strikes

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Democrats need to learn the lessons of their historic victory last month, when Virginia became the first Southern state in the post–civil-rights-movement era to entirely flip back to Democratic control.  Virgina Democrats now hold the governorship AND both houses of the state legislature.  How did they do it?  Joan Walsh says one key was that Republican attacks on abortion didn’t send Democrats running scared.Also: Trump’s pardons for war criminals: Jeet Heer says the military is right to stand up for the laws of war, but the basic issue is a political one, and the military can’t make this a political fight.  But the voters can.And Bryce Covert has been examining strikes in America over the last couple of years.  More workers went on strike last year than at any time since 1986 – more than 20 years ago.  They include public sector workers, like teachers and nurses, and corporate employees, like auto and hotel workers – and even low-paid, part-time and temporary people who don’t have unions—like fast food workers and Uber drivers.  
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Dec 04 2019

37mins

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Rank #19: Frank Rich: How Hillary Could Lose to Trump

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A Clinton vs. Trump campaign in the fall would be a battle of the negatives, Frank Rich says--and Hillary’s are dangerously high. Plus: Hillary and Haiti—a long relationship, and a revealing one. Amy Wilentz comments. And we speak with Viet Nguyen—his novel "The Sympathizer" just won the Pulitzer Prize. It begins in Saigon on the last day of the Vietnam war, and features a Viet Cong spy inside the Saigon army.

Apr 20 2016

42mins

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Rank #20: ‘It Can’t All Be Bernie’: The Candidate with John Nichols, plus Adam Hochschild on deportation and John Powers on “The Irishman”

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Bernie Sanders says it will take a movement to change America: “It can’t all be Bernie.”  John Nichols comments on his interview with the candidate, who is now back in second place in the polls.  And we play clips from the interview, originally broadcast on the Next Left podcast. Also: deporting the immigrants called “undesirable”--now, under Trump, and a hundred years ago.  Historian Adam Hochschild notes that  it’s the 100th anniversary of the Palmer Raids, where J Edgar Hoover got his start rounding up and trying to deport immigrant radicals—and when one heroic Labor Department official blocked thousands of deportations.Plus: Martin Scorcese’s new film “The Irishman” opens on Netflix this week; it claims to tell the true story of the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the Teamsters Union, who disappeared in 1974.  But nobody who’s studied that history thinks the movie is right about what happened to Hoffa.  Does that fact change our judgement about the film?  John Powers comments; he’s critic at large for Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

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Nov 27 2019

41mins

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