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Start Making Sense

Updated 8 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

202 Ratings
Average Ratings
154
27
10
3
8

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

202 Ratings
Average Ratings
154
27
10
3
8

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 Feb 12, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

Rank #1: 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 #2: 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 #3: 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 #4: 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 #5: “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 #6: Michael Moore: From Obama to Trump: "Fahrenheit 11/9"

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Michael Moore talks about his new documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," opens Friday May 21 across America--It's a passionate argument about how the Democrats helped pave the way to Trump's election, and a call to arms to change our politics and vote on Nov. 9.

Sep 21 2018

18mins

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Rank #7: Donald Trump Knows the Age of Reagan Is Over. Does Hillary?

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Hillary will have to do something different to beat Donald Trump, Bruce Shapiro argues—because appealing to moderates, like the Clintons did in the nineties, is not going to work this year. Also: The #BreakFree climate protests have mobilized tens of thousands in direct actions against coal, oil, and gas companies around the world. Zoë Carpenter reports. Plus: Patrick Cockburn, who Seymour Hersh has called “the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today,” gives us an update on Iraq, Syria, Libya, and ISIS.

May 18 2016

43mins

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Rank #8: 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.

Subscribe to The Nation to support all of our podcasts: thenation.com/podcastsubscribe

Dec 31 2019

48mins

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Rank #9: The Resistance to Trump, Year One: David Cole; plus Lawrence O’Donnell on 1968 and Steven Hahn on ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

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David Cole on stopping Trump, Lawrence O’Donnell on 1968, and Steven Hahn on “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Nov 21 2017

43mins

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Rank #10: How Trump Brought Feminism Back With a Vengeance: Katha Pollitt; plus Bob Dreyfuss on Russiagate and David Bromwich on Trump’s Ruling Passions

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Since Trump took office a year ago, Katha Pollitt says, women have been unleashing decades of pent-up anger: starting with the Women’s March, then in some amazing political victories, and in the #MeToo movement. But Trump has also shown how terrible the loss of the White House has been.

Also: David Bronwich says there are no surprises with Trump: he’s been the same for decades, a “wounded monster” with a history of racism and a contempt for people he considers “losers.” But defeating him requires more than an issue—it has to be a cause.

And Bob Dreyfuss explains the secrets behind the creation of the Trump-Russia dossier assembled by Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS—as revealed in Congressional testimony released last week by Diane Feinstein, against the wishes of the Republicans.

Jan 17 2018

43mins

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Rank #11: The Case Against Kavanaugh: Katha Pollitt; plus Harold Meyerson on the Financial Crisis and Mouin Rabbani on Oslo

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Katha Pollitt considers the arguments made by Brett Kavanaugh’s defenders in response to the charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old when he was 17, and the evidence supporting Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser.

Also: On the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, Harold Meyerson argues that the recovery was a disaster all over again—and that we are still suffering from its political consequences.  Harold is Executive Editor of The American Prospect.

Plus: 25 years ago, President Bill Clinton presided over a handshake on the White House grounds between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, agreeing to the Oslo Accords, which, we were told, laid the foundation for peace between Israel and a Palestinian state. Mouin Rabbani comments—he’s a fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies and a contributor to the London Review of Books and The Nation.

Sep 19 2018

42mins

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Rank #12: From Bill O’Reilly to Al Franken: Katha Pollitt on #MeToo in 2017; plus John Nichols on The Resistance in 2017 and Howell Raines on Alabama's Amazing Year

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Plus, John Nichols on The Resistance in 2017 and Howell Raines on Alabama’s amazing year.

Dec 27 2017

40mins

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Rank #13: 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 #14: The Kavanaugh Hearings Have Been an Outrage From the Beginning: John Nichols on the hearings, plus Sasha Abramsky on Voting Rights in Florida and Bryce Covert on Universal Basic Income

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The Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh have been an outrage, even before the recent “allegations of sexual misconduct.” John Nichols comments.

Also: Florida will vote in November on restoring voting rights for felons, and polls show the measure is likely to pass. Sasha Abramsky reports on the campaign and its significance.

Plus: universal basic income—government payments to help keep people out of poverty: is that a better idea than a government job guarantee? Bryce Covert explains the current debate on the left.

Support for this week’s episode of Start Making Sense is provided by Audible, visit audible.com/sense to get your first audiobook free.

Sep 26 2018

43mins

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Rank #15: Melania Trump: Hero of the People? Amy Wilentz, plus Katha Pollitt on the Politics of Motherhood and Lee Saunders on Unions after Janus

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Amy Wilentz takes up the vital question, is Melania Trump a hero of the resistance—or an accomplice of evil?  Is she edging “ever closer to open contempt for him,” as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni argues, and finding “increasingly clever ways to show it”?  Or is she sticking with her role as wife to a racist tyrant with a clear history of infidelity, and lots of cash?
Also: how mothers and pregnant women are discriminated against and punished – here at home, and around the world.  Katha Pollitt talks about how that has happened—and why.
And as Labor Day approaches, we talk labor unions and politics with Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME.  His union was the target of that decision by the Supreme Court in June, when it ruled, 5-4, that government workers who choose NOT to join unions may NOT be required to help pay for collective bargaining.  Saunders explains what unions are doing to fight back – in the November election, and in the long run.

Aug 29 2018

38mins

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Rank #16: Is Trump Crazy? Would Pence Be Worse? Amy Wilentz on Trump, Jane Mayer on Pence, and E.J. Dionne on America After Trump

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Amy Wilentz comments on the mental and emotional status of the president, as analyzed by 27 psychiatrists in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book edited by Bandy X. Lee. The book was number four on the New York Times bestseller list.

Also: Would Pence be worse? Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reports—she interviewed more than 60 people in search of answers, including Pence’s mother. Several say he’s wanted to be president at least since high school.

Plus: America After Trump: E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post argues that Trump has mobilized progressive political forces that can transform America—and he reminds us that Trump never had a majority of voters, and is the most unpopular presidents in our history. E.J. is co-author of One Nation After Trump: A Guide to the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported.

These segments previously aired on the Start Making Sense podcast.

Jul 11 2018

47mins

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Rank #17: 2019 Will Be the Worst Year of Trump’s Life: John Nichols on politics, Sarah Jaffe on the LA teachers strike, and Sean Wilentz on slavery and the constitution

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What will 2019 be like for Trump? Will it be like Nixon in 1974—the Watergate year, which ended with his resignation? Or more like Clinton in 1998—the Monica year, which culminated with an impeachment trial in the Senate in 1999? He won that vote easily and came out more popular than before. John Nichols looks at the investigations coming up in the House, leading us to conclude that 2019 will be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life.

Also: The LA teachers’ strike is, among other things, a battle over the future of the Democratic party: will it embrace austerity and the steady erosion of social services, or will it fund the progressive agenda? Sarah Jaffe reports.

And Americans have always struggled over the place of black people in America, starting at the beginning, with the Constitution. Was the Constitution a pro-slavery document? Or, as Lincoln argued, did it point toward abolition? We ask Sean Wilentz—his new book is No Property in Man.

Subscribe to Start Making Sense wherever you get your podcasts for new episodes every Wednesday.

Jan 23 2019

42mins

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Rank #18: William Barr: Another Jeff Sessions? David Cole, plus Dave Lindorff on Pentagon Accounting Fraud and Marc Cooper on the Revolution in Armenia

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Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, is more qualified to do the job than Matt Whitaker--but so are thousands of others. His record, however, show’s he as bad as Jeff Sessions—if not worse.  David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU and The Nation’s legal affairs correspondent, explains.
Also: a report on The Nation’s investigation of Massive Accounting Fraud at the Pentagon – Dave Lindorff found that $21 million cannot be accounted for.  For decades, he says, the Pentagon has been “deliberately cooking the books to mislead Congress.”
Plus: the Armenian Revolution: “a small light of hope and progressive democratic change in a Europe increasingly shadowed by authoritarian and dictatorial forces, especially in most of the former soviet-bloc states of Eastern Europe.”  That’s what Marc Cooper says—he’s spent months in Yerevan, where elections on Sunday confirmed the victory of the revolutionaries.

Dec 12 2018

44mins

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Rank #19: Fighting Climate Change—and Donald Trump: Bill McKibben plus Steve Phillips on moderate Republicans and Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on the inequality industry

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As world leaders (except for Trump) gather in San Francisco this week for the Global Climate Action Summit, Bill McKibben comments on California’s new law mandating 100 per cent clean electricity by 2045—and on the next task: keep oil and gas in the ground.
Also: Should Democratic strategy focus on winning the votes of moderate Republicans? Steve Phillips points to one key factor: there aren’t that many of them.  Steve is the author of the New York Times best seller, 'Brown Is the New White: How a Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority.'
Plus: the inequality industry: Atossa Abrahamian examines the new focus on inequality at the IMF, the Ford Foundation, and other elite institutions, and argues that there’s a big political difference between seeking to reduce inequality, and fighting for a world of equality.

Sep 12 2018

43mins

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Rank #20: Elizabeth Warren on Monopoly Power: George Zornick reports; plus David Dayen on Warren Buffett and Katha Pollitt on Trump and women

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Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to make the fight against monopoly power in America a key part of the Democrats’ agenda; George Zornick reports on his interview with her for the magazine’s special issue on the topic.

Also, Warren Buffett’s secret: “The sage of Omaha” is America’s favorite tycoon. He supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for president; even Bernie Sanders has praised his unselfishness.  But David Dayen says Warren Buffett’s wealth has actually been built on monopoly power—and the unfair advantages it provides.

Plus: Trump and that white working class woman who voted for him. Is she “stupid,” “gullible,” and “turned on by Trump’s bigotry”?  Katha Pollitt comments on Renee Elliott, the laid-off worker at that Carrier plant in Indiana—her recent speech at a labor-group press conference made her the face of the white working class Trump voter.

Feb 14 2018

41mins

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