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News & Politics
Society & Culture

Start Making Sense

Updated 12 days ago

News & Politics
Society & Culture
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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.

Read more

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

166 Ratings
Average Ratings
128
22
8
2
6

Great

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

Much Needed!

By ND#33 - Aug 27 2017
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Love this podcast. Informative guests and topics. Thank you!

iTunes Ratings

166 Ratings
Average Ratings
128
22
8
2
6

Great

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

Much Needed!

By ND#33 - Aug 27 2017
Read more
Love this podcast. Informative guests and topics. Thank you!
Cover image of Start Making Sense

Start Making Sense

Updated 12 days ago

Read more

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.

Rank #1: America After El Paso: Joan Walsh on Trump, plus Katha Pollitt on Protest and D.D. Guttenplan on the Green New Deal

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After Trump’s tweets about the El Paso killings, Beto’s response was the one of the best: “He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country.”  Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, examines the mainstream media’s failures in covering Trump.Also: Trump gets worse every week.  Two years ago we had massive nationwide protest demonstrations--so why don’t more people take it to the streets these days?  Nation columnist Katha Pollitt has been thinking about that.Plus: last month was the 50th anniversary of Americans walking on the moon.  What would it take to get a similar mobilization today of money & effort—and vision–-to combat climate change?  D.D. Guttenplan comments – he’s editor of The Nation.
Aug 07 2019
40 mins
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Rank #2: Trump’s Escalating Racism: A Sign of Political Desperation? Harold Meyerson, plus Jeet Heer on Al Franken and Paul Krassner remembered

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Are Trump’s recent racist tweets part of a political strategy, or an uncontrollable personal impulse?  Harold Meyerson comments – and also proposes ways to end the potentially devastating divide among Democrats over a Green New Deal.  Harold is editor-at-large of The American Prospect.Also: Was Al Franken railroaded, when he was forced to resign from the Senate in the face of #MeToo complaints about unwanted sexual touching and kissing?  Jane Mayer wrote a long report on the case for The New Yorker and concluded “Yes, he was railroaded,” but our national political correspondent Jeet Heer disagrees.And we’re still thinking about Paul Krassner, the sixties anarchist activist and editor of “The Realist” – he died July 21st – we re-play an interview where he talks about how he got Norman Mailer to come out against masturbation.
Jul 31 2019
42 mins
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Rank #3: 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
43 mins
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Rank #4: Chris Hayes: How We Got from Obama to Trump

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How did Obama’s presidency end with the election of Donald Trump? Chris Hayes comments—and talks about his trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin this week with Bernie Sanders to meet with Trump voters. Plus, Joan Walsh says Democrats shouldn’t focus exclusively on the worst of Trump’s cabinet nominees, starting with his Attorney General-designee Jeff Sessions; instead, they should fight ever last one of them. And Andrew Bacevich talks about how Trump’s appointments violate the principle of civilian control of the military—especially his choice for National Security advisor, retired General Michael Flynn, who is “something of a nutcase.”

Dec 14 2016
39 mins
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Rank #5: Robert Reich: Why Republicans Are Wrong about Taxes

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Could Republicans be right when they say taxes on business hurt the economy, and low wages help? Robert Reich says there’s an easy way to find out: compare economic growth in high-tax, high-wage California, with Texas. Also: Legendary attorney Marty Garbus argues that Obama should grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist who’s been in prison for 41 years. And, as the horrible year of 2016 comes to an end, Amy Wilentz talks about some of the year’s worst moments—and some of the best.

Dec 21 2016
34 mins
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Rank #6: 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
46 mins
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Rank #7: 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
44 mins
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Rank #8: Barbara Ehrenreich: What’s Wrong with ‘Wellness’; plus David Cole on Trump and Mueller, and Katha Pollitt on Stormy and Melania

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Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the pressure to remain fit, slim, and in control of one's body, even as the end of life approaches—and about the epidemic of unecessary testing pushed by our for-profit medical profession.  Barbara’s new book is 'Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.'

Plus: David Cole explains why the FBI raid on the offices and residences of Michael Cohen was not, as Trump said, “an attack on our country,” but rather an example of the rule of law.  David is National Legal Director of the ACLU and Legal Correspondent for The Nation.

And Katha Pollitt comments on the recent developments in the legal battle over the payoff to Stormy Daniels by Trump’s attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, and she explains why she likes Stormy, and why she’s sympathetic to Melania.  Katha is a columnist for The Nation.

Apr 11 2018
42 mins
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Rank #9: Will Trump Even Make It Through One Term? Plus: Montana’s Special Election, and Ivanka's New Book

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Could the Democrats remove Trump from office? Harold Meyerson comments on the politics of impeachment, and the lessons of the Democrats’ successful effort to remove Nixon, and the Republicans’ failed effort to remove Clinton. Also: D.D. Guttenplan reports on the Democrats’ efforts to flip a Republican House seat in the special election in Montana on May 25, where Democrat Rob Quist, a musician, is running against a multi-millionaire. And Amy Wilentz comments on Ivanka’s new book 'Women Who Work'. She calls it “a collated collection of bogus ideas and self-help puffery and platitude.”

May 17 2017
40 mins
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Rank #10: How the Trump Presidency Ends: Frank Rich Compares the President’s Situation to Watergate

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Plus Joshua Holland on Trump voters and David Cole on the resistance.

Aug 10 2017
45 mins
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Rank #11: Centrism Is Not the Answer! Gary Younge; plus Todd Gitlin on 1968 and Farah Griffin on Aretha

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Centrism lost for the Democrats in 2016, and it will lose again in 2018, Gary Younge argues: the party needs not just to oppose Trump, but also to put forward an alternative vision that can earn the support of working-class Americans. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shown how to do it, running on a program of tuition-free higher education, Medicare for all, and a federal jobs guarantee.
Plus: Trump’s 1968 – and ours. In August 1968, 50 years ago this week, young antiwar demonstrators fought the police outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, while the whole world was watching. It was the culmination of an overwhelming year for the anti-war movement. But where was young Donald Trump? Todd Gitlin explains–he’s an activist, a sociologist, and author of "The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage."
Also: Aretha Franklin, who died last week, was a musical genius who seems unique; but she came out of a specific place and time: Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s. Farah Griffin, Professor of Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, comments—and explains the central role Aretha played in Angela Davis’s fight for freedom after facing capital charges in California in 1970. Also: Aretha and Obama—at the beginning of his presidency, at his inauguration, and at the Kennedy Center concert at the end.

Aug 22 2018
46 mins
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Rank #12: The Case for Impeaching Trump—Plus, Trump’s Tweets and Corbyn’s Triumph

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John Nichols argues that Trump should be charged by the House with obstruction of justice and abuse of power and put on trial in the Senate. Plus: Amy Wilentz talks about the trouble with Trump's tweets, which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cited Monday in their ruling rejecting his travel ban. And: Paul Mason analyzes last week’s elections in Britain, and finds lessons for the American left in the historic campaign led by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. This episode of Start Making Sense is brought to you by The Dig, a podcast from Jacobin magazine. Check out The Dig on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jacobin-radio/id791564318?mt=2

Jun 14 2017
37 mins
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Rank #13: 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
42 mins
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Rank #14: 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
42 mins
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Rank #15: 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
47 mins
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Rank #16: It's Time to Break Up Amazon—Stacy Mitchell; plus Bryce Covert on low wage workers and Bob Dreyfuss on the Russiagate indictments

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Amazon is a radically new kind of monopoly that seeks to control all of online commerce. Stacy Mitchell says it’s time for anti-trust action to separate the Amazon Marketplace from Amazon’s own retail operations.

Also: Why have wages stagnated since the seventies? Bryce Covert says one reason is the mandatory noncompete and no-poaching agreements that prevent low-wage workers from taking better-paying jobs. California, Oklahoma and North Dakota have made them unenforceable; the rest of the states should do the same.

Plus: Our Russiagate reporter Bob Dreyfuss explains the indictments of 13 Russians for crimes that involved supporting Trump for president—and talks about the next steps Special Counsel Robert Mueller might take—following the trail left by the Russian hacker group “Cozy Bear.”

Feb 21 2018
43 mins
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Rank #17: Say It Again: Donald Trump Did Not Win the Popular Vote—E.J. Dionne; plus Ari Berman on Gerrymandering and Joan Walsh with Hillary

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E.J. Dionne argues that Trump has mobilized progressive political forces that can transform America. Plus Ari Berman reports on the argument about gerrymandering at the Supreme Court, and Joan Walsh sits down with Hillary Clinton for a conversation about what happened in the campaign.

Oct 04 2017
45 mins
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Rank #18: Margaret Atwood: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in the Age of Trump

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about the US after a right-wing coup has installed a theocratic regime, is now a ten-part series on Hulu. The TV version is shocking, scary, and surprisingly relevant in Trump’s America. In this interview, she recalls how and why she wrote the book—in 1984—and what in the TV version seems most resonant today. Also: Katha Pollit says “It’s not ‘McCarthyism’ to demand answers on Trump, Russia, and the election.” And, for our Ivanka Watch segment, Amy Wilentz comments on Ivanka’s debut on the world stage with her first official foreign trip—to the W20 in Germany, where she was booed.

Apr 26 2017
43 mins
Play

Rank #19: Naomi Klein: Kill the Trump Within—Plus, Health-Care in the Senate and Trump's Travel Ban

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It's not enough to say 'no' to Trump, Naomi Klein argues; we need to transform ourselves and our movement to bring about the change we need. Also: Senate Republicans postponed voting on their "health-care" bill, after the CBO revealed its terrible consequences; Zoë Carpenter comments. And, David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU, explains the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments in October about Trump's travel ban.

Jun 28 2017
42 mins
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Rank #20: 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
18 mins
Play

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