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The Politics of Everything
45 minutes | 10 days ago
Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Us
What’s it like to be wrong? We have no idea. On Episode 25 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene discuss being right all the time. TNR staff writers Walter Shapiro and Matt Ford review their spot-on analyses of Trump and the Republican Party; Wired columnist Paul Ford talks about how the internet today looks exactly as he would have predicted in 2000; and the social psychologist Carol Tavris explains cognitive dissonance, the mechanism that protects people who do get things wrong—unlike the hosts, producers, editors, and guests of this podcast—from ever realizing it.
43 minutes | 24 days ago
The Case of the Sick Spies
In late 2016, staff at the American embassy in Havana began hearing strange noises and experiencing a range of odd symptoms: headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears. Suspicion arose that they had been targets of a secret weapon. In the years since, doctors, scientists, journalists, and government officials have tried—with limited success—to get to the bottom of the illness that came to be known as Havana Syndrome. On Episode 24 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to four people who have followed the story closely: Jack Hitt, who covered it for Vanity Fair; Tim Weiner, the author of The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945-2020; Adam Gaffney, a physician; and the journalist Natalie Shure. What was the diplomatic context in which Havana Syndrome appeared? How have Republicans, Democrats, and the foreign policy establishment exploited the secret weapon theory? And is there a likelier explanation for the mysterious syndrome?
40 minutes | a month ago
Against Remote Work
As its boosters have long argued, remote work offers any number of obvious benefits. Companies save money on rent; employees don’t have to waste time commuting; and everyone, without the distractions of the office, can be more efficient. But for decades, telecommuting simply failed to take hold. On Episode 23 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk with the writer Richard Cooke about why, and what our historical reluctance to work from home augurs for the future.Later in the show, Katie McDonough, a deputy editor at The New Republic, investigates the fantasy of escaping from work altogether, with a look at the politics of early-retirement advice.
37 minutes | 2 months ago
How Pandemics End
On December 11, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer to begin distributing its vaccine for Covid-19. The triumphant moment comes on the brink of a grim winter, amid record case levels across the United States, and it is accompanied by countless unknowns. For Episode 22 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Yale University and the author of Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, about what to expect in the coming year and beyond—what it will take to recover from the pandemic’s devastation, and how our lives may be permanently changed. Later in the show, Melody Schreiber, a frequent contributor to The New Republic, and Rebecca Coyle, the executive director of the American Immunization Registry Association, join to discuss the challenges of the vaccine rollout. When will vaccines be available to ordinary people? What kinds of problems may arise as they’re distributed and tracked? How long, in other words, will all this last?
32 minutes | 3 months ago
American Military Supremacy is Not Inevitable
The country with the most powerful military in the world likes to pretend it has no choice in the matter. If the United States didn’t maintain order, the story goes, disorder would prevail. But as decades of messy wars drag on, this justification grows less and less plausible. On Episode 21 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to the historian Stephen Wertheim about how the U.S. took on its role as a military superpower, and what might happen if we relinquished it.Later in the episode, TNR staff writer Alex Shepherd analyzes the runoff elections in Georgia that will determine which party controls the Senate. Republican Kelly Loeffler, who’s favored to win, is a political newbie with an insider trading scandal in her past. Why don’t voters care?
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Fantasizing About Joe Biden’s Cabinet
Who should President-elect Biden ask to join his cabinet? Everyone has an opinion, and most of the opinions are terrible. On Episode 20 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene interpret our cabinet dreams. What do they say about us, and what do they say about Joe Biden? Jason Linkins, a deputy editor at The New Republic, and Osita Nwanevu, a staff writer at the magazine, bravely join to help Alex and Laura appoint their own fantasy cabinet.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
Libertarian vs. Bear
In the early 2000s, a group of libertarians moved to a small town in New Hampshire, where they set about slashing the municipal budget. The newcomers wanted to be free from taxes and government regulation, and they envisioned an experiment that would show the world the virtues of their political philosophy while allowing them to live as they liked. But before long, they found themselves fighting off packs of black bears. On Episode 19 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling, the author of A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears), about the ensuing chaos, and the political lessons to be drawn from it.Later in the episode, TNR contributor Colette Shade explores the unhelpfulness of self-help tips in a collapsing society.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
Can the Supreme Court Be Fixed?
With the likely confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett this week to the Supreme Court, conservatives will secure a majority they can use to strike down liberal legislation for years to come. Why do nine people who are not elected hold so much power over laws in this country? And what do you do when the justices favor one party so strongly over another? On Episode 18 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Samuel Moyn, a professor of history and law at Yale, about the dangers of maintaining such a powerful court and the best strategies for reform.Later in the episode, TNR staff writer J.C. Pan and David Roth, a frequent contributor to the magazine, look back at the Melania tapes and how a story gets lost in the news cycle.
32 minutes | 5 months ago
Is California Doomed to Keep Burning?
What will it take to save California? Around the world, fire season is growing increasingly severe and increasingly lethal. This year, wildfires have destroyed more than five million acres in the American West alone. The August Complex fire, which is burning California’s Mendocino Forest, has become the largest in the state’s history. On Episode 17 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene speak with the historian and urban theorist Mike Davis about the decades of poor decisions in residential development and fire management that led us here. In the second segment, Naomi Klein, the author of On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, explores how the converging disasters of 2020 should shape the future of climate policy.Later in the episode, campaign reporter Walter Shapiro previews the vice presidential debate. If it’s anything like past VP debates, it won’t alter the race and it’ll be entirely forgettable—but are there other reasons to watch it?
35 minutes | 5 months ago
The Strangely Persistent Myth of the Suburbs
While Democrats pin their electoral hopes on turning wealthy suburbs blue, Donald Trump tells “Suburban housewives” on Twitter that Joe Biden will “destroy” their “American dream.” But who are suburban voters really? On Episode 16 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene speak with four guests about how the suburbs have transformed since the 1960s, and what those changes mean for electoral politics. Katie McDonough, a deputy editor at The New Republic, offers a tour of the suburban fantasy by way of real estate listings. Brian Goldstone, an anthropologist and journalist, and Willow Lung-Amam, an associate professor in urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland, discuss the shifting economic and racial profile of the areas outside the urban core. And Lily Geismer, the author of Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, describes the mistakes politicians are making in their efforts to capture the suburban vote.
37 minutes | 6 months ago
Dangers of the Lame Duck
Why is the period between Election Day and inauguration so long in the United States? What kind of trouble have past outgoing presidents made during the interregnum? And in the event Joe Biden wins, how can we expect Donald Trump to behave? On Episode 15 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene interview six guests about the presidential transition and how we might prepare for it: Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University and co-editor of Dissent; Jason Linkins, a deputy editor at The New Republic; TNR staff writers Matt Ford, Melissa Gira Grant, and Libby Watson; and longtime campaign reporter and TNR staff writer Walter Shapiro. * On this episode, one of our guests suggested that Congress could change the date of the presidential inauguration if it wanted to. That’s true of Election Day, but changing the date of the inauguration would require a constitutional amendment. We regret the error.
34 minutes | 6 months ago
The Chaos of Reopening Schools
Teachers feel frustrated and afraid. Parents are overburdened. Guidance from officials has been scant. For the schools preparing to welcome students back next month, nothing about the planning process has been easy. On Episode 14 of The Politics of Everything, the writer Keith Gessen joins hosts Alex Pareene and Laura Marsh to talk about why the city’s fight to safely return kids to public schools has been so difficult. Later in the episode, J.C. Pan, a staff writer at The New Republic, explains what makes the current downturn a “shesession,” and how efforts to alleviate its effects on women must take more than gender into consideration.
32 minutes | 7 months ago
The Women Who Still Can’t Vote
As we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment this month, it’s tempting to assume that women’s suffrage is complete. Yet millions of women—because they are incarcerated or on parole, because their legal name doesn’t match certain documents, because the polls are open only during the hours they are at jobs or caring for their families—still don’t have the franchise, either in effect or by law. On Episode 13 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk Melissa Gira Grant, a staff writer at The New Republic, about who remains locked out of the vote, why they’ve been excluded, and what the work of suffrage looks like today. Later in the episode, Alex Shephard explores how Trump is changing the books we buy.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
Monopoly is Tyranny
The economy as we know it is populated by gigantic corporations, behemoths that have bought up not only their competition but also the businesses supplying or otherwise supporting them. Such monopolies act as a “rival form of government,” explains Zephyr Teachout, the author of Break ’Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money. On Episode 12 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk with Teachout about the dangers of allowing these outsize companies to grow unchecked and what should be done about it. Later in the episode, Osita Nwanevu, a staff writer at The New Republic and a regular guest on the podcast, discusses liberals’ fears of so-called cancel culture. Will it really undermine liberalism itself? And if not, why is everyone so worked up?
39 minutes | 7 months ago
The Long War on Objectivity
The mess of hystrionics and misinformation that passes for right-wing media these days didn’t spring from nowhere. How did this increasingly influential and well-funded sphere become what it is? On Episode 11 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk with Moira Weigel, a postdoctoral scholar at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a founding editor of Logic magazine, about the early careers of pivotal figures such as Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart, and the regulatory and technological changes that paved the way for their success.Later in the show, veteran politics reporter Walter Shapiro offers an update on the state of the Trump campaign, whose strategists have settled on two important goals: 1) Make a lot of money and 2) don’t get fired.
43 minutes | 8 months ago
The Political Power of Protests
After three weeks of protests against police violence, the energy of the demonstrations remains undiminished. Episode 10 of The Politics of Everything explores what is motivating the actions, the political effects they’ve already had, and what’s to come.Hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, the founder of the African American Policy Forum and a regular contributor to The New Republic, about the connection between police killings and Covid-19’s disproportionate toll on black Americans. Osita Nwanevu, a staff writer at the magazine, explores how protest shapes policy. And Patrick Blanchfield, the author of Gunpower: The Structure of American Violence, explains “coptalk”—how police use euphemism and officialese to paper over the harms they commit.
36 minutes | 9 months ago
Vaccines Don't Make Money
Victory in the so-called race for a coronavirus vaccine rests on the skills of a handful of private companies whose primary motivation is hardly the public good. Can the Big Pharma deliver what we need to recover from this pandemic and prevent others from occurring? On Episode 9 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene interview Alexander Zaitchik, a regular contributor to The New Republic, about patent monopolies, the history of vaccine development in the United States, and the promise of alternative models of drug production.Later in the episode, Alex and Laura talk with the book and film critic Lidija Haas about Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld’s counterfactual novelization of the life of Hillary Clinton.
37 minutes | 9 months ago
Is Baseball Safe?
Will the United States get a baseball season this year? Do we deserve one? What is at stake—economically, emotionally, mortally—in the effort to start up sports again? On Episode 8 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to David Roth, a former editor of Deadspin and a frequent contributor to The New Republic, about the challenges and questionable wisdom of reopening sports in a country still battling a pandemic.Later in the episode, Laura and Alex consider the plight of the New York City subway system, which recently suspended late-night service. Given the MTA’s drastic budget shortfalls, it’s hard not to wonder whether New Yorkers will ever ride trains at night again. What is the post-Covid future of public transit?
39 minutes | 10 months ago
Reimagining the Post-Covid Economy
The Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the usual functioning of the national economy with shocking speed and violence. Now, as states around the country move to “reopen”—in most cases far earlier and faster than is safe—and politicians hold forth about how best to restart economic activity, it seems imperative to consider the nature of the economy getting restarted. Do we really want to go back to the pre-pandemic status quo? How can we remake the system so it works better for everyone?For Episode 7, The Politics of Everything assembled an ad hoc council to address these questions, asking six guests to offer their best and least expected ideas for reform: Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Jason Linkins and Katie McDonough, deputy editors at TNR; Libby Watson, a TNR staff writer; and TNR contributors Aaron Timms and Liza Featherstone.
36 minutes | 10 months ago
The Polarization Problem
Political polarization is something liberals have grown fond of naming as an obvious societal ill. And it is bad—but does it need to get worse before it can get better? On Episode 6 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to Osita Nwanevu, a staff writer at The New Republic, about the history of polarization, its role in politics today, and what gets lost when you to try to find the sources of political division in evolutionary psychology, as Ezra Klein does in his recent book, Why We’re Polarized.Later in the show, campaign reporter Walter Shapiro describes how newspapers buried or outright ignored the 1918 Spanish flu, and how, in an unnerving parallel to this moment, the shoddy media coverage encouraged state and local governments to do as little as possible about that long ago pandemic.
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