A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
Why Has China Targeted Minorities in Xinjiang?
“Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang” is a expansive and detailed account of Xi Jinping’s policies against ethnic Uyghurs and Kazhaks in China’s northwestern region, which culminated in the detainment of a group estimated to number more than a million, in the largest civilian internment since the Holocaust. The staff writer Raffi Khatchadourian tells David Remnick how Xi Jinping’s government used an obsession with what it calls stability, and a fear of separatism and terrorism, to justify a campaign of genocide. It involves forced cultural assimilation, mass imprisonment, and coercive measures to reduce the birth rate.
Enemies, Foreign and DomesticThe heads of American intelligence agencies brief Congress on the biggest threats to national security.
This week, for the first time in more than two years, the directors of the D.N.I., C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A., and D.I.A. appeared before Congress to testify about “worldwide threats” to the United States. They discussed Russia, China, Iran, and domestic extremists—and warned about the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and climate change. On the same day, President Biden announced the withdrawal of the final U.S. troops from Afghanistan, closing a twenty-year chapter in the War on Terror. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the matrix of threats facing the country, and how the Biden Administration is responding to them.
Louis Menand on “The Free World”
The postwar years were a true flowering of American culture. Even as the United States was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union, which culminated in the terrifying doctrine known as mutually assured destruction, the country evolved from a military and economic powerhouse into a cultural presence at the center of the world. Modern jazz and rock and roll were exported and celebrated around the globe. Painters came out of the long shadow of war-torn Europe and led the way into new forms of abstraction and social commentary. Thinkers like James Baldwin turned a spotlight back on America’s fundamental, unexamined flaws. This period, in all its complicated glory, is the subject of “The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War,” by Louis Menand. Menand is a professor at Harvard University and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Metaphysical Club,” from 2001. Menand talks with David Remnick about a time, as he writes, when “ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered.”
Joe Biden Plays Hardball on Social Spending
Joe Biden promised to be the country’s Unifier in Chief, emphasizing his history as a consensus builder. But the first major bill of his Administration, the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate. Republicans remain wary of his recently announced $2.3-trillion infrastructure plan. These two bills propose to fundamentally reorder the American economy without substantive participation from Republicans. John Cassidy, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Biden’s latest economic plan and the real Trojan horse of the Administration.
Jane Mayer on How to Kill a Bill
The investigative reporter Jane Mayer recently received a recording of a meeting attended by conservative power brokers including Grover Norquist, representatives of PACs funded by Charles Koch, and an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell. The subject was the voting-rights bill H.R. 1, and the mood was anxious. The bill (which we discussed in last week’s episode) would broadly make voting more accessible, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, and it would raise the curtain on “dark money” in elections with stringent disclosure requirements. The problem for this group, a political strategist says, is that the bill is popular among voters of both parties, but H.R. 1, they insist, must die. As we hear the participants tick through options to tarnish the bill’s public appeal, Mayer notes how the political winds have shifted in Washington, leaving the Republican coalition newly fragile.
In Minneapolis and Georgia, the Fight for Racial Justice Continues
This week, testimony began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, in May of 2020. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests across the country and something like a new reckoning with systemic racism in America. But, while the Chauvin trial gets under way, sweeping new voting policies have been signed into law in Georgia, which critics say are designed to make it hard for people of color to cast their votes. Jelani Cobb joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the response to the killing of George Floyd, and how to think about the current wave of voter-suppression efforts across the country.
Super disturbing ep.
1/2 cooked discussions on virtual problems
The discussions on this podcast are critically and demonstrably left leaning to the point that they can’t even discuss the other side of things in a deeper way. It is always “we are on the right side” and then there are the rest mean people
Thoughtful discussions about current events. Innovative investigative reports on important topics.