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The Immigration Backlash

Saturday, February 28, 2015

From the halls of The Department of Homeland Security to a courtroom in Brownsville, TX, the fallout from President Obama's immigration policy is being felt. Jeffrey Toobin and Ryan Lizza talk with Dorothy Wickenden about Obama's executive action and the backlash in Congress and the courts.

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Israel and America’s Difficult Friendship

Monday, February 23, 2015

Have U.S.-Israel relations hit an all-time low? New Yorker editor David Remnick and writer Bernard Avishai talk with Amelia Lester about the strained relationship, negotiations on Iranian disarmament, and the impact of both for the upcoming Israeli elections.

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Instability in Ukraine

Thursday, February 12, 2015

“There just isn’t the political will and the leverage to enforce a ceasefire,” the New Yorker staff writer George Packer says of the war in eastern Ukraine. “Without that reality on the ground, whatever is put on paper—a thirteen-point protocol in Minsk—sounds something like a fantasy of Hollywood. It’s just evanescent.” Packer joins fellow-writer Evan Osnos and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s episode of the Political Scene podcast to talk about the U.S. and Europe’s ongoing struggle against Vladimir Putin. They discuss Putin’s role in the separatists’ military initiative, the effects of the region’s instability on NATO, Angela Merkel's role as mediator, and the U.S.’s waning ability to keep violence under control. Of Obama, Osnos says, “Clearly he has no interest in seeing Vladimir Putin redefine the boundaries of postwar Europe. At the same time, he’s not willing to expend American blood and treasure to stop it.”

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Fear of Vaccines

Friday, February 06, 2015

“Where is my child’s liberty if she is made sick by the freedom of someone else not to be vaccinated?” says New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter about the politics of falling inoculation numbers. Specter joins fellow staff writer Ryan Lizza and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to discuss the anti-vaccination movement and American hostility to science. The discuss the origins of suspicions about vaccines, the history of government responses to epidemics [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/05/30/resistant​], the change in popular attitudes toward science during the George W. Bush Administration [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/06/the-covenant], and President Obama’s inability to convince some Americans that vaccinations are safe for their children. “When he champions something, it polarizes the issue,” says Lizza. “If he says the sky is blue, people may start to question that.” ​

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The Evolution of Islamic Extremism

Friday, January 30, 2015

On this week’s Political Scene podcast, the New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson joins host Dorothy Wickenden to talk about the current status of the war against Islamic radicalism. The two discuss the ways in which terrorism is expanding across the Middle East, the dystopian vision of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and the limited impact of ISIS’s defeat in the Syrian town of Kobani. “Once again they have been stopped on the Turkish border, but they have found ways in which to appear to be important,” says Anderson. “In this rarefied media world that we live in, what gets more headlines: The fact that ISIS was pushed out of Kobani or this horrific hostage situation with the Japanese journalist and the Jordanian pilot?”

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Obama's Legacy

Thursday, January 22, 2015

“For obvious reasons, there was a lot of bragging in that speech and there was a lot of emphasis on the good economic news,” says Ryan Lizza about the State of the Union. Lizza joins fellow staff writer Hendrik Hertzberg and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about President Obama’s speech and how it might shape political debate during his last two years in office. They discuss what the President can accomplish without the support of Congress, the growing bipartisan agreement that income inequality is a major problem, and the likelihood that a failure to act on climate change will detract from Obama’s legacy. “Ten years from now, fifteen years from now, he may be seen as the guy who had the big chance to do something about the catastrophes now engulfing the world and didn’t do enough,” says Hertzberg.

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After Charlie Hebdo

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In the early aughts, “there was a genuine panic about how capable Al Qaeda was of creating events on the scale of 9/11,” the New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll says. “The real capacity of the transnational jihadist movement is a lot more like what you saw in Paris.” Coll joins his fellow-writer John Cassidy and the host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the international campaign against Islamic extremism following the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. They discuss France’s difficulty in assimilating Arab immigrants, the evolution of terrorism over the past decade, and the use of secret warrants for surveillance under the Patriot Act. “Whatever policies we pursue, we’ve got to take a two-part approach: Are they going to be effective in the short term, but are they going to have counterproductive effects in the long-term, in generating a bigger flow of disaffected young Muslims?” Cassidy says.

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Keystone and Congress

Thursday, January 08, 2015

“Keystone became a symbol, that if you could block this one project, maybe worldwide people would think twice before vigorously trying to extract oil from oil sands and similar projects,” the New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza says on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Lizza is joined by his fellow-writer John Cassidy and the host Dorothy Wickenden to talk about the politics of oil in the new, Republican-dominated Congress. They discuss Obama’s threat to veto the pipeline, the economic downsides of falling oil prices, and the reasons we won’t see a carbon tax. “I’m sure the Obama Administration is in favor of an energy tax. Most moderate conservative economists are in favor of it if you push them against the wall, but it’s the politics that has been seen as poison,” says Cassidy.

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A New Cuba

Friday, December 19, 2014

“There had been eighteen months of secret negotiations, seven meetings that took place in Canada, under the good offices of the Canadian government, and also by Pope Francis in the Vatican, to help make this happen,” Jon Lee Anderson says about the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Anderson joins his fellow New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the new relationship between the two nations. They discuss the differences between Raúl and Fidel Castro that made the agreement possible, the impact that Marco Rubio’s opposition could have on his Presidential campaign, and the diplomatic lessons we can draw from U.S.-China relations. “China today is still a one-party state. It’s not like Cuba is going to wake up next year and suddenly have freedom of expression, freedom of worship, rule of law, judicial independence, human-rights protections,” says Osnos. “We will still represent an oppositional political culture that is not going to be relieved just because we have this new, much more open economic relationship.”

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The Torture Report

Saturday, December 13, 2014

“The stain from this scandal is one of the worst ever in the history of the C.I.A., and from my standpoint one of the worst in the country,” Jane Mayer says of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on C.I.A. interrogation tactics. Mayer joins her fellow New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll and Amelia Lester, an editor for the magazine, on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the report and its political significance. They discuss the unreliability of information obtained through torture and the unlikeliness of anyone being held accountable for the treatment of detainees. “I don’t think there’s any prospect of reviving criminal investigations in the United States,” Coll says.

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Negotiating Climate Change

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Focussing on a very narrow set of countries, as we did in Kyoto, and looking for aggressive emissions cuts in the short term doesn’t do anything,” Robert Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at the Harvard Kennedy School, says about the international conference on climate change taking place in Lima this week. Stavins joins the New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week's Political Scene podcast to talk about the conference, which is the first of its kind since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. They also discuss the recent United States-China agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the evolution of the Republican Party's pronouncements on environmental issues, and the fact that climate change remains a second-order issue to the American public. Of this, Kolbert says, “While I really think we have to applaud the administration for saying, ‘this is the best we can do in a bad situation,’ as a country we have to ask ourselves, ‘Really, is this the best we can do?’ ”

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Jeffrey Toobin and John Cassidy on Ferguson

Monday, December 01, 2014

“I think it would have been very difficult, maybe even impossible, to get a criminal conviction,” Jeffrey Toobin says of the grand-jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Toobin, who wrote this week about the prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s “document-dump” approach to the case, joins John Cassidy and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene to discuss the investigation, and how the issue of race plays out in the criminal-justice system. Of Darren Wilson’s testimony, Cassidy says, “He wasn’t challenged at any point … we don’t know how he would have held up on a witness stand.” They also revisit Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,’s 1995 magazine piece “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” about the jurors in the O. J. Simpson trial. Toobin says, “The jury system does rely on different people having different perceptions. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. The problem is when those perceptions are so clearly shaped by race.”​

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Obama and Immigration

Monday, November 24, 2014

“If the Democrats are going to win in 2016, they’re going to have to put back together the Obama coalition. This gives the coalition something to fight on,” John Cassidy says about President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. Cassidy joins Hendrik Hertzberg and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the new measures and how they will impact the Presidential race. They discuss its likely effects on the lives of undocumented immigrants, the recent history of executive orders, and Obama’s decision to fight for the issues he cares about rather than appease the Republicans. “With any luck, we are seeing a new, unleashed Obama,” Hertzberg says. “I don’t understand why, for so many years, he labored under the spell of the bipartisan, let’s-all-sing-kumbaya-together approach to governance.”

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Clinton’s Rivals

Thursday, November 13, 2014

None of Hillary Clinton's challengers seem like plausible nominees, but one Democratic strategist told the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza that a deft insurgent could "torture this poor woman."

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Obama and the G.O.P.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

“I’d like to see him use the last two years to make up for some of the rhetorical mistakes of the last six,” Hendrik Hertzberg says of President Obama on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Hertzberg joins David Remnick and host Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Obama’s missteps contributed to Republican gains in the midterms, and what he can do to make the most of the remainder of his second term. They discuss how the myriad international crises of the summer may have affected the election, the waning power of the bully pulpit, Mitch McConnell’s victory, and the over-all dismal quality of political discussion in Congress today. Remnick says, “I don’t want to romanticize the Senates of the fifties or the sixties as if it were filled with Enlightenment kings and queens, but … it is so deeply dispiriting to watch the level of conversation and debate and politics on issues that are our future.”

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Understanding Contagion

Thursday, October 30, 2014

“The Administration should be faulted for giving mixed signals” about Ebola, the New Yorker staff writer Jerome Groopman says on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Groopman joins host Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how panic and misinformation have clouded the response to the virus in the U.S. so far, and what we should and should not worry about when it comes to this and other contagions. They examine the confusion over state versus federal quarantine policies, the evolution of the C.D.C’s guidelines, and the lessons that we can learn from the current outbreak. They also explore how epidemics have historically led to stigmas against vulnerable minority groups, and why Obama has a responsibility to emphasize the humanistic imperative to combat Ebola. Groopman says, “The President should state quite clearly that Americans are a compassionate and caring people, and that we take care of our own and, when we have the opportunity, we take care of others.”

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President Obama’s Judicial Legacy

Friday, October 24, 2014

President Obama “has achieved a level of diversity in the federal courts that is very much unprecedented in the history of United States courts,” says the New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote about Obama’s judicial legacy in the current issue of the magazine. Toobin joins Amelia Lester on the Political Scene podcast to discuss how Obama has reshaped the federal judiciary and the major cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. Their conversation covers the President’s philosophy on selecting appointees, his cautious approach to same-sex marriage and affirmative action, the new restrictions on voting rights, and the question of when and whether Ruth Bader Ginsburg—“the Notorious R.B.G.”—will retire.

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A Panel on the Middle East

Thursday, October 16, 2014

“The Middle East is coming apart in a way that, I think, is unprecedented,” Dexter Filkins says on this week’s Political Scene, which was recorded live at The New Yorker Festival last Sunday. Filkins was joined by Steve Coll, Robin Wright, and Jon Lee Anderson for a panel discussion moderated by Evan Osnos about their experiences covering the Middle East and the rise of extremism in the region.

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Rand Paul’s Counterculture

Friday, October 10, 2014

If Paul is to run for President in 2016, he faces a challenge: how to avenge his father, who is still seen as a fringe figure, while distancing himself from his father’s image.

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Midterm Battlegrounds

Friday, October 10, 2014

With the midterm elections less than a month away, John Cassidy and Ryan Lizza join host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s podcast to discuss the key Senate races, and how President Obama is affecting the campaign strategies of both parties.

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