EPISODES
  • From McCarthyism to Citizens United

    The mathematician Chandler Davis, who died in 2002 at age 96, was one of the notable victims of the second Red Scare. In 1960, Davis was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to answer questions about his membership in the Communist Party. Davis’s lawyers defended him with the innovative legal argument that the First Amendment barred such questioning. While Davis lost in the courts, his legal battles were still an important effort in a larger battle to extend the parameters on political speech. Davis’s story is told in a new book, The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis by Steve Batterson. Siobhan Robert’s obituary for Davis ran in The Nation.

    On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I talked to journalist Doug Bell, who knew Chandler Davis, about this book and Davis’s larger place in history. We take up the history of anti-communism and how it has limited free speech, the legal philosophy of Alexander Meiklejohn, and the reactionary Supreme Court's use of the First Amendment to expand corporate power.  



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    36m | Feb 18, 2024
  • The Democrats Embrace the Right on Immigration

    On this episode of The Time of Monsters, a discussion with Adam Johnson on the Democrats' failed border policy.



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    27m | Feb 11, 2024
  • The Abortion Battle Needs A Fighting President

    On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Moira Donegan on Joe Biden’s need to embrace pro-choice politics.



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    36m | Feb 3, 2024
  • Dangers of a Wider War In The Middle East

    Gaza, under siege and bombardment from Israel, remains ground zero for violence in the Middle East, sending shock waves through the region. The Gaza onslaught is provoking a series of escalating wars with the United States and Israel on one side against Iran and its allies and proxies on the other. Fighting of various degrees of intensity has broken out in Yemen, the Red Sea, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria as well as the borders of Israel, among other places.

    This week, I speak with Trita Parsi, vice president and co-founder of The Quincy Institute, about the cascading violence in the region. We also take up the Biden administration’s decision to double down on its push for a Saudi/Israeli alliance, a program that could itself deepen the violence. As an alternative, we consider the possibility of other great powers taking over the job of negotiating a settlement to the regions problems. Trita has written on these issues in many venues, including The Nation.



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    29m | Jan 21, 2024
  • Biden’s Bear Hug Disaster

    On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I talked to Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian-American analyst who heads the Palestine/Israel Program at the Arab Center in Washington, DC. He offered an informed perspective on the ideological origins of the bear hug strategy and how it has manifestly failed in its stated goal of trying to restrain Israel from excessive violence. We also discuss the way Biden’s strategy is bad for American national interest and hurts Biden’s re-election chances. We also take up the repression of free speech as a result of the conflict.



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    32m | Dec 10, 2023
  • Kissinger’s Corruption and Palestinian Solutions`

    This week, I talked with Matt Duss, executive vice president of the Center for International Policy, about the recent death of Henry Kissinger and how the violence in Israel/Palestine could realistic give way to diplomatic solutions.



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    42m | Dec 2, 2023
  • Garry Wills and the Real Kennedy Curse

    For this week's episode of The Time of Monsters, I’m doing a joint podcast with the crew from Know York Enemy (Sam Adler-Bell and Matt Sitman) talking about the legacy of the Kennedy family.

    Our talk is based on our shared love for Garry Wills’ The Kennedy Imprisonment, a revelatory book about not just the Kennedy family but the nature of 'great man politics.'



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    1h 43m | Nov 26, 2023
  • AIPAC Versus the Squad

    On Wednesday, Alex Sammon reported in Slate that “one of the biggest, bitterest, and most expensive political battles of the 2024 election cycle has emerged: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC], one of the most powerful, best-funded influence operations in Washington, is planning to go all out to knock the famed “Squad”—the small group of highly visible and popular progressive legislators of color, most of them women—out of office.”

    AIPAC is planning on spending more than $100 million to push the Democratic party to the right. Given AIPAC’s successful track record, this is a genuine threat.

    For this episode of the podcast, Alex and I sat down to talk about this development, the way the current Israel-Palestine conflict is sending political shockwaves in America, and the Democratic party’s selective defense of incumbents. We also discuss the fact that Israel’s war is increasingly unpopular and facing mass opposition— a fact that could undermine AIPAC’s agenda.



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    28m | Nov 19, 2023
  • The Religious Right Is Loving the Middle East Apocalypse

    The news from the Middle East remains bleak, with the Israeli response to the Hamas massacre leading to more than 10,000 deaths, mainly of civilians. Most people regard the unfolding news with horror, but there is a subset of people who are not hiding the fact they are thrilled. A subset of evangelicals known as Pentecostals see the news as proof that the long awaited apocalypse, which will herald the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, is at hand. They are strongly pro-Israel because they believe that the return of the Jews to the holy land, to be followed by their mass conversion to Christianity, is a necessary fulfillment of God’s plan.

    My Nation colleague, Chris Lehmann wrote about this influential religious faction in a recent column. On this episode of the podcast, Chris and I discuss Pentecostal beliefs about the Middle East, the Cold War, Trumpism, the prosperity gospel and the Americanization of the faith.

    We also talk about alternative Christian traditions that don’t hunker after Armageddon but work for peace. 

    An earlier conversation I had with Sarah Posner took up the history of the religious right and is a good companion for this podcast.



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    31m | Nov 12, 2023
  • Scorsese’s Indigenous Epic

    Martin Scorsese’s masterful new movie, Killers of the Flower Moon strikes out to new territory for the famed director. It’s his first foray into the American West (although set a generation after the traditional western and overturning many of the conventions of the genre).

    The film also explores many of his familiar themes: toxic masculinity, domestic violence, gangs, criminal conspiracies, spirituality and the limits of the law. 

    On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I am joined by David Klion to talk about this fascinating movie. David wrote about the movie for The New Republic and my review appeared here. In the course of the discussion, I mentioned a novel about the Osage murders recommended by Lily Gladstone. The novel is Charles Red Corn’s A Pipe for February.



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    57m | Nov 5, 2023
  • How Canada Became a Nazi Haven

    Last month, the Canadian parliament embarrassed itself during an official visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky when the entire legislative body gave a standing ovation to a veteran of the Waffen SS, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi movement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later apologized for incident. 

    To understand what happened, it’s important to realize that Canada, like other Western nations, has a long history of sheltering Nazi war criminals. This was not a matter of negligence but official policy. During the Cold War, these hardened Nazi criminals were seen as valuable allies against the Soviet Union. This policy is all the more shameful because during World War II, the vast majority of Ukrainians who took up arms did so in the Red Army against Nazism.

    Lev Golinkin, a Ukrainian-American reporter, has been doing excellent work for The Forward and The Nation bringing this shameful history to light. On this episode of The Time of Monsters, I sat down with Lev to talk about the long history of Canada’s hospitality to Nazi war criminals. In the podcast, he references this enlightening video.



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    37m | Oct 29, 2023
  • The Moral and Policy Catastrophe in Israel/Palestine

    The Hamas massacres that started last Saturday and the ensuing retaliation by the Israel government deserve both a moral witness and policy analysis. On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Spencer Ackerman, Nation contributor who wrote about the events here, provides both.

    In a searing and informed conversation, he places front and center the human worth of all the innocent victims. He also places the event in the framework of the bipartisan Abraham Accords, supported by Donald Trump and Joe Biden alike, which elevated alliances between authoritarian states at the expense of human rights.



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    34m | Oct 15, 2023
  • The GOP Congressional Clown Show

    A government shutdown has been temporarily avoided, but congress remains a mess. Kevin McCarthy has been ousted from his position as House Speaker. The hand-shake deal he made over Ukraine funding is now in doubt and the prospect of another shutdown drama looms, bringing with it the real danger of a prolonged government closure.

    Chris Lehmann, D.C. Bureau Chief for The Nation joins the program to look at the deep history of the GOP’s persistent proclivity for empowering extremists in congress. Special emphasis is given to Newt Gingrich and the Tea Party. This Politco interview with the sociologist Theda Skocpol is also discussed.



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    23m | Oct 7, 2023
  • The Auto Strike Upturns Politics

    The United Auto Workers union has launched an innovative strike against all three major automakers, a major disruption that is upturning American politics, as both major parties are divided on it. 

    On the Republican side, Donald Trump is disingenuously posing as a populist by going to the picket line. But rivals like Nikki Haley and Tim Scott show that the GOP commitment to union-bashing is still strong. On the Democratic side, Joe Biden has a strong record as a president supporting labor but he has been cautious about showing overt support. Only after much prodding did he decide to join picketers.

    Luke Savage wrote about the strike for Jacobin magazine where he is a staff writer. We talk about the strike and the larger labor upsurge. 

    Savage is the author of the forthcoming book Seeking Social Democracy. In the conversation, he references a Tim Scott video, which can be viewed here as well as a Politico article which can be read here.



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    24m | Sep 30, 2023
  • The Triumph and Tragedy of Betty Friedan

    Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963) and one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW), was a hero of feminism, but a complicated and difficult hero. Her book and activism were pivotal for igniting second-wave feminism in the 1960s. But as head of NOW, her leadership was irascible and nettlesome, marred especially by her homophobic hostility towards lesbian activism.

    In a recent review for The New Yorker looking at books about NOW and Friedan, Moira Donegan lays bare the contradictions of Friedan’s legacy, her world-changing importance but also the way she sabotaged both herself and the movement she did so much to create. On this episode of The Time of Monsters, we talk about the lessons of Friedan’s life and how they remain urgent in current feminist struggles. Moira is a frequent guest of the podcast. She’s a columnist for The Guardian and also cohosts a podcast called In Bed With the Right.



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    55m | Sep 17, 2023
  • Naomi Klein and Her Doppleganger

    On this episode of the Time of Monsters podcast, Laura Marsh discusses Noami Klein's new book, Doppleganger, about Noami Wolf.



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    46m | Sep 10, 2023
  • Oppenheimer’s Inopportune Opportunism

    Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is the rarest of things: a summer blockbuster that is super-smart and repays close analysis. Two weeks ago, this podcast teamed up with Jewish Currents writers and editors Mari Cohen, David Klion, and Raphael Magarik to talk about the way the film portrays the 20th century left.

    But there is more to be said about the movie. Frequent Time of Monsters contributor, Doug Bell had some bones to pick with the the film. In particular, he feels it slighted the way Oppenheimer compromised with the anti-communist witch-hunters who tried to destroy his career. Was Oppenheimer a martyr or an opportunist? To take up the movie and the longer history of anti-communist repression in the United States, Jeet Heer talks with Doug Bell about the movie and the reality it sometimes fails to do justice.



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    47m | Sep 2, 2023
  • The Trump Wannabees

    The GOP held their first presidential debate for the 2024 election cycle and the crowded stage was notable for a significant absence.

    Former president Donald Trump was nowhere to be seen. Enjoying a commanding lead in the polls, Trump rightly felt that it was beneath his dignity to share a stage with a crew of also-rans. So the evening became a contest to see who could imitate Trump best. But Trump did remain in the news thanks to fresh new indictments in Georgia over his alleged conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.

    To examine the debates and Trump’s domination of the GOP, fellow Nation writer Chris Lehmann joins the Time of Monsters podcast. He's written on these topics lately, and we had a robust discussion about a party in deep trouble.



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    37m | Aug 27, 2023
  • The Jewishness of "Oppenheimer"

    Christopher Nolen’s Oppenheimer, a biopic about the famed scientist who oversaw the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb, is a surprise hit of the summer. It’s made more than $650 million worldwide, putting it ahead of more conventional blockbusters such as the newest entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise. 

    Time of Monsters host Jeet Heer sat down with writers and editors at The Jewish Currents (Mari Cohen, David Klion, and Raphael Magarik) for a team-up of podcasts to talk about the movie. We discuss the way the movie portrays tensions within the Jewish community, its grappling with the history of the American left, its avoidance of direct portrayals of the effect of nuclear weapons, and its critique of the military-industrial complex.

    During the discussion we touch on David Klion’s review of the movie which ran in The New Republic



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    47m | Aug 17, 2023
  • It’s a Barbie World But Is That a Good Thing?

    Barbie has smashed through the glass ceiling. Greta Gerwig’s new movie based on the popular Mattel doll is the big summer film of 2023. It’s made more than $1 billion –the first time that box office benchmark has been reached by a film directed by a woman. This popular success is all the more notable because the movie deals explicitly with feminist critiques of patriarchy. 

    Barbie has generated an enormous public debate, but not everybody wholeheartedly loves the movie. I think the best piece of writing on the film was written by Tarpley Hitt for The Nation. Hitt, a writer and editor for The Drift who is working on a book about the Barbie doll, described the movie’s feminism as “muddled.” I sat down and talked to Tarpley for an enlightening discussion about this year's buzziest blockbuster.



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    37m | Aug 13, 2023
The Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
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