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The Ezra Klein Show

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The Ezra Klein Show

New York Times Opinion

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*** Named a best podcast of 2021 by Time, Vulture, Esquire and The Atlantic. *** Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be jus ...
 
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“It begun to dawn on many conservatives that in spite of apparent electoral victories that have occurred regularly since the Reagan years, they have consistently lost, and lost overwhelmingly to progressive forces,” Patrick Deneen writes in a recent essay titled “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism.” He goes on to argue that conservatives need…
 
Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at Sway about the war in Ukraine and the challenges of conflict-zone reporting. Clarissa Ward has had, as she puts it, a “long and very complicated relationship” with Russia. The chief international correspondent for CNN, she has had stints in Moscow since the beginning of her career, and has str…
 
Right now, Republicans of all stripes — Ron DeSantis, J.D. Vance, Mike Pence, Glenn Youngkin — are trying to figure out how to channel the populist energies of Donald Trump into a winning political message. The struggle to achieve such a synthesis is the defining project on the American right today. Its outcome will determine the future of the Repu…
 
Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at The Argument about Florida's “Don't Say Gay” bill and the broader wave of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation, spurred by the political right, that is spreading across the country. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this year alone, more than 300 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills have been introduced in stat…
 
If Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter comes to fruition, the world’s richest person will own one of its most important communications platforms. Twitter might have a smaller user base than Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat, but it shapes the dominant narratives in key industries like politics, media, finance and technology more than any other …
 
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has transformed Europe within a matter of weeks. A continent once fractured by the refugee crisis is now taking in millions of refugees. Countries such as Germany have made considerable pledges to increase military spending. The European Union said it would cut off Russian oil and gas “well before 2030” — a once…
 
“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel was published in 2014. That book imagined the world after a pandemic had wiped out, well, almost everyone. It’s a gorgeous novel with a particular emotional power: it helps you grieve a life you still have. But then came a real pandemic, not as lethal as the one Mandel imagined, but a shock nonetheless. And…
 
With the midterms just over six months away, the electoral prospects for Democrats are looking bleak. President Biden’s approval rating is at 42 percent, around where Donald Trump’s was at this point in his presidency. Recent polls asking whether Americans want Republicans or Democrats in Congress found that Republicans are leading by about 2 perce…
 
“Trauma is much more than a story about something that happened long ago,” writes Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. “The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during the trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present.” Van der Kolk, a psychiatrist by training, has been a pioneer in trauma research f…
 
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is only getting more brutal: We’ve seen the bodies of civilians strewn in the streets in Bucha, the city of Mariupol almost leveled and, just a few days ago, a Russian missile attack on a crowded train station in Kramatorsk killing at least 50 people. The United Nations has confirmed 1,793 civilian deaths in Ukraine, th…
 
The Russia-Ukraine war has changed considerably in recent weeks. Vladimir Putin is no longer talking explicitly about regime change in Ukraine. The Russian military has shifted its focus away from taking Kyiv and toward making territorial gains in Ukraine’s east. The prospect of an outright Ukrainian victory is no longer out of the question. And ne…
 
The hype around cryptocurrencies has reached a fever pitch. There are Super Bowl ads for crypto companies featuring celebrities like Matt Damon and Larry David. The Staples Center in Los Angeles is now the Crypto.com Arena. And behind that hype is a distinct vision: a more decentralized economy where individuals have more autonomy over their financ…
 
The Russian political scientist Ilya Matveev recently described the impact of the West’s sanctions on his country as “30 years of economic development thrown into the bin.” He’s not exaggerating. Economists expect the Russian economy to contract by at least 15 percent of G.D.P. this year. Inflation is spiking. An exodus of Russian professionals is …
 
“There is a chance that macroeconomic stimulus on a scale closer to World War II levels than normal recession levels will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation,” wrote Larry Summers in February 2021. A year later, the debate still rages over the first part of that sentence — the extent to which the American Rescu…
 
A good rule of thumb is that whatever Margaret Atwood is worried about now is likely what the rest of us will be worried about a decade from now. The rise of authoritarianism. A backlash against women’s social progress. The seductions and dangers of genetic engineering. Climate change leading to social unrest. Advertising culture permeating more an…
 
Nearly every dimension of the Ukraine-Russia conflict has been shaped by energy markets. Russia’s oil and gas exports have long been the foundation of its economy and geopolitical strength. Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine — like his annexation of Crimea in 2014 — coincided with high energy prices. While Western sanctions have dealt a ma…
 
As we enter the fourth week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many of the possible pathways this conflict could take are terrifying. A military quagmire that leads to protracted death and suffering. A Russian takeover of Kyiv and installation of a puppet government. An accidental strike on Polish or Romanian territory that draws America and the rest…
 
“Americans and Europeans were guided through the new century by a tale about ‘the end of history,’ by what I will call the politics of inevitability, a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done,” writes the Yale historian Timothy Sn…
 
For Western audiences, the past few weeks have been a torrent of information about what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. Daily updates of Russian military advances. Horrifying videos of buildings exploding and innocent civilians being killed. Announcements of increasingly severe economic sanctions and major corporate pullouts. Charts showing the …
 
Vladimir Putin was looking for a swift invasion that would halt Ukraine’s drift toward the West, reveal NATO’s fractures and weaknesses and solidify Russia as a global power. In response, the West threatened moderate sanctions, but ultimately showed little interest in stepping between Russia and Ukraine. Then came the war, and everything changed. R…
 
“Russia’s utterly unprovoked, unjustifiable, immoral invasion of Ukraine would seem to mark the end of an era,” writes Fareed Zakaria, “one that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.” Many of us, myself included, grew up in that era. We came of age in a unipolar world, dominated by a single country whose military, economic, even cultural,…
 
There’s the Russia-Ukraine war that’s easy to follow in the news right now. We can watch Russian bombs falling on Ukraine, see Russian tanks smoking on the side of the road, hear from Ukrainian resistance fighters livestreaming their desperate defense. But there’s another theater to this war that’s harder to see, but may well decide the outcome: th…
 
When we play Monopoly or basketball, we know we are playing a game. The stakes are low. The rules are silly. The point system is arbitrary. But what if life is full of games — ones with much higher stakes — that we don’t even realize we’re playing? According to the philosopher C. Thi Nguyen, games and gamified systems are everywhere in modern life.…
 
We were promised, with the internet, a productivity revolution. We were told that we’d get more done, in less time, with less stress. Instead, we got always-on communication, the dissolution of the boundaries between work and home, the feeling of constantly being behind, lackluster productivity numbers, and, to be fair, reaction GIFs. What went wro…
 
Government is a bureaucratic, slow-moving institution. It’s too easily captured by special interests. It’s often incapable of acting at the speed and scale our problems demand. And when it does act, it can make things worse. Look no further than the Food and Drug Administration’s slowness to approve rapid coronavirus tests or major cities’ inabilit…
 
This is one of those episodes I feel I need to sell. Because on one level, it’s about an unusual theory of parenting known by the acronym RIE — for the nonprofit group Resources for Infant Educarers, which promotes its principles — that I’ve become interested in. But this isn’t a parenting podcast, and I know many of you don’t have young kids. The …
 
“The sensation of being alive in the early 21st century consisted of the sense that our ability to pay attention — to focus — was cracking and breaking,” writes Johann Hari in his new book, “Stolen Focus.” Later he says, “It felt like our civilization had been covered with itching powder and we spent our time twitching and twerking our minds, unabl…
 
Should we be celebrating a Biden boom? Lamenting inflation and its consequences? Both? We know how to talk about booms, like the ’90s. We know how to talk about busts, like after the financial crisis. We know how to talk about stagnation. What we don’t know how to talk about is contradictory extremes coexisting together. But that’s the economy we h…
 
“Getting race wrong early has led courts to get everything else wrong since,” writes Jamal Greene. But he probably doesn’t mean what you think he means. Greene is a professor at Columbia Law School, and his book “How Rights Went Wrong” is filled with examples of just how bizarre American Supreme Court outcomes have become. An information processing…
 
There’s good reason to worry about the future of democracy, and little reason to believe Democrats have a viable plan for protecting it. They built their strategy around passing a major suite of voting reforms and protections through Congress, and a few weeks back, their whole agenda collapsed in the face of the filibuster. So what now? Is there a …
 
The world has gotten louder, even when we’re alone. A day spent in isolation can still mean a day buffeted by the voices on social media and the news, on podcasts, in emails and text messages. Objects have also gotten louder: through the advertisements that follow us around the web, the endless scroll of merchandise available on internet shopping s…
 
It’s been a year since Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. And what a roller coaster of a year it’s been. The Biden administration blew past its Covid vaccination goal of 100 million shots in 100 days, only to run into the realities of vaccine skepticism, the Delta wave and now Omicron. The president oversaw an unprec…
 
I remember thinking, as Covid ravaged the country in December 2020, that at least the holidays the next year would be better. There would be more vaccines, more treatments, more immunity. Instead, we got Omicron and a confusing new phase of the pandemic. What do you do with a variant that is both monstrously more infectious and somewhat milder? Wha…
 
Nothing like a newborn and paternity leave to leave you feeling a bit out of the loop. So for my first podcast back since October, I wanted to wander through the thickets of where we are politically and how we got here. Because where we are is strange: the Omicron wave and the breakdown of the liberal Covid consensus that preceded it; a hot economy…
 
For decades, our society’s dominant metaphor for the mind has been a computer. A machine that operates the exact same way whether it’s in a dark room or next to a sunny window, whether it’s been working for 30 seconds or three hours, whether it’s near other computers or completely alone. But that’s wrong. Annie Murphy Paul’s “The Extended Mind” arg…
 
For years, I’ve kept a list of dream guests for this show. And as long as that list has existed, Ted Chiang has been atop it. Chiang is a science fiction writer. But that undersells him. He has released two short story collections over 20 years — 2002’s “Stories of Your Life and Others” and 2019’s “Exhalation.” Those stories have won more awards th…
 
How do you introduce Noam Chomsky? Perhaps you start here: In 1979, The New York Times called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” More than 40 years later, Chomsky, at 92, is still putting his dent in the world — writing books, giving interviews, changing minds. There are different sides to Chomsky. He’s a world-renowned lin…
 
“Today, we are supercompetent when it comes to efficiency, utility, speed, convenience, and getting ahead in the world; but we are at a loss concerning what it’s all for,” Leon Kass writes in his 2017 book “Leading a Worthy Life.” “This lack of cultural and moral confidence about what makes a life worth living is perhaps the deepest curse of living…
 
Every day in the United States, more than 10,000 babies are born and 10,000 people turn 65. But America doesn’t have anything close to a comprehensive family policy. That means no guaranteed paid family leave, no universal child care or preschool and a patchwork system of elder and disability care that leaves millions without support. American fami…
 
Can we predict the future more accurately? It’s a question we humans have grappled with since the dawn of civilization — one that has massive implications for how we run our organizations, how we make policy decisions, and how we live our everyday lives. It’s also the question that Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania an…
 
Joe Biden’s economic agenda is centered on a basic premise: The United States needs to build. To build roads and bridges. To build child care facilities and car-charging stations. To build public transit and affordable housing. And in doing so, to build a better future for everyone. But there’s a twist of irony in that vision. Because right now, ev…
 
In 2020 the United States experienced a nearly 30 percent rise in homicides from 2019. That’s the single biggest one-year increase since we started keeping national records in 1960. And violence has continued to rise well into 2021. To deny or downplay the seriousness of this spike is neither morally justified nor politically wise. Violence takes l…
 
The compulsion to be happy at work “is always a demand for emotional work from the worker,” writes Sarah Jaffe. “Work, after all, has no feelings. Capitalism cannot love. This new work ethic, in which work is expected to give us something like self-actualization, cannot help but fail.” Jaffe is a Type Media Center reporting fellow, a co-host of the…
 
Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, the far-right fringe became a surprisingly visible and influential force in American politics. Eruptions of extremist violence — including the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — have made militant groups like the Proud Boys and conspiracy theorie…
 
“Making it harder to vote, and harder to understand what the party is really about — these are two parts of the same project” for the Republican Party, Jay Rosen writes. “The conflict with honest journalism is structural. To be its dwindling self, the G.O.P. has to also be at war with the press, unless of course the press folds under pressure.” Ros…
 
Many of the most contentious debates right now center on whether we, as individuals — and as a country — are willing to revise. To revise our understanding of history. To revise the kind of language we use. To revise the nature of our personal, and national, identities. To revise how we act in our everyday relationships. Revision like this is often…
 
I’ve been on an octopus kick for a little while now. In that, I don’t seem to be alone. Octopuses (it’s incorrect to say “octopi,” to my despair) are having a moment: There are award-winning books, documentaries and even science fiction about them. I suspect it’s the same hunger that leaves many of us yearning to know aliens: How do radically diffe…
 
Public policy in the United States often overlooks wealth. We tend to design, debate and measure our economic policies with regard to income alone, which blinds us to the ways prosperity and precarity tangibly function in people’s lives. And that blind spot can ultimately prevent us from addressing social inequality at its roots. Take the debate ov…
 
“Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism,” Sohrab Ahmari writes. “To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.” Five years ago, Ahmari was a self-described “secular mainstream co…
 
One of the most frightening, least understood aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is what’s come to be known as “long Covid.” Stories abound of young, healthy adults who experienced mild or asymptomatic coronavirus infections and recovered fairly quickly, only to experience an onset of debilitating symptoms weeks or even months later. One major stu…
 
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