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The Argument

The Argument

Strongly-held opinions. Open-minded debates. A weekly ideas show, hosted by Jane Coaston.


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?Hell Hath No Fury Like a Voter Scorned?: What 14 Swing Voters Have to Say

A year into the Biden administration, most of us can agree on one thing: The United States remains a deeply divided nation, with polarizing opinions on all sides. But what about the voices from the middle, the independents? Swing voters are arguably one of the most consequential groups for the midterm elections, so we wanted to hear from them about how they view President Biden?s first year and the current state of American democracy.

So this month the veteran G.O.P pollster Frank Luntz convened a focus group of 14 self-identified independents and moderates to get their perspectives. And there seems to be a striking theme: They?re exasperated. As Nick from Pennsylvania put it, ?We?ve been promised a lot by past politicians, and it just seems that nothing ever changes.?

This week, Luntz debriefs Jane on the group?s findings ? namely, that independents are very disappointed and don?t see much hope for either party. His takeaway? ?Independents are simple rejecters. They reject both the left and the right. They reject the past president and the current president. And in some ways they?re actually even more negative because they don?t see a way out.?

Mentioned in this episode:

??The Lowest Point in My Lifetime?: How 14 Independent Voters Feel About America??Why Republican Voters Think Americans Have to Get Over Jan. 6???We Barely Qualify as a Democracy Anymore?: Democratic Voters Fear for America?Sign up for one of Frank Luntz?s focus groups
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Does the Supreme Court Need More Justices?

2022 is a big year for supporters of Supreme Court reform. Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that gave women nationwide the right to have abortions, might be overturned, and the debate around changing the way we structure the bench ? in particular, packing the court ? is getting only more heated.

The past decade has brought a shift in the makeup of the court ? from Brett Kavanaugh, appointed despite sexual assault allegations, to Merrick Garland, blocked from confirmation, and Amy Coney Barrett, rushed to confirmation.

It?s the culmination of decades of effort by Republicans to make the courts more conservative. And now Democrats want to push back by introducing some radical changes.

Today, Jane Coaston brings together two guests who disagree on whether altering Supreme Court practices is the right call and, if yes, what kind of changes would make sense for the highest judicial body in the nation.

Russ Feingold is the president of the American Constitution Society and was a Democratic senator from Wisconsin from 1993 to 2011. And Russ Miller is an attorney and law professor at Washington and Lee and the head of the Max Planck Law Network in Germany.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Americans No Longer Have Faith in the U.S. Supreme Court. That Has Justices Worried,? by Russ Feingold in The Guardian, published in October 2021.?We Don?t Need to Reform The Supreme Court,? by Russ Miller in Just Security, published in February 2021.?The Future of Supreme Court Reform,? by Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman in Harvard Law Review, published in May 2021.
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Can the G.O.P. Recover From the 'Big Lie'? We Asked 2 Conservatives

There?s a divide in the Republican Party between those who believe the ?Big Lie? ? that the election was stolen from President Donald Trump ? and those who don?t. But which side is ultimately the future of the party?

That?s the question Jane Coaston poses to Charlie Sykes, a founder and editor at large of The Bulwark, and Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review.

Sykes and Lowry discuss what the G.O.P. has learned from Donald Trump?s tenure as president and what Glenn Youngkin?s gubernatorial victory in Virginia might mean for the Republican midterms playbook. They also debate whether it?s Representative Liz Cheney or Marjorie Taylor Greene who?s a harbinger of the party to come.

Also, if you?re a Republican, we want to hear from you. What do you think of the party right now and where it should go next? Would you be excited to vote for Trump in 2024? Or if you?re a former Republican, why did you leave the party? And who would you rather vote for instead? Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324 and we?ll share some of your responses later this month.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Against Trump,? editorial in National Review?Trump: Maybe,? by Charles C.W. Cooke in National Review?The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism,? by Matthew Continetti?Blunt Report Says G.O.P. Needs to Regroup for ?16,? Times report on the G.O.P. 2012 autopsy
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American Democracy: A Status Check

Just how much trouble is American democracy in? When we look to 2024, it?s easy to focus on the doomsday scenario: an election where legitimate results get thrown out. But our democracy has been eroding for years ? and we?ve never been an equal democracy for everyone in the first place.

Host Jane Coaston discusses the state of the U.S. democracy and whether Jan. 6 was a turning point with Masha Gessen, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and Corey Robin, a political scientist at Brooklyn College.

Mentioned in this episode:

?We Won?t Know the Exact Moment When Democracy Dies? by Masha Gessen

?By Declaring Victory, Donald Trump Is Attempting An Autocratic Breakthrough? with the interview with Bálint Magyar, by Masha Gessen

?The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes? by Bálint Magyar

?Trump and the Trapped Country? by Corey Robin

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The ?End of an Ending?: Was 2021 Really The Worst?

As the days left in 2021 dwindle, you may feel that annual tug to judge this calendar year as cruelly as possible. After all, it was yet another year lived in a pandemic, on a warming planet, with teetering democracies and aspirational autocrats (tune in next week for that debate). But is it actually true? Did the world really get worse in 2021?

For this Very NYT Opinion New Year?s Eve* episode of ?The Argument,? Jane Coaston called upon podcast listeners and Opinion voices like the columnists Michelle Goldberg, Farhad Manjoo and Jamelle Bouie, the editorial board member Michelle Cottle and the musician and contributing writer Tom Morello to make the case for whether the world will enter 2022 a little bit better, or a little bit worse for wear.

*close enough

Mentioned in this episode:

Michelle Goldberg?s column ?The Problem of Political Despair?Michelle Cottle?s editorials on Liz Cheney, Joe Manchin, progressive frustrations with Democrats and the future elections that could shake both partiesJamelle Bouie?s newsletter on ?Nightmare on Elm Street? ? sign up for Jamelle?s newsletter hereFarhad Manjoo?s columns on the wind and solar energy boom, the California drought and the carbon footprint of travelTom Morello?s newsletter on his 98-year-old mom?s radical compassion ? sign up for Tom?s newsletter here?Devil Put the Coal in the Ground,? by Steve Earle?The Argument? episode on qualified immunity and Tony Timpa?s case
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Sherrilyn Ifill: ?There Is No Guarantee We Make It Out of This Period as a Democracy?

Last month, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges related to the shooting of two people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisc. Before, during and after the trial, journalists and pundits broke down the most sensational moments on the stand, and many tried to discern what Rittenhouse?s not-guilty decision meant about the country at large. People were eager to draw direct connections between the arguments used in court and the inequities that are seen in the country on a daily basis.

But is looking at the Rittenhouse trial and other high-profile cases really the best way to understand where we are as a nation?

This is a question that Sherrilyn Ifill has had to contend with during the nearly 10 years she?s led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Ifill oversaw the LDF as they sued the Trump administration and as the battle over voting rights has escalated over the past four years.

Jane and Ifill discuss how the LDF has navigated the role of practicing law while advocating political movements in the country. Ifill also shares why she decided to step down from the LDF next April, and what she will be working on next.

Mentioned in this episode:

A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality and the Law, published in 2018.The LDF?s Statement on the Acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse published on Nov. 19, 2021.
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Is News Media Setting Trump Up For Another Win?

With the midterms just months away and the 2024 presidential race around the corner, the press is gearing up to cover more deeply polarizing election cycles.

And how it should do that is an equally polarizing question. The media?s role in preserving ? and reporting on ? our democratic institutions is up for discussion.

Last week, the New York Times Opinion columnist Ross Douthat pushed back on media critics like the N.Y.U. associate professor Jay Rosen. Jay asserts that the press should strive to be ?pro-truth, pro-voting, anti-racist, and aggressively pro-democracy.?

Ross disagrees, claiming that such a stance could feed more polarization.

So, this week Jane Coaston invited Ross and Jay to the show for a lively debate over how the press should cover politics in a democratic society.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Can the Press Prevent a Trump Restoration?? by Ross Douthat, published last week

?You Cannot Keep From Getting Swept up in Trump?s Agenda Without a Firm Grasp on Your Own? and ?Two Paths Forward for the American Press,? by Jay Rosen, published in PressThink in May 2020 and November 2020, respectively.

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Can a New University Really Fix Academia?s Free Speech Problems?

A group of scholars and journalists announced last month that they were founding the University of Austin on the belief that free speech is being stifled on college campuses across America.

?The reality is that many universities no longer have an incentive to create an environment where intellectual dissent is protected and fashionable opinions are scrutinized,? wrote Pano Kanelos, the inaugural president, in the initial statement.

But the news was followed by intense scrutiny and backlash on social media as part of a longstanding debate about the state of free speech on college campuses. From students boycotting controversial guest speakers to petitions demanding the resignation of faculty members with polarizing opinions, institutions of higher education have been hotbeds of a larger conversation around censorship of speech in the country.

To debate the free speech crisis ? or lack thereof ? on campuses, Jane Coaston brought together Greg Lukianoff, the president and C.E.O. of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and Mark Copelovitch, a professor of political science and public affairs and the director of the Center for European Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They discuss whether the new university can address deep-rooted issues on campus or will just fall into the same ?thought bubble? that plagues other institutions.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Why We Need New Colleges? by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

?It?s the University of Austin Against Everyone ? Including Itself,? by Derek Robertson in Politico

?Greg Lukianoff: We Are Creating a Culture of Student Fragility,? a podcast episode of ?The Bulwark?

This op-ed on the Thompson Center?s ?free speech? report, by Mark Copelovitch, Jon C.W. Pevehouse and Jessica L.P. Weeks in The Cap Times

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Could Breaking Up Meta Make Things Worse?

Facebook, Meta ? whatever you want to call it, the tech titan has drawn a lot of ire, and not just from privacy advocates and people fighting misinformation. Antitrust regulators are sharpening their knives, too.

Forty-eight attorneys general want to slice the Big Tech giant into less-powerful pieces. They?ve joined a parallel lawsuit with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to challenge what the agency alleges to be a monopoly engaging in illegal acquisitions. And overseas, Britain?s competition regulator has already directed Meta to sell one of its companies, the gif-sharing platform Giphy.

Meta reaches 3.6 billion monthly active users across platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook itself. Amid a growing techlash, how to fix Meta is a big question.

In today?s episode, Jane Coaston explores two opposing views on whether breaking up the company might help. Sarah Miller, the director of the American Economic Liberties Project, argues Meta engaged in anticompetitive practices by buying its rivals. And Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, is a champion of big business who lauds Meta as an ?antimonopoly? engine.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Mentioned in this episode:

The case summary of Federal Trade Commission v. Facebook, Inc."Breaking Up Facebook Is Not the Answer" by Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communicationsSway's episode with Lina Khan "She's Bursting Big Tech's Bubble"
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How to Find Common Ground With Your Most Problematic Family Members

It?s holiday time again, and this year feels different. Unlike the shelter-in-place aesthetic of 2020?s holiday celebrations, many people are now vaccinated and hoping to take part in the sort of family and friend events that are more reminiscent of the prepandemic time. With that warmth and community, we all may find ourselves in another seasonal tradition: getting into an argument with people over the dinner table.

Maybe it?s a longstanding rivalry with a cousin, or a nosy aunt asking about your biological clock ? or perhaps the uniquely 2020-2021 disagreements over masking, vaxxing and who actually won the election. Whatever your flavor of argument, host Jane Coaston and special guest Dylan Marron are here to help. Gleaning tips and advice from Dylan?s podcast and forthcoming book of the same name, ?Conversations With People Who Hate Me,? Jane and Dylan lay out how to engage empathetically with the people who disagree with you, and how to avoid classic pitfalls that keep the discussion from being productive.

Mentioned in this episode:

Dylan?s podcast, ?Conversations With People Who Hate Me?Dylan?s forthcoming book, ?Conversations With People Who Hate Me?Dylan?s TED Talk, ?Empathy Is Not Endorsement?
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Why Identity Politics Isn?t Working for Asian Americans

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, and understanding their representation in culture, politics and society is getting increasingly complex.

In the New York City mayoral election this month, the Republican candidate, Curtis Sliwa, won 44 percent of the vote in precincts where more than half of the residents are Asian, a rate higher than for any other racial group tracked. This came as a surprise, given the popular belief that Asian Americans, particularly the younger generation, are largely liberal.

One of our guests on this week?s show argues that the conversation surrounding the Asian American identity is often limited to upwardly mobile immigrants with careers in highly skilled sectors like tech and medicine. But a term as vague as ?Asian American? includes everyone from an Indian lawyer to a Hmong refugee, and with that comes the complication of identifying with a phrase that is meant to define such a wide range of experiences.

Jane Coaston speaks to two Asian Americans who look at the term in different ways: the writer Jay Caspian Kang, who thinks it ignores class differences and so is meaningless, and his podcast co-host E. Tammy Kim, who believes there?s value in building political power by organizing around the identity and even across these class differences.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Time to Say Goodbye,? a podcast hosted by Jay Caspian Kang, E. Tammy Kim and Andy Liu on Asia, Asian America and life during the coronavirus pandemic

Kang?s new book, ?The Loneliest Americans?

Kim?s essay ?Asian America,? in The London Review of Books

?An Asian American Poet on Refusing to Take Up ?Apologetic Space,?? on ?Sway,? a New York Times Opinion podcast

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Got Climate Doom? Here?s What You Can Do to Actually Make a Difference

It?s no wonder so many people feel helpless about averting climate catastrophe. This is the era of dire warnings from many scientists and increasing natural disasters, record-breaking temperatures and rising tides. Fossil-fuel executives testify before Congress while politicians waver on whether they?ll support urgently needed changes to make American infrastructure sustainable. Thousands of youth activists at the Glasgow climate talks this week demonstrated for action from world leaders whose words convey the seriousness of the emergency but whose actions against major carbon contributors are lacking.

But, as host Jane Coaston says, ?as fun as doomerism is, doomerism doesn?t do anything.? So what is an individual to do?

Recycle? Compost? Give up meat or flying or plastic straws? Protest in the streets?

To parse which personal actions matter and which don?t, Jane is joined by the climate activist and author Genevieve Guenther, who argues that for the wealthier citizens of the world, there are real steps that can be taken right away to help fight the current and impending climate catastrophes. Guenther lists them according to one?s ability, time and resources.

Also joining the debate is the author of ?The Uninhabitable Earth,? David Wallace-Wells, who argues that while individual behavior is a good start, it won?t bring the change needed; only large-scale political action will save us. In this episode, Guenther and Wallace-Wells disagree about extinction and blame, but they agree that when individual political pressure builds into an unignorable movement, once-impossible-to-imagine solutions will be the key to saving our future.

Mentioned in this episode:

David Wallace-Wells for New York magazine, ?The Uninhabitable Earth?Auden Schendler?s guest essay ?Worrying About Your Carbon Footprint Is Exactly What Big Oil Wants You to Do?Jason Mark for Sierra, ?Yes, Actually, Individual Responsibility Is Essential to Solving the Climate Crisis?
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Why Do We Still Change Clocks Twice A Year?

On Nov. 7, most of us will fall back an hour and restart the decades-old discussion of why we shift time twice a year.

A quick reminder: In spring, we ?spring forward? to Daylight Time, giving us daylight well into the evening. But this Sunday, we?ll be back to Standard Time. Which is nice for bright mornings. But it means it?s dark before dinner. The clock change is cumbersome and confusing, and only about 70 countries in the world follow it. Even in the United States there?s no cohesion around Daylight Time; Arizona and Hawaii don?t make the switch.

And it?s something politicians of all parties can agree on. Senators Marco Rubio and Ed Markey have pushed to make Daylight Time permanent. The Sunshine Protection Act was introduced in 2018, and 19 states have already passed similar legislation to pave the way for year-round daylight savings, should Congress eventually allow it. But some scientists have their reservations, given how Daylight Time affects our body clocks and sleeping patterns.

This week, Jane Coaston digs into the debate with Dustin Buehler, a lecturer at the Willamette University College of Law and general counsel for Oregon?s governor, and Dr. Joseph Takahashi, the chair of the neuroscience department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Mr. Buehler thinks Daylight Time should be permanent, while Dr. Takahashi says Standard Time is the way to go.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Daylight savings year-round could save lives, improve sleep and other benefits,? in The Conversation in 2019

?Why We Should Abolish Daylight Saving Time? in Michigan Medicine, March 2021

Listen to ?Matters of Time,? an episode of 99% Invisible

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I Love True Crime. Should I Feel Guilty?

Does our culture have a true crime problem?

The genre seems ubiquitous ? there?s always a new documentary to stream or a grisly podcast to binge, not to mention entire cable channels dedicated to true crime programming.

Some, including Jane Coaston, the host of ?The Argument,? call themselves ?obsessed? with the genre. Is that a bad thing? Does being a fan of crime storytelling inform the listener of the failures of our criminal justice system, bring exoneration to wrongfully convicted people and reveal possible dangers in the world? Or does true crime cause net harm as it twists the ways we think about punitive justice, perpetuate myths around who the typical victims of violent crimes are and convince many that their armchair sleuthing could solve a case?

Jane takes the debate around consuming and creating modern true crime content to two true crime creators: Rabia Chaudry, an attorney, the author of ?Adnan?s Story? and the host of the ?Undisclosed? podcast, and Sarah Weinman, a writer and editor and the author of ?The Real Lolita? and the forthcoming ?Scoundrel.?

Mentioned in this episode:

Amelia Tait in The Guardian, ?The internet has turned us all into amateur detectives?

?Suspect,? a podcast by Wondery and Campside

Elon Green in The Appeal, ?The Enduring, Pernicious Whiteness of True Crime?

Helen Rosner?s interview with Jean Murley in The New Yorker, ?The Long American History of ?Missing White Woman Syndrome??

?In the Dark,? a podcast by American Public Media

?Murder in Alliance,? a podcast by Obsessed Network

?Through the Cracks,? a podcast by WAMU and PRX

A full transcript of the episode will be available midday Wednesday on the Times website.

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If Cannabis Is Legalized, Should All Drugs Be?

Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of the country. The cities of Denver, Seattle, Washington and Oakland, Calif., have also decriminalized psilocybin (the psychedelic element in ?magic mushrooms?). Oregon went one step further, decriminalizing all drugs in small quantities, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Attitudes toward drugs have changed considerably over the years. But the question of whether all drugs should be legalized continues to be contentious. How much have attitudes toward illegal drugs changed? And why?

This week, Jane Coaston talks to Ismail Ali, the policy and advocacy director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Jonathan P. Caulkins, a professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University?s Heinz College, about the pros and cons of legalizing all drugs.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Is there a Case for Legalizing Heroin?? by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker

?The Drug-Policy Roulette? by Jonathan P. Caulkins and Michael A.C. Lee in the National Affairs Summer 2012 edition

?Michael Pollan?s ?Trip Report,?? on The New York Times Opinion podcast ?Sway?

Link to episode

What Biden Is Still Getting Wrong on Immigration

Our immigration system is broken. So is the way we talk about it.

Most conversations about immigration come down to a yes-or-no debate. Two sides talking over each other with very little constructive and achievable propositions. That might be part of the reason that little effective reform has made its way through Congress in the past 20 years, despite calls from both Democrats and Republicans for an overhaul.

In reality, immigration is a complicated system and there?s no easy answer to the problems it entails. This week, Jane Coaston breaks down one group of approaches that could have a significant impact on individuals and families who want to enter the United States: temporary work programs.

These programs allow migrants to come to the United States to work based on the labor needs of certain industries. And because their legal status is tied to employment, workers are beholden to their bosses and the companies that hire them. Oftentimes, the companies use that power to take advantage of workers.

The guests today analyze these programs and debate whether they should be expanded without other changes or what reforms are necessary to ensure workers aren?t exploited. Michael Clemens is an economist and the director of migration, displacement and humanitarian policy at the Center for Global Development. Daniel Costa is a human rights lawyer and the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute.

Mentioned in this episode:

Daniel Costa?s paper ?Temporary Migrant Workers or Immigrants? The Question for U.S. Labor Migration?

Michael Clemens?s study on the Bracero program in a paper he co-wrote called ?Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy?

?Making President Trump?s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers? in The New York Times

?The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles? by Charles Piot with Kodjo Nicolas Batema

Love listening to New York Times podcasts? Help us test a new audio product in beta and give us your thoughts to shape what it becomes. Visit to join the beta.

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Are You Contributing to America?s Affordable Housing Crisis?

Rent is soaring, but close to two-thirds of renters remain on leases because of financial reasons. In 2019, nearly 70 percent of millennials surveyed said that they could not afford to buy a home on account of rising prices, and the number of people in the United States without shelter has increased by about 30 percent in the past five years. We?re in a housing crisis.

There?s a ton of debate on how we should go about solving these issues, particularly in dense cities. People who are for building more housing units in cities argue that zoning restrictions should be reduced, which would increase the number of homes, ideally allowing supply to keep up with demand. On the other hand, some residents support strict land use regulations that prevent further development in their areas.

Today, Matt Yglesias, a D.C. resident, and Joel Kotkin, who lives in California, join host Jane Coaston to talk about the pros and cons of building more housing and single-family zoning and why moving to the suburbs isn?t the only answer. Also, the Times columnist Jamelle Bouie tells Jane about zoning policy in his city, Charlottesville, Va.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Building Housing ? Lots of It ? Will Lay the Foundation for a New Future? by Matt Yglesias on Vox

?In Defense of Houses? by Joel Kotkin, published in City Journal

?How Blue Cities Became So Outrageously Unaffordable,? an interview with the Vox policy reporter Jerusalem Demsas on ?The Ezra Klein Show?

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What We Get Wrong About Online Sex Work

This episode contains strong language.

The online content-hosting platform OnlyFans declared in August that it would ban all ?sexually explicit content? from its website. After immense backlash from users, the company reversed that decision just six days later.

OnlyFans isn?t the only site to come under fire for providing a platform for adult content. Pornhub and Backpage have been threatened with restrictions over child exploitation and trafficking allegations. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation filed a lawsuit against Twitter, accusing it of allowing and profiting from human trafficking.

But a big part of this conversation includes legal sex work and the rights of sex workers. The move to online work has made it possible for performers to have a direct line to their clients and to the general public. And with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, such sites have provided an avenue for content creators to continue earning money.

In today?s episode, Jane Coaston speaks with two women who are intimately aware of the workings of the sex industry. Jamie Rosseland is an advocate for victims and survivors of trafficking. And Cherie DeVille is a 10-year porn veteran and a contributor to The Daily Beast.

Mentioned in this episode:

?What We Can Really Learn From the OnlyFans Debacle,? by Jessica Stoya on Slate

?OnlyFans Is Not a Safe Platform for ?Sex Work.? It?s a Pimp,? by Catharine A. MacKinnon in New York Times Opinion

?OnlyFans and the Future of Sex Work on the Internet,? an episode on NPR?s ?1A? podcast

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How They Failed: C.A. Republicans, Media Critics and Facebook Leadership

In a special Opinion Audio bonanza, Jane Coaston, Ezra Klein (The Ezra Klein Show) and Kara Swisher (Sway) sit down to discuss what went wrong for the G.O.P. in the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. ?This was where the nationalization of politics really bit back for Republicans,? Jane says. The three hosts then debate whether the media industry?s criticism of itself does any good at all. ?The media tweets like nobody?s watching,? Ezra says. Then the hosts turn to The Wall Street Journal?s revelations in ?The Facebook Files? and discuss how to hold Facebook accountable. ?We?re saying your tools in the hands of malevolent players are super dangerous,? Kara says, ?but we have no power over them whatsoever.?

And last, Ezra, Jane and Kara offer recommendations to take you deep into history, fantasy and psychotropics.

Read more about the subjects in this episode:

Jane Coaston, Vox: ?How California conservatives became the intellectual engine of Trumpism?Ezra Klein: ?Gavin Newsom Is Much More Than the Lesser of Two Evils? and ?A Different Way of Thinking About Cancel Culture?Kara Swisher: ?The Endless Facebook Apology,? ?The Medium of the Moment? ??They?re Killing People?? Biden Isn?t Quite Right, but He?s Not Wrong.? and ?The Terrible Cost of Mark Zuckerberg?s Naïveté?
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Is Being a Football Fan Unethical?

It?s the start of another N.F.L. season, the time of year Americans turn on their televisions to watch their favorite teams make spectacular plays and their favorite players commit incredible acts of athleticism. But is America?s favorite pastime actually its guiltiest pleasure? Can fans ethically enjoy watching a football game?

The effects of the tackles on players? brains is one reason you might feel guilty for watching. The injuries come on top of long-running disagreements between players and the league. How do you balance the brutality of the sport with the athleticism and beauty?

Steve Almond gave up watching football because of the values he sees it embracing. Kevin Clark watches football as part of his job as a writer and reporter at The Ringer.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback? by George Plimpton (1966)

?Against Football: One Fan?s Reluctant Manifesto? by Steve Almond

Kevin Clark?s recent reporting at The Ringer

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'I Fear for My Country Today:' Vets Reflect on 9/11

As the world reflects on the anniversary of Sept. 11, what does the day of the attacks ? and the 20 years of war it precipitated ? feel like to America?s veterans? With the Afghanistan withdrawal suddenly reclaiming attention for the ?forever? wars, is the 9/11 era finally over, on the home front and in America?s foreign policy? Jane Coaston brings together Kenneth Harbaugh and Michael Washington, two friends and veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, to discuss the pax Americana, the 9/11 roots of today?s divide in the veteran community and the political weaponization of service members? patriotism. Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and is a podcaster and veterans? advocate. Washington is a former Marine and firefighter who today works as a licensed therapist for veterans and emergency workers.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Ken Harbaugh?s podcasts, ?Burn the Boats? and ?Warriors in Their Own Words.?

Call, text or chat online with the Veterans Crisis Hotline.

Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that utilizes the skills and experiences of military veterans to rapidly deploy emergency response teams to disaster zones.

Find a Veterans Affairs location and explore other available benefits and services.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741. You can also visit

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Is It Time to End Capital Punishment?

The death penalty ? and the morality behind it ? has long divided America. Joe Biden is the first sitting president in our nation?s history to openly oppose capital punishment. By comparison, his predecessor oversaw the executions of 13 people between July 2020 and the end of his tenure.

In light of the Department of Justice?s recent moratorium on federal executions, Jane and her guests question the morality of capital punishment through a religious lens. Elizabeth Bruenig, a staff writer at The Atlantic, is Roman Catholic and stands against it, while David French, the senior editor of The Dispatch, argues that there are situations where it is the only just form of punishment.

Mentioned in this episode:

?The Man I Saw Them Kill,? by Elizabeth Bruenig for The New York Times Opinion section in December 2020.

?Not That Innocent,? by Elizabeth Bruenig for The Atlantic in June 2021.

?The Death Penalty Helps Preserve the Dignity of Life,? by David French for National Review, published in August 2018.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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Vaccine Mandates Won?t Save Us

Requiring proof of vaccination isn?t a novel idea. Schools across the United States require students to get certain vaccinations before the age of 6. You need a yellow fever vaccine to travel to parts of Africa and South America. Now, with a global pandemic, the conversation has shifted to Covid vaccination requirements.

With little more than 50 percent of the United States fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and the Delta variant leading to increased case counts, it?s no surprise that our focus has shifted to vaccine mandates. This week, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration, which likely means more mandates and boosters.

Cities like New York and San Francisco already have mandates in place, for accessing indoor dining, gyms and concerts. But do these requirements really help those on the fence? Will the F.D.A.?s declaration sway the roughly 30 percent of Americans who said they?d be more likely to get the vaccine after it was fully approved? Or will it just alienate an entire population of people already hesitant to get the vaccine?

In this episode, Jane Coaston and her guests discuss the benefits and risks of vaccine mandates. Angela Rasmussen is a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. And Marcella Tillett is the vice president of programs and partnerships at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, an organization that?s helping those in the area get vaccinated.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Do Mandatory Vaccines Violate Human Rights?? published in Quartz

?Everybody I Know Is Pissed Off? in The Atlantic, which gathers together some of the latest polling on vaccine mandates.

(A full transcript of this episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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What Should We Be Teaching When It Comes to Racism and America?s Past?

For many politicians and parents, there?s growing concern over critical race theory. It maintains that race and racism in America are about not individual actors and actions as much as bigger structures that lead to and maintain gaps between racial groups. The theory started in the legal academy, and some fear that it has begun to take over the American education system.

How concerned should you be? Jane Coaston and her guests disagree. Chris Rufo is a senior fellow and the director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute. Professor Ralph Richard Banks is a co-founder and the faculty director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Critical Race Theory: An Introduction? by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, published in 2001

?How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict Over Critical Race Theory? in The New Yorker

?Does Teaching America It?s Racist Make It Less Racist?? podcast episode by ?The Argument?

?Critical Race Theory: On the New Ideology of Race? panel discussion from the Manhattan Institute

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Are Workplace Diversity Programs Doing More Harm Than Good?

It?s time to rethink what?s working in the modern workplace and what?s failing. Amid a pandemic that overturned how so many work, increased calls for racial and social justice put a new pressure on companies to ensure ? or at least to seem as if they ensure ? equality among their employees. Diversity, equity and inclusion (D.E.I.) programs are an increasingly popular solution deployed by management. But do these initiatives do marginalized employees any good? And who are the true beneficiaries of diversity programs, anyway?

Jane Coaston has spent years on the receiving end of diversity initiatives, and for that reason, she?s skeptical. To debate D.E.I. programs? efficacy, she brought together Dr. Sonia Kang, the Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Toronto, and Lily Zheng, a D.E.I. strategy consultant and public speaker, to argue what works and doesn?t when it comes to making workplaces fair for all.

Mentioned in this episode:

Sonia Kang?s podcast, ?For the Love of Work,? episode ?Leaning Into Diversity, Equity and Belonging?

Lily Zheng, Harvard Business Review, ?How to Show White Men That Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Need Them?

Kim Tran, Harper?s Bazaar, ?The Diversity and Inclusion Industry Has Lost Its Way?

Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev ?Why Diversity Programs Fail?

The Washington Post, ?To improve diversity, don?t make people go to diversity training. Really.?

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Should We Stop Talking Politics at Work?

The ousting of Donald Trump, the election of Joe Biden, a ransacking of the Capitol, a summer of protests in the wake of George Floyd?s murder and a pandemic that is still raging in parts of the United States and abroad. It has felt like a very political few years. But should we not be allowed to talk about it at work?

Some bosses would strongly prefer that you stayed away from politics at work. A number of companies have proposed policies that would ban or significantly reduce political discussions at the workplace. But who gets to decide what?s political? And does it really benefit the company or its employees to keep these conversations from happening?

Liz Wolfe is an editor at Reason and Johnathan Nightingale is an author and a co-founder of Raw Signal Group. They join Jane to debate whether eliminating politics is possible and how it would change the future of the workplace.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Basecamp Becomes the Latest Tech Company To Ban Talking Politics at Work,? by Liz Wolfe at Reason.

?Fundamentally, this is a story about power,? in Johnathan Nightingale?s newsletter.

?Breaking Camp,? by Casey Newton at The Verge.

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The Great Debate of 2021: WFH or RTO?

You might be someone who has spent a majority of the past year working from home. A survey from October 2020 found 71 percent of American workers turned their apartments into office spaces. But starting this fall, companies are opening up their offices again. The C.E.O. of Morgan Stanley made it clear that its employees have to be back by September. Amazon is hoping for the same.

But is returning to in-office work the right move for everyone?

Over the next three weeks, we?re going to be focusing on what work could and should look like as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. This week, Jane Coaston is joined by Sean Bisceglia, the C.E.O. of Curion, a consumer insights company, and Anne Helen Petersen, the writer of the newsletter ?Culture Study? and the author of ?Can?t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,? to debate the pros and cons of returning to the office.

Mentioned in this episode:

Sean Bisceglia?s interview with CNN: ?Why Some Companies Want Everyone Back in the Office?

?Imagine Your Flexible Office Work Future,? by Anne Helen Petersen

The Slate podcast episode of ?What Next: TBD?: So, What Happens to WFH Now?

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No, But Really. Should We Contact Aliens?

With the U.S. government puzzling over U.F.O.s, and potentially habitable exoplanets in our telescopes, earthlings are closer than ever to finding other intelligent life in the universe. So the existential question is: Should we try to communicate with whatever we think might be out there?

That?s the argument this week between Douglas Vakoch and Michio Kaku. Vakoch, the president of the research and educational nonprofit METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International, has dedicated his life?s work to intentionally broadcasting messages beyond our solar system.

Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and a co-founder of string field theory, thinks reaching out to unknown aliens is a catastrophically bad idea and ?would be the biggest mistake in human history.?

Together, they join Jane  to debate the question of making first contact and our place in the cosmos.

Mentioned in this episode:

Adam Mann, The New Yorker: ?Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials?

Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker: ?How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously?

Arik Kershenbaum, The Wall Street Journal, ?Alien Languages May Not Be Entirely Alien to Us?

?Star Trek: The Next Generation,? Season 4, Episode 15: ?First Contact? (Netflix)

The Ezra Klein Show: ?Obama Explains How America Went From ?Yes We Can? to ?MAGA??

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Joe Biden and the Communion Wars

Could the Catholic Church pressure a politician into changing his or her stance on abortion? A debate has erupted in the Catholic community over whether a politician, like President Joe Biden, should be denied communion for supporting abortion rights.

This week, Jane Coaston debates the pros and cons of using communion as punishment with Ross Douthat, a Times Opinion columnist, and Heidi Schlumpf, the executive editor of National Catholic Reporter.

Mentioned in this episode:

Ross?s column ?The Bishops, Biden and the Brave New World?National Catholic Reporter?s editorial ?Why We Support the Bishops? Plan to Deny Communion to Biden??United States Conference of Catholic Bishops? Vote to Write a Document on the Meaning of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church? and its subsequent Questions and Answers page that says, ?There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians.?
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Sway: Exercise, and Accept Your 'Inevitable Demise'

We're off this week! So we're bringing you an episode of another great Times Opinion podcast, Sway.

The fitness industry has exploded into a nearly $100 billion sector, and Alison Bechdel is among the exercise-obsessed. Bechdel, the cartoonist whose comic strip inspired the Bechdel Test for female representation in Hollywood, says she has found transcendence in everything from yoga and karate to weight lifting and biking. Her new book, ?The Secret to Superhuman Strength,? examines the exercise craze, and what it exposes about our attitudes around self-care, the booming fitness economy and even our mortality.

In this conversation, Kara Swisher and Bechdel discuss the evolution of workout culture (?yoga boom? included), the politics of art (especially during the Trump era) and how mainstream cultural norms have finally caught up to, as Bechdel puts it, ?where lesbians were back in the ?80s.?

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Is Fox News Really All That Powerful?

Sometimes, it takes just one tweet to spark a debate.

This month, the journalist Matt Taibbi suggested that the ?financial/educational/political elite? hold real influence in America ? not Fox and its viewers. According to Taibbi, America is controlled by the sensibilities of the few ? especially those who run tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter. But where does that leave politicians, or the media, in the struggle for power in America?

This week, Jane Coaston debates who?s really wielding power in America right now and to what ends, with Matt Taibbi, author of several books, including ?Hate Inc.: Why Today?s Media Makes Us Despise One Another,? and writer of the newsletter ?TK News?; and Michelle Cottle, a member of the Times editorial board.

Mentioned in this episode:

The book ?Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America? by Chris Arnade.Jane?s 2020 piece in Vox, ?Trump was supposed to change the GOP. But the GOP changed him.?
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Not Everyone Is Worried About America's Falling Birth Rates

U.S. birthrates have fallen by 4 percent, hitting a record low. And it?s not just America ? people around the world are having fewer children, from South Korea to South America.

In some ways, this seems inevitable. From an economic standpoint, there?s the expensive trio of child rearing, education and health care in America. From a cultural perspective, women have more financial and societal independence, delaying the age of childbirth. What might be troubling are the consequences on our future economy and what an older population might mean for Social Security.

This week, Jane Coaston talks to two demographers who have differing levels of worry about the news of our falling birthrate. Lyman Stone is the director of research at the consulting firm Demographic Intelligence, an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, a Robert Novak Journalism fellow and a Ph.D. student in population dynamics at McGill University. Caroline Hartnett is a demographer and an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina.

Mentioned in this episode:

Ramesh Ponnuru?s interview with Lyman Stone in Bloomberg, titled ?Want More American Babies? Make the U.S. More Livable.??Why We Shouldn?t Worry About Falling Birth Rates? in The Washington Post?The Daily? episode ?A Population Slowdown in the U.S.?Ezra Klein?s interview with the psychologist Alison Gopnik on what adults can learn from children, on ?The Ezra Klein Show.?

You can listen to this episode of ?The Argument? on Apple, Spotify or Google or wherever you get your podcasts. A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.

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Trevor Noah: ?We Live in a World Where Having a Conversation Is Punished?

In this bonus episode of ?The Argument,? Jane Coaston has an extended chat with the late-night host Trevor Noah. They discuss taking on the mantle of ?The Daily Show? from Jon Stewart, cancel culture and why you can?t take old jokes out of the context of the society in which they were made.

Mentioned in this episode:

Trevor Noah?s memoir, ?Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood?

Link to episode

Should It Be This Hard to Sue the Police and Win?

One of the strongest calls for police reform is to end a legal doctrine called qualified immunity. Advocates for change argue it would be one of the most immediate ways to hold officers more accountable for their actions. But critics say it would leave police vulnerable when they?re faced with life-threatening situations.

Qualified immunity protects government officials from some lawsuits if they violate a person?s constitutional rights in the course of their duties. If you?ve heard of police officers getting away with unconstitutional behavior and wondered how, it might have been because they had qualified immunity.

This week, Jane Coaston talks to two lawyers who strongly disagree about whether qualified immunity needs to go. Lenny Kesten is a leading defender of police officers with Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten, and Easha Anand is the Supreme Court and appellate counsel for the MacArthur Justice Center.

Mentioned in this episode:

?The Cops Who Killed Tony Timpa Are Unfit to Serve. But Courts Ensure They Keep Their Jobs? by James Craven at the Cato Institute

?Police Responded to His 911 Call for Help, He Died. What Happened to Tony Timpa?? in The Dallas Morning News

The decision in the Timpa v. Dillard case

?Qualified Immunity: A Debate? hosted by the Federalist Society

Link to episode

Whose Pride Is It Anyway?

It?s Pride Month, which means cities across the country will be having parades and other festivities, albeit scaled-down versions. In New York and several other cities, parade organizers have said uniformed police officers may not march as a group. Organizers say the move acknowledges that a Pride march isn?t just a celebration and that it began as a statement about police violence against L.G.B.T.Q. people at the Stonewall Inn.

This week, Jane Coaston speaks to André Thomas, a co-chair of NYC Pride, which organizes the parade, and Brian Downey, a New York Police Department detective and the president of the Gay Officers Action League.

Mentioned in this episode:

The documentary ?We Were Here? about the H.I.V./AIDS crisis in San FranciscoThe podcast ?Making Gay History?The New York Daily News headline after the Stonewall uprisingThe New York Times video ?Pride March in New York Protests Police Brutality? showing the Queer Liberation March that gathered in Washington Square Park in 2020
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Could Spilling Big Pharma?s Secrets Vaccinate the World?

Just 12.5 percent of the world has been inoculated against Covid-19. To protect every country from the pandemic, regardless of economic level, there are many approaches global leaders could take. But they have to act fast. In this state of planetary emergency, should pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines be forced to break their patents? Is that the best or fastest way to get lower-income countries to catch up with vaccination rates? Weighing the pros and cons of a vaccine intellectual property waiver with Jane Coaston this week is Rachel Silverman, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, and Tahir Amin, a co-founder and co-executive director of I-MAK, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge.

Mentioned in this episode:

Tahir Amin and Rohit Malpani?s article for STAT, ?Covid-19 has exposed the limits of the pharmaceutical market model?The.Ink newsletter, ?Of Patents and Power?Harvard Law Bill of Health blog, ?The Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Waiver: The Wrong Tool for the Right Goal?The Economist, ?Michelle McMurry-Heath on maintaining intellectual property amid Covid-19?Times Opinion Guest Essay, ?The West Has Been Hoarding More Than Vaccines?
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'Republicans Are Very, Very Close to Driving Democracy Into a Ditch'

The clock is ticking for President Biden. He?s got a choice to make: compromise with Republicans or forgo them to push his agenda through with fellow Democrats. He has emphasized bipartisanship, but we?re now just days away from his self-imposed deadline of Memorial Day to strike a deal with Republicans on his infrastructure package. While negotiations continue, the parties are deadlocked on the size of the bill. It?s perhaps not surprising, given that this month the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said that ?100 percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.?

This week, host Jane Coaston is joined by two people who disagree on whether Biden?s push for bipartisanship is the right move. Jason Grumet is the founder and president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Aaron Belkin is the director of Take Back the Court, which advocates expanding the Supreme Court.

Mentioned in this episode:

The Times Opinion guest essay ?You Don?t Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden? by John Lawrence, a former chief of staff for the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi

The Bipartisan Policy Center?s infrastructure proposal ?From Sea to Shining Sea: A Bold Bipartisan Plan to Rebuild American Infrastructure?

Jane?s podcast recommendation ?Impostors: The Spy?

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Does Teaching America It?s Racist Make It Less Racist?

Who would have guessed that a school of thought from the 1970s could cause controversy in a handful of states among politicians, on school boards and in college classrooms in 2021?

Critical race theory originated as a way of examining racism within the structures of American society. But now, for some it is synonymous with school curriculums and workplace diversity training. It has also become the battleground for a new culture war between conservatives and liberals who disagree on how helpful or harmful these teachings are.

This week, Jane Coaston talks to John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University who has written extensively on race and language, and Michelle Goldberg, an Opinion columnist at The New York Times.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Why the Right Loves Public School Culture Wars? and ?The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness? by Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times.

?How the N-Word Became Unsayable? by John McWhorter in The New York Times.

?Critical Race Theory: An Introduction? by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, published in 2001.

?Faces at the Bottom of the Well? by Derrick Bell, published in 1992.

Link to episode

Is This the Year D.C. Becomes a State?

The District of Columbia can almost taste statehood. Last month, House Democrats passed a bill that would make it the 51st state. This is the second time in history that such a legislation has been passed in the House. But it?s not only a question of representation: Making D.C. a state would add two probably Democratic senators and one Democratic representative, at a time when Democrats could use all the votes they can get. And Republicans aren?t willing to give in that easily.

This week, we?re debating the future of D.C. and the trade-offs of potential statehood. Dan McLaughlin is senior writer for National Review and a former attorney. George Derek Musgrove is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a co-author of ?Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation?s Capital.?

Mentioned in this episode:

?The District of Columbia Should Not Be a State,? by Dan McLaughlin in National Review

?The 51st State America Needs,? by George Derek Musgrove and Chris Myers Asch in The New York Times

?The 51st State?? on the ?Today, Explained? podcast by Vox.

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Grading Biden on the F.D.R. Curve

If you?re fully vaccinated, you might give President Biden an A-plus on his first 100 days. But how?s he doing on everything else?

A president?s first 100 days are considered a major milestone. Franklin D. Roosevelt came out with legislation that became part of his New Deal. Lyndon B. Johnson started a war on poverty. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and Donald Trump, what can we expect from the rest of Biden?s presidency?

This week, Jane Coaston talks to two progressives who have different takeaways: Anand Giridharadas, author of The Ink newsletter and ?Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,? and Osita Nwanevu, writer at The New Republic.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Joe Biden Isn?t Close to Being a Historic President Yet,? by Osita Nwanevu in The New Republic.

?Welcome to the New Progressive Era,? by Anand Giridharadas in The Atlantic.

Link to episode

Police Reform Is Coming. What Should It Look Like?

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. But whatever bittersweet feelings the rare outcome elicited were short-lived, since instances of police brutality compound almost daily. There?s no debate: Policing is broken in America. But how do we fix it?

To answer that question, Jane brings together a round table to debate solutions ranging from modernizing training, stronger ties between police misconduct and financial culpability, and divesting from policing to invest in community-based services.

Joining Jane is Randy Shrewsberry, a former police officer and the executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform; Rashawn Ray, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and a David M. Rubenstein fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution; and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, a leader in the Movement for Black Lives and the co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee.

Mentioned in this episode:

The George Floyd Justice in Policing bill of 2021 and the Breathe Act proposalFrom The New York Times Magazine: ?Police Reform Is Necessary. But How Do We Do It???Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America? by Jill Leovy
Link to episode

Should America Go Nuclear?

President Biden has set an ambitious goal for the United States to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Achieving it means weaning the country off fossil fuels and using more alternative energy sources like solar and wind. But environmentalists disagree about whether nuclear power should be part of the mix.

Todd Larsen, executive co-director for consumer and corporate engagement at Green America and Meghan Claire Hammond, senior fellow at the Good Energy Collective, a policy research organization focusing on new nuclear technology, join Jane Coaston to debate whether nuclear power is worth the risks.

And then the Times columnist Bret Stephens joins Jane to talk about why he thinks America needs a liberal party.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Why Nuclear Power Must Be Part of the Energy Solution,? by Richard Rhodes in Yale Environment 360.?I oversaw the U.S. nuclear power industry. Now I think it should be banned,? by Gregory Jaczko in The Washington PostThe TV mini-series ?Chernobyl,? a depiction of the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant?America Could Use a Liberal Party,? by Bret Stephens

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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Why the Anti-Abortion Side Will Lose, Even if It Wins

The Supreme Court ? and its post-Trump conservative majority ? is currently deciding whether to take up a case that could be the final blow to Roe v. Wade. Overturning Roe, the 48-year-old decision protecting the right to an abortion in America, would leave abortion regulation up to the states. But some abortion opponents think that?s not far enough and are pushing the movement to change its focus to securing a 14th Amendment declaration of fetal personhood.

Ross Douthat wrote about the diverging anti-abortion movement and why both factions are doomed to fail as long as the movement is shackled to a Republican Party that refuses to enact public policy to help struggling families. Michelle Goldberg wrote a response column to Ross?s, claiming his argument was a fallacy. To bring their dueling columns to life, Jane Coaston brought the two writers together to debate the future of abortion protection and restriction in America.

Mentioned in this episode:

Ross?s Sunday Review column ?What Has the Pro-Life Movement Won??Michelle?s responding column, ?The Authoritarian Plan for a National Abortion Ban?John Finnis?s article in the Catholic journal ?First Things,? ?Abortion Is Unconstitutional?Emma Green?s article in ?The Atlantic? ?The Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement Prepares to Build a Post-Roe World??Defenders of the Unborn? by Daniel K. Williams

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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The Reality of Vaccine Passports

More than 19 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and upward of 665 million vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. As these numbers continue to rise, countries have begun issuing or considering ?vaccine passports.?

Vaccine passports ? proof through a phone app or on a piece of paper that you?ve had your shots ? are a potential ticket to freedom for millions of vaccinated people around the world. Israel already has them. The European Union and China have also announced a version of them. In the United States, there?s talk about what such a certification might look like.

But vaccine passports also raise huge ethical questions, with 85 percent of shots worldwide having been administered in wealthier countries. And with private tech companies working on creating these passports in the United States, there?s worry about the risks of sharing health records with third-party apps. Both Texas and Florida have prohibited government-mandated vaccine passports.

On today?s episode, our guests debate the concept of a vaccine passport and discuss the ethical and privacy considerations that come along with them. Natalie Kofler is a molecular biologist and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School. Ramin Bastani is the founder and chief executive of Healthvana, a patient platform that delivers test results and is supplying vaccine passports. He says we should think of them more like an everyday health record. Then, we turn to listener voice mail messages as they share their thoughts on the reopening of schools.

Mentioned in this episode:

?Vaccine Passports Won?t Get us Out of the Pandemic,? in The Times.?Vaccinated Workers Are Getting Benefits That Those Without Covid Shots Won?t,? in Bloomberg, about vaccine passports in Israel.WBUR?s episode on the pros and cons of vaccine passports.

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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What's Wrong With Our Hate Crime Laws?

This month a gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, including six women of Asian descent. Authorities say it?s too early to declare the attacks a hate crime.

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws on the books, designed to add further penalties for perpetrators whose biases led to their crime. But the recent mass shooting has prompted the question of when a crime is called a hate crime and who decides.

It?s also unclear whether charging someone with a hate crime is the best answer we have as a society for punishing people who commit these kinds of crimes. On this episode of ?The Argument,? we discuss whether hate crime laws are working and what our other options are, with Kevin Nadal, professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Steven Freeman, vice president for civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League.

Mentioned in this episode:

Anti-Defamation League?s ?Introduction to Hate Crime Laws?N.A.A.C.P.?s state-by-state database of hate crime lawsSarah Lustbader?s article ?More Hate Crime Laws Would Not Have Prevented the Monsey Hannukkah Attack? in The Appeal.

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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Is It Time to Cancel Cancel Culture?

Whether it?s Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss or Roseanne, allegations of cancel culture seem to have a regular spot among the trending topics of the internet. Almost every other week, someone?s cancellation becomes the subject of prominent discussion on Twitter, Substack and cable news. Yet its exact meaning is up for debate. What counts as a cancellation? Who gets to decide?

On today?s episode, we argue over what being canceled means and if it?s time to get rid of the idea entirely. Robby Soave, a senior editor for Reason, has been sounding the alarm about cancel culture. And he wrote a piece about our other guest, Will Wilkinson, titled ?Cancel Culture Comes for Will Wilkinson.? Wilkinson was arguably canceled after he wrote a tweet that led to his firing from the Niskanen Center, where he was the vice president for research. But he thinks the label of cancel culture is misleading, even when it?s used in his defense.

Mentioned in this episode:

Read Will Wilkinson?s ?Undefined Cancel Game? at his Substack.Robby Soave in Reason: ?Cancel Culture Comes for Will Wilkinson?

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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To Fight Poverty, Raise the Minimum Wage? Or Abolish It?

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn?t changed since 2009. Workers in 21 states make the federal floor, which can be even lower for people who make tips. And at $7.25 an hour, a person working full time with a dependent is making below the federal poverty line.

States such as California, Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts have approved gradual minimum wage increases to reach $15 an hour ? so is it time to do it at the federal level?

On Wednesday 20 senators from both parties are set to meet to discuss whether to use their influence on minimum wage legislation.

Economists have argued for years about the consequences of the hike, saying employers who bear the costs would be forced to lay off some of the very employees the minimum wage was intended to support. A report by the Congressional Budget Office on a proposal to see $15 by 2025 estimates the increase would move 900,000 people out of poverty ? and at the same time cut 1.4 million jobs.

On today?s episode, we debate the fight for $15 with two people who see things very differently. Saru Jayaraman is the president of One Fair Wage and the director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Jeffrey Miron is a senior lecturer in the department of economics at Harvard University and the director of economic studies at the Cato Institute.

Mentioned in this episode:

The Congressional Budget Office?s February 2021 report on the budgetary effects of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? April 2020 report ?Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers.?

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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Cancel America?s Student Loan Debt! But How?

The problem of student loan debt has reached crisis proportions. As a college degree has grown increasingly necessary for economic mobility, so has the $1.7 trillion in student loan debt that Americans have taken on to access that opportunity. President Biden has put some debt cancellation on the table, but progressive Democrats are pushing him for more. So what is the fairest way to correct course?

Astra Taylor ? an author, a documentarian and a co-founder of the Debt Collective ? dukes it out with Sandy Baum, an economist and a nonresident senior fellow at the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. While the activist and the economist agree that addressing the crisis requires dramatic measures, they disagree on how to get there.

Is canceling everyone?s debt progressive policy, as Taylor contends? Or does it end up being a regressive measure, as Baum insists? Jane hears them both out. And she offers a royal history tour after Oprah Winfrey?s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Mentioned in this episode:

Astra Taylor in The Nation: ?The Case for Wide-Scale Debt Relief?Sandy Baum in Education Next: ?Mass Debt Forgiveness Is Not a Progressive Idea?Astra Taylor?s documentary for The Intercept: ?You Are Not a Loan?Sandy Baum for the Urban Institute: ?Strengthening the Federal Role in the Federal-State Partnership for Funding Higher Education?Jane?s recommendation: Lucy Worsley?s three-episode mini-series ?Secrets of the Six Wives?

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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?Vandalism With a Purpose? and the Future of the G.O.P.

Republicans will spend the next 20 months debating and deciding whether Trumpism will be on the ballot in 2022. Will party leaders continue to embrace Donald Trump?s populist rhetoric? Can it resonate with voters if Trump isn?t the one saying it?

Ross Douthat, an Opinion columnist at The New York Times, and Michael Brendan Dougherty, a senior writer at National Review, offer their own definitions of populism and debate with Jane populism?s merits, if Trumpism is real and whether Trump allies in the Republican Party will be the future or the demise of the Grand Old Party.

Mentioned in this episode:

Michael Brendan Dougherty in National Review: ?The End of Populism? Don?t Bet on It.? ?Trumpism After Trump.?Ross Douthat on how Trumpism ate populism, whether there is a Trumpism after Trump and, in a prescient 2013 column, ?Good Populism, Bad Populism.?Jane Coaston on why Trumpism has no heirs and, in National Review: ?What If There?s No Such Thing as Trumpism??Christopher Caldwell in The New Republic: ?Can There Ever Be a Working-Class Republican Party??Ken Burns?s series with Stephen Ives ?The West,? chronicling America's process to become a continental nation.Ross Douthat?s book Grand New Party, on how Republicans can win the working class.

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

Special thanks to Shannon Busta.

?The Argument? is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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Should We Put the Filibuster Out of Its Misery?

The first episode of ?The Argument? with Jane Coaston gets right into the heart of the cyclical debate: Should the filibuster be killed once and for all?

Democrats control the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, giving them the opportunity to pass major new legislation, and the only thing standing in their way is the filibuster. That parliamentary procedure effectively pushes the number of votes needed to pass a bill in the Senate from 51 to 60. Which is why the filibuster is typically beloved by the party in the minority, and railed against by the majority.

If Democrats kill the filibuster now, what happens when they?re not in power? Arguing against the filibuster is Ezra Klein, a Times Opinion columnist and policy wonk. Defending the procedure and its merits is Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America. And Jane doesn?t trust either of them.

Mentioned in this episode:

Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on how filibusters are useful in a democracy.Ezra Klein on ending the filibuster, and in conversation with a former Senate staff member, Adam Jentleson, on that chamber becoming a legislative black hole.Heritage Action for America on rejecting efforts to abolish the legislative filibuster.Joe Coscarelli on Daft Punk?s breakup after 28 years and six Grammys.

Share your arguments with us: We want to hear what you?re arguing about with your family, your friends and your frenemies. Leave us a voice mail message at (347) 915-4324. We may use excerpts from your audio in a future episode.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Argument" at, and you can find Jane on Twitter @janecoaston.

Special thanks to Viki Merrick and Shannon Busta.

?The Argument? is produced by Elisa Gutierrez, Phoebe Lett and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones.

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