The Ezra Klein Show - Transcripts

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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 just to humans and animals alike?

01:08:01

The Ezra Klein Show A Conservative’s Take on the Chaotic State of the Republican Party A Conservative’s Take on the Chaotic Sta...
Republicans already hold tremendous power in America. They have appointed six of the nine current Supreme Court justices. They have more state trifectas (control of both legislative houses, as well as the governor’s seat) than Democrats. And come 2023, they will also control the House of Representatives. But there’s a hollowness at the core of the modern G.O.P. It’s hard to identify any clear party leader, coherent policy agenda or concerted electoral strategy. The party didn’t bother putting forward a policy platform before the 2020 election or articulating an alternative policy vision in 2022. It has hardly reckoned with its under-performances in the 2018, 2020, and 2022 elections. At this point, it’s unclear whether there’s any real party structure — or substrate of ideas — left at all. All of which raises the question: What exactly is the Republican Party at this point? What does it believe? What does it want to achieve? Whose lead does it follow? Those questions will need to be answered somehow over the next two years, as Republican politicians compete for their party’s nomination for the 2024 presidential election and Republican House members wield the power of their new majority. Michael Brendan Dougherty is a senior writer at National Review and a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. We disagree on plenty, but I find him to be one of the sharpest observers of the contemporary Republican Party. So I invited him on the show for an inside-the-tent conversation on the chaotic state of the current G.O.P. and the choices it will have to make over the next two years. We discuss how the party is processing the 2022 midterms, why Dougherty thinks Donald Trump has a very good chance of winning the Republican nomination again in 2024, whether the G.O.P. leadership actually understands its own voters, how Ron DeSantis rose to become one of the party’s leading 2024 contenders, whether DeSantis — and the G.O.P. more broadly — actually have an economic agenda at this point, why Trump’s greatest strength in 2024 could be the economy he presided over in 2018 and 2019, why Dougherty doesn’t think Trump’s political appeal is transferable to anyone else in the Republican Party, what kind of House speaker Kevin McCarthy might be, which Republicans — other than Trump and DeSantis — to watch out for, and more. Mentioned: “The Question for DeSantis” by Michael Brendan Dougherty Book Recommendations: The German War by Nicholas Stargardt The Demon in Democracy by Ryszard Legutko The Face of God by Roger Scruton Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld, Rogé Karma and Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker, and Kate Sinclair. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Jeff Geld. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta.

01:21:37

The Ezra Klein Show The Hidden Costs of Cheap Meat The Hidden Costs of Cheap Meat
About 50 years ago, beef cost more than $7 a pound in today’s dollars. Today, despite high inflation, beef is down to about $4.80 a pound, and chicken is just around $1.80 a pound. But those low prices hide the true costs of the meat we consume — costs that the meat and poultry industries have quietly offloaded onto not only the animals we consume but us humans, too. Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, with some estimates as high as 28 percent. It uses half the earth’s habitable land. Factory farms pose huge threats as potential sources of antibiotic resistance and future pandemics. And the current meat production system loads farmers with often insurmountable levels of debt. Our meat may look cheap at the grocery store, but we are all picking up the tab in ways we’re often starkly unaware of. Leah Garcés is the chief executive and president of Mercy for Animals and the author of “Grilled: Turning Adversaries Into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry.” Few animal rights activists have her breadth of experience: For years, she’s been steeped in the experiences of farmers who raise animals, communities that live alongside industrial animal operations and, of course, the farmed animals that live shorter and more miserable lives. So I invited her on the show for a conversation about what meat really costs and how that perspective could help us build a healthier relationship to the animals we eat and the world we inhabit. We discuss what it’s like to live next to a hog farm, factory farming’s role in growing antibiotic resistance, how the current system of contract farming saddles individual farmers with debt, the lengths the U.S. government — and taxpayers — goes to to subsidize industrial animal farming, the possibility that the next pandemic will emerge from a crowded factory farm, how high costs — like deforestation in the Amazon — are hidden from consumers at the grocery store, the challenge of helping children make sense of routinized cruelty, whether regenerative agriculture can help undo the damage done by industrial animal farming, the historic animal welfare case currently in front of the Supreme Court and more. Mentioned: Mercy for Animals “Sen. Cory Booker has a plan to stop taxpayer bailouts of Big Meat” by Marina Bolotnikova and Kenny Torrella Book Recommendations: Wastelands by Corban Addison Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon Animal Machines by Ruth Harrison Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

01:09:38

The Ezra Klein Show How Reading — Not Scanning, Not Scrolling — Opens Your Mind How Reading — Not Scanning, Not Scrollin...
Every day, we consume a mind-boggling amount of information. We scan online news articles, sift through text messages and emails, scroll through our social-media feeds — and that’s usually before we even get out of bed in the morning. In 2009, a team of researchers found that the average American consumed about 34 gigabytes of information a day. Undoubtedly, that number would be even higher today. But what are we actually getting from this huge influx of information? How is it affecting our memories, our attention spans, our ability to think? What might this mean for today’s children, and future generations? And what does it take to read — and think — deeply in a world so flooded with constant input? Maryanne Wolf is a researcher and scholar at U.C.L.A.’s School of Education and Information Studies. Her books “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain” and “Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World” explore the relationship between the process of reading and the neuroscience of the brain. And, in Wolfe’s view, our era of information overload represents a historical inflection point where our ability to read — truly, deeply read, not just scan or scroll — hangs in the balance. We discuss why reading is a fundamentally “unnatural” act, how scanning and scrolling differ from “deep reading,” why it’s not accurate to say that “reading” is just one thing, how our brains process information differently when we’re reading on a Kindle or a laptop as opposed to a physical book, how exposure to such an abundance of information is rewiring our brains and reshaping our society, how to rediscover the lost art of reading books deeply, what Wolf recommends to those of us who struggle against digital distractions, what parents can do to to protect their children’s attention, how Wolf’s theory of a “biliterate brain” may save our species’ ability to deeply process language and information and more. Mentioned: The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse How We Read Now by Naomi S. Baron The Shallows by Nicholas Carr Yiruma Book Recommendations: The Gilead Novels by Marilynne Robinson World and Town by Gish Jen Standing by Words by Wendell Berry Love’s Mind by John S. Dunne Middlemarch by George Eliot Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

01:24:34

The Ezra Klein Show The Climate Movement Has Won Power. Now It Needs to Wield It. The Climate Movement Has Won Power. Now...
The fight against climate change is at a crossroads. This past year, the climate movement in the United States achieved significant success. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act represents the single largest investment in emissions reduction in U.S. history. More than a dozen states have taken some form of climate action in 2022 alone. Earlier this year, California — which, if it were a country, would have the fifth largest economy in the world — approved a record $54 billion in climate spending alongside sweeping new restrictions on fossil fuel development. These investments coincide with a wave of technological transformation: Over the past decade, the cost of solar energy has declined around 90 percent and that of onshore wind around 70 percent, making these energy sources economically competitive with fossil fuels for the first time. “The new numbers turn the economic logic we’re used to upside down,” writes the climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben. To him, the import of this moment is clear: For the first time, McKibben argues, humanity has at our fingertips the tools needed to end humanity’s millenniums-long dependence on burning things for energy — and to save our climate in the process. To those familiar with the climate movement, McKibben is a familiar name. His book “The End of Nature” has been compared to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in terms of its impact on the climate movement. He’s founded organizations like Third Act and 350.org, the latter of which is among the largest climate activist organizations in the world today. He was a key leader in the fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline. And he currently writes the influential newsletter “The Crucial Years.” Ask anyone in the climate movement today about their inspirations and McKibben will almost certainly top the list. But in McKibben’s telling, the climate movement’s successes in getting us to this point actually require it to change. A movement founded on blocking bad things from happening now needs to turn to building at intensified speed; a movement that has long fought to preserve the natural world now has to help usher in a wholesale transformation of the global landscape; a movement that has long been critical of capitalism and economic growth now has to align itself with those forces in order to achieve its ends. Those shifts will require new tactics, new animating ideas, new motivations and new priorities — with the future of the climate hanging in the balance. So I wanted to have McKibben on the show to talk about this dawning era of the climate fight we’re entering, and what changes the movement will have to make to meet this moment. Mentioned: “The Single Best Guide to Decarbonization I’ve Heard” by The Ezra Klein Show Book Recommendations: Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit How It Went by Wendell Berry Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

01:08:40

The Ezra Klein Show I Don’t Quite Buy the DeSantis Narrative, and Other Midterm Thoughts I Don’t Quite Buy the DeSantis Narrative...
The results of Tuesday’s midterm elections are still trickling in, but the broader story is clear: The red wave that many anticipated never materialized. Republicans gained 54 House seats against Bill Clinton in 1994 and 63 seats against Barack Obama in 2010. It doesn’t look as though the G.O.P. will secure anything close to that in 2022, and Democrats could retain their narrow control of the Senate — all against the backdrop of raging inflation and low approval ratings for President Biden. Why didn’t Democrats get wiped out? Why did so many Republicans underperform while others, like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, won decisively? And what does it all imply for 2024? To talk through the midterm results and their implications, I am joined by my column’s editor, Aaron Retica. We discuss why this election ended up being so shockingly close; how Democrats’ performance could, paradoxically, make it harder for Biden to win in 2024; why the significance of DeSantis’s victory is probably being overhyped; why inflation didn’t seem to matter nearly as much to the elections’ outcomes as most analysts believed it would; how a possible DeSantis-Donald Trump fight in the 2024 Republican primaries could create electoral space for more traditional Republicans to break through; John Fetterman’s distinct working-class appeal in Pennsylvania, the moral calculus of Democrats’ decision to bolster extreme Republican candidates in the primaries; the uncertain future of American democracy and more. (Note: This episode was recorded on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 9.) Mentioned: The Bitter End by John Sides, Chris Tausanovitch and Lynn Vavreck “Hillary Clinton Accepted Her Loss, but a Lot Has Changed Since 2016” by Lynn Vavreck “Republicans Have Made It Very Clear What They Want to Do if They Win Congress” by Ezra Klein "What It Means to Be Kind in a Cruel World" by The Ezra Klein Show Podcast Recommendations: The Prince: Searching for Xi Jinping (The Economist) Odd Lots (Bloomberg) Volts (David Roberts) EKS Episode Recommendations: “These Political Scientists Surveyed 500,000 Voters. Here Are Their Unnerving Conclusions.” by The Ezra Klein Show “A Powerful Theory of Why The Far Right is Thriving Across the Globe” by The Ezra Klein Show “Donald Trump Didn’t Hijack the G.O.P. He Understood It.” by The Ezra Klein Show Aaron's essay recommendation: "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" by Richard Hofstadter Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Kristin Lin and Kate Sinclair. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Jeff Geld and Sonia Herrero. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

01:02:22

The Ezra Klein Show George Saunders on the ‘Braindead Megaphone’ That Makes Our Politics So Awful George Saunders on the ‘Braindead Megaph...
George Saunders is regarded as one of our greatest living fiction writers. He won the Booker Prize in 2017 for his novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” and has published numerous short-story collections to wide acclaim, including his most recent book, “Liberation Day.” He also happens to be one of my favorite people to read and to talk to. Saunders is an incredibly prescient and sharp observer of American political culture. Way back in 2007, he argued that our media environment was transforming politics into a competition within which the loudest voices would command the most attention and set the agenda for everyone else. With the rise of social media — and the advent of the Trump era — that observation has been more than vindicated. So as we approach the midterm elections, I wanted to have Saunders back on the show to talk about how politics and media have changed, and how those changes are shaping the way we interact, communicate and even think. We discuss how Twitter takes advantage of — even warps — our “malleable” selves, how politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene strategically manipulate our attentional environments, how Barack Obama leveraged our human desire to be seen as our best selves, whether discipline or gentleness is more effective in helping others grow, what options we have to resist anti-democratic tendencies in our politics, whether a post-scarcity future — with jobs for everyone — would leave us more or less satisfied, how the greatest evils can be committed by those trying to care for their loved ones, what attending Trump rallies taught Saunders about political violence and more. Mentioned: The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders “Host” by David Foster Wallace “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” by George Saunders Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber “What It Means to Be Kind in a Cruel World” by The Ezra Klein Show “I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message” by Ezra Klein Book Recommendations: The Storm Is Here by Luke Mogelson Sugar Street by Jonathan Dee Marlena by Julie Buntin Thoughts? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com. (And if you’re reaching out to recommend a guest, please write “Guest Suggestion” in the subject line.) You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs. “The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Mary Marge Locker. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Jeff Geld. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.