Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Can This Man Save Trump? My Conversation with H.R. McMaster from May 1997. It's Hard To Believe That He's Joining the Trump Administration

Donald Trump has picked as his National Security Advisor a man who, at least twenty years ago, believed in the importance of character. Who thinks that presidential advisors should not lie and they by doing so, they can bring about disaster. He believes that the press needs to dig deeper and report more.

In his look at Vietnam, “Dereliction of Duty” H.R. McMaster calls out as virtues all of the things that Trump is not. Don’t engage in small lies. Let’s advisors speak truth to power and value a free press.

My conversation with H.R. McMaster form May 24, 1997 reflects a vision of a man who understands the nature of governing and of war. The problem is it’s 180 degrees from the administration he is about to join.

How McMaster squares this circle may determine the fate of the republic.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Refugee Crisis and the Failure of Humanity

When we talk about the refugee crises in Syria, we are really only talking about a small fraction of the world's refugee crisis. Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are affected by armed conflict and genocide. Refugee populations come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and more.

It’s hard for most of us to even imagine the what these people are willing to endure and the grief and trauma they face. In a time of asymmetrical warfare, they are the new face of war.

Kenneth Miller is an international expert on the impact of armed conflict on civilians. He's a psychologist who been working with war affected communities as a researcher, clinician, and filmmaker. He’s a professor of clinical and community psychology and the author of War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience.

My conversation with Kenneth Miller:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

If You've Ever Stood In A TSA Line, You Have to Listen To This

The recent attempts by the Trump administration to put in place a travel ban only reflects a more formal attempt to do what some element in the Department of Homeland security and the TSA have already been doing.

Andrew Rhoades, a senior manager for the Transportation Security Administration at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport says he was told to profile Somalis and other community members in Minnesota.

His response to that request and his refusal to engage in this illegal activity put in place a series of reprisals against him, and has resulted in his testimony before Congress. Rhoades details how this is just a small part of the corrupt TSA activity that makes us all less safe when we fly.

My Radio WhoWhatWhy Interview with Andrew Rhoades:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Is Music Just an Escape or an Inescapable Part of Life?

The only thing that may be more pervasive than talk of Russia today is music. Music is everywhere. It seems no space, public or private, is not in some way filled with music. Even sporting events are now enveloped in music.

 In spite of music having been at the cutting edge of technological creative destruction and in spite of the fact that its business models no longer works, it is still omnipresent. One of the few things that has been with us through the ages and is as strong if not stronger today.

So why is music so much a part our lives and what is the seemingly magical power it has for so many people. John Powell explains in Why You Love Music: From Mozart to Metallica--The Emotional Power of Beautiful Sounds.

My conversation with John Powell:

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Stoking the Star Maker Machinery"

We are in the midst of awards season. The Oscars, the Grammys, the Golden Globes. They are all about both content and popularity. But what is the nexus and separation of the two? To many people, if it’s popular, it can’t be “good.” To others, choosing anything other than the top movies or the top 50 songs on Spotify seems useless.

What this doesn’t tell us is what drives popularity. Can it be manufactured, or is it the proverbial lighting in a bottle? How real or artificial is popularity?

It seem like the perfect time to explore these questions. Senior Editor of The Atlantic, Derek Thompson takes us down this popular road in Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.

My conversation with Derek Thompson:

The Politics of Authoritarianism in the Trump Era

We are all rushing out to buy copies of 1984, It Can’t Happen Here and Hannah Arendt's classic Origins of Totalitarianism. Last week 1984 topped the sales charts on Amazon.

But do these classic, mid century works really give us insight and context into what’s happening in Washington? Are we facing a true existential totalitarian threat, or just the blustering incompetence of a would be tyrant.

Perhaps to the extent we truly understand the history and nexus of fascism, populism and real totalitarian dictatorship, we can answer some key questions.

To help us in that effort, I recently spoke with Indiana University Political Science Professor Jeffrey Isaac.

My conversation on Radio WhoWhatWhy with Jeffrey Isaac:

Friday, February 10, 2017

"And She Persisted "

While there may be 63 million more cracks in the glass ceiling, the recent election brought into bold relief the challenges faced by women in leadership and in the workplace.

While electoral politics is not the perfect hothouse for understanding the issues of women and leadership, it certainly reflects back many of the problems, challenges and even opportunities that women face today.

It’s interesting to look at some of the statistics. Women account for a majority of college graduates, but only about a quarter of full professors and university presidents. Almost half of law school graduates are women, but only 17 percent of the equity partners of major firms. Women constitute a third of MBA graduates, but only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.

So how might this change? Will it be by woman becoming more like men, or will it take a fundamental shift for woman to co-opt the rules and redefine the playing field?  Sallie Krawcheck, one of Wall Street’s most successful women, tells women that what they have to do is Own It:

My conversation with Sallie Krawcheck:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

These are the Guys Who Are Changing the World

It’s kind of amazing that we spent a whole Presidential campaign talking about jobs and outsourcing and immigration, when the fact is that all of that is yesterday’s news.

The real impact on future jobs, income and how we conduct our lives is not coming from Mexico or China, but from Silicon Valley and from that 7 oz rectangular piece of glass in your back pocket.

We’ve already watched the disruption of the music business, the travel business and the retail business. Today disrupters like Brian Chesky and Travis Kalanick have disrupted transportation and hospitality in ways no one could have imagined as recently as just eight years ago.

But disruption has a price; for the disrupter, for society and for those that stand in the way by defending the status quo.

When that happens, it’s always a good story. And that's the story that my guest Brad Stone tells in The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World

My conversation with Brad Stone:

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Humanity That's Missing From Our Health Care Debate

Every day we hear what’s become today’s language of medicine. Time with patients, bending the cost curve, managed care, health saving accounts, primary care, etc. It’s all about medicine as a commodity.

And certainly it is an often finite and limited resource. But lest we forget that it’s also about flesh and blood human beings...both patients and doctors. Your connection to your doctor is simply not the same as your car's connection to it’s mechanic

Arguably, in that difference lies the soul of the physician, that is true beating heart of health care and that can shape patient outcomes.  Understanding this has been the life's work of Dr. Ronald Epstein. He takes us on a journey into that world in Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity

My conversation with Dr. Ronald Epstein:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How Real Is The Prospect of This Being the Asian Century?

So how many Asian countries have we offended this week? This in spite of the fact that the 21st century may very well be, as many have predicted, the Asian century.

The rise of China and the strength of many other Asian economies take on greater significance as the US enters a period of what could well be political and economic chaos and isolation and Europe faces a rising tide of right wing populism. All of it points to Asia’s promise.

But does it? My guest AEI resident scholar Michael Auslin, a former history professor at Yale, argues not so fast. China and Asia overall face a set of real global and internal challenges that might change the conventional wisdom. He details this in The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region,

My conversation with Michael Auslin:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It Is Happening Here

In business we often hear those meaningless four words, “this time it’s different.” Usually it means that it isn’t. That it’s just a delusional way to look at the same old problems.

In the current political landscape, it certainly seems things are really different. But from what? It’s different from political norms, certainly. But is it all that different from the early 1930’s, as we watched the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and the populism and racism of Huey Long here at home?

Originally published in 1935, It Can't Happen Here by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Sinclair Lewis, is a satirical and dystopian look at the rise of fascism in America. It has new and profound relevance today.

Sales of this prescient and 82 year old book have skyrocketed as we learn more about it from Dr. Sally Parry, the Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis society.

My conversation with Dr. Sally Parry:

Monday, January 30, 2017

How We Deal with Wealth Without Prosperity

Look at the world today and wave of populism that is sweeping the West. Contrast this against the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos and you would think that Davos, and those that participate in it, were the enemies of peace, and global prosperity.

In fact, it just may be that the opposite it true. That it is only leaders at places like Davos that understand the architecture that has held the world together for 60 years. They see that it is growth and prosperity that must be enhanced and address in such a way so as to include more of the world in that prosperity and not by a winner take all economic protectionism.

But how to begin to sort all of this out? That where Don Tapscott comes in. The author of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World shares his views.

My Radio WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Don Tapscott:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Microdosing...Maybe the Answer to the Next Four Years?...It Was the Answer for Ayelet Waldman

Every day scientists go to work and make discovers, or at least observations, that help make the world a better place.

The ongoing expansion of our knowledge of chemistry, of physics and of biology should be the holy grail that we look to to make all of us better.

Yet as an overlay to this ideal notion of pure science there are the prejudices, constrains, shames, and social covenants, which to some seem more important than truth.

Author, lawyer and mother Ayelet Waldman recently threw off those constraints to use science and chemistry to make her life better.  She shares that story in A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life.

My conversation with Ayelet Waldman:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Not Carnage, but Hope and Hard Work

Contrary to recently misplaced words from the President, cities like Detroit and other places in the industrial heartland are not places of carnage. They are and will continue to turn around. Not by dystopian rhetoric, but by the love and hard work and commitment of people like Amy Haimerl and her husband.

They took their life savings, moved from a gentrifying  expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn and bought an abandoned 1914 Georgian Revival in a troubled Detroit neighborhood. What they accomplished is the brick by brick way that Americans have always and will continue to improve neighborhood life.  Their story is America's story. Amy tells that story in Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home

My conversation with Amy Haimerl:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scenes From a Marriage

Amidst all the noise of politics, especially on the national stage, we forget that it's still made of up of real people with real lives; complex relationships and evolving marriages

Someone once said that the key to political success was learning how to fake authenticity. One thing we came to learn over the past eight years, is that the Obamas were very real. They were authentic, even if the nature of their lives and yes, even their authenticity changed over the first four years and perhaps even more so during the full eight years.

NY Times correspondent Jodi Kantor in her book The Obamas takes a look inside the Obama family, the Obama marriage and the complexity of a modern professional marriage inside the crucible of the White House. The book has just been updated and is now out in paperback.

My conversation with Jodi Kantor:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Last Time the CIA Was Unhappy with a President

There are some stories that just won’t ever go away. Mostly because the threads always seem to be unraveling and new information is always arriving. Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination are the most notable contemporary examples

Attorney, author and journalist Mark Shaw has, for years, been looking at the events and people surrounding the JFK Assassination. For him, the story itself, like the layers of an onion, keep getting peeled away, only to reveal another translucent layer.

In his new book The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What's My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen, he brings into bold relief, the story and the investigation of famed journalist and TV personality Dorothy Kilgallen.

My conversation on WhoWhatWhy.org with Mark Shaw:

For more information about getting the Manhattan DA to reopen the investigation into the death of Dorothy Kilgallen, click here.

It Did Happen Here

Fear is a funny thing. In our personal life, it often holds us back from things we know we should do. In our nation's collective life, fear often makes us do crazy things...to have a kind of national emotional and moral breakdown that feeds on the sum total and power of individual fears.

Such has been the case lately in our election and in our discussions of immigrants and our fear of the other, amidst a rapidly changing world.

To better understand where we are, we need only look back to the spring of 1942. A time under FDR, when we rounded up over one-hundred thousand residents of Japanese ancestry, living along the West Coast and sent them to detention centers for the duration of the war. Each lost part of their lives and some would argue that our nation lost a part of its soul.

Richard Cahan captures the sadness of that moment in Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II: Images by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Other Government Photographers.

My conversation with Richard Cahan:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jane Jacobs Understood that Cities Have Always Reflected The Best of Us

More and more of us are moving to cities. Look at any demographic map and it’s clear we are becoming a more urban nation. Cities are the vital link in our cultural, social and economic well being. And no one knew more, or understood cities better than Jane Jacobs.

100 years after her birth, her work, her insights and her chronicle of cities is the gold standard by which we judge both the good and bad policy and planning decisions we make.

Robert Kanigel gives Jacobs the biography she has needed, in Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs.

My conversation with Robert Kanigel

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why Cities Matter...Today More Than Ever

While Rural America may have made its voice heard in our recent election, the numbers show that more and more Americans, as well as citizen around the world, are moving to cities. Look at any demographic map of the US and it’s clear that we are becoming a more urban nation. As such, cities are the vital link in our cultural, social and economic well being.

But they also are, by virtue of their density, laboratories for so many of the larger problems that face the society. Problems of inequality, education, race, class and creative disruption are all playing out in our cities.

Cornell professor William Goldsmith thinks they are also target rich in opportunities. He lays out his ideas in Saving Our Cities: A Progressive Plan to Transform Urban America.

My conversation with William Goldsmith:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

We could use her comedy perspective today!

It would be very easy these days to have contempt for where celebrity culture has taken us. Nonetheless, sometimes celebrities just by virtue of their talent, their fame and their own ambition are able to make change in the world. 

Whether it's making cracks in the glass ceiling, having us look at things we might not have seen or simply modeling a very public life with lessons for us all...celebrities do sometime provide us a window into ourselves.

Such was the case with Joan Rivers. Whether in business, in comedy, or in life she was a trailblazer. And now journalist Leslie Bennetts gives her the biography she deserves in Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers

My conversation with Leslie Bennetts:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why So Many Homeless Families in America?

When we talk about the homeless, especially in our major cities, we imagine those that are visible on the streets and sidewalks. We don’t see the two million plus children who are homeless. The children and families living in cars, or motel rooms, or emergency shelters. They constitute an Invisible Nation: Homeless Families in America

How did this happen in a country and in cities as rich as San Francisco, or New York or Washington? Journalist Richard Schweid takes us deep into the bottom of a homeless economy that should shame us all.

My conversation with Ricahrd Schweid:

Without The Rocket Girls, There Would Be No Hidden Figures

Long before NASA's Hidden Figures in the 1960’s space program, there were the The Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars.

When Sally Ride blasted off as the first American woman into space back in 1983, she may not have know it at the time, but she stood on the shoulders of dozens of woman who, beginning in the 1940's, helped America compete in the space race and the Cold War.

Based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, these woman essentially provided the computational power that made rocketry viable. They shattered not only glass ceilings, but helped free us from what poet John Magee call the “surly bonds of earth.”

Nathalia Holt, trained at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard, takes us back to a seminal time for woman and America in space.

My conversation with Nathalia Holt:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How Parents Must Raise A Generation That Will Save Us

Parenting has gone from something natural to something that has become a job with many specific rules, fears and requirements. In fact it’s both more than than and less than sum total of all those rules.

It should be a partnership with our kids, a kind of collaboration that makes both parent and child stronger. That a large part of the approach of Dr. Ross Greene lays out in Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child. It’s an approach that will be critical as we rely more on future generations to rescue us from our current folly.

My conversation with Dr. Ross Greene:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Religion, Sin & Identity Politics

Perhaps no modern campaigns has generated as much coverage as the 2016 Presidential election. Wall to Wall and 24/7. Everything has been covered and analyzed..or has it.

Even with the occasional hat tip to the Christian Right of the Republican Party, it seems that religion has certainly not been a tool to add further analyses to this sui generis election. And few would argue that among all the other crisis engendered by the election, that a religious crisis is part of the mix.

However that is exactly one of the conclusions reached by Georgetown University Professor Joshua Mitchell.

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Joshua Mitchell: