Friday, June 18, 2021

A Conversation with Chris Matthews:

I think we can all stipulate that we are at a precarious moment in the relatively short history of American democracy. Even among those not following it on an hour by hour basis via an addiction to cable news, people are anxious.  So many, on both the left and the right, are using millions of words to comment on the moment.

But perhaps the only way to really understand it is through the sharp lens of contemporary American political history. Particularly the years since the end of WWII.

Our divisions no matter how profound and how powerful, do not stand alone. They exist as a link in the broad scope of our contemporary political story.  Without grasping that history, this moment is just noise.

Sure we can study history. Many great books have been written about these times. But those that have lived through all of it, who have paid attention to both the players and the events of this 75 year period are best qualified to try and figure out where we are today. Chris Matthews is certainly on of these.  He writes about it in his new book This Country: My Life in Politics and History.

My conversation with Chris Matthews


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Secret Service and its Time of Reckoning: A conversation with Carol Leonnig



Think of all the things you have believed in that have recently been shattered. That the government might protect us from a pandemic. That Congress and our democracy were secure. That COVID came from a wet market in Wuhan, and that Bill Gates was a paragon of business and virtue. Now add to this growing list, the belief in quality and ethics of the United States Secret Service.

With respect to the secret service, albeit some of our view comes from Hollywood. But surprise, not all secret service agents are Clint Eastwood, or Gerard Butler, or Nicholas Cage.

Now, as a result of the great investigative reporting of three time Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Leonnig we have a look inside the reality of life in the secret service.

While the service lived by the shibboleth of Zero Fail, today that goal exists inside a nation more divided than ever, more armed and angry than ever before, and a Secret Service that’s overworked, overtasked and even sometimes incompetent. It all part of Carol Leonnig's new book Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service

My conversation with Carol Leonnig:


Monday, June 7, 2021

What Happened In Wuhan? Why the Lab Leak Theory Has Gained Traction

Fifteen months ago most of us knew very little about viruses. Today, spike proteins, mRNA, and monoclonal antibodies are household words. 

Perhaps it’s this new knowledge that has forced science and the media to confront the reality, long ignored or covered up, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Our new knowledge and vocabulary are now liberating tools.

Investigative science journalist Nicholas Wade helped to turn the tide. His massive, in-depth article in Medium and in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists opened the floodgates on the discussion. Wade joins me on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast. 


 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Campaigns Matter: A conversation with Edward-Isaac Dovere

Ever since 1960, the campaign memoir has become almost a genre unto itself. Over the years many of these books have shaped our view of politics. 

In each of these stories men and even some women have competed for the presidency with the strongest of passion, with the proverbial fire in the belly. In many cases that ambition and their foibles have driven the country's narrative. 

As divided as we are as a nation, one thing that seems to be unique and universally embedded within our democracy, is the carnival that is American presidential campaign. 2020 was no exception. Chronicling this campaign, or at least the Democratic side of it, is the Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere. His campaign memoir is Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump 

My conversation with Edward-Isaac Dovere:

Saturday, May 29, 2021

With The American Experiment on the Precipice, It's Good To Know Our Shared Origin Story: A Conversation with Historian Patrick O'Donnell

As divided as we are today about the state of our current politics and the debate about facts, it seems that at least we should be able to agree about our shared history. And yet even that is debated today. 
When did America begin? Who gets credit, and how did it shape us? 

Patrick O’Donnell is one of our most distinguished military historians and he always trying to answer these questions.  He is author of twelve books, including The Unknowns and Washington’s Immortals. and served as a combat historian in a Marine rifle platoon during the Battle of Fallujah and has dedicated himself to understanding the truth about our history, particularly our military history, and it’s importance in helping us better understand who we really are and where we come from. His latest is The Indispensables: The Diverse Soldier-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware 

My conversation with Patrick O'Donnell:

Monday, May 24, 2021

Why New York is New York


Many of our great cities are known for one or two things. Detroit certainly for the auto industry, San Francisco for the 60s and Tech. Houston for the oil industry, and Los Angeles for Hollywood. New York in so many ways transcends that. Sure it’s the home of Wall Street and the capital of finance, but without putting down any other cities, New York stands alone as a pantheon to the very ideas of cities themselves and all that they represent.

The great chronicler of cites Jane Jacobs said “that by its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.”

Very few cities, other than New York offer that strangeness.The ability to round the corner and be surprised,

Craig Taylor get to the heart of this in New Yorkers: A City and Its People in Our Time 

My conversation with Craig Taylor.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Notorious Maxwells



We have a fascination with scoundrels. Especially if they are public figures. We love to build them up, to celebrate their success and then when they make mistakes, and disappoint our false expectations, we love to tear them down. It’s a cycle we see repeat itself over and over again.

And this is not just an American phenomenon, it’s a global one

The publisher Robert Maxwell is a keen example. Once celebrated for the publication of science knowledge around the world, for buying and rescuing the NY Daily News, for serving the good deeds of British Intelligence, he would turn out to be a common thief who who ripped off working men and women, and who mysteriously disappeared on his yacht…..And then there is his daughter Ghislaine.

It’s a story, like many that my guest John Preston tells, worthy of cinematic treatment. For the moment John tells the story in his new book Fall: The Mysterious Life and Death of Robert Maxwell, Britain's Most Notorious Media Baron.
My conversation with John Preston:

Thursday, May 6, 2021

We Need Uniters, Not Dividers: A Conversation with Tim Shriver

One year ago fear stalked the world. That fear created a common bond. We celebrated those on the front lines who walked into danger, we worried about our neighbors and felt kinship without those suffering halfway around the world.

And yet, a year later we celebrate a return to normal, and yet our divisions have intensified. Normal is now represented by a mass shooting every week, and even wearing a mask in the name of health, safety and science divides us.

Twenty years ago 9/11 united us for a brief and shining moment. A year ago, it seemed that the pandemic, like war and depressions before, would positively imprint and unite us.

And yet in some ways it doesn't seem like we’ve learned very much. However, there are those that see hope, who see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Tim Shriver knows a lot about hope and perseverance, as the long time chairman of the Special Olympics. Now he has coedited a new volume entitled The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening.

My conversation with Tim Shriver:
 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How the Rich Really Live and Why We All Should Care

Almost as wide as the wealth gap in America is the gap in the way we view wealth. We look at it as a monolithic thing. Yet part of the country demonizes it, part covets it and part of the country manages.

The same is true for kinds of wealth. Those that inherit it are different from those that win it, or those that start from nothing and create it for them and for others. All wealth is not the same

The bitch goddess success, William James said, demands strange sacrifices from those that worship her. Some people are willing to make those sacrifice and other are not

All of this speaks to the varieties of wealth in America. But are there similarities, are there patterns and behaviors of the wealthy, both good and bad, that we can understand? And if so, what does that knowledge do for us?

That’s what Michael Mechanic, a senior editor at Mother Jones, looks at in Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All

My conversation with Michael Mechanic:

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Time When Oscar Winning Movies Really Mattered: The Making of Midnight Cowboy

Great art, particularly movies at their best, reflect the times in which they were created. In 1968 political assination paralyzed the nation. In 1969 we were mired in Vietnam, New York City, was in decay and getting worse, The Stonewall Riots were energizing gay people, generational warfare, race riots were the norm, Woodstock reshaped and energized music and Richard Nixon was a year into his presidency.

Is it any wonder that the most important film of that year would be a dark, bleak film that pushed the limits of sexuality on screen and would go on to be the first X-rated film to win an Academy Award. The film was Midnight Cowboy.

My guest Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel defines the terms and history of the film in Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic 

 My conversation with Glen Frankel:

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Founding Mothers of NPR

Origin stories are usually part myth, part apocryphal and they often come to define the culture and sometimes the products of the companies themselves. What they always do is to reflect the dreams and perceptions of the founder.

The business of news and media is no different. The founders of our great news brands all have a story to tell.

Such a powerful origin story is the founding visions of National Public Radio and the extraordinary women who gave it life. These women didn't invent it, anymore than many tech found invented their technology. What they did do is give it shape, life and a reason for being, and in so doing assured its growth and survival. These women, Susan Stamberg, Linda Worthhieer, Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts are the subject of new joint biography by Lisa Napoli Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR 

 My conversation with Lisa Napoli:

Monday, April 19, 2021

Toxic Masculinity In An Oil Boomtown

The nature of work in America has changed. Good paying jobs in the manufacturing sector have been diluted, the service sector has exploded, and the gig economy is not just about Uber and Postmates. Today, even hard, brutal work in the oil fields has been gigafide.

For the men caught up in this change the price is high, but so are the lessons and yes, even the rewards.

Michael Patrick F. Smith is a folk singer and playwright who made the dramatic move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the booming oil fields of Williston North Dakota in order to participate in what he thought would be a modern day gold rush.

What he learned tells us a lot about work, men, and America today. He writes about it in The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown  

 My conversation with Michael Patrick F. Smith:

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Elon Musk IS Leading Us Into The Future

Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. In many ways that’s been the story of scientific progress. It seems there is always someone that leads us into the future. Someone whose vision and entrepreneurship and obsessive drive combine to turn the next big idea into the next big thing.

This has been true from Franklin, to Edison, from Henry Ford to Thomas Watson, from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, and today Elon Musk is the inheritor of that mantel.

Electric cars, commercial space travel, high speed transportation and even new forms of education are all part of the vision that Musk sees, and his vision may be on its way to become our reality.

As we all know Musk disruption of the automotive industry is full blown. What we may not fully understand is the way in which Musk, though Space X, is disrupting the aerospace industry, how we talk about space exploration, space travel and simply what a rocket is and does.

Aerospace journalist Eric Berger captures Musk's look into the future in Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX 
 

My conversation with Eric Berger:

Friday, April 2, 2021

Imagining the Next World War : 2034

There was once a time when we didn’t think a global pandemic was possible in the 21st century. The events of 9/11 took us by surprise as they did at Pearl Harbor and Midway.

Yet all of these tragic events were imaginable and some aspects of them even made their way into fiction, long before they happened.

They remind us that events like a pandemic or a world war are mostly at core, a failure of human imagination. Imagination which should be our first line of defense in preparing for our eventual future.

That is what distinguished Admiral James Stavridis and former Marine and award winning author Elliot Ackerman have given us in 2034: A Novel of the Next World War 

My conversation with Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman: 

 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Come Fly With Me: The World of The Pan Am Stewardess Before "Me Too"

Those of you that are old enough, will remember when people got dressed up to fly. When having a meal onboard, especially on a transcontinental flight was like dining in a fine restaurant. When inflight service was more than peanuts and admonitions about the size of carry on bags.

It was also a time when those that provided that inflight serve, were a different breed than Cassie Bowden in The Flight Attendant. It was an era when air travel was awash in glamor not the horrors of today.

The flight attendants or stewardess, as they were known, were a select breed. Especially for global airlines like Pan Am. They had to have the right look, the right BMI, the right education, speak more than one language and abide by a strict dress code. By today's standards the requirement would probably generate a class action discrimination or “me too” lawsuit that would put the airline out of business.

This is the retro world that Julia Cooke takes us into in Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am 

My conversation with Julia Cooke:

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Royals Have Outlived Their Value: Gilded Lives at the Expense of the British People

It’s been a while since the British monarchy was so front and center in our consciousness. The Crown, on Netflix, and Meghan and Harry have pulled back the curtain on the sometimes romantic notion of royalty. But more importantly, it’s also given us a look into what’s been called The Firm or The Institution, the British monarchy and its wider political economies of wealth and power. Because behind the scenes is simply a corporation, engaged in capital accumulation, profit extraction, labor relations, national and international finance arrangements, and a network of legal status, all of which converge with, and impact on, contemporary Britain.

Prince Philip, the husband of the Queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh, is quoted to saying back in 1969 that “It’s a misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the Monarch. It doesn’t.”, he said “It exists in the interest of the people.” In fact, history tells us that nothing could be further from the truth. The monarchy is more precisely, in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, “What you get when you found a political system on the family values of Henry VIII.”

To bring all of this in perspective, I’m joined by the right honorable Norman Baker. Norman Baker was a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2015, and established a reputation as one of the most persistent parliamentary interrogators in the modern House of Commons. 

His most recent book about the British monarchy entitled ...And What Do You Do?: What the royal family don’t want you to know In his spare time, he’s also an established singer-songwriter and has released three albums.

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with the Right Honorable Norman Baker:




Thursday, March 18, 2021

Frida Kahlo and the Timelessness of Her Work and Her Ideas

Racial identity, socialism, the role of art in society, the responsibilities of artists and the position of the artist in popular culture. These subjects which sound like they are taken from today's headlines are also part of the life of Frida Kahlo.

They are all a part of new biography of Kahlo by Celia Stahr, that examines Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist.


My conversation with Celia Stahr:


Coffee, Globalization and and Why We Care About A Hill of Beans

While the world has changed in so many ways lately and turned most of our routines upside down, the one constant I suspect for many is their ritualistic morning coffee. For the moment it may not be in your favorite coffee shop, but nonetheless, the magic elixir helps start each day and power it along with consistency as the uncertain future unfolds.


But how did Coffee of all things become not just our universal drug of choice, but an essential lubricant in connecting us to each other and to the world?


It’s a story that begins in the volcanic highland of El Salvador and is often as complex as the taste of your hand-selected organically grown coffee beans. This is the story that Augustine Sedgewick tells in Coffeeland: One Man's Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug.


My conversation with Augustine Sedgewick:


Monday, March 1, 2021

Rethink Everything You Know About Policing

Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks was working at the Pentagon when she heard about the D.C. Metropolitan police corp program. Intrigued, much to the consternation of friends and family she joined up. Suddenly she had a badge, a gun, a uniform and a whole lot of academic ideas about cops, criminal justice, law enforcement and what it means to protect and to serve. 
Suddenly she was over and inside the blue wall. It was as if she was going into another country. She had to learn a new culture, a new language, and even her family feared not only for her safety, but that she’d be somehow co opted by the journey. 

What she found should radically change how we think about police and policing in America. Hint, it’s not anything that is part of our current rhetoric. She spells it all out inTangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Rosa Brooks:


Monday, February 22, 2021

Where Is The Information We Have Lost In Data

During the past year, perhaps a year like no other year, we have been bombarded with statistics. Covid cases, numbers of deaths, positivity rates and flattening the curve. Add to this an election and polling data that drowned us in information. 
On top of all of this is disinformation and the traditional ways in which numbers and statistics can be used to deceive us. 

And then just this week, statistics about stocks, and all manner of economic information. Data is everywhere. Every publication of note, now has whole departments devoted to data visualization.

One wonders though, where is the information we’ve lost in all that data. If you are good or bad at math, there is a lot to take in, to process and to try and understand.\

Tim Harford just might be able to help us with that with his new work The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics.

My conversation with Tim Harford:


Monday, February 15, 2021

Mike Nichols: A Life

Amidst the cacophony of social and cultural noise that’s all around us, we have too often neglected the role of the arts in shaping who we are and how we might be better, or at least different. 
Like almost everything else, we tend to commodify the arts. Everything from streaming revenue, to box office grosses, to the price of paintings at auction. 

I would argue that what we don’t do enough of is look deep into the artists themselves. Artists who by the very nature of their work, must keep their emotions closer to the surface. And in so doing, we can see how their work reflects the best and worst aspects of our culture. 

Mike Nichols was such an artist. In a multi decade-spanning career, the films and plays he directed have in some ways impacted us all. In the early comedy of Nichols and May, to the social insights of films like The Graduate, Silkwood, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Catch 22, to his plays that reflected who we were in the human comedy, he not only understood his art and craft, but valued other artists; specifically actors and writers as creative tools to help him to help us see the world. 

Mark Harris gives us all of this in his new biography Mike Nichols: A Life 

My conversation with Mark Harris:


Monday, February 8, 2021

Why The Exploration Of Space Should Still Matter

Once it was the moon. Today Mars is the holy grail of space exploration. In the coming months three missions, one from the US, one from Taiwan and one from the UAE will be approaching and/or landing on Mars. Next year Russia, Japan, and India have missions planned. It could get crowded up there! 
And while NASA, the President and Congress may be less enamored by space than by that latest social media site, there is amazing work being done at NASA. Also the private sector, in the form of wayfarers such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson are giving the government some competition. 

All of this is part of the history of space and its future exploration. This includes an amazing mission planned to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter in 2024. 

Giving us a telescopic view of all of this is David W. Brown in his new book The Mission: A True Story

My conversation with David W. Brown:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Are You A Broker, Expansionist or Convener? It Will Tell How the Pandemic Impacted You

As we work the phones and Zoom calls, it makes you wonder if physical connection is even necessary? Has the pandemic given us a new normal. How has it impacted things like conversation in the hallways or parking lot, a lunch meeting or a discussion over a glass of wine. 
Just like science, when you change the way and the amount of elements you mix together, you get a different result. It’s just chemistry right? So is the same true for real life? Is the chemistry of our connections a static condition or a dynamic process that will be changed forever for the past year?

To understand this we talk with Marissa King, the author of Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection

My conversation with Marissa King:

Monday, January 25, 2021

Armed Members of Congress. Bloodshed in the Capitol. Talk of Secession. We've Seen It Before

For some of us, a sense of history is the only thing that gets us through each day. As divided as we are, as angry as we are, as exhausted as many of us are, history tells us that we’ve been there before. 
And while history doesn’t exactly repeat itself, as Mark Twain says, it often rhymes. To better understand our current moment, the run up to the Civil War gives us clues. 

We were a country going through transformation. Members of congress were armed. One congressman beat up a member of the Senate. Bloodshed was a part of Washington. Succession was on everyone's mind. Lincoln, with all his skills, could not prevent the war. All he could do was try and manage it. 

David Reynolds put all of this in perspective in his new work of history Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times.

My conversation with David Reynolds:

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Hispanic Republican Vote

The great baseball manager Casey Stengel famously said that he never makes predictions, especially about the future. That also might be good advice for political pundits. 

For months in the run-up to the election, we heard pundits talk about the Latino vote, that they were all reachable by Democrats and it was just a matter of Democrats committing more time, more energy, and resources. Latinos were just waiting to be given a reason to vote for Democrats. The problem is the demographics, history, culture, and the hard numbers of the election results themselves tell us that this is simply not true. 

 Since around 1972, Hispanic Republicans have developed their own partisan identities and an actual loyalty to The Republican Party. Even to this day, there were issues that continue to draw Latino voters into The Republican Party. 

Imagine if this took place in the Trump era, what it might mean in the future for Republicans. Clearly, Latinos are not a monolithic group, but rather complicated human beings that are not just pieces to be moved around on a political chess board. Bringing this all into bold relief is Geraldo Cadava. 

Geraldo Cadava is an associate professor of history and Latinx studies at Northwestern University and the author of The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Geraldo Cadava
 








Friday, January 8, 2021

Time for America to create a New Origin Story














If you follow business, you know that part of the lure of every company is its founding story or myth. How the founders came together, overcame objections, and persevered to build their insanely great products. 
Over time the myth takes on a life of its own, as it comes to define the company and its products. In a similar way it’s true of nations, including the United States. 

We were a nation forged from disparate regions. The Northeast, the South, the West, Midwest. Each with different cultures, different philosophies and demographics. And yet we have bought into the myth of one nation, one United States. The proverbial “shining city on the hill.” 

It seems that every few decades the patina wears off. The myth and the differences come to the surface and we struggle to hold it all together. We are living through that now. 

To explain why we need listen to Colin Woodward, author of Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood.

My conversation with Colin Woodard


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Understanding Goodfellas and the Trump Henchman

When we think of the past four years of the Trump administration, the analogies to The Godfather come 
immediately to mind. The reality truly reflects the sometimes magisterial and always violent family saga of the large organized crime family

But what about for the foot soldiers that have been corrupted by Trump? Those who have taken on his imprimatur to lie, steal and cheat. To understand them, we need to go back 30 years and look at Nicholas Pileggi's Wise guys, later to become the movie Goodfellas.

The movie was iconic and perhaps we could have learned form from it. Glenn Kenny digs keep into the movie, and those lessons in his book Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas.

My conversation with Glenn Kenny


Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

There is no more significant issue than race in America. If perplexed our founders, it flies in the face of the notion of American exceptionalism, it clouds our dealing with the other nations, and it's an underlying current throughout American political history...right up to this very moment.

The Black lives matter movement, profound and successful as it is at this moment, is simply part of the arc of history trying to bend toward justice.

It’s impossible to understand that without understanding the work and the ideas of so many who have shaped the movement. And Malcolm X stands amidst the pantheon of those

Over the years many have tried to understand Malcolm X and his politics, his philosophy, his evolution and his influence on the civil rights movement. Certainly his speeches and autobiography are part of that cannon. But to fully understand the man, we need Les Paynes biography The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X 

Thirty years in the writing, Les Payne died in 2018 and the book was completed by his daughter Tamara Payne who was also it’s co-author and his principal researcher.

It is the winner of this year's National Book Award for Non-Fiction. 

 My conversation with Tamara Payne


Friday, December 18, 2020

The Collapse of America's Founding Mythology

Every company has its foundational myth. From the beginning, it becomes the basis of the company’s culture, its marketing, and really its DNA. The same is true for nations. And perhaps not surprisingly no nation has done a better job of that mythology than the United States.

From the ideas of manifest destiny to John Winthrop's shining city on the hill, from freedom and equality to American exceptionalism, these stories are not only foundational for Americans, but they run in the American bloodstream.

So what happens when it’s discovered that the myth and reality don’t match up? That the emperor has no clothes.

Ultimately, the myth is exposed, the wheels come off, the anger spreads, first internally and then outside and the enterprise usually collapses or morphs.

Arguably that’s what we’ve been living through today. The exposure and crumbling of the American myth. It explains the populist anger that brought Trump to power, as well as the anger on the other side that has fueled Black Lives Matter. When the myth is stripped bare, the company or the nation must be reinvested or die.

These ideas are at the heart of Jared Yates Sexton’s book  American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Jared Yates Sexton:




Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Broke is the definition of every aspect of American medicine today

Regardless of whether you are for single-payer health insurance, fee for service, a hybridized French system, or the Affordable Care Act, what’s clear is that most of our health care system is broken. It’s left behind from the world of technology and creative destruction and it’s far too expensive.

It’s a system that is broken, and that increasingly places barriers to entry for those without knowledge of the system or the poor without the financial resources to access it.

But what about the doctors that work in such a system. How does it impact them, many of whom wanted to practice medicine not social work. Dr. Michael Stein looks a this in Broke: Patients Talk about Money with Their Doctor.

My conversation with Dr. Michael Stein

:  

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

Every company has its foundational myth. Usually carved out of air by its founder. It becomes the basis of its culture, its marketing and its fundraising. However, often, the reality of running a business is much more mundane. It’s often separated from the myth.

Most people, even charismatic founders of companies can understand the difference. It's like what used to be said of political campaigns, that candidates campaigned in poetry and governed in prose. Sometimes though when the myth takes over the reality, trouble is not far behind.

Rarely has the foundational myth and a company's operations become as interconnected as they were with Adam Neumann and WeWork.

That’s the story that Reeves Wiedeman tackles in Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

My conversation with Reeves Wiedeman
:  

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Saudi Enigma - How Will Biden Deal With It?

There was a time when we looked upon Saudi Arabia as the gas station to the world. Certainly to the US. At the time it generated fear and a lack of understanding. It’s tribal structure, our lack of knowledge about its history and the repeated failures of US policy in the Middle East all placed the kingdom beyond our comprehension.


Its effort today to modernize both its culture and its economy, the US’s own confidence about oil independence and other dramatic geopolitical shifts have caused us to reassess the Saudi role in the world.  At the same time, the murder of Jamal Kashogi and other human rights abuses have not helped.  In short, Saudi Arabia still remains a great enigma. Trying to help us understand it is as a new administration must face another new policy is Saudi expert David Rundell, the author of Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads.


My conversation with David Rundell:
   

Monday, November 23, 2020

Does America Need to Find Its First Principles? A conversation with Tom Ricks

The past four years, really right up to this moment, have been a test for the American republic. Over and over we’ve heard it asked, “can our institutions hold, are the ideas and documents of the framers adequate for the modern age?” 


At the same time, we’ve heard over and over again, since Nov. 8, 2016, how did we get here? What has driven us to such political and social division, to our appetite for authoritarianism, the disregard for norms, the rural-urban and educational divide?

What ties all of these questions together is the idea that when faced with a complex sometimes unsolvable problem, it’s best to go back to foundational principles.

To deconstruct the enterprise and strip it to its original foundation to see how all of the problems have been layered on and how we might find meaning and/or solutions.

This is essentially what Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and another Tom Ricks does in his new work First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

My conversation with Tom Ricks: