Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair on the Wacko for Wasilla

Todd Purdum, in the current Vanity Fair, has the latest must read on the Wacko from Wasilla. Andrew Sullivan, as always with Palin, sums it up best. Money quote:
As the months have gone by since John McCain revealed his total cynicism and contempt for America's national security by selecting one Sarah Palin to be a potential vice-president of the United States, we Palinpregnant have learned that every single ghastly attribute we discovered in the campaign is worse than we thought at the time. The narcissism, the pathological and incessant lying, the viciousness, the delusions of grandeur, the vindictiveness, the fathomless and proud ignorance, the opportunism, the vanity, the white trash concupiscence and fraudulence in almost every respect: these are now indisputable. How an advanced democracy came that close to having this farce of a candidate running the most powerful country on earth reveals how deep the corruption of our politics and especially our media are.

The gonzo version of the Middle East

James Hider Middle Bureau Chief for The Times of London and author The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War, takes us into the Heart of Darkness in the Middle East. If Hunter Thompson were writing about Iraq, Israel and Palestine, it might look something like Hider's book. From hardcore Zionist settlers still fighting ancient Biblical battles to Shiite death squads; whether it's the misappropriation and martyrdom of Mickey Mouse by Gaza's Islamists, or a US president acting on God's orders, Hider sees the hallucinatory effect of what he calls the 'crack cocaine of fanatical fundamentalism' all around him. He wonders how can people not only believe in this madness, but die and kill for it too?

My conversation with James Hider.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On the other side of the border...

When we do talk about the issue of immigration, it's usually thorough the prism of preconception, politics and polemics. There is another side. The human side. A side with sociological complexities, real people, and even sometimes humor. This is the backdrop for LUIS ALBERTO URREA'S new novel Into the Beautiful North. Through it, we see all of these issues in a way that debates, or news stories or hearsay cannot capture.

My conversation with Luis Alberto Urrea:

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Under the bridge..

Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg, in their book Righteous Dopefiend, take us up close and personal into the world of homelessness and drug addiction in urban America. For more than two decades they followed two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers in their scramble for survival on the streets of San Francisco. Most importantly, more than just painting a bleak landscape, they conclude with proposals for policy changes and interventions, and look at how and why the U.S. has produced this shelterless population, condemned to lives of distress and suffering.

My Conversation with Philippe Bourgois:

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Leonard Bernstein - A political life

From his conducting debut in 1943 until his death in 1990, Leonard Bernstein's star blazed brilliantly. But always twinkling within that star were the yearnings of a true progressive. In his new biography Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician, Barry Seldes, links Bernstein's real musical and theatrical achievements and some of his real setbacks, to to his involvement with progressive politics. We see the nexus between Bernstein's career and some of the twentieth century's most momentous events. His life shows us the unique intersection of American culture and political power.

My conversation with Barry Seldes.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There's something happening here.... (fixed)

Events in Iran are moving quickly, and any attempt by Westerners to fully understand the complexity and the dizzying array of actors and institutions is often met with frustration. One who does understand however, is Middle East and South Asia Expert Juan Cole. The author of the blog INFORMED COMMENT Professor of History at the University of Michigan and author of Engaging the Muslim World, provides some keen insights into what twitter, the blogs and a little of the MSM is bringing us.

My conversation this morning with Juan Cole.

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The Hidden Side of Hunger in America

Amidst the housing meltdown, rising energy costs and an increasingly dysfunctional health care system, America's poor are also battling hunger. Outside of the media sight-lines, all types of communities are struggling to put any type of food on the table. SASHA ABRAMSKY, a senior fellow at the New York think tank Demos, in his new book Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It sounds the alarm.  

My conversation with Sasha Abramsky:

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Womenomics, a new workplace paradigm

Woman are earning more college degrees and more graduate degrees.  Research has repeatedly shown that those companies that employ more woman in the upper echelons of management simply make more  money.  How are these facts, coupled with new technology, re-framing our old ideas about the workplace?  As women are still a great untapped lever for companies around the world, how do companies and woman find new solutions and opportunities and achieve a better balance in business and in life. This is the work that Claire Shipman of Good Morning America and ABC News and Katty Kay of the BBC take on in their new book Womenomics.

My conversation with Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:
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Good Mother / Bad Mother

Four years ago Ayelet Waldman sparked a controversy, and was forced to defend herself, when she wrote in a N.Y. Times essay that "she loved her husband more than her children."  Now in her new memoir Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, Waldman details the fall-out from that essay, as well as what she call "the perils and joys of trying to be a decent mother in a world intent on marking you feel like a bad one."

My conversation with Ayelet Waldman.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who is Hugo Chavez and other tales of American failure

The rise of Venezuela’s left-wing President, Hugo Chavez, is a lesson in what can happen when the U.S. disses an entire continent.  Who is Chavez, and what role has he played in the fact that U.S. influence in Latin America is perhaps at its lowest ebb. Brian Nelson, in his book The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela, shows why the U.S., especially under the Bush administration, has failed in our Latin American policy and why the most resource rich country in the region is also the most corrupt.

My conversation with Brian Nelson:

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

David Brooks on why the bailout of GM won't work.

David Brooks nails everything wrong with the GM Bailout.  Money quote:
For the elemental facts about the Obama restructuring plan are these: Bureaucratically, the plan is smart. Financially, it is tough-minded. But when it comes to the corporate culture that is at the core of G.M.’s woes, the Obama approach is strangely oblivious. The Obama plan won’t revolutionize G.M.’s corporate culture. It could make things worse.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Bill Clinton's emerirtus years

For almost twenty years Bill Clinton has been a part of the American political landscape. Now in his emeritus years, its a bittersweet story of a man, who after reaching the pinnacle of political power, is still trying to shape his destiny, still searching to define his place in the world. This story is admirably told by Peter Baker of the N.Y. Times, in a cover story in the N.Y. Times Magazine this past Sunday.

My conversation with Peter Baker:
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To live and die in Pakistan

If Pakistan is the central front in the war on terror, why don't we know more about it?  For years we have read and listened to reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan, but arguably not enough about Pakistan;  a country with nuclear weapons, an unstable government and a military with questionable allegiances.   Nicholas Schmidle, an accomplished journalist, spent two years studying and reporting from Pakistan and understands the reality on the ground as few others do.  In his new book To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan, Nick Schmidle takes us inside his two years in a nation always on the bring of chaos.

My conversation with Nick Schmidle:

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