Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why the GOP is only a local party now!

This is a political year like few others. The traditional laws of political gravity have so far, not seemed to apply. Part of it is due to the collection of candidates, the public mood, and the long simmering divisions within the Republican party.

It’s also a result of the changing demographics of America, congressional gerrymandering and the ways in which the idea that “all politics is local,” helps one party and not the other.

These ideas are at the heart of University of Maryland Professor Thomas Schaller's new book The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White House

My conversation with Thomas Schaller:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Caught Between Two Worlds

Two of the most powerful threads in American history are the immigrant experience and America at war and the impact that those wars have had on the nation and it's people

The impact of WWII, the Japanese American experience and the relationship with Japan that evolved out of the ashes of that war, are the penultimate manifestation of that uniquely American story.

Pamela Rotner Sakamoto has, in her new book Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds  captured its true essence.

My conversation with Pamela Rotner Sakamoto:

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Woman Who Are Transforming the Arab World

Last month Saudi woman cast their votes for the first time in municipal elections in Riyadh. And while this is an incredibly positive development in the region, it also, by its very nature points out how limited many of these woman are and how the deeply conservative and gender segregated world of the Middle East has changed so little.

When we look around the world at developing nations, we see that where there has been real progress, in Africa, in Latin America and in parts of Asia, women have played a vital, often central role in advocating and bringing about that progress.

In the Middle East, where that ability has been so limited, we see the consequences on a daily basis. Katherine Zoepf in Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World gives us an inside view of how these woman are doing.

My conversation with Katherine Zoepf:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What does the GOP do now?

After its loss in the Presidential election of 2012 the Republican Party felt it needed to do its own after action report. In the end, it was determined that all was basically ok and that the party only needed to broaden its tent and do a little better with Hispanic voters. Enter Jeb Bush.

How did that work out?  Not so well!   What we are seeing today is a total repudiation of a Republican establishment that for 40 years has held onto many of its voters with cultural, racial and religious issues, while delivering nothing of economic value.  For the GOP, today the chickens have come home to roost and we understand exactly "what’s the matter with Kansas."

Covering all of this and telling the story from those first days after the 2012 election is BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins in his new book The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party's Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House.

My conversation with McKay Coppins:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Political Marriages Matter

What goes on inside of a marriage is always a mystery. With a political marriage, even more so. We all know the stories of the neighbors who have the apparently idyllic marriage, that ends in divorce. Or the couple that battles incessantly, that have been together for 40 years. These dynamics, and the psychological mechanism behind them are truly a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

However, with political marriages, and with public figures, we get a better glimpse. After the fact, we often have letters, tapes, diaries and tell-alls that become a part of the public record. In analyzing them, we learn a lot about how the marriage worked, how it shaped the individuals and in turn how it shaped history.

This is what we learn about LBJ and Lady Bird in Betty Boyd Caroli’s Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President.

My conversation with Betty Boyd Caroli:

With Each Fill-Up we Support Repression, Tyrants, War and Terrorism -- The Link Between Natural Resources and Violence

How many times have we heard the phrase, “Big Oil,” when sometimes what we really mean is authoritarian oil. There seems to be a direct and long standing historical nexus between those nations that have much in demand natural resources and countries which have corrupt, brutal and inept economies.

Our increasing demand for these resources, including oil and all the new resources needed by high technology, are helping to support tyrants around the world. Think about just today’s crisis in , ISIS, Syria, Darfur, the Ukraine; many have at their roots in oil and natural resources.

Listen to my conversation, for Radio WhoWhatWhy, with King's College Philosophy Professor and "Clean Trade" advocate, Leif Wenar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why Place Matters

We live today in a world of instant communications. Our computers coupled with services like Skype, allow us to travel to anyplace on earth at the speed of light. We have seen the surface of the Moon and of Mars and have been in meetings with participants all over the world.

So should this tell us that anyplace is everyplace? That things like geography, place, and indigenous cultures don’t matter in the 21st century?

Eric Weiner, the author of The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valleyargues that that it matters a lot. In fact, more than ever.

After all, why is it that places like Athens, Florence, Virginia & Philadelphia in 1776 and Silicon Valley today have produced some of the crowning achievements of mankind?

Maybe it’s because, as Eric Weiner says, place matters.

My conversation with Eric Weiner:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Brave New World of Health - It's not your father's healthcare

There is almost nothing that we do the way we might have done it just ten years ago. The way we book travel, get a car, find places to stay, take photographs, date, communicate with your friends, or consume the news. Creative destruction is everywhere. However a few of the places where such change have been very late to the party, has been with respect to education, government and healthcare.

In the world of healthcare that’s all beginning to change. The sheer force of science and discovery has pushed the otherwise staid walls of the medical profession to change.

And like everything other change, it’s no longer one size fits tall. The new long tail of medicine is about the customization of treatment and along with it, a required need for individual empowerment. Some might call it squeaky wheel medicine, other might just call it the future. One of those is my guest Dr. David Agus who tells us about these ideas in The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health

My conversation with Dr. David Agus:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Greed is not always good...The Big Short

It takes a long time to get a movie made. Back in May of 2010 I first spoke to Michael Lewis about The Big Short. Here is that 2010 conversation: 

It was John Adams who said "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." What Adams missed is that facts can be interpreted differently by different people. Bias, fed by money, greed, delusion and even by too much information, can cloud and shape those facts. In many ways that's what happened in the recent collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market and of Wall Street itself.

Twenty one years ago Michael Lewis wrote about the wreckage of Wall Street in his memoir Liar's Poker. Little did he know then, that he was writing about the beginning of an era that may now finally be ending. In his new look at Wall Street and the recent financial crisis The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, he paints a powerful narrative of smart and fearless men, some of whom see things as they are and ask why, and others who never ask why not.

My conversation with Michael Lewis:

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Art of Memoir

We live in a culture that is about sharing. First we shared music, then we shared our likes on Facebook, our photos on Instagram, our dating preferences on Tinder and now we share our cars, our houses, essentially our life.

Amidst all of this, has been our ongoing and growing appreciation of memoir and of personal stories. Where once fiction provided a place to explore our inner lives and our moral and social choices, today memoir fills that void.

One of the people who brought us to this point, is the bestselling author of The Liars' Club, Lit, Cherry and now The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr.

My conversation with Mary Karr: