Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Are We About To Fight a Third American Revolution?

Some of you may be watching the Henry Lewis Gates' PBS series on Africa. It’s a story that is in many ways the start of the civil rights struggle. A struggle that continues to this very day.

Several themes have emerge recently in our national dialogue about race. One looks at the importance of art to both tell a political story and to act as a forum for political action. The other is the role and importance of understanding the broad scope of history, in looking at where we are and where we are headed as a nation.

In 1987, the fourteen part documentary Eyes on the Prize captured the essence of those two ideas.

It begins by reminding us that “in a ten year period, in the 1950's and 1960's, America fought a second revolution. In the south, in the streets, in churches and in schools...to make America be America for all it's citizens. These were America's civil rights years.”

These are the opening words of Eyes on the Prize. The documentary, directed by Henry Hampton, had its television premiere on PBS thirty years ago. Jon Else was the series producer and cinematographer and now, in his book True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement, he takes us back to a time whose legacy is so important today.

My conversation with Jon Else:

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Value of Eastern Philosophy in the Battle Between Nativism and Cosmopolitanism

A wise person once reminded us that “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”  Therefore to begin to change the world, or even better understand our place in it, we need first begin to see ourselves and change ourselves.

But how do we do that when all around us the constraints of convention sometimes reinforce the limits of our perception. The answer in part, according to my guest Harvard Professor Michael Puett, is to turn East and look at the accumulated wisdom of Chinese and Eastern philosophy.

It doing so we broaden our worldview and take a clear stand in what Puett sees as the oncoming battle between nativism and cosmopolitanism.

This approach as made Michael Puett's undergraduate class at Harvard - Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory - the third most popular course on campus.

Professor Puett has now distilled that wisdom in The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life.

My conversation with Michael Puett:

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's All About the Characters - Understanding Writing for Movies and TV

Whether we are appreciating books or movies or television, or just talking to our friends or loved one's, story and characters are what makes the world go round. Joan Didion said, that “we tell each other stories in order to live.” Stories are at the core everything we do.

Few understand more about the art of story than Robert Mckee. He is one of the most sought after experts on the art of story. He’s mentored writers and screenwriters, including literally hundred of Oscar and Emmy winners.

His previous book Story was an international bestseller. And now his latest work is
Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen.

Leonard Pitts Speaks Truth To Power

Millions, maybe billions of words have been written about Donald Trump. Some about policy, about behavior and the context of this unprecedented presidency.

But at a time when so many are at best squeamish about facing or speaking the truth, when NPR refuses to use the word “lie,” it's so refreshing, when someone someone truly speaks truth to power.

Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. has never feared that. As a journalist, novelist and columnist he has been unfailingly honest.

My conversation with Leonard Pitts, Jr.:

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 on Radio WhoWhatShy 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 on Radio WhoWhatWhy.org

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: