Monday, December 31, 2018

We All Have A Role To Play In the Biggest Story of 2019

We think that politics might actually change the world for better or for worse. It probably won't. It's certainly more likely that climate change, weather, and rising sea levels will have a far more profound impact. The recent UN report on climate indicated that we could be facing existential risks within 20 years. So what is the world to do?

Jeff Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, takes us deep into not the debate but the story of the particle reality in The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Jeff Goodell:






Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Black Feminist Politics

The Blue Wave of the recent election would not have been possible without black women voters. The election of Doug Jones in Alabama would not have been possible without the turnout of black women.

The recent focus on Stacy Abrams, Kamala Harris, Maxine Waters, Oprah, and even Michelle Obama speak to the fact that Democratic and progressive politics today, as well as our cultural politics, is being defined and even redefined by black feminist politics.

When we look back at the history of black women and racial progress, women like Ida B. Wells, Fanny Lou Hammer, and even Rosa Parks, all of this should be no surprise. Today, coupled with the Me Too movement and the resistance to Trump,  this has the makings a lasting, permanent and far-reaching a change in our politics.

Few understand this better, both historically and contemporaneously than Professor Duchess Harris, the author of Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Trump.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Duchess Harris:






With Each New Year, Do We Loose A Little of What Makes Us Human?

How much of your work day is about emails, texts, Slack, Basecamp or Shift? And how much is about phone calls or meetings or basic human contact? If you’re like most people today, a large portion is devoted to apps, to screens, and to technology. And less and less to human contact.

How many times have you sent a work text or email to someone yards or even feet away? How many Holiday texts or emails did you send, rather than make a phone call, or a date for coffee? All of this comes with a price. It disconnects us over and over again so that we begin to lose the basic skills of human contact and interaction.

According to Dan Schawbel, the price we pay is not just in the workplace but in the very act of being human. Schawbel writes about this in Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation.

My conversation with Dan Schawbel:


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Business of Punishment

The U.S. imprisons a higher portion of its population than any country in the world. The so-called “prison industrial complex” is, for many towns in rural America, a driving force for its economy. At the same time, many of these prisons have been turned over to private companies, like Prison Corporation of America, to be run as cheaply and profitably as possible, regardless of the damage inflicted on inmates.

The result, in fact, the necessity, is the dehumanization of prisoners and subsequently the gradual dehumanization of those that work in these places.

Shane Bauer, a senior reporter for Mother Jones, went inside, as a $9 an hour guard, to see first hand what was happening inside the Winnfield, Louisiana prison. His magazine story gained national attention and has now become a new book American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is it Possible to Believe in Nationalism and Think Globally at the Same Time?

It seems that every day, as Trump makes another seemingly horrible comment, we ask ourselves how did this happen? Millions of words have been spilled trying to answer that question. Fascism, bigotry, populism, social and cultural issues, have all been trotted out. But first and foremost is the jingoistic nationalism that seems to be rampant among Trump's base, as it is around the world. As dislocation, change, and creative destruction continues, people seek solace in their most fundamental national tribe.

But is the left making a mistake by rejecting nationalism out of hand, or is there a place for nationalism and national identity even as one believes in immigration, open borders, free trade, and globalization? That the questions that John Judis takes on in The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization

My conversation with John Judis:


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What Gonzo Journalism Might Look Like Today? A Look At Hunter S. Thompson vs. Nixon

At a time when journalism is under siege when the attacks sometimes result in too much caution when the goal of politicians is to attack journalist like they are working the refs, it’s worth thinking about times when we’ve seen full-throated, muscular and sometimes participatory journalism. The kind practiced by the likes of Jimmy Breslin, or H.L. Menken, George Plimpton, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer or Hunter S. Thompson.

Thompson had the opportunity to be present for many world-changing moments. How he saw them, and how he reported them, may have shaped a generation of readers and it may still be in the very DNA of how we consume news today.

Timothy Denevi captures the zeitgeist of the Thompson moment in Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism

My conversation with Tim Denevi:



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bribery, Kickbacks and Corruption: Why It Matters

When we hear the phrase follow the money, we’ve come to understand that it usually leads back to nefarious political activities, self-dealing and corrupt public servants or worse. But sometimes that money trail leads to something that’s become so commonplace we hardly notice it anymore. The business of corporate bribery, and kickbacks around the world

As the global economy becomes ever more interconnected, as the membrane between governments and transnational corporations become ever thinner, this kickbacks and bribes have a multiplier effect that often leads directly to conflict, repression, and violence around the globe.

Like the butterfly flapping its wings in Main, the impact can be felt in the caves of Afghanistan, or the boardrooms of China, or the corridors of power on Capitol
Hill.

David Montero cuts to the quick of this in Kickback: Exposing the Global Corporate Bribery Network.

My conversation with David Montero:


Monday, December 3, 2018

Democracies Are Not Forever...Are We Headed Down the Same Path As Rome?

Each day more of our national political and governmental norms fall away. Our national leadership is at best in a moral vacuum, at worst, a corrosive force, an autoimmune disease eating the very fabric of the nation.

The violence of the past months reminds us that it does no good to hold the Pollyannaish belief that everything will all be all right, that we’ve been through this before and that the democratic institutions that Madison and the founders designed, and that moral framework upon which it was built, can withstand what we face today.

We like to think, based on past crisis, that our systems are strong enduring, resilient. Maybe. But there is no guarantee that it will last forever. After all, the Roman Republic lasted for 500 years and then collapsed. It Collapsed for many reasons similar to the issues and choices we face today. Historian and Professor Edward Watts, in his new book Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny shines a light on the path we are headed down.

My conversation with Edward Watts: