Monday, October 21, 2019

Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law: A conversation with James B. Stewart

The world is a complex place. The news comes at us at hyper-speed and 24/7.  All while we have to deal with family, work and life.

Therefore more than ever, it’s critical that there are those among us, journalists mostly, whose job it is to distill and explain events to us. Not to tell us how or what to think, but to present the big stories in-depth and in a narrative that allows us to be smarter about the world, and refine how we are to live in it.

Few do this better than James B. Stewart. He has been doing it for years with books such as Blood Sport, Den of Thieves, and Disney Wars. Now with his latest Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law, he  takes us deep inside what we’ve all lived through for the past three years. The investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails and of Trump, Russia, Comey and the Mueller Report.  All of which has lead us to where we are today.

My conversation with James B. Stewart:


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Harold Bloom 1930 - 2019

Harold Bloom, who died last week at the age of 89, was one of our great teachers and literary critics. Often out of sync with contemporary literary fashion, he defended the “Western canon” and fought against what he called “the School of Resentment,” multiculturalists and those whom he argued betrayed what he saw as literature’s essential purpose.

I had the opportunity to know Professor Bloom as a student, and later in life, I had the opportunity to interview him. Most recently in 2000 upon the publication of his book How to Read and Why

Here is that conversation with Professor Harold Bloom:


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Conversation with the Recipients of This Year's Nobel Prize in economics: Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee

Beyond the common denominator of poverty what are aspects of the poor that we just don't understand?

We've learned that poverty itself creates a different life, a different view of the world. A view that arguably accounts for the fundamental failures of so many well-meaning programs. Why this is, what works and why has it been so hard to find the magic bullet. Trying to answer this has been the work of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in economics, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee.

My conversation with Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee:



Monday, October 14, 2019

The End of America's Cultural Hegemony

A look at the news any day reminds us that America is no longer the singular dominant power in the world. This is true vis a vis soft power, moral persuasion, and now cultural power.

American movies, music, and art no longer are the single option for global entertainment. Perhaps not since the British invasion of the ‘60s have we seen so much art and entertainment coming from outside of the U.S. This time form India, South Korea, and even Turkey.  This is the world that Fatima Bhutto takes us into in New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop

My conversation with Fatima Bhutto:



Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Tyranny of Virtue: Political Correctness Run Amuck on Our Campuses

Once upon a time, we didn’t have to think about political correctness. And we survived as a culture! We self-corrected, we became more sensitive to others, we learned to accept and appreciate diversity. It was sometimes difficult, even painful. But a lot of it was organic. Often we slipped up. We fell backward, and sometimes it even took appropriate legislation to provide better guardrails for our behavior. Such was the forward march of mankind.

But today, the bludgeon of political correctness hangs over all of us. And nowhere worse than on our college campuses. The fear of free speech, the absurdity of safe spaces, the desire to silence unpopular ideas and the seeking out of problems and conflicts that don’t really exist, are all hallmarks of where we are today.

But how did we get here, and is there any path out that does not divides us still further, polarize us even more and further enhance the sanctimony of those who consider their ideas singularly virtuous.

Skidmore professor Robert Boyers, the subject of a story in this week’s New Yorker takes us into the belly of the beast of political correctness in his new book The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, the Academy, and the Hunt for Political Heresies.

My conversation with Robert Boyers:


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Just Who is Brett Kavanaugh?

Most of us remember being transfixed, just one year ago, to the hearings from now Supreme Court Justice Brent Kavanaugh. This week, as the court begins its new term, Justice Kavanaugh will be part of a court deciding on some of the most fundamental cases that affect our politics, our culture, and our freedoms. All in an atmosphere that, if even possible, is even more polarized than it was a year ago.

So who is Brett Kavanaugh? Certainly the one week FBI investigation and the televised circus that was his hearing may not have told the whole story. For that, we must rely on the reporting of Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly in their new book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.

My conversation with Robin Pogrebin:


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Why Understanding Silicon Valley History is Necessary To Deal With Today's Tech Issues

So much of what passes for history today is one dimensional. We see the events, the names, the places the timeline and the heroes and the villains. But there is often another dimension. Not so much a secret history, but almost like the moon, it has a dark side, hidden from us. It’s there, we just don’t see it and therefore we don't’ appreciate it and its broader impact.

So it is with Silicon Valley. Literally, millions of words have been written about it. In fact, with the exception of politics and Washington, no place gets more coverage and attention. No accident given their long symbiotic relationship.

Therefore you would think that by now we know it all. But we don't. This is why people still write books and surprise us about our origin story as a nation and about our wars past. And it’s why, particularly at this time when tech is under such scrutiny, we should understand everything we can about its history. That’s what Margaret O’Mara has tried to do in The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America.

My conversation with Margaret O'Mara: