Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The End of American Competitiveness: A Conversation with Michael Mazarr

For much of our 246 years, we were a young, dynamic, striving country. Sure, we had flaws, we made mistakes, we took wrong turns, but we believed deeply in our ability to learn from those mistakes and to move the country forward. Today, it seems that we’re caught between that young, energetic country and some of the more mature, but less dynamic nations we see in Europe, for example. We are like a mean, angry adolescent nation ready to fight with anyone and about anything.
When the James Dean character in Rebel Without a Cause was asked, “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” The answer was, “What do you got?” We are like that adolescent. Some are rebelling against our founders, some against our institutions, against our diversity, our technology. Essentially, what do you got? Like any adolescent, maybe we will outgrow this, or will there be enough time before we destroy the very fabric of our democracy? We’re living in a high school lunchroom with cliques, and anger, and hormones, and guns, and bravado. We’ll either graduate to the next level, or we’ll take the world’s longest time out while China and the rest of the world pass us by.

We’re going to talk about the state of the nation today with Michael J. Mazarr

Michael is a senior political scientist at Rand, where he's the author of a recent Rand report entitled The Societal Foundations of National Competitiveness.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Michael Mazarr:

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

How Did The Pandemic Change Us? A Conversation with Katie Hafner

Early on in the pandemic, in the earliest days of the lockdown, we wondered how this was going to change the world. Ironically, it was easier to look out and to try and figure out its impact on the world, rather than dig deeper and wonder how it might affect us.

But it did give us time to think, to wonder, and for some, to be deeply creative. It gave us all a springboard to see the familiar in new ways. To cope with isolation in new ways, to reaffirm or reconstruct our most intimate relationships.

All of this has given way to what might become a new genre of the pandemic art form; be it in the service of art, or music, or movies, or novels.

If Katie Hafner's debut novel The Boys is any indication, it will be a great genre.

My conversation with Katie Hafner: 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Why Harvey Weinstein Should Matter: A Conversation with Ken Auletta

In spite of the supposed transparency of the internet age, more and more we live in the age of complicity. Last month we saw it with the trove of documents and stories that came to light about UBER. Tim Miller’s recent book about Trump's enablers shows how it’s happened repeatedly in the White House, just as Michel Lewis showed us, several years ago, how it happened on Wall Street in the face of the 2008 financial crisis.

For 20 years in Hollywood, the complicity around the actions of Harvey Weinstein was airtight.

What is it about Hollywood and Wall Street and politics that encourages and even condones such complicity in bad behavior?

Long-time media journalist Ken Auletta tells the thirty-thousand-foot view in telling the story of Harvey Weinstein, his rise and fall, through the lens of his enablers and his victims in his new book Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence.

My conversation with Ken Auletta:

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Trump Roster of Toadies: A conversation with Mark Leibovich

Screen%20Shot%202022-07-27%20at%203.09.45%20PM.pngModern Washington has always offered up an impressive roster of toadies. Yet the Trump administration seems to have offered us a unique period of bowing and scraping.
Historically, sucking up takes a variety of forms, from pretty compliments to cloying flattery and outright treachery. But it doesn't stop there. The kind of sycophant we see from those in the GOP, combines other attributes like hypocrisy, lying, and manipulation. 
Throughout history we’ve certainly seen our share of sycophants; from the courts of Caligula to Dickens' Uriah Heep. 
We certainly get to see a lot of this in Mark Leibovich's new book Thank You For Your Servitude 
My conversation with Mark Leibovich: