With the Republican brand all but destroyed, with fewer than twenty-five percent of Americans self identifying as Republicans, as conservatism become synonyms with fundamentalism, ignorance of science and the acceptance of torture, it seems that some would try hard to redefine and re brand the once proud tradition of conservatism. Kim Phillips-Fein, a historian at New York University tries to do it by arguing that its historic, post New Deal strength was as the party of big business. I'm not sure it's a goal conservatives should aspire to today, but it's an interesting theory.
As we mark the first 100 days of the Obama administration, many will obviously view it in different ways. But perhaps first among the many ways involves responsibility and accountability. Stephanie Robinson, a lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, and former chief Counsel Senator Ted Kennedy and the author of ACCOUNTABLE, argues that accountability is the essential maker for good public policy.
Two interesting pieces trying to figure out Obama's economic policy though the idea of "Nudge." The first article by Franklin Foer, in The New Republic entitled Nudge-ocracy and the second by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Both miss the point that all of these ideas were spelled out over a year ago by Obama's University of Chicago colleagues, Cass Sustein and Richard Thaler in their book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
Andrew Cherlin argues that marriage in America is totally unique, as compared to the rest of the world. We value marriage and commitment, yet the American strain of independence and freedom is equally powerful. This dichotomy has helped to define marriage in America and may even help explain some of the debate our same sex marriage. In his new book, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today, Cherlin deconstructs marriage in a way that even Woody Allen would have found helpful.
Award-winning journalist Alec Russell was in South Africa to witness the fall of apartheid and the remarkable reconciliation of Nelson Mandela’s rule; and returned in 2007-2008 to see Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, risk the country’s reputation. South Africa is now perched on a precipice, as it prepares to elect Jacob Zuma as president on April 21st—signaling a potential slide back to the bad old days of post-colonial African leadership, and disaster for a country that was once the beacon of hope for the continent. Drawing on his long relationships with all the key senior figures including Mandela, Mbeki, Desmond Tutu, and Zuma, and a host of South Africans he has known over the years, Alec Russell’s Bring Me My Machine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma is an expertly observed and reportered account of South Africa’s great tragedies and unfulfilled promise.
My conversation with former anti-war activist and 60's radical William Ayers. We discussed his book Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist just reissued, plus the panoply of his past and present views.
The recent presidential campaign and the controversy surrounding Bill Ayers reignited the debate about anti war protesters in the 60's. What value did they have and how did the violent ways of some of them help or hurt the movement? Mark Rudd has spent the last forty years evaluating the choices he made as a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the more violent Weather Underground. In his new memoir, Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen, Mark Rudd reveals the first hand drama as well as the naivete of one of the most controversial periods in U.S. history.
If there is a single touchstone to the culture wars around the world, it is the issue of reproductive choice. More than just a domestic rallying point for the far right, reproductive choice has become an issue of global importance. Michelle Goldberg, has spent years researching this issue. In her new book, THE MEANS OF REPRODUCTION: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, she argues that in nations where reproductive choice has been an issue of population control, there has been less controversy. Where the rights of woman have been directly tied to reproductive choice controversy and militant fundamentalism abound.
Exactly ten years ago next week, on April 20, 1999, the nation suffered one of the great tragedies of the 20th Century. That day Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School and opened fire on their classmates. When it was over they killed 11 students and 1 teacher, before killing themselves.
Our understanding is only now clear because of the work of Dave Cullen, a journalist who has covered the story from hours after it happened and has devoted the past ten years to trying to fully understand it. His new book COLUMBINE is the definitive account of the incident.
Alva Noe, a professor of philosophy at UC Berkley challenges the assumptions underlying neuroscientific studies of consciousness, rejecting popular mechanistic theories that our experience of the world stems only from the firing of the neurons in our brains.
About a year ago I had a conversation with journalist Pico Iyer about his friend the Dali Lama. Iyer has a long history with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader living in exile in India. Earlier this week Iyer joined me once again to discuss how the fourteenth Dalai Lama is responding to the current reality of the Tibetan crises virtually disappearing from public discussion. This was my first conversation with Iyer in April of last year.
We all know that the Obama administration wants a greener energy future and that the world demands it. It would seem that everybody but George Will is on board.... and of course the oil companies. Hard to believe, but big oil is still resisting the obvious. The New York Times details on page one today.
Earlier today, I spoke to Miriam Horn, journalist and a member of the Environmental Defense Fund about some of the unique efforts in alternative energy and about what the oil companies are up to:
Today the very ideas that made America great imperil its future. Our plans go awry and policies fail. History's grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to improve lives, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions made to stem a financial crisis guarantee its worsening. Environmental strategies to protect species lead to their extinction. The traditional physics of power has been replaced by something radically different. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo puts forth a revelatory new model for understanding our dangerously unpredictable world. Drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, immunology, and the science of networks, he describes a new landscape of inherent unpredictability--and remarkable, wonderful possibility.
The crises in Darfur has become one of the most notable causes of our time. We talk of genocide, the death of 400,000 people and impact of the war on terror. The reality of Darfur and the Sudan may in fact be entirely different. What if everything we know about Darfur is either wrong or misjudged. This is the topic of a new book by Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University, entitled SAVIORS and SURVIVORS Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror.
How will history ultimately judge the colossal failures in Iraq? Those failures, compound by arrogance and politics have cost us a trillion dollars and thousands of American lives. Arguably none of it was necessary to achieve our stated objectives.
Charles Duelfer, who served as the deputy chairman of the United Nations weapons inspection organization from 1993 to 2000 and was also the leader of the Iraq Survey Group, which was the CIA-led team charged with the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq details the folly in his new book HIDE AND SEEK