Is something rotten in Denmark…and the rest of Europe?

December 28th, 2011

Around 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville revealed a unique set of American character traits. Traits that in total, would come to define the American experience. Today most of those traits are still with us;  but we often lose sight or forget about them.   Like de Tocqueville, sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us of those things that make us, if not exceptional, at least unique in what we've been able to achieve.

Daniel Hannan, is a Conservative member of the European Parliament and first came to international prominence when he took on then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, regarding his economic polices.

In his recently published book The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America,  Hannan sounds a clarion call to America not to be seduced by all that seems attractive about the European system. Since the original publication of his book, he has proved prescient in several ways. My conversation with Daniel Hannan:

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Voices of Poverty

December 22nd, 2011

What does poverty look like in America today? Almost fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson, during a State of the Union address, proposed a War on Poverty.  Today, in many ways, we seem to have lost that war.

The plight of the poor in America is growing worse and the attention paid to them declining. Perhaps if we really understood, separate from the politics of economics, what that plight was like, if we really understood the stories of individuals, beyond the stereotypes, maybe then society might take notice and take action.

A significant effort in this regard is under way with a new project, encompassing a website and ultimately a book. The project is entitled Voice of Poverty and it’s the idea of freelance journalist and U.C. Davis lecturer Sasha Abramsky. The project could radically change how we think about the poor in America. My conversation with Sasah Abramsky.

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How Ahmad Chalabi lead the Bush administration into Iraq

December 19th, 2011

Now that the war in Iraq is officially ending, just maybe we can go back and look at why there really was an Iraq war. Not because of the so called “weapons of mass destruction” that Sadam allegedly had; but because one man had made it his life's mission, from the time he was a teenager, to overthrow Sadam. Over the years he tried many ways, but none would be more successful for Ahmad Chalabi than co-opting the Bush administration, the CIA, the New York Times, and the Defense Department. How did pull it off, and in so doing precipitate what may very well be the biggest and most expensive foreign policy blunder in us history?

Five time Emmy winner and 60 Minutes Producer Richard Bonin takes us up close and personal to Ahmad Chaabi and how be lead the US into a calamitous nine-year war. He lays it out in Arrows of the Night: Ahmad Chalabi's Long Journey to Triumph in Iraq. My conversation with Richard Bonin:

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Why are we so interested in foresnics?

December 16th, 2011

More than twenty years ago, Patricia Cornwell originated the modern-day forensic thriller. In so doing, she changed the face of contemporary crime fiction with the creation of medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Since then, she has been often imitated, but never copied and continues to be the #1 bestselling crime writer in the world today.

My conversation with Patricia Cornwell about her latest Kay Scarpetta novel, Red Mist

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The God particle, Higgs boson and what are we looking for?

December 14th, 2011

Scientists announced Tuesday that they had found hints, but not quite definitive proof of the particle that is believed to be a basic component of the universe. Clearly physicists are closing in on an elusive subatomic particle that, if found, would confirm a long-held understanding about why matter has mass and how the universe's fundamental building blocks behave.

Few people outside of physics can fully comprehend the search for the Higgs boson, which was first hypothesized 40 years ago. However, Oxford University physicist Frank Close, in his new book The Infinity Puzzle, takes us inside this very human and high pressure quest to uncover the order of the universe. My conversation with Frank Close:

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The Greats of the Game or why sports continues to grow

December 13th, 2011

This weekend it was reported that movie attendance is at a recent low. Our interest in politics and politicians couldn't be lower. However the one area where where both attendance and interest continue to explode is the world of sports. In part, it's the clarity of story, the colorful, volatile and often egotistical personalities and also a whole new perking order of quality sports reporting.  Perched atop that order is John Feinstein. The author of twenty-eight books, most notably  A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled, he is also a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition, a regular on ESPNs The Sports Reporters, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post. His new book, One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game is a look at his relationships with some of those legendary personalities in sports. My conversation with John Feinstein:

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The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

December 12th, 2011

At the Republican debate, this past Saturday night, the question was raised about the impact of fidelity and by connection trustworthiness, on Presidential character. Perhaps that was the wrong question. Perhaps the better question was not on how trustworthiness impacts character, but how a sense of trust and moral understanding might actually impact public policy, economies and fairness? How does trust, morality and a sense of fairness shape our view of how the economy should work? To answer, we only need look at how greed and pure opportunism has shaped the events of the past two years. Professor David C. Rose, in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior shows us how moral choices do play a role in the development and operation of market economies. My conversation with David Rose:

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It would be as if Angelina Jolie had invented Google

December 8th, 2011

Back in the 1930's and 40's no one had heard of women engineers. Woman were not trying to "have it all," and the Hollywood women of the day represented the apotheosis of beauty, surfaces and dreams. Yet out this time emerged a woman who not only was considered the "most beautiful woman in the world," but in her spare time, from making hit movies, gave us the technology that we still use today in our cell phones, GPS devices and in Bluetooth. A woman of brains and beauty, Hedy Lamarr was a true Renascence woman. Yet her story has been little know until now when Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Richard Rhodes captures her story in Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. My conversation with Richard Rhode

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Bernie Madoff and the destruction of an American Family

December 7th, 2011

In the movie Wall Street, Oliver Stone told us that "the only thing worse than not having money, is to have had it and lost it." Such is certainly the case with the family of Bernie Madoff. But the question still remains, for this family that lived high on the hog for so long, "what did they know and when did they know it?"

Journalist Laurie Sandell was the first to really get inside the Madoff family and tried to ascertain whether or not we should have any sympathy for Ruth, Mark and Andrew; or should we simply share a sense of schadenfreude for the destruction of this American family. In her new book Truth and Consequences she spends hours talking to members of the family. My conversation with Laure Sandell:

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Caution, FDA Approved

December 6th, 2011

It seems like every day now, as certain drugs move to generic formulation, we're told how wonderful the original is. Every day, on television, we see advertising for the latest, so called wonder drugs.   These ads are filled with images of families, health and vibrancy. Little do these ads tells us about what really goes on behind the scenes of the big pharmaceutical companies. How are these miracle drugs developed, marketed and tested? And then imagine a drug that looks wonderful on paper, except that it never really worked for a disease that never really existed....and it came with powerful risks.

Investigative journalist Kathleen Sharp in her new book Blood Feud: The Man Who Blew the Whistle on One of the Deadliest Prescription Drugs Ever takes us inside Big Pharma and shows how one good man, a whistleblower named Mark Duxbury, fights to project the vulnerability of innocent patients. My conversation with Kathleen Sharp:

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