What’s the Matter With America?

July 19th, 2018

Frankweb.jpgBack in 2004, a full fourteen years ago, Thomas Frank published a book entitled What’s The Matter with Kansas? In it, he looked at how a segment of the population was consistently voting against their own economic self interests. He argued that so called “culture war” issues, played to emotions that overrode economic concerns.

Twelve years later that trend reached its apogee with the election of Donald Trump. Therefore it’s important to remember that Trump didn’t create the economic, class and cultural divisions in America, he merely exploited them.

Those trends, fed by changes in the nature of work, technology, communication, and global economics have resulted in a society that is, in many ways, not recognizable from the America of yore.  Given that, it's important to remember that the American people played a role in creating this environment, do they now have the power to fix it? Can they put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Thomas Frank, like the Simon and Garfunkel song, has spent a long time, looking for America to try and find the answer to this question. He reports it in his new book Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society.

My conversation with Thomas Frank:


Silicon Valley: The Origin Story…Live As It Happened

July 12th, 2018

Va4DwfNS5z1SXk1ySICY1FzbZvznqIzFTRQsdVvNFtJ2wSYNzPoEHl4rpNjzGcb82FSEeFBe2sk5DpGNWhen we talk about change, about creative disruption, about all the ways that the world, both local and global is different, it all seems to have it’s genesis in Silicon Valley.

The games, the apps, the communication and the nature of life and work itself. But these changes were not the result of some kind technological immaculate conception. Sure they were engineered, and 0s and 1s and transistors were all a part. But this also had a cultural underpinning, based on the people, the characters and often the geniuses that migrated to the Valley

Hollywood is often been referred to as High School with money. If that’s true, then Silicon Valley has all the element of Hollywood, but its results have truly changed the world.

Capturing the zeitgeist of the Valley though all its’ ups and downs is Adam Fisher in his book Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom)

My conversation with Adam Fisher:


Driven to Succeed…A Conversation with Dr. Ned Hallowell

July 9th, 2018

ned.pngBe it the troubled minds, young and old, that commit mass shootings, the incredible and successful talents that commit suicide, or those that seek solace in alcohol or opiates, mental illness is all around us.

What’s encouraging is that we are finally talking about it. Not enough and not openly enough. But remember back in the 50’s there was a reluctance to even talk about cancer.

Times change. And one of the things that precipitates that change is the courage of individuals that are willing to come forward and tell their story. Suddenly when we see our friends, neighbors, even our doctors and other people like us, reveal all, suddenly that shroud falls away sunlight does it’s job.

Edward Hallowell, one of our most distinguished psychiatrists and a leading authority in the field of ADHD, has now pulled back the curtain on his own life to reveal a story of dysfunction, hope and ultimately of survival and success. He shares the story with me and in his new memoir Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist.

My conversation with Ned Hallowell:


Nationalism and Culture Need Not be A Zero Sum Game

July 7th, 2018

Corchado_Collage.jpgWe hear over and over, that we are a nation of immigrants. Unfortunately, we’re hearing it in a boiler factory. We are hearing it over the cacophony of noise about race, about change and about security and raw politics.

What’s lost is the reality of the very personal immigrant experience. What it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land. To straddle two nations, appreciate both, and not look at nationalism and culture as a zero sum game.

The immigrant experience demands a degree of self awareness that is not present in most Americans. That by itself changes that way that immigrants see themselves and the world around them. It creates a kind of heightened reality, appreciation and skepticism that most of us don't have the privilege of seeing.

That’s why we need people like award winning journalist Alfredo Corchado, who’s recent book is Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration.

My conversation with Alfredo Corchado: 


THE AGE OF POLITICAL PERSUASION IS OVER To Attract the Next Generation, Politics Must Be About Advocacy, Organization, and Winning

July 6th, 2018

image3-13-700x470.jpgFifty years ago, during the last great social and political upheaval in America, young people lead the way. The mantra of the day, of not trusting anyone over 30, defined the generational and political divide.

Today we face an altogether different, but equally powerful social and political dislocation. Except that this time we wonder, where are the young people. Where are the millennials, where is the rising generation.

Perhaps it’s why the Parkland kids struck such a resonate note. With David Hogg reminding us that the children will lead us.

But in our current divide, all sides of boomers and gen X, red and blue, are battling for the hearts, minds and soul of the millennial generation. The left has the advantage of the natural state of liberalism in the young, but the right has the organization, the business savvy and the money.

How this plays out may truly impact the fate of the republic. This is the subject of a series of stories by journalist Michael Hobbes.

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Michael Hobbes:



Groucho Was Right!

July 5th, 2018

9781523095032.jpegGroucho Marx famously said, upon resigning the Friars club, that he would “never want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.” That line has been used since by those that are afraid of not belonging. What better way to prevent being excluded than saying, or convincing yourself, that you don’t want to join?

The facts, and our world today, tell us something entirely different. Not only do we want to belong, but we want to belong to groups that are exactly like us. While tribalism may be built into our DNA, the added anxiety and fear in our culture today, puts that tribalism on steroids.

This tribalism is enhanced by our hi-speed 24/7 world. It accentuates fear of the other, it drives our identity politics, and it fuels our confirmation bias driven life. In short, the more we want or need to belong, the more we are divided. All leading us to the conclusion that Groucho had the right idea.

This is also the idea put forth by Howard J. Ross in his new book Our Search for Belonging: How Our Need to Connect Is Tearing Us Apart.

My conversation with Howard Ross: