Men on the Sidelines of American Life

October 29th, 2018

download.jpegIt is almost axiomatic to say that so many of the problems that plague men in our society today stem from changes in economics. That technology, globalization, education or lack thereof, are all at the core of the problem. Yet, regardless of who we give credit or blame too, unemployment is at the lowest it’s been in 50 years. American manufacturing is relatively strong.

Sure things have changed with respect to jobs and the economy, but clearly, other forces are at play for men. The result is not just the “me too” movement, but a redefinition of the very idea of masculinity

Often times, pop culture gives us insight into the human condition. As we watch the rise, fall, and transformation of Don Draper, and Tony Soprano trying to get in touch with his feelings, perhaps we saw precursors of what’s happening in America today.

The problem is that the cost for the country and for our communities is high. Andrew L. Yarrow, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, has been a New York Times reporter, a Labor Department speechwriter, and a U.S. history professor at American University, and is the author of Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life.

My conversation with Andrew Yarrow:

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When They Take Away Your Vote, Who Ya Gonna Call?

October 29th, 2018

voter_suppression_montage_1088x725.jpg-7For several years now, we’ve been inundated with fake news about alleged voter fraud. Fraud that simply does not exist anywhere in the country. However, these stories have been used as the basis and justification of voter suppression efforts in several states today. Efforts that may directly and adversely impact the outcome of some close races. These efforts take several forms — untenable voter ID laws, exact match, purging voters from the registration rolls, and many more tactics, all very specifically directed at suppressing the votes of African Americans and minority voters.

There was a time when the federal government, in the form of the Department of Justice, would step in and try to right these wrongs. Not so today. As a result, we have to rely on independent legal groups and organizations of journalists like WhoWhatWhy to take up the challenge of these efforts, absorb the cost, and know how to redress the appropriate courts. Much of this legal work of late has been taken up by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and we’re going to spend some time today talking to my guest Ezra Rosenberg, who is the co-director of the organization’s Voting Rights Project.

Ezra Rosenberg has been consistently ranked among one of the top litigators in the country. He’s been involved aggressively in pro bono representation, was one of the lead counsels challenging Texas’s photo ID laws, and was named to the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hit List for his role in significant public interest cases of national importance.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Ezra Rosenberg:

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The Last Time “Nationalism” Was Embraced…Hitler and his American Friends

October 23rd, 2018

download%2B%25281%2529.jpegLast night in Houston Trump declared himself a “nationalist, “with all the baggage that the label implies. That phrase, along with things like “America First,” almost instantly bring us back to another time and place. An America, not of 2018, but of 1940 and 1941, as Hitler’s tentacles reached through Europe, and as America contemplated entry into the war.

Even though we fantasize about it today as a gentler time, as a less divided time, in the run up to America's entry into the war, the country was profoundly divided. Hitler had friends in America, and they were people in high places who represented a powerful strain of American isolationism, antisemitism, and racism. Indeed history does repeat itself.  Bradley Hart brings all of these strains together in his new book Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States

My conversation with Bradley Hart:

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Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy

October 19th, 2018

Screen%2BShot%2B2018-10-19%2Bat%2B5.04.3Winston Churchill said of Russia that it was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Today the same might be said of Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and the connection between that interference and the campaign of Donald Trump.

We know so much. Every day it seems new information is revealing itself. And yet we seem to be missing the rosetta stone that will enable us to explain it all. Perhaps Bob Mueller holds that. But until then, two time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller’s new book, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy, may not quite be that rosetta stone, but it’s as important a piece of codebreaking as we have so far.

My conversation with Greg Miller:

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Is America Now A Fascist Country?

October 18th, 2018

ap%252C550x550%252C12x12%252C1%252CtransThe word fascism gets thrown around a lot in the context of Donald Trump. As if he somehow were its progenitor. But the fact is Trump is merely the most contemporary and American exploiter. Right wing nationalist trends, fascist trends, are happening throughout the world. The underlying reasons are many and complex, but the response to those reasons and the way in which it portends towards fascism has been pretty consistent.

Fascism is not some abstract idea, but a clear definable set of attitudes that people like Trump or Le Pen or Nigel Farage know how to exploit and magnify. For all of us experiencing it, it’s like a disease. Only if we know and understand the warning signs can we prevent it. And to help us to understand this, I am joined by Yale Professor Jason Stanley, the author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Jason Stanley:

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Marvin Kalb on The New McCarthyism and the Threat to Democracy

October 10th, 2018

Screen%2BShot%2B2018-10-10%2Bat%2B12.21.The founders understood that a free press was a bulwark against tyranny. In the system they set up, they understood that they created inherent tensions between leaders and the press. Historically, those tensions have served us well in that it has motivated both sides to do better.

Sometimes the tensions have burst forth into full-scale political warfare. Trust-busting, Teapot Dome, Watergate, and Joe McCarthy are a few examples. McCarthy knew, as despots all know, that if he could undermine the press, make them the enemy, you can get away with a whole lot.

In 1954 Ed Morrow, the most noted journalist of his time also knew and understood the importance of the free press as a load-bearing pillar of all of our democratic institutions. Morrow believed that if McCarthy had gone further in his vilification of the press, our very democracy could be at risk. He instilled that idea in one of his young proteges, Marvin Kalb. Kalb, concerned about the current state of affairs, has just written Enemy of the People: Trump's War on the Press, the New McCarthyism, and the Threat to American Democracy

My conversation with Marvin Kalb:

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The Geopolitical Downsides of Fracking Are Downright Scary

October 8th, 2018

71mB5RpceQL.jpgI think it’s fair to say that when most of you hear about fracking, the first thing that comes to mind is the potential environmental damage. This has been a big story over the past several years. What you might not think about is how fracking is changing the geopolitics of the world. How it’s helping America towards energy independence, which in a counterfactual way, may not be a good thing. But at the same time, it’s also impacting Saudi Arabia and Russia in ways that affect power politics throughout the world.

It’s not only geopolitics. The fracking industry in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and New Mexico is impacting politics right here at home. Just ask candidates running in those states. Add to this the importance of the industry’s deep, symbiotic ties to Wall Street, plus a cast of characters in the fracking business that could easily produce a modern day ‘Giant’ or ‘Dallas’. Bringing all of this together is my guest, Bethany McLean in here new book  Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It's Changing the World.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Bethany McLean:

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Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.

October 3rd, 2018

Sarah%2BSmarsh%2BPhoto%2Band%2BHardcoverWe hear much loose talk these days about all the things that are supposed to unite us as Americans. But there are far more important and powerful forces that divide us.

At the center of that divide is the subject of class. Even more than race, the class divide lies at the base of the chasm that separates what John Edwards once called “two Americas.”

The symbols are everywhere: Starbucks America versus Dunkin’ Donuts America. Educated versus non-educated. Walmart versus Whole Foods. But these are just symbols for the manifestations of a long history of class conflict in America.

How they're playing out today is reflected in Sarah Smarsh's new memoir

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.

My conversation with Sarah Smarsh:

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Why Adam Smith Still Matters, And What We Have Not Understood

October 1st, 2018

Screen%2BShot%2B2018-10-01%2Bat%2B9.38.5We are ten years out from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. The shock waves of those events are still with us today and they take many forms

Not the least of which has been the loss of faith in the efficiency of markets, the underlying ideas of modern economics, the role of the state in intervening in those markets, and the moral and political consequences of capitalism itself.

However, any conversation about these ideas does not begin with the crisis ten years ago, but probably should begin with enlightenment thinkers and with Adam Smith. Considered by many to be the father of modern economics.

Jesse Norman, a highly regarded Member of British Parliament, takes a deep dive into Smith in his new book Adam Smith: Father of Economics.

My conversation with The Honorable Jesse Norman:

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