Understanding Goodfellas and the Trump Henchman

December 30th, 2020
Screen%2BShot%2B2020-12-30%2Bat%2B8.16.58%2BAM.pngWhen we think of the past four years of the Trump administration, the analogies to The Godfather come 

immediately to mind. The reality truly reflects the sometimes magisterial and always violent family saga of the large organized crime family

But what about for the foot soldiers that have been corrupted by Trump? Those who have taken on his imprimatur to lie, steal and cheat. To understand them, we need to go back 30 years and look at Nicholas Pileggi's Wise guys, later to become the movie Goodfellas.

The movie was iconic and perhaps we could have learned form from it. Glenn Kenny digs keep into the movie, and those lessons in his book Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas.

 
My conversation with Glenn Kenny:   

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

December 26th, 2020
There is no more significant issue than race in America. If perplexed our founders, it flies in the face of the notion of American exceptionalism, it clouds our dealing with the other nations, and it's an underlying current throughout American political history...right up to this very moment.
The Black lives matter movement, profound and successful as it is at this moment, is simply part of the arc of history trying to bend toward justice.

It’s impossible to understand that without understanding the work and the ideas of so many who have shaped the movement. And Malcolm X stands amidst the pantheon of those 

Over the years many have tried to understand Malcolm X and his politics, his philosophy, his evolution and his influence on the civil rights movement. Certainly his speeches and autobiography are part of that cannon. But to fully understand the man, we need Les Paynes biography The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X 

Thirty years in the writing, Les Payne died in 2018 and the book was completed by his daughter Tamara Payne who was also it’s co-author and his principal researcher.

It is the winner of this year's National Book Award for Non-Fiction. 

 
 My conversation with Tamara Payne: 

Broke is the definition of every aspect of American medicine today

December 16th, 2020
Screen%2BShot%2B2020-12-16%2Bat%2B2.53.21%2BPM.pngRegardless of whether you are for single-payer health insurance, fee for service, a hybridized French system, or the Affordable Care Act, what’s clear is that most of our health care system is broken. It’s left behind from the world of technology and creative destruction and it’s far too expensive.

It’s a system that is broken, and that increasingly places barriers to entry for those without knowledge of the system or the poor without the financial resources to access it.

But what about the doctors that work in such a system. How does it impact them, many of whom wanted to practice medicine not social work. Dr. Michael Stein looks a this in Broke: Patients Talk about Money with Their Doctor.

 
My conversation with Dr. Michael Stein 

The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

December 8th, 2020
Screen%2BShot%2B2020-12-08%2Bat%2B9.07.58%2BAM.pngEvery company has its foundational myth. Usually carved out of air by its founder. It becomes the basis of its culture, its marketing and its fundraising. However, often, the reality of running a business is much more mundane. It’s often separated from the myth. 

Most people, even charismatic founders of companies can understand the difference. It's like what used to be said of political campaigns, that candidates campaigned in poetry and governed in prose. Sometimes though when the myth takes over the reality, trouble is not far behind. 

Rarely has the foundational myth and a company's operations become as interconnected as they were with Adam Neumann and WeWork. 

That’s the story that Reeves Wiedeman tackles in Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

 
My conversation with Reeves Wiedeman:  

The Saudi Enigma - How Will Biden Deal With It?

December 1st, 2020
Screen%2BShot%2B2020-12-01%2Bat%2B11.09.24%2BAM.pngThere was a time when we looked upon Saudi Arabia as the gas station to the world. Certainly to the US. At the time it generated fear and a lack of understanding. It’s tribal structure, our lack of knowledge about its history and the repeated failures of US policy in the Middle East all placed the kingdom beyond our comprehension.

 

Its effort today to modernize both its culture and its economy, the US’s own confidence about oil independence and other dramatic geopolitical shifts have caused us to reassess the Saudi role in the world.  At the same time, the murder of Jamal Kashogi and other human rights abuses have not helped.  In short, Saudi Arabia still remains a great enigma. Trying to help us understand it is as a new administration must face another new policy is Saudi expert David Rundell, the author of Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads.

 

My conversation with David Rundell:

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