Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn: Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

February 13th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-02-13%2Bat%2B1.53.4Back in 1962, sociologist and political activist Michael Harrington published a book entitled The Other America. In it, he argued that a full twenty-five percent of Americans were living in poverty. The book had a profound impact on both Jack and Bobby Kennedy and some said it was responsible for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Forty-one years later in 2003, John Edwards spoke of “two Americas.” A nation divided by race, and by poverty.

And today, a full 58 years after Harrington’s look at poverty, the homeless crises is worse than ever, the streets of cities, large and small, are living evidence. The opiate and drug crises have hollowed out a large part of the country and the latest proposed federal budget reaches new heights in cutting social safety net programs.

It’s hard to think there is hope...for the country or for those left behind.

This is the world that Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn look at though a very personal lens in their book Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

My conversation with Nicholas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn: 

Can We Distance Ourselves From the Sins of Our Parents? A Conversation with the Daughter of George Wallace

February 11th, 2020

RCJBJXW5JZASRL5JVR5EYEI544.jpgIt’s hard to make the point in our 24/7 information-saturated culture, but all of us, politicians included, are a lot more than the worst or even the best thing that we have ever done.

Couple that with the fact that times change so quickly, values change, norms change and what might have been acceptable in 1962 certainly would get you fired today. This is perhaps most true with respect to the subject of race, the singular stain of our founders that we have worked 240 + years to try and redress.

The story of race is a long complicated one and former Alabama Governor George Wallace was a part of it. Today, his daughter Peggy Wallace Kennedy tries to put her fathers life in perspective. People like the great John Lewis and Congresswoman Barbara Lee have lent their hands to help her in that effort. All while our current president tries to rekindle the hatred she has worked hard to try and extinguish.

Peggy Wallace Kennedy talks to me about her memoir The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation and about her recollection of her father.

My conversation with Peggy Wallace Kennedy: 

If You Spend Hours Watching Cable News, You Are Just A Political Hobbyist

February 5th, 2020

politics-is-for-power-9781982116781_lg.jPartly as a result of 24/7 cable news and its unending political coverage, politics today is simply another form of entertainment. A spectator sport at best.

We know the names of all the players. Nate silver homogenizes sports and election statistics as if we all had political bookies. We’re angry and we want purity tests for our candidates.

What we’ve lost sight of in all of this is what politics is actually for. It is, at its core, only about the wielding of power to accomplish something. Success comes not from shouting, or self-righteousness, or the sanctity of one’s views, but from the ability to muster the requisite number of votes.

This is true whether it’s about pre-existing conditions and guns or about filling a pothole or paving a road in your community.

Political science professor Eitan Hersh explains this in Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change.

My conversation with Eitan Hersh: 

How Can We Avoid A New Generation of Brett Kavanaughs and Harvey Weinsteins

January 31st, 2020

97e5c6-20200110-boys-and-sex.jpgWhen an event truly captivates the nation, it’s usually because it touches on something that we’re not very good at talking about. Such was the case with the Brett Kavanaugh hearing.

Reactions to Christine Blasey Ford personified a complex contradiction in our society. While many, particularly some men, respected her appearance and professionalism, they were way too quick to identify with and accept Brett Kavanaugh’s college sexual entitlement as some kind of norm. In doing that one wonders what message we are sending to boys and young men.

This disconnect between changing culture and stunted sexuality seems to lie at the heart of confusion that boys are experiencing today as they try to come to grips with intimacy and sexuality in a changing world while most are still stuck with sexuality in a 1955 time warp

It’s no wonder that people like Jordan Peterson tells his audience of angry young men to “look back to the 1950’s”

That's the world that best selling author and journalist Peggy Orenstein examines in Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity

My conversation with Peggy Orenstein:

Australia’s Climate Apocalypse: Up Close and Personal

January 29th, 2020

Merewether_Beach_Fires_Australia_1088x72By now, we’ve all seen the pictures and footage of Australia-on-fire. In many ways it’s equivalent to those Rover pictures of Mars. They make us sit up and take notice, but we have no real feel for what it’s like and how life can survive, or even if it can. For that we can only appreciate firsthand accounts of what may very well be the first great climate apocalypse of the 21st century.

Some of you may have read Judith Crispin’s harrowing account of the fires in a recent story in WhoWhatWhy. Now amidst the fire and devastation, it is an honor to talk with Judith Crispin

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Judith Crispin: 

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Silicon Valley and the Quest for Immortality

January 28th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-01-28%2Bat%2B1.39.0The not so subtle joke has always been that the two things that are inevitable are death and taxes. And while efforts are always front and center to conquer disease and extend our life span, the inevitability of death has always loomed large.

Even efforts to regenerate life and the fascination with cryogenics still acknowledged death.

Now a whole new group of scientists are trying to defy the evolutionary idea of death. The funny thing is it’s not happening in the great halls of medicine. Not at NIH or Cleveland or Mayo Clinic or at our other great research hospitals, but in Silicon Valley. There, a group of wealthy boomers, not unlike aging politicians I guess, will do anything to avoid stepping aside. This is the world that Chip Walter takes us into in Immortality, Inc.: Renegade Science, Silicon Valley Billions, and the Quest to Live Forever

My conversation with Chip Walter:

Saving America From Trump, and Democrats From Themselves

January 22nd, 2020

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_82748647_14Last Sunday the venerable NY Times got it all wrong. They said, and I’m quoting, “On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation.” Not so.

The only thing that will really define the future of either party and of the nation is the defeat of Donald Trump. And anything that stops short of focusing on that and that alone is a failure of imagination.

The times went on to say, and again I’m quoting, “with a crowded field and with traditional polling in tatters, that calculation calls for a hefty dose of humility about anyone’s ability to foretell what voters want.” Wrong again.

Focus groups, polling, and campaigns still matter. They matter not just in “the election,” but in the elections in the states that will actually shape the outcome of that election.

It’s not a mystery. The methods today may be more modern, but campaigns for candidates, not unlike advertising for a product, if a done right, will work!

And that, not some vague nuances of policy is the only thing that will defeat Trump.

To try and explain and reinforce these ideas I’m joined by. Rick Wilson the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Everything Trump Touches Dies and most recently Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump--and Democrats from Themselves

My conversation with Rick Wilson:

It’s Ok To Compromise and Maybe Even to Sellout Sometimes

January 20th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-01-20%2Bat%2B11.41.In our current political and social climate, when polarization is so extreme, when purity tests are often required by your tribe, the idea of compromise and what some call “selling out,” takes on added weight and significance.

But because positions and even sometimes values are often so extreme does compromise and selling out even mean what it used to? And if not, can we actually square the circle of compromise, selling out and ethics.

That's the question that Inge Hansen asks in The Ethical Sellout: Maintaining Your Integrity in the Age of Compromise.

My conversation with Inge Hansen: 

Human Nature Always Finds A Way

January 14th, 2020

71OMelbI6sL.jpgMost of you know the story of the scorpion and the frog and what it tells us about human nature. 

It’s no surprise than that our everyday encounters, at work, at home, and on the street are driven by our innate nature. Wouldn’t it be easier if there were a set of immutable laws by which to understand that nature? Law that really might have been helped that frog? 

These are the rules laid down by bestselling author Robert Greene. Greene, the author of The 48 Laws of Power and the Art of Seduction, now lays out The Laws of Human Nature

My conversation with Robert Greene:

Can the Generational Divide Lead Us Out Of Division?

January 8th, 2020

51LP1FurD2L._SX312_BO1%252C204%252C203%2We see endlessly how we are siloed with respect to politics, race, and geography. Add to this the generational silos that we all seem to live in.

Reams have been written about intergenerational conflict, particularly in the workplace. But might this be the one area where the imaginary lines of divisions can be crossed? Can the improvement of intergenerational relationships in the workplace be a kind of Rosetta Stone for better understanding of all the other issues that divide us? Issues that are fed by speed, modernity, technology, and popular culture. This is the exploration that Hayim Herrirng gives us in Connecting Generations: Bridging the Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial Divide.

My conversation with Hayim Herring:

Do You Need Further Reminders that This Is Not Your Father’s Workplace

January 5th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-01-05%2Bat%2B9.20.5The Harvey Weinstein trial, which begins this week, while perhaps extreme in its nature, reminds us of the realities of today’s work place.

Today it’s not enough to just stay on top of one's career and professional knowledge and development. There is also the changing dynamics and culture of the workplace itself. Multi-generational, multi-gender, multi-age, and the seemingly increased sensitivity and scrutiny.

The irony is that it is this very diversity, that carries within it the seeds and the power, to help us understand and to strive to function frictionlessly within it. In fact, it is only by embracing this very diversity that businesses can succeed in today’s environment.

Lauren Stiller Rikleen is the founder and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, and is a provider of training, speaking, and consulting services to professional services entities. In her new book The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace she addresses the strengthening multi-generational teams, women’s leadership and advancement, and minimizing the impact of unconscious bias.

My conversation with Lauren Stiller Rikleen: 

Why Most Health Care is Barking Up the Wrong Tree

December 30th, 2019

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_75613995_19Some of you may have seen the story that owning a dog gave you a 27% chance of living longer. Some of that was related to the exercise of walking the dog, some to the companionship, and the basic human-dog bond.

But suppose the reality was much deeper than that. Suppose dogs could be diagnosticians and even healers and protect us from the onset of symptoms. They can and many already do.

This is the world that Maria Goodavage, veteran journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Soldier Dogs, takes us into in her latest Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine

My conversation with Maria Goodavage

William Greider R.I.P.

December 27th, 2019

william_greider.jpgWilliam Greider always knew that the chickens would come home to roost. Over many conversations, since 1997, he seemed to know and report the truth of that old adage "that if things were going to stay the same, a lot of things had to change." My conversation with Greider in March of 2010. RIP William Greider

Something to Think About As You Eat that Holiday Steak……..

December 24th, 2019

9780691182315.jpgIt’s long been an adage that what we eat, defines who we are. That’s never been truer than in our polarized world today and beef and its mass production has long been at the center of this definition.

From the mid 19th century, the history of beef parallels, and often reflects social, cultural and economic changes. From the great plains in the 1850s to the slaughterhouses of the midwest, to the first McDonalds in San Bernardino in 1940, “where’s the beef,” has often told us who we are.

Joshua Specht tells us more in  Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America 

My conversation with Joshua Specht: 

Can America’s Military Ever Recover?

December 19th, 2019

Screen%2BShot%2B2019-12-19%2Bat%2B8.25.5We all know that whether it’s a child’s toy or a powerful institution if something is built solid, misuse or the infliction of damage will not usually break it. How many times have you dropped your phone and it’s been fine? On the other hand, that which is weak or frayed will unravel with the least amount of stress.

In many ways, we can say that about America’s foreign policy and military establishment. Weakened over the years by uncertainly, hesitation partisanship, bad decisions and an exaggerated admiration that acted like a kind of superglue, that held the whole thing together.

However, in the hands of a rambunctious child, one with no respect for his property or what he was given, it can not hold.

This is the world of Donald Trump and today’s American military and foreign policy. Fragile from the start, this spoiled, bratty impetuous child may have finally broken it.

That’s the story that my guest Peter Bergen tells in Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos.

My conversation with Peter Bergen:

From Useful Idiot to Working Asset

December 18th, 2019

Malcolm_Nance_The_Plot_1088x725-700x470.Perhaps our greatest spy novelist of the cold war, John le Carré, talks about what he sees as the appetite for superpower, that still exists in the U.S. and Russia.  He says that what’s shared is the desire for oligarchy, the dismissal of truth, the contempt actually for the electorate, and for the democratic system. That’s common to both of them.

While the U.S. has certainly made mistakes, and was not always been pure in its motives and actions, today under Donald Trump something is different. What is it, and how did we get here, and to what extent is the Trump-Russia connection part of what’s changed? Is Putin as Machiavellian as we’ve been led to believe, and have we now gone too far down the rabbit hole for any of this to change?

Few understand this better than Malcolm Nance, who back in 2014 was prescient about some of the issues that we’re facing and litigating, on this very day.

Malcolm Nance is a former U.S. Navy officer specializing in cryptology. He’s an internationally recognized intelligence, a foreign policy commentator, and a counter terrorism analyst for NBC news and MSNBC and his newest work is

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Malcom Nance:

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The Model For Taking It To The Streets

December 17th, 2019

81hoNRfdBFL.jpgJust as we saw in America in the 1960s, as we saw when the Berlin Wall fell, as we witnessed in the Middle East, during the Arab Spring, and as we are witnessing today in Hong Kong, young people are always at the ramparts of change and revolution. This was equally true in France in the run-up to WWII and in the resistance to the German occupation.

On a day when people, mostly young, are taking to the streets, it’s worth talking to Ronald Rosbottom, about Sudden Courage: Youth in France Confront the Germans, 1940-1945

My conversation with Ronald Rosbottom:

Why Quantum Mechanics Matter and Why You Should Care: A Conversation with Sean Carroll

December 12th, 2019

f631f533-d084-4a39-8048-a5b6d509c8a5.__CThe great screenwriter William Goldman once said of Hollywood that nobody knows anything. The physicist Richard Feynman once said that no one understands quantum mechanics.

And yet random as knowledge sometimes might be, it safe to say that the entire technological infrastructure of modern society, all of Silicon Valley, is built on top of the reliable functioning quantum mechanics.

Quantum Mechanics has been around since 1927. It is so ubiquitous in some ways that it’s been a little like being able to tell time and use that value of the information while not having any understanding of how a watch (digital or otherwise) actually works.

That where Sean Carroll comes and his book Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime.

My conversation with Sean Carroll

What Happens to Ancestry Testing DNA?

December 9th, 2019

Screen%2BShot%2B2019-12-09%2Bat%2B12.16.It’s no surprise that many fear technology is out of control. AI, facial recognition and robotics are the stuff of science fear. But it’s biotechnology and the understanding of what makes us tick that may be the ultimate frontier to both human understanding and human abuse by those that are malevolent.

Few understand this better than bestselling novelist Dr. Robin Cook. He has used his insights into the future to scare the bejesus out of us in his books like ComaCure, and Fever. Now in his latest work, Genesis he walks us through the cost-benefit analysis of DNA and even your simple search for ancestry.

My conversation with Dr. Robin Cook: 

The Best and the Brightest of America’s Diplomats

December 1st, 2019

c876158b82936a184dcb9734b5be1c7dfca7c9a3Clausewitz said that politics or diplomacy was “war by other means.”

Churchill put it more colorfully when he said that “diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”

The Impeachment hearings have pulled back the cover on the work, the integrity, and the quality of America’s diplomats. Perhaps it’s their self effacing, sometimes quiet professionalism that makes them targets for the more malevolent unprofessional forces in government. This was as true with respect to the attacks on the State Department During the dark days of Joe McCarthy, or equally dark days of Donald Trump.

Whatever the reason, perhaps there is no better time to look at these talented and smart men and women than in the middle of the current Ukraine scandal. That's what Paul Richter does inThe Ambassadors: America's Diplomats on the Front Lines

My conversation with Paul Richter: