Politics

Secret societies have fundamentally shaped America’s cultural and political landscapes. In ways that are expected but never explicit, the bonds made through the most elite of secret societies have won members Pulitzer Prizes, governorships, and even presidencies. At the apex of these institutions stands Yale University and its rumored twenty-six secret societies. Tracing a history that has intrigued and enthralled for centuries, alluring the attention of such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Skulls and Keys traces the history of Yale’s societies as they set the foundation for America’s future secret clubs and helped define the modern age of politics.

David Alan Richards, Yale alum and former 'bonesman,' is the author of Skulls and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale's Secret Societies. 

Lawrence O’Donnell has been a student of American politics for most of his life. A former senior advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, chief of staff of two Senate committees, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer and writer for "The West Wing," and now host of his own MSNBC show "The Last Word," O’Donnell has a front row seat to American democracy in action.

While the 2016 election, still fresh in all our memories, produced many crazy headlines and tumultuous debates, "Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics" recreates an even darker, more chaotic time in our nation’s history, in which one election was literally a “matter of life and death—nothing less”: 1968.

"Playing With Fire" tells the gripping story of 1968 election with a remarkable cast of characters, from the candidates themselves - Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Nelsen Rockefeller - to the staffers whose fame has only grown in retrospect: Henry Kissinger, Alan Greenspan, Pat Buchanan, a young Bill Clinton, and even Roger Ailes.

In the summer of 2015, Scott Adams was in the middle of an unplanned career pivot from “guy who created the Dilbert comic” to a maverick political pundit. A week after Nate Silver put Trump’s odds at 2% in his FiveThirtyEight.com blog, Adams predicted on his own blog that Trump had a 98% chance of winning the presidency based on his persuasion skills.

Now Adams explains how he knew so early that Trump wasn’t simply a lucky clown. In his new book, WIN BIGLY: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter, Adams draws upon his background in hypnosis, persuasion and business to reveal the method in Trump's supposed madness, painting him as a “Master Persuader” who intentionally flipped the political narrative on its head.

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time. He has been a full-time cartoonist since 1995, after 16 years working in the technology realm at a major bank and later a phone company. His new book is: WIN BIGLY: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter. 

In his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, NYT bestselling author and co-creator of the Peabody-Award winning public radio show Studio 360, Kurt Andersen, provides a new and comprehensive understanding of our post-truth world and the American instinct in make- believe.

This interview was recorded at UAlbany as part of the New York State Writers Institute symposium: Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World.

Susan Page
Susan Page

In the fast-paced political wars of the Trump era, it’s easy to forget the hyperpartisanship that marked the past two administrations. Two veterans of the White House will discuss the current political landscape on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove and Barack Obama advisor David Axelrod will speak in what the college calls an attempt at “respectful dialogue.” Moderating the discussion is Susan Page, USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief.

Chris Gibson is a decorated Army combat veteran and former US Congressman – a self-term-limiting one. He has now written a book to examine the troubled state of American politics and present a plan for what needs to be done to rediscover the principles needed to unite the country.

Raised in a working-class family in upstate New York, the first in his family to go to college, paid for in part by his service in the National Guard, Chris Gibson rose from Private to Colonel in the Army, including combat command in the storied 82nd Airborne Division. Rally Point is his story: what he's learned and how he's applied those life lessons during his service in Iraq and in Congress.

Chris Gibson spent the last six years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (NY-19). He also spent twenty-nine years in the U.S. Army, where he served four combat tours in Iraq and was awarded four Bronze Star Medals and the Purple Heart. His new book is Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize the American Dream.

Salman Rushdie’s is best known for his novels Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, among others.

While those take place in India and the United Kingdom, his latest, The Golden House, is set in New York City against the backdrop of modern politics from Obama to Trump. 

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses yesterday's fund drive for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, differing opinions on Trump's ban on transgender military, and Congressional Republicans tax reform plans. 

The longtime host of Donahue, Phil Donahue established the modern daytime talk show format with his focus on audience participation and hot-button social issues. In 1967 he began hosting The Phil Donahue Show. The show lasted nearly 3-decades and both the host and host won numerous Emmy Awards.

In a WAMC exclusive, Phil Donahue joins us for a special extended interview discussing his long career, politics, the media and even religion.

The Capitol Steps were founded in December, 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Since then, they’ve been putting the “mock” in democracy in Washington, D.C., on tour, on the radio, and – during the summer – here in Lenox, MA.

The musical satirists call The Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort their summer home – performing here every night except Tuesday through September 1.

CapSteppers Brad Van Grack and Delores Williams join us.

Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Freedom is Not Enough She is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did.

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains names its true architect: Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan — and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

In The Revolution of Robert Kennedy, journalist John R. Bohrer focuses in intimate and revealing detail on Bobby Kennedy's life during the three years following JFK's assassination. Torn between mourning the past and plotting his future, Bobby was placed in a sudden competition with his political enemy, Lyndon Johnson, for control of the Democratic Party.

No longer the president's closest advisor, Bobby struggled to find his place within the Johnson administration, eventually deciding to leave his Cabinet post to run for the U.S. Senate, and establish an independent identity. Those overlooked years of change, from hardline Attorney General to champion of the common man, helped him develop the themes of his eventual presidential campaign.

Reality. It used to seem so simple—reality just was, like the weather. Why question it, let alone disagree about it? And then came the assault, an unending stream of “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and lies disguised as truths that is overwhelming our notions of reality. Now we can’t even agree on what a fact is, let alone what is real. How on earth did we get here?
         
Every week, the award-winning journalist Brooke Gladstone, along with her co-host Bob Garfield, reaches 1.2 million listeners through more than 420 NPR affiliate stations with WNYC Studios' On the Media, a shrewd and witty newsmagazine that analyzes media and how it shapes our perceptions of the world.

Her new book is The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time.

For more than a decade, Daniel Connolly has reported on Mexican immigration to the U.S. South for news organizations including The Associated Press in Little Rock, and The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. The winner of numerous journalism prizes, he has received grants and fellowships from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the International Center for Journalists and the Fulbright program.

In his new book, The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America 18-year-old high school senior Isaias Ramos plays in a punk rock group called Los Psychosis and likes to sing along to songs by Björk and her old band, the Sugarcubes. He’s so bright that when his school’s quiz bowl goes on local TV, he acts as captain. The counselors at school want him to apply to Harvard. But Isaias isn’t so sure. He's thinking about going to work painting houses with his parents, who crossed the Arizona desert illegally from Mexico.

The Destruction of Hillary Clinton is an answer to the question many have been asking: How did an extraordinarily well-qualified, experienced, and admired candidate -- whose victory would have been as historic as Barack Obama's -- come to be seen as a tool of the establishment, a chronic liar, and a talentless politician?

Susan Bordo is a media critic, cultural historian, and feminist scholar. Her books include Unbearable Weight, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and, most recently, The Creation of Anne Boleyn. She is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky.

This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. 

In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. brings his critical eye and inimitable voice to some seriously risky business.

The election of Donald Trump rocked an already divided America and left scores of citizens, including the nearly sixty-five million voters who supported Hillary Clinton, feeling bereft and powerless.

Now, Gene Stone, author of The Bush Survival Bible, offers guidance and solutions they can use to make a difference in this serious call-to-arms—showing them how to move from anger and despair to activism as the Trump inauguration approaches. His new book is The Trump Survival Guide.

Stone outlines political and social concepts—including such issues as Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, the Environment, Obamacare, International relations, and LGBTQ Rights—providing a brief history of each, a refresher on Obama's policies, and an analysis of what Trump’s administration might do. 

Ralph Nader knows a thing or two about running for President of the United States.

Named by The Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century, Ralph Nader has helped us drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments for more than four decades.

In his new book, Breaking Through Power, Ralph Nader draws from a lifetime waging--and often winning--David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government. He highlights the success stories of fellow Americans who organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment, and the quality of national life today.

What do you think of when you hear about an African American Republican? What is it really like to be a black person in the Republican Party?

Stanford University Professor Corey Fields’ new book: Black Elephants in the Room considers how race structures the political behavior of African American Republicans and discusses the dynamic relationship between race and political behavior in the purported “post-racial” context of US politics.

Drawing on first-person accounts, the book sheds light on the different ways black identity structures African Americans' membership in the Republican Party. Moving past rhetoric and politics, we learn the importance of understanding both the meanings African Americans attach to racial identity and the political contexts in which those meanings are developed and expressed. 

Garry Trudeau, the iconic cartoonist who created Doonesbury and has been skewering our political lives for over four decades has also worked in theater and television.

In an event last night, presented by Oblong Books and Music at The White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT, we spoke with Trudeau about his career, politics, and his new book is Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.

It is unlike the second career of any other president: “Bill Clinton” is a global brand, rising from the dark days of his White House departure to become one of the most popular names in the world.

In Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton, Joe Conason describes how that happened, examining Clinton’s achievements, his failures, his motivations, and his civilian life. He explains why Clinton’s ambitions for the world continue to inspire (and infuriate).

Lost Radio Rounders, Albany’s acclaimed acoustic American roots duo, recently released Politics & Patriots, a 15-song album that shines a light on campaign songs from George Washington to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The disc features Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck playing over 24 different instruments.

The combo is also takes the show on the road, playing 10 dates in seven counties and two states during the run up to Election Day. Lindsay and Eck recount the history behind the songs, noting, with a chuckle, that in terms of political rancor, backstabbing and name-calling there truly is nothing new under the sun.

Lost Radio Rounders will begin its official Politics & Patriots tour with a special record release concert 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam. We welcome Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck.

Kenneth Woodward edited Newsweek's Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He remained a writer-at-large at Newsweek until 2009.

His new book is Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward’s narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women’s liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

  The New York Times columnist  Maureen Dowd has covered Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton since the '90s.

Trapped between two candidates with the highest recorded unfavorables, Americans are plunged into The Year of Voting Dangerously. In this perilous and shocking campaign season, Dowd traces the psychologies and pathologies in one of the nastiest and most significant battles of the sexes ever.

Moral Monday Comes To Capitol In Albany

Sep 12, 2016
Reverend Emily McNeill, with the New York Labor Religion Coalition, addresses a rally outside the state capitol on Monday.
Karen DeWitt

Religious and labor advocates rallied at the state capitol in Albany Monday as part of a nationwide movement known as Moral Mondays, to urge state lawmakers to take more progressive stances on issues.

  Money in politics — it’s widely cited as one of democracy’s biggest ills.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat from the second district, concludes his discussion with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

  John Dickerson is Moderator of Face the Nation and Political Director of CBS News and a columnist for Slate magazine. In the 2016 Election cycle he has interviewed every major candidate multiple times and was the chief moderator of CBS News' Democratic Debate.

The stakes are high. The characters full of striving and ego. Presidential campaigns are a contest for control of power in the most powerful country on earth. The battle of ideas has a clear end, with winners and losers, and along the way there are sharp turning points-primaries, debates, conventions, and scandals that squeeze candidates into emergency action, frantic grasping, and heroic gambles.

Whistlestop tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems.

  The Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake is presenting the world premiere production of a new opera by composer Evan Mack and librettist Joshua McGuire based on the novel Roscoe by Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy.

With music that draws from many popular 20th-century styles, the story follows the character Roscoe Conway, a king-pin in the mid 1940’s Albany political machine, as he navigates his way through a multitude of political and personal challenges, both past and present.

Performances take place from August 3rd through the 6th. To tell us more we welcome composer Evan Mack, librettist Joshua McGuire, Seagle Music Colony Artistic Director Darren Woods and Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy. 

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about the political impact of millennials and about a public lecture happening in August in Charlemont, MA, on the profound demographic transformation happening today, as characterized by the Millennial and Boomer generations.

We are joined today by Pam Porter, of The Charlemont Forum, and by Paul Taylor, who is the former Executive Vice President of the Pew Research Institute and the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown Paul will be speaking at the Charlemont Forum in Charlemont, MA, on Wednesday, August 10th. 

  The Capitol Steps were founded in December, 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Since then, they’ve been putting the “mock” in democracy in Washington, D.C., on tour, on the radio, and – during the summer – here in Lenox, MA.

The musical satirists call The Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort their summer home – performing here every night except Tuesday through September 2nd.

We are joined this morning by longtime steppers, Bari Biern and Jack Rowles.

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