EP 281: CNN's Jake Tapper on Political Fiction, the Swamp, and Secret Societies

CNN'S Jake Tapper discusses his foray into writing fiction with his new political thriller The Hellfire Club, his interest in the politics of the 1950s, and the real-life Washington powerbrokers who make up the supporting cast of his story. He shares how his years of observing how eager young Congressmen slowly sell their souls inspired the central character of The Hellfire Club, and he illuminates some disturbing parallels between Donald Trump and Joseph McCarthy, the infamous red-baiting Senator who plays a key role in his novel. He reveals the real secret society on which his story is based, and warns of the danger when the line between truth and conspiracy theories becomes blurred. Pl

EP 280: Sebastian Junger Talks War, Tribalism and Honoring Our Vets

Journalist/documentary filmmaker Sebastian Junger (Restrepo, The Perfect Storm) talks about the new PBS Memorial Day special Going to War and his experience as an embedded reporter covering the War in Afghanistan. He recalls his first close call with an I.E.D. in the Korengal Valley, the fear and exhilaration of first arriving in the combat zone, and how war taps into something primal in all of us. He discusses his own struggle with PTSD, how sharing war stories helps our soldiers reintegrate to civilian life, and why so many men and women in uniform feel uncomfortable when someone says “thank you for your service.” Going to War airs Memorial Day, May 28, at 9PM ET/PT on PBS. Visit www.pbs

EP 279: Al Roker on the Johnstown Flood, America's Gilded Age Disaster

The Today Show's Al Roker talks about his book Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster. He discusses the elite country club that compromised the structural integrity of the South Fork Dam causing the flood, he reveals some of the famous industrialists who belonged to that club, and how they escaped justice for the Johnstown flood in a notorious trial that ultimately led to important changes in US liability laws. Plus Al Roker relates the lessons of the 1889 flood to global climate change and America’s modern day infrastructure needs, and on a lighter note, the self-described BBQ aficionado offers a few summer bbq tips for the

EP 278: Ethan Hawke's Spiritual Approach to Acting, Life, and Social Change

Ethan Hawke joins me on the podcast for wide ranging conversation covering art, politics, spirirtuality, the environment, and more. He describes working with Robin Williams on Dead Poets Society, why he finds the most creative fullfillment in music not acting, and what he calls the "spiritual marriage" between an actor and director. He opens up about how his own spiritual journey, his admiration for the work of Thomas Murton, and his thoughts on the social responsibility of religious leaders influenced his performance as a parish pastor in his latest film First Reformed. Plus Ethan talks about what he calls the velocity of depression, why he’s not afraid to take long breaks from the silve

EP 277: Ehud Barak on Fighting for Israel and Searching for Peace

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his role in the 2000 Camp David Summit, and his tortured dealings with Yasser Arafat. He recalls his early years growing up on a kibbutz, how his intelligence and navigating skills lead the physically unimposing young man to become commander of Israel's special forces unit Sayeret Matkal, and the time he lead a daring mission to rescue hostages on a hijacked Sabena Flight in 1972. He talks about current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who served under his command and later became his political rival, he discusses his own transition from military officer to politician, and reveals what he says was the bi

EP 276: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden on Trump's Attack on the Intelligence Community

General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, talks about his concerns over President Trump's attack on the Intelligence Community and objective facts. He refutes the President’s paranoid narrative of a so called "deep state" operating in the shadows, explains the lasting impact of a damaged relationship between the Intelligence Community and the Commander-in-Chief, and reveals what friends inside the IC are saying about that relationship including how they have to tailor the Daily Intelligence Brief to a President with zero attention span and constantly wonder “do you think he got that?” General Hayden talks about the lasting impact of the IC’s decision to focus their efforts on cyb

EP 275: CNN's Sally Kohn on Hate, Humanity, and Twitter Trolls

CNN political analyst Sally Kohn talks about her investigation into the epidemic of hate all around us and how we can stop it. She discusses what scientists and researchers have learned about the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate, and how incivility can be a gateway to much worse. She shares some surprising lessons and dramatic stories from her travels to Rwanda, the Middle East, and across the United States engaging with former terrorists, white supremacists, and even her own Twitter trolls. Plus Sally Kohn opens up about confronting some of her own less than perfect moments such as when she bullied a classmate in school or times when the ugliness of the politics has gotten the best

EP 274: Jon Meacham on the Soul of America and Donald Trump

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment of crisis in American politics by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame hatred and reveals how his latest book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels was born in the dark days following the infamous Charlottesville rally. He talks about similarities between the current age and the 1920’s, how America during Great Depression could have easily followed the path of Germany into totalitarianism, and what Donald Trump could learn from the fate of red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. He discusses moments when Presidents have served as moral leaders for the nation includin

EP 273: The Dark Heart of White Nationalism w/ Journalist Vegas Tenold

For six years, journalist Vegas Tenold embedded himself among the members of three of America's most ideologically extreme white nationalist groups including the KKK, neonazis, and the Traditionalist Workers Party. He reveals how this self-described Norwegian socialist managed to gain access to some of the worst hate groups in America, and why he says the most dangerous groups aren’t the KKK or neonazis, but a new class of well organized activists seeking to take their hateful ideology mainstream. He recalls covering the notorious Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and explains why law enforcement was partly to blame for the violence. He talks about some of the dog whistles that pol

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