IS AMERICA EXCEPTIONAL?

The concept of American exceptionalism is often associated with a patriotic sense that our country is better than the rest–and politicians on the left and right both throw the term around.  Yet there are a number of other interpretations of that phrase.  Some say our founding made us destined to be unique among all the world’s nations, built on freedom, justice, equality and liberty.  However, there a more recent interpretations of the concept that are not as kind.  Could we have great gifts, yes, but be ‘exceptional’ because we are an outlier among Western nation in terms of our approach to many issues, such as guns, mass incarceration, the death penalty and health care as a right?  Stanford law professor, Mugambi Jouet, author of ‘Exceptional America’ joins us to discuss this critical examination of American values

IS THE MAFIA DEAD IN AMERICA?

Mob historian, Daniel Simone, a prolific author who co-write with Henry Hill ‘The Lufthansa Heist: Behind the Six-Million Dollar Cash Haul That Shook the World’ and, most recently, ‘The Pierre Hotel Affair’, describes the changes in organized crime approaches in the 21st century.  They are certainly not gone and will never be forgotten in the annals of America crime history.  As a bonus feature in this segment on organized crime is an interview with Joe Pistone, aka ‘Donnie Brasco’ and his time as an undercover FBI agent trying to break one of New York’s most powerful crime families.

 

HOW GREAT IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT

In just 45 words, the American people were afforded the opportunity to tell its government what speech was protected from the overreach and restrictions inherent in all forms of government at the time.  And still, to this day, we have one of the only written and durable protections of this type in the world, including other democracies.  No one understands the words written in the First Amendment, like attorney Floyd Abrams, its most passionate protector.  We talked to him about the many issues swirling around the First Amendment including cases he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Pentagon Papers and Citizens United. His clear explanations should be mandatory in civics classrooms across the country. And his new book, ‘The Soul of the First Amendment’, required reading.

HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET MEN BACK TO WORK?

 

Today, more than seven million men between the ages of 25 and 54 in America are out of the labor force.  That can’t be good.  In fact, it’s an awful trend.  It creates a ripple effect–no jobs means fewer families are formed, fewer homes are purchased and more diseases of despair plague so many.  While the problem has been well documented,are there any solutions?
Robert Doar, one of the co-authors of a report by the American Enterprise Institute, called ‘Getting Men Back to Work: Solutions from the Right and Left’, joins us to discuss.

CAN AMERICA GET HEALTH CARE RIGHT?

Policy wonks joke that all Americans want from health care reform is unlimited care, from the doctor of their choosing, with no waits for treatment, at no cost. Oh, yes, and that doctors can undo all of the bad decisions we’ve made along the way about diet and exercise.  Dr. Elaina George, author of ‘Big Medicine: The Cost of Corporate Control and How Doctors and Patients Working Together Can Rebuild a Better System’, discusses why the current healthcare system is unstustainable and what options we might explore to make it better.  A critical inflection point in this debate is here and the future is uncertain as to whether we entrust more of our healthcare to the private sector or the government.  Let’s pursue the choices and what they mean to you.

JANESVILLE: A METAPHOR FOR AMERICAN COMMUNITIES IN DECLINE

 

 

Amy Goldstein is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who spent years documenting the aftermath of the economic meltdown in Janesville, Wisconsin in the wake of the closure of its long standing General Motors plant.  It’s a familiar story with consequences that seep into every crevice of the community.  She tells it through personal story highlighting the ‘cast of characters’ left to pick up the pieces of a broken community.  This episode is part of our mini-series, ‘Men Without Work’.

HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET MEN BACK TO WORK?

Today, more than seven million men between the ages of 25 and 54 in America are out of the labor force.  That can’t be good.  In fact, it’s an awful trend.  It creates a ripple effect–no jobs means fewer families are formed, fewer homes are purchased and more diseases of despair plague so many.  While the problem has been well documented,are there any solutions?
Nicholas Eberstadt, author of ‘Men Out Of Work’ joins us to discuss.

BREAKING THROUGH THE LAST TABOO: AN HONEST DISCUSSION OF DEATH(WITH COFFEE)

A trend in America is a fuller, more honest discussion of our fears and anxieties surrounding the death process and what concerns us most, it turns out, is the approach we make to our final resting place.  Will it be a long and painful?  Will we have tied up our affairs? Will we be surrounded by our loved ones?  These topics and just about any other are fair game at a ‘Death Cafe’.  Bill Palmer, who hosts the ‘Death Cafe Oakland’, shares stories and insights from his years of experience with the movement.

THE SOOTHING EFFECTS OF TRAVEL AND A VISIT WITH THE FONZ!

It’s kind of sad to see our travel series end because the information has been so good and the possibilities so tempting.  And we’ve tried to share travel trends that offer options no matter the budget or interest.  And while some of the travel suggestions have taken you far away, we now offer thoughts about a growing trend–meditation and spiritual retreats–which bring you to an examination of what lies within. Ariel Frager, another great travel writer, describes this growing trend which can be found very close to home these days.  And then, we add a bonus feature, a classic interview we did with Henry Winkler some years back about the joy he finds spending a day fly fishing on the river.  Safe travels to our growing audience at americatrendspodcast.com .  Please share our work with others.

 

 

OUR FASCINATION WITH TRAINS

We’re so glad that we were introduced to Maggie Espinosa for this series on trends in travel.  Talking with her was a joy.  Her energy and love for the trip is infectious and evident in her writing, teaching and touring.  We start with a conversation about a vintage train excursion in Amish country and then lay down tracks about the possibilities for those who want a few hours of escape or others who would prefer to spends days going across vast swaths of land. Train travel has come and can go a long way.  All aboard!