Smart people talking about politics, policy, culture and other stuff

Smart people talking about politics, policy, culture and other stuff


United States


Smart people talking about politics, policy, culture and other stuff




Putin Makes His Move (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Putin’s big speech: nothingburger, nuclear nightmare, or something in between? ... Why an escalating Ukraine war is so easy to envision ... All the ways DeSantis is Trump 2.0 ... Biden cools it on the anti-MAGA rhetoric ... Italy’s MAGA-like party heats up ... Crunching the midterm election numbers ... What’s wrong with Biden committing to defend Taiwan against China? ... Parrot Room preview: GOP’s new Contract for America; What is national conservatism?; reviewing Jean-Luc Godard’s...


Where's Team Normal? (Bill Scher & Matt K. Lewis)

Matt attends his high school reunion ... Herschel Walker lowers expectations about a debate with Sen. Raphael Warnock. Meanwhile, Dr. Oz is lowering expectations about John Fetterman's abilities ... Matt raises concerns about the polls. Then, based on Bill's math, Matt predicts Republicans will narrowly take the Senate ... Bill thinks Mandela Barnes' "Defund the Police" rhetoric might have blown his chances of defeating Ron Johnson in Wisconsin ... Matt wonders if Trump reordered politics to...


F.R.E.E. Agency (Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, and Ian Rowe)

How Rodney King led to Ian’s podcast, Invisible Men ... Blaming the system and blaming the victim ... Ian: I run schools to show my students they can do hard things ... What’s so special about marriage? ... Glenn: Right living is its own reward ... The problem of success and “blackness” ... Ian’s experience running Vertex ... How Ian funds his schools ... The bureaucratic opposition to charter schools ... What comes after the Old Parkland Conference? ...

In China’s Shadow (Robert Wright & Sebastian Strangio)

Sebastian’s book, In the Dragon’s Shadow: Southeast Asia in the Chinese Century ... The causes and consequences of the Cambodian genocide ... How American preaching pushes Asian governments towards China ... China, the anti-colonial imperial power ... Is Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative a bid for world domination? ... Beijing isn’t trying to export its political system, says Sebastian ... The state of liberal democracy in Southeast Asia ... Why the Chinese have been called “the Jews of the...


Russia on the Ropes? (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Mickey tries to take the bromance to the next level ... An impromptu primer on longtermism ... Is Lindsey Graham's abortion proposal poison for Republicans? ... Mickey’s read on the Pennsylvania and Georgia midterm races ... Is MAGA-ism going global? ... How is Biden’s pro-democracy messaging holding up? ... Ukraine war update ... Assessing DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard migrant scheme ... Mickey v. lefty takeaways on welfare reform ... Parrot room preview: first impressions of Godard’s...


DeSantis Sends Migrants to Martha's Vineyard (Bill Scher & Matt K. Lewis)

What was Lindsey Graham thinking with his 15-week abortion ban bill? ... Is the GOP going to follow Trump with "younger, smarter" authoritarians? ... How do you know when an incumbent governor is in trouble? ... What does DeSantis get out of sending undocumented immigrants to Martha's Vineyard? ... Can Katie Hobbs get away with not debating Kari Lake? ...


What Explains Persistent Racial Inequality? (Glenn Loury & Laurence Kotlikoff)

Introducing Glenn Loury ... What is “social capital”? ... Racial inequality and self-segregation ... Glenn: “The jig is up” on affirmative action ... Balancing preferences and colorblindness ... Rethinking the welfare state ... Why Glenn’s forthcoming memoir is titled "The Enemy Within" ...


Debating Ukraine, Russia, China, and US Foreign Policy (Robert Wright & Bret Stephens)

The US role in Ukraine’s recent offensive – and how Moscow might respond ... Could Putin fall from power if Ukraine’s success continues? ... Will more arms to Taiwan deter or provoke China? ... Bob: On foreign policy, the US has egregiously violated its professed values ... Bret: The US should go to war against China if it invades Taiwan ... Should the US use force to defend democracy around the world? ... Can international law constrain brutal leaders like Putin? ... How Trump is kind of...


Maintaining Standards in Standardized Testing (Glenn Loury & John McWhorter)

What’s on the menu for Glenn’s birthday party ... John’s Twitter spat with Ibram X. Kendi ... What do we lose by changing testing standards? ... Glenn: If groups matter, then culture matters ... How to prove a racist wrong ... The ballad of Glenn and Woody ... Mitchell S. Jackson’s Esquire essay about Clarence Thomas ...


Is John Fetterman's Health Fair Game? (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)

Is John Fetterman's health fair game? ... Are Blake Masters' college emails fair game? ... Are Democrats conflating Trump's threat to democracy with the broader conservative agenda? ...


Biden's Bad Messaging (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

RIP Queen Elizabeth II—Mickey breaks the news to Bob ... (Belated) reactions to Biden's big speech ... Bob critiques another Mickey tweet ... Will the “special master” ruling derail the Trump investigation? ... Steve Bannon faces the music ... Vegas politician fails to outsource murder ... One Liz in, one Liz out: what’s in store for the UK under Truss? ... Ukraine war update ... Trump’s nuclear document ... Parrot Room preview: Biden’s MAGA speech and his foreign policy; regulating outer...


Varieties of Spiritual Experience (Robert Wright & David B. Yaden)

David’s brand new book, The Varieties of Spiritual Experience ... The personal spiritual experience that sparked David’s research ... This book’s relationship to William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience ... How common are dramatic spiritual experiences? ... How different are different types of spiritual experience, really? ... Type 1 in the book’s taxonomy of spiritual experiences: The Numinous ... Type 2: The Revelatory ... Type 3: Synchronicity ... Type 4: The Mystical ......


Gorbasms (Bill Scher & Matt K. Lewis)

Is GOP infighting complicating their quest for the Senate? ... How did Democrats snatch Alaska? ... What is Gorbachev’s (and Reagan’s) legacy? ...


The Cultural Dimensions of American Conflict (Glenn Loury & Steve McIntosh)

A scheduling announcement from Glenn ... Steve's latest book, Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version of Itself ... From modernity to progressive postmodernism ... Are we in the midst of cultural evolution or culture war? ... The work of the Institute for Cultural Evolution ... "Modernist consciousness" in East Asia ... Steve: "Force is necessary but not sufficient" to combat violent Islamic fundamentalism ... The positive side of progressive postmodernism ... Can...


MAGA, the Midterms, and the Media (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Are Dems’ electoral chances as good as the media says? ... Biden demonizes MAGA Republicans, feeds the MAGA narrative ... Bob: To prepare for DeSantis, the Dems should dump Biden ... Two ways Trump isn’t helping Republican candidates ... Ukraine war update ... Mickey: The new Covid booster will be a bust ... Did the FBI give Facebook advance warning about the Hunter Biden laptop story? ... Parrot Room preview: Gorbachev appraised; new Epstein intrigue; reviewing The Best Man; why is culture...


State of the Podcast Address (Robert Wright)

A quick update from Robert Wright. ...


Democrats on the March (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Mickey doubles down on performance enhancing drugs ... Is the NY19 result a red flag for a midterm “red wave”? ... Has the Mar-a-Lago bombshell already fizzled? ... Bob gets tribal about Mickey’s anti-tribalism tweet ... Ukraine war update ... The electric vehicle takeover in California ... Brian Stelter’s ouster and CNN’s future direction ... Parrot Room preview: Dugin’s daughter whodunnit, is it actually time to start worrying about AI?, Biden admin cynicism on Ukraine, another tally in...


Freedom of Inquiry on the Line (Glenn Loury & Amy Wax)

Amy’s recent conflict with the Penn Law School administration ... Amy responds to her dean’s charges of racism, sexism, and xenophobia ... Should we take students’ feelings into account when discussing race and admissions? ... Glenn: If Amy is fired, it will be an outrage beyond belief ... Why Amy invited Jared Taylor to speak with her students ... Amy’s defense of race realism’s legitimacy ... Glenn and Amy’s first encounter ... Amy: Sometimes reality is upsetting and offensive ... How to...


Dr. Oz Goes Shopping (Bill Scher & Matt K. Lewis)

Why are Dems overperforming in special elections? ... Why is Dr. Oz so bad? ... Might Dems actually keep the House? ... Does Crist have a prayer? ...


Managing the Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Robert Wright & Justin Logan)

What is the restrainer coalition and how cohesive is it really? ... Justin: Realism opposes forever wars -- but holds that war is forever ... The challenge Russia-Ukraine poses to the restrainer community ... How the US should respond to the China-Taiwan crisis ... Does the rise of China threaten American security? ... Bob: Taking adversaries’ perspectives doesn’t equal justifying their behavior ... Can the US deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan forever? ... Should the US make Taiwan a...