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


United States


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




A Russian Who Left Russia Looks Back (Robert Wright & Nikita Petrov)

Nikita’s life as a Russian expat in Armenia ... How the Ukraine war is talked about in Russia ... Could Putin fall from power? ... Who left and who stayed in Russia post-mobilization? ... Russia’s role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan crisis ... How the Ukraine war could turn into World War III ... Are “false flag” claims about the Maidan Massacre beyond the pale? ... The trouble with the way we talk about war ... The role of extremists in mass protests ...


War Machine Learning (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Can AI transcend conventional wisdom? ... Is Trump back as 2024 GOP frontrunner? ... The trouble with “the poor” ... J.D. Vance has Ukraine on the brain ... Ukraine update: How to make sending tanks make sense ... Parrot room preview: Bob’s quasi-lucid dream; Evil corrections; The deep roots of Russian nationalist support for the war; Leon Wieseltier quote critique; DeSantis and black history; should judicial noms know their civics?; Kyrsten Sinema conspiracies; economic vs. social...


Glenn and John Go Across the Pond (Glenn Loury & John McWhorter)

Glenn and John go to Cambridge ... The Hamline University Prophet Muhammad controversy ... John: “Physics is physics” ... The Harlem Renaissance and Black Studies ... Is “getting past race” more trouble than it’s worth? ... Is Joe Biden patronizing black people? ... How a black musical changed the sound of Broadway ...


Pat Buchanan Retires (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)

Is White Lotus conservative? ... What is the legacy of Pat Buchanan? ... Will Republicans heed Trump's warning on Social Security & Medicare? ... Will anyone blink in the debt limit showdown? ... Is Nikki Haley ready to be the first to contest Trump? ...


Are we getting the whole story about Ukraine? (Robert Wright & Ivan Katchanovski)

Ivan’s Ukrainian upbringing and academic background ... Where did pro-Russian sentiment in eastern Ukraine come from? ... Why Ivan worried Ukraine’s 2014 revolution would lead to civil war ... Did Europe impede resolution of Russia-Ukraine tensions? ... What western media gets wrong about the Maidan revolution ... Was the Maidan massacre a false flag operation? ... The state of Ukrainian democracy after the Maidan revolution ... The political forces that impeded Zelensky’s peace plan ...


Biden’s Crossroads and Ukraine’s Crossroads (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

The alphas of the world gather in Davos ... Mickey buys a blue check, dresses up to celebrate ... Does Russia have Ukraine on the defensive? ... How serious is the threat of US government debt default? ... Biden’s chances in 2024 ... Parrot Room preview: David Crosby passes away; Alec Baldwin charged with manslaughter; the issue that could destroy woke-ism; college after affirmative action; a false flag in Ukraine?; More Elon news; loyalty oath at Sundance; Bob reviews Top Gun: Maverick ...


Climate Science’s Unsettled Questions (Glenn Loury & Steven Koonin)

Steven’s best-selling book, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters ... Steven: Concerns about catastrophic climate change “beggar belief” ... The complexities of climate change models ... Should we worry about rising sea levels? ... Hurricanes, tornados, and other extreme weather events ... Is a zero-emissions goal worth the cost? ... How to fix climate science ... Are the Paris Accords viable? ... The coming climate backlash ...


Biden's Classified Docs Scandal (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)

Is the Biden doc scandal a political turning point? ... Are Democrats losing their reputation for competency? ... Why are Republicans hesitating to run for president? ...


Cognitive Empathy in Everyday Life (Robert Wright & Josh Summers)

Challenges in applying cognitive empathy in daily life ... Two types of self-awareness—and their links to cognitive empathy ... Josh’s recent (mis)adventures in cognitive empathy ... Can self-awareness make conflicts manageable? ... The relationship between concentration and insight meditation ... Literature and the cultivation of cognitive empathy ... Understanding one’s self vs. understanding others ... The ice cube theory of human nature ... Cognitive empathy’s role in building...


Biden Docs and Russia Hawks (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Anti-gas-stove tyranny – or slow news week? ... Biden’s classified docs scandal is a “granfalloon in search of a MacGuffin led by a wrang-wrang” ... Did Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice miss a chance to prevent the Ukraine war? ... Is the war turning in Russia’s favor? ... The prospects for peace negotiations ... Parrot Room preview: Biden’s pivot to help the working class; Does AI have a liberal bias?; Has woke peaked?; Matthew Yglesias' style section profile; Jeff Beck, Lisa Marie Presley,...


The Best of Glenn and John 2022 (Glenn Loury & John McWhorter)

A brief intro from Glenn ... The lionization of the lightweights ... The unified field theory of non-whiteness ... An honest conversation about crime ... Glenn’s birthday menu ... It’s time to choose a side ... Clarence Thomas, black icon ... Policing Joe Rogan ... By any means necessary? ...


Goodbye Norma Desmond (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)

Why did the "Never Kevins" cave? ... Can the House raise the debt limit? ... Will immigration tear Democrats apart? ... Is Trump fading? ...


An Epic Debate on Ukraine and US Foreign Policy (Robert Wright & Fred Kaplan)

Why are so many people (including Fred) down on John Mearsheimer? ... Bob: Explaining bad behavior is not the same as justifying it ... How the US eroded international law - and why it matters ... Did US policy make Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more likely? ... NATO’s role in Ukraine before the invasion ... How would the US respond to a China-Mexico military alliance? ... Henry Kissinger’s peace proposal ... Impediments to productive debate on US foreign policy ...


After the House Speaker Drama (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Mickey’s guide to the House Speaker drama ... What vexes Bob about the House Speaker vote ... Why Damar Hamlin’s injury wouldn’t have happened in the old days ... Biden’s new good cop, bad cop immigration plan ... Why keep sanctioning Venezuela (or Cuba, or Syria, or Iran, etc.)? ... Elon and the trouble with “great man” theories of tech progress ... Is Twitter’s new views feature a boon or bullshit? ... Ukraine war update ... Parrot room preview: The Matt Schlapp sex scandal; Jason DeParle...


The Tyranny of Merit (Glenn Loury & Michael Sandel)

Some of Michael’s key works ... Meritocratic ideals and meritocratic fantasies ... The animus against elites ... Shouldn’t innovators reap their rewards? ... Does more profit create more value? ... Renewing the dignity of work ... The uses of punishment ... Our responsibility to national and global communities ... Michael: Diversity has “monopolized” discussion of affirmative action ... China’s reception of Michael’s critique of meritocracy ...


On Consciousness, Free Will, and Purpose [Rebroadcast] (Robert Wright & Daniel Dennett)



Debating Deracialization (Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, and Greg Thomas)

The principles of jazz ... “Deracialization Now” ... Becoming Omni-American ... What’s wrong with racial identification? ... Black victimization and cultural memory ... The transformations of James Baldwin ... Convincing white people to deracialize ... Takeaways from 2022 ... 2023’s big Supreme Court decisions ...


Bob and Mickey’s Year-End Extravaganza (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)

Bob hoodwinks the fashion police ... Predictions for the new year ... The pros and cons of “nepotocracy” ... Predictions for the new year (cont’d) ... Impromptu Ukraine war update ... The top 3(ish) stories of 2022 ... Is Twitter salvageable? ... The true threat of Twitter (according to Mickey) ... Mickey’s underreported and overreported stories of the year ... What did the Jan. 6 committee miss? ... Bob’s perverse theory on why the GOP would be wise to drop the Hunter Biden thing ... Parrot...


Speaking Out in an Age of Partisan Rancor (Glenn Loury & Hamish McKenzie)

Why Glenn does The Glenn Show ... Glenn: “If I was going to vote for Trump, I wouldn’t tell you” ... “The cat is out of the bag” on election denial ... Modeling epistemic modesty ... Why is race such an important issue for Glenn? ... The Old Glenn and the New Glenn ... Confronting the past ... Putting “the funk” on the story of your life ...


Zelensky's 'War on Christianity' (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)

Is the far right criticism of Zelensky anti-Semitic? ... Why is Cenk Uygur upset with Bill? ... Why did no one catch the lies from George Santos before the election? ...