Our Age of Acquiescence: LA Times 2/22

Republicans condemn Obama for “class warfare,” but the charge is laughable if you know anything about the American past–or about our present “Age of Acquiescence.”
my review of Steve Fraser’s book in the LA Times Book Review, HERE

Why Publish an op-ed by Obama? LA Times 2/20

Obama has the biggest megaphone on the planet, he is on Page 1 every day of the year, and the op-ed page is for other perspectives.  Nevertheless the LA Times published an op-ed piece of his–one that presents thoroughly familiar liberal common sense.  . . .
My exchange with Nick Goldberg: HERE

Gitmo Diary Q&A: The Nation 2/5

Guantánamo Diary is the only written account by a Guantánamo detainee who is still imprisoned there: Mohamedou Ould Slahi. John le Carré calls the book “a vision of hell, beyond Orwell, beyond Kafka: perpetual torture prescribed by the mad doctors in Washington.” We spoke with Slahi’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, and his editor, Larry Siems.
JW: Who is Mohamedou Slahi, and how did he end up in Gitmo?
Larry Siems:
Mohamedou is a 44-year-old man from Mauritania. He went to Afghanistan as a young man to join the fight against the communists there. To do that, he trained at an Al Qaeda camp and pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda. He has said repeatedly that he broke all ties with them after the communist government there collapsed in 1992.
. . . .continued at TheNation.com HERE

Tavis Smiley on Martin Luther King: KPFK 2/4

LISTEN online HERE  iTunes podcast HERE
The last year of Martin Luther King’s life was “hell”
—that’s what TAVIS SMILEY says. We’ll speak with him about how King’s 1967 speech criticising the Vietnam war was denounced not only by the mainstream media—the NYTimes called it “disastrous and self-defeating”—but also by most of black America as well. Tavis of course hosts a show on PBS; his terrific new book is DEATH OF A KING:The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year.

Also: Why I Won’t Serve in the Israeli Army—Israeli refusenik Moriel Rothman explains why we went to jail rather than “be part of a system whose main task is the violent occupation of millions of people.”

Today is a fund drive day at KPFK—we’ll be featuring Tavis Smiley’s book Death of a King as our thank-you gift, along with rare Martin Luther King from the Pacifica Archives. Please call and pledge during the show: 818-985-5735

Super Bowl Sunday: A Big Day for Brain Damage. TheNation.com 1/29

Sunday is America’s annual concussion carnival, the Super Bowl. Steve Almond knows a lot about it—he wrote the book Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto.
Let’s review the evidence: are you sure that football players get head injuries that lead to brain damage—or is that just liberal whining?
STEVE ALMOND: I’m sure it’s liberal whining, but one of the stories that got obscured earlier this season was an actuarial report the NFL commissioned in response to the lawsuit filed by former players. The NFL’s own actuaries estimated that 30 per cent of former players are going to wind up with long term cognitive ailments.
. . . continued at TheNation.com HERE

Gitmo Diary: ‘A Vision of Hell’ — KPFK 1/28

LISTEN online HERE  iTunes podcast HERE
Guantanamo Diary is an incredible document, the true first-person account of a “high-value detainee,” Mohamedou Ould Slahi—John Le Carre calls it “a vision of hell, beyond Orwell, beyond Kafka: perpetual torture prescribed by the mad doctors in Washington.” We’ll speak with Slahi’s editor LARRY SIEMS and his attorney NANCY HOLLANDER.
WATCH the video HERE.  READ the original manuscript HERE.
SIGN the ACLU petition HERE.

Also: Historian ERIC FONER on the hidden history of the underground railroad—his new book Gateway to Freedom shows how a small number of people can accomplish great things–and change history.
Plus: KPFK Sports! Sunday is the Superbowl, a big day for brain damage. We’ll have comment from STEVE ALMONDhe wrote the book AGAINST FOOTBALL


Becoming Richard Pryor: KPFK 1/21

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
Richard Pryor
revolutionized the world of comedy—he was a fearless performer and a truth-teller about race in America. Now there’s a terrific new biography out: Becoming Richard Pryor by SCOTT SAUL—he teaches English at Berkeley, he’s written for Harper’s, the New York Times, and The Nation. The Digital Companion HERE.  He’ll be  at Book Soup Sunday, Feb. 8 at 4 pm.

Plus: JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation magazine will comment on last night’s state of the union speech, where Obama proposed to address income inequality by redistributing some of the wealth that has been locked up by the billionaire class and their banks.

Also: “The brain’s job is to hide the truth of trauma from you” – that’s what DAVID J MORRIS says. His Humvee was blown up in the Iraq war; when he came home he suffered from post-traumatic stress, and now he’s written an amazing book about it, The Evil Hours: A Biography of PTSD. He’s published in the New Yorker, Slate, the New York Times last Sunday.  He’ll be speaking at Vroman’s in Pasadena Thurs, February 19 at 7pm.

‘Selma’ & Voting Rights–in 1965, and now: KPFK 1/14

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
The film Selma and the fight for the right to vote – in 1965, and now
: ARI BERMAN of The Nation comments. He’s an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute, is working on a book about voting rights since 1965.

Plus:  Much of the film Selma is based on the work of historian TAYLOR BRANCH.  We’ll speak with him about Selma in his book At Canaan’s Edge: Martin Luther King 1965-1968.

Also: Obama’s liberal apologists: TOM FRANK says they helped torpedo change and make the Democrats safe for Wall Street–and it didn’t have to be that way. Tom writes a column for Salon.com.

And we’ll also revisit a conversation with GARRISON KEILLOR—he says it’s time for all of us to become Republicans.

‘Climate Change is Everything': Rebecca Solnit on KPFK 1/7

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
REBECCA SOLNIT says climate change is aboutthe whole planet for the whole foreseeable future.  We’ve made progress in Sacramento and Washington; now it’s time to ban fracking in California. Rebecca wrote about climate for the New York Times op-ed page, and writes frequently for TomDispatch.

Also: This year the US will observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War – and the Pentagon is in charge of the commemoration. But what about the rest of us? TOM HAYDEN will comment. NYTimes p1 story HERE; official commemoration site HERE; Vietnam Peace Commemoration petition HERE.

Plus: RICHARD FORD’s new novel about Frank Bascombe, the New Jersey realtor, is “droll, bemused, hyper-observant, occasionally exasperating and punctuated by sighs of both resignation and contentment” (NYTimes).  The book is Let Me Be Frank with You.

Naomi Klein, Laura Poitras: KPFK 12/31

LISTEN online HERE   iTunes podcast HERE
Our Year-in-Review show:  The People’s Climate March in New York City in September was the biggest environmental demonstration in history. NAOMI KLEIN published her new book This Changes Everything the week before. We’ll revisit our conversation with her about the march, and the book.

Also: the best documentary film of 2014 is LAURA POITRAS’s Citizenfour, a real-life thriller which follows Edward Snowden as he prepares to reveal the massive extent of NSA bulk surveillance of Americans. Laura will talk about how she made the film and its significance for all of us today.

Finally: Remember the 2014 midterm elections? How bad was it? We have two conflicting views: HAROLD MEYERSON called it “a disaster,” while JOHN NICHOLS called it “a normal midterm result.”