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For eight years, Ben Rhodes served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. Now Rhodes has written a book — After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made — about his personal post-Obama journey that sought to answer a simple question: What happened to the world, America, and himself as the undertow of history pulled us into …
 
We’re back for a new season! I also launched my new daily email, Chris Riback’s Newsletter. 6 days a week, I compile and publish the meaningful ideas, trends and events into a daily briefing of what you need to know, and not a word more. I add engaging videos, tweets, graphs, and more. My goal is to help readers save time and stay smarter. Sign up …
 
This is a special live Zoom edition of Chris Riback’s Conversations, the first in our new series of political book conversations sponsored by Cornell’s Institute of Politics & Global Affairs. What does it mean for democracy when the President attacks the free press as fake news? How should journalists balance the need to avoid becoming the “opposit…
 
Chances are, you may not have heard of New Rochelle, NY before about a month ago. It’s New York’s 7th largest city, located just 30 minutes north of Manhattan. It was founded by refugee Huguenots – French Protestants – who were fleeing religious persecution in France in 1688. During the 1930s, New Rochelle was the wealthiest city per capita in New …
 
When I first scheduled an election analysis discussion with former U.S. Representative Steve Israel, it’s fair to say that my initial set of questions had nothing to do with how to run for President in a time of Coronavirus. That’s where this conversation begins, but not where it ends. Because while we all navigate this new reality, we’re also stil…
 
Today we continue with our check on the state of American democracy. We began with Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt to get an update on “How Democracies Die” and the question: How much more can our institutions take? Today we’ll look at the cornerstone of our democracy and a question that’s as shocking to ask as it sounds: Can …
 
It’s time for a democracy check. With the Trump Impeachment Trial over and the 2020 presidential primaries in full bloom, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I imagine many other people are wondering, too: How’s our democracy doing? Are America’s democratic norms still valid? How much more can our institutions take? And this was even before the Rog…
 
The first time he said it – or rather tweeted it – was in January 2018. In describing his business, television, and political accomplishments, President Trump typed: “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius… and a very stable genius at that!” He said it again at a NATO meeting that July. Again the following July 2019. And again in Septe…
 
Rick Wilson – the sharp-witted, wise-cracking Republican political strategist, ad-maker, analyst, columnist, and crazy-good tweeter – joined me in Westchester County, NY for a live conversation about the 2020 election, impeachment, and his new book, “Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump – and Democrats from Themselves.” It w…
 
(Note: This is a DocuPod – audio reads of important public documents. No conversation; no interview. Just the document itself.) You may have noticed: Especially with the impeachment, there’s been a lot of news, coverage and discussion – tweets, speeches, rallies, angry letters, hearings, cable panels – around two branches of government: The Executi…
 
As our 2020 Presidential campaign becomes more intense and pointed, it’s clear there is a battle going on for, among other things, America’s economic soul. Politically, the debate has exploded a revival of -isms… Populism, authoritarianism, socialism. But through the issues – from Trump’s tax cuts to Elizabeth Warren’s Health Care Plan – the compli…
 
It started with the generals. Mattis. Kelley. McMaster. Along with Rex Tillerson, they were part of the “Axis of Adults,” the ones, as the story of this presidency has been told, who stood between President Trump and chaos – between President Trump and his own, unchecked impulses, particularly in foreign affairs. As we know now, only Trump is left …
 
If you’re feeling lousy about the state of politics in America, now might be the time to surround yourself with some Brits. As they surely must ask about us: What in the world is going on over there? The UK is now more than three years into Brexit, the unexpected, unplanned and so far unfinished move to pull out of the European Union. The latest de…
 
This is a special episode of Chris Riback's Conversations. For this podcast, I read the opening statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman to the US House Impeachment Investigators on October 29. As you surely know, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is the decorated Iraq war veteran and top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who li…
 
This is a special episode of Chris Riback's Conversations. For this podcast, I read the opening statement of Amb. William B. Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who testified behind closed doors before the U.S. House Impeachment Investigators on Oct. 22. His extraordinary testimony has been called “the smoking gun” of President Trump’s att…
 
Between the alligator moat revelation and horrendous, inhumane taking of children from their parents, when considering Donald Trump’s immigration policy, it can be hard to get past the headlines. But it turns out, the immigration story serves as an incredibly useful way to consider the entire Trump presidency: Obsession, chaos, fear, depravity, and…
 
If one question has driven mankind’s quest for innovation, it very well might be this: How can we get more from less? For most of our time on this planet, the answer was simple: We couldn’t. As my guest Andrew McAfee points out, for just about all of human history – particularly the Industrial Era – our prosperity has been tightly coupled to our ab…
 
October 1st marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China – the name given by Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949. To understate the reality, a lot has happened in China over the last 70 years. The fact is, a lot has happened in China over the last 70 days – much of it unexpected, confusing, and on-go…
 
As regular listeners of this podcast know, I read a lot of books. Most of them, frankly, are excellent – smart people making thoughtful arguments in engaging ways. Every once in a while, though, I read one that’s not just excellent, but delivers something more: It shifts your lens on the world. Alters your focus. New York Times Chief Television Cri…
 
It was a perfect week to have Philip Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst, on the podcast. Phil spent some 25 years at the highest levels of the CIA – reaching Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center – and FBI, where he was hired to be its first National Security Branch Deputy Director by Robert Mueller. So when you have Mueller’s Con…
 
What happened to the Republican Party? You’ve heard of it: One of the two major political collectives in America… the one that counts Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan among its heroes? The modern GOP branded itself on ideals of fiscal responsibility, fighting dictators from the Soviet Union to Saddam Hussein, and personal morality. Today, of cours…
 
You may have heard last week’s conversation on the Supreme Court. Well, there’s something about the Supreme Court that gets listeners’ attention. I received a lot of follow-up questions – so many, that I wished I had immediate access to another constitutional scholar. Turns out, I did. I already had recorded the second half of the conversation you’…
 
It was the Supreme Court session Democrats feared and Republicans had waited a generation for – a solidly conservative 5-4 majority. It took the Merrick Garland block and Brett Kavanaugh hearings to get here, and now that first session is complete. So how’d it go? Were the fears and hopes realized? That’s what I asked Adam Liptak, who covers the Su…
 
Here’s a parlor game: Outside of President Trump, who’s the most curious figure on the world stage today? China’s Xi? North Korea’s Kim? MBS of Saudi Arabia? As Trump’s interactions with global leaders raise never-ending questions, few are as perplexing – or, if we only could understand it, might explain so much – as the one with Vladimir Putin. Wh…
 
With 20 candidates and 2 Democratic debates spread over 48 hours this week, the 2020 Presidential campaign season is officially underway. We know the process: For the next 16 months, candidates will debate, boast, fundraise, debate, and fundraise some more. Then on Nov. 3, 2020, we’ll have the decision – the President will be chosen. But what about…
 
It’s already one of the major issues of the 2020 presidential campaign: Does American capitalism still work? In the face of ever widening income disparity – not just exponential upward movement at the top, but also, at best, stagnation near the bottom — economic inequality is a key social and political topic. Which is why Joseph Stiglitz’ 55th high…
 
A few updates: First, we’re back. I’ve been doing a lot of prep for this new podcast season. I think you’re going to like it. Second – and maybe this should be first – you may have noticed the name change from Political Wire Conversations to Chris Riback’s Conversations. Why the change? I love politics and public policy. In these podcasts, I’ve tal…
 
So you’re in a restaurant. Great meal. The bill comes, and it’s got a surprise – an unexpected $10 charge because, well it turns out your entrée required a special ingredient the server forgot to mention. Would you pay it? Would you expect to have to pay it? Now look at our health care. You go to the Emergency Room. They take your insurance. Only i…
 
This is a special live edition of Political Wire Conversations. On Friday, I hosted an outstanding live event and discussion at Harvard’s Kennedy School: Midterm Elections Preview: Blue Wave or Red Save? I was joined onstage by an All Star cast of panelists: Rick Wilson, Republican Political Strategist Asha Rangappa, CNN Legal & National Affairs An…
 
The countdown to Midterms is on. With less than three weeks to go, many questions remain and the stakes couldn’t be higher. How high? According to my guest today, “the nature of our democracy is on the ballot.” I’m not sure I disagree.You may remember Richard Clarke for his 30 years in the U.S government, including 10 continuous years as a White Ho…
 
How do you make the most arcane, overlooked, eyes-glaze-over – and most critical – aspect of the U.S. government – interesting? How do you help folks understand that the so-called deep state – the parts of the bureaucracy that some people ignore and belittle – is actually vital to our safety, well-being and, frankly, our future?Simple: Have Michael…
 
One thing is sure about the extraordinary, once-in-a-generation Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing last week: There was a lot of anger in the room.Judge Brett Kavanaugh: Angry. Senator Lindsay Graham: Angry.But it might have been the anger outside the room that changed everything. You’ve seen the video – two women somehow got hold of Senator Jeff…
 
Think your life is crazy? How’d you like to be a White House correspondent with Donald Trump in the Oval Office?After all, if your daily schedule doesn’t get turned around multiple times, you always could get cursed or threatened at a campaign rally. In fact, just 60 minutes before my conversation with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major…
 
Doris Kearns Goodwin. Do I need to say more?Seven books; multiple New York Times’ best sellers; Pulitzer Prize. She is simply one of our nation’s great presidential historians.And Doris has spent much of her career studying four of the best – Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ. Now she takes a new look at all of them through a lens that – as yo…
 
How important has the Supreme Court become in American life? From gun rights to personal relationships, from money in politics to healthcare, whether it’s access to abortion, the voting booth or even our borders, the Supreme Court increasingly dominates how we work, live, and play – it defines, quite often, what kind of country we are. You could ar…
 
Who is Mike Pence? It seems strange, but more than two years after he entered our national stage, how much do you feel you know about the Vice President? He’s a man of faith – we know that… but what exactly does it mean? He has acted as something of an economic libertarian – he’s a favorite of the Koch Brothers. But again, what does that mean – and…
 
Jason Kander has a lot going on.To begin, he’s running for mayor of Kansas City. For most of us, that would be a full-time job. But as you’ll hear, Jason Kander is most definitely not the rest of us. It’s not just that he can rebuild a combat weapon while blindfolded, as he proved in a 2016 political ad.It’s also not simply that in reaction to 9/11…
 
Rick Wilson doesn’t expect you to like him. For the last 30 years, Rick has been part of the underbelly of American politics: A self-described “Republican political strategist and infamous negative ad-maker.” And he’s done it for Republicans at all levels – state, local, & national, ranging from George H.W. Bush to Rudy Giuliani. As he says, he’s t…
 
The latest economic numbers are out, and by the time you hear this podcast, Donald Trump surely will have told us all why they are great, why tariffs work, and why this economy is the best ever.But you know better. Or at least Washington Post opinion columnist Catherine Rampell does. While we may have one or multiple months of strong GDP, the key q…
 
Well, that was quite a week. And no doubt, in the few hours between my recording this intro and when the podcast drops, another extraordinary week will have passed.How to make sense of it? To fashionably employ the double negative – it’s so good to see grammar finally get its due on the world stage – I don’t think it’s unfair to ask: Where are we a…
 
It feels like a lifetime ago, I know. But so much of what’s happening today – the divides, anger, insults, policy realities – have emerged as a reaction to the Obama years. To understand today, it helps to understand what came before. Brian Abrams makes an important contribution to the process. Abrams specializes in oral histories – talking with ke…
 
So here’s the timeline: Two days ago, I spoke with Dan Pfeiffer. As you surely know, he’s President Obama's former communications director and senior advisor and co-host of a podcast you might have heard of: Pod Save America. Then yesterday, Dan’s new book -- Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump – debuts at No. 1 on …
 
In the face of jailing immigrant children, questions about capitalism amid tariffs and possible trade wars, and concerns about democracy as we reject western allies and warmly welcome authoritarians and dictators, a lot of us are wondering not just who are we, but also, how in the world did we get here?Steven Brill feels he has an answer.You likely…
 
For many on the right and left, the question has been “what’s happening to the GOP?” Free Trade? Gone. Budget deficits? No problem Free movement of labor? Not so much. Military war exercises? Who needs’em? Russia as outlaw state? How about Russia in the G8? I think a more fair – and probably more relevant question: What is the GOP?And frankly, the …
 
Does President Trump think he’s a king?That was the provocative headline to a recent piece by Harry Litman, a former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General. Litman made his argument after reviewing the legal arguments made in that confidential 20-page memo sent by President Trump’s lawyers to the special counsel, Robert Mueller.I …
 
If you know Bill Browder's story already, you surely won’t mind hearing it again. It’s extraordinary. If you haven’t heard it before, get ready. Bill Browder very well may be Vladimir Putin’s public enemy No. 1. Why? Remember that “Hillary dirt” Russia meeting that Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitsk…
 
Of the many institutions that Donald Trump has attacked – Courts, Congress, media, political parties, diplomats, former Presidents – perhaps the most surprising and unnerving has been the relentless attacks on our intelligence community. Even before that second day in office – the one where he stood before the 117 stars honoring the CIA’s fallen an…
 
Can we talk politics? In the last weeks on this podcast, we’ve talked about racism, our shrinking diplomacy, the Mueller investigation, how democracies die, and more. But we ought not forget: it’s the political elections that deliver the policies that define our democracy. Not happy with how things are going? You might want to vote. Thrilled? Well,…
 
Usually we drop these conversations on Friday mornings – you know, something to look forward to since the workweek excitement is about to end. But we’re posting this on Monday, May 7 because of my guest: It’s his last day as Mayor of New Orleans. Did you see the speech? It was about a year ago and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu stood up and expla…
 
Iran, North Korea, Syria, Brexit, Paris Agreement, China. Prime Minister Abe, Macron, Merkel, Xi, a fellow named Putin. At a time when U.S. foreign policy – when diplomacy itself – requires as much clarity and coordination and skill as it has in decades, ours has been going through – to put it diplomatically – a major transition.You know the headli…
 
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