Sunday, May 28, 2023
Popular Presidential Communication with Anne Pluta
Season 1, Ep. 84
From the birth of the republic, American presidents have communicated with the public in one form or another. The frequency and exact nature of such efforts have varied quite a bit over time due to variables ranging from the extent of partisanship in the media to each commander in chief's personal preference to travel technology. Political scientist Anne Pluta has explored this history deeply, including extensive analysis of contemporary newspaper accounts back to the late 18th century. And her insights, contained in writings like the book Persuading the Public: The Evolution of Popular Presidential Communication from Washington to Trump, provide plenty of surprises and even challenge some conventional wisdom about the presidency.David Priess chatted with her about her favorite presidents and her assessment of the best communicators among them; the precedents set by George Washington; Thomas Jefferson's State of the Union delivery method; changes in the communication environment during the Andrew Jackson era; Abraham Lincoln's exceptional presidency; the importance of train travel for presidential contact with the public; Rutherford Hayes's underappreciated importance in presidential communication; Theodore Roosevelt as a speaker; Woodrow Wilson's decision to deliver the State of the Union address in person; the importance for presidential communication of radio, television, and the availability of Air Force One; the relatively brief period of national, "objective" media; the late 20th century shift to splintered media; Donald Trump's social media use; Joe Biden's communication practices; and more.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The play HamiltonThe TV show John AdamsThe movie LincolnThe book Persuading the Public by Anne PlutaThe TV show The West WingThe TV show VeepThe movie The American PresidentThe movie Air Force OneThe movie Independence DayThe TV show ScandalThe book The Devil's TeethThe book Twelve Days of TerrorThe book The WaveChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, May 18, 2023
‘Special Military Operations’ Against the Russians with Benjamin Wittes
Season 1, Ep. 83
On April 13, 2022, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lawfare Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes conducted his first “special military operation” at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC. It involved 14 theater stage lights that Wittes and other activists used to project images of the Ukrainian flag onto embassy walls. Since then, Wittes’s special military operations have garnered increased attention and become more complex—technically and diplomatically. In his conversation with Katherine Pompilio, one of Lawfare’s associate editors and this week’s Chatter guest host, Wittes talks about the genesis of these special military operations, what it’s like conducting international negotiations with Russian diplomats via the U.S. Secret Service, the international law of light protests, how a paper mache washing machine is involved in all of this, his career, his other projects, and more.Works mentioned in this episode:Ben’s Substack Dog Shirt DailyThe video Defect and Repent: A Laser PoemThe video "It's Almost Like the Russians Don't Negotiate in Good Faith": A Video Parable.The video U.S. Ukrainian Activists Presents Umbrella BoyThe podcast #LiveFromUkraine: Katya Savchenko Survived Bucha—and Wrote About ItThe Washington Post article “Activists train spotlight of Ukrainian flag on Russian Embassy”The video of the spotlight cat and mouse gameThe work of Robin BellChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Politicians and White House Plumbers with Olivia Nuzzi
Season 1, Ep. 82
Olivia Nuzzi gets Washington in a way many journalists don’t. As the Washington correspondent for New York magazine, she has written perceptive, piercing, and enduring portraits of Donald Trump and the bizarre characters in his orbit. Now she’s turning her reporter’s eye to history, hosting a companion podcast to HBO's “White House Plumbers,” a five-part series that imagines the Watergate scandal through the lives of two notorious Nixon operatives, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy. Olivia came up as a journalist writing about politics in New Jersey. She began covering Trump at The Daily Beast, where she worked with Shane. They discussed her career, what fascinates her about politics, and the prospects for the 2024 presidential campaign, where Trump appears likely to be the Republican nominee. They also discussed Hollywood and Washington’s mutual fascination with each other, and why they’d both rather live in L.A. than New York. Olivia’s work at New York magazine: https://nymag.com/author/olivia-nuzzi/ The White House Plumbers podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/white-house-plumbers-podcast/id1682542231 The White House Plumbers series on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/white-house-plumbers Olivia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Olivianuzzi?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor Garrett Graff’s new book on Watergate, which serves as a history companion to the podcast and was just named a Pulitzer Prize finalist: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Watergate/Garrett-M-Graff/9781982139179 Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Ian Enright and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Private Equity and National Security with Brendan Ballou
Season 1, Ep. 81
Private equity firms rank among the largest employers in the United States and invest many billions of dollars in a wide variety of industries. Yet the public understanding of how private equity works and its impact on myriad areas of American life, including national security, remains limited.Brendan Ballou is trying to change that. A federal prosecutor who works in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, he has written a new book, Plunder: Private Equity's Plan To Pillage America. David Priess spoke at length with him about his previous work in the Justice Department's National Security Division, his current role working antitrust issues, the origins of his interest in private equity, the business model of private equity, its effect on industries from mortgages to nursing homes, private equity's link to the SolarWinds hack, foreign involvement in private equity, the impact of private equity on U.S. competitiveness, and more.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It by Louis BrandeisThe book Plunder: Private Equity's Plan To Pillage America by Brendan BallouThe movie This Is Spinal TapThe book Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free by Jed RakoffThe movie AlienChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Space Diplomacy and Satellite Data with Mariel Borowitz
Season 1, Ep. 80
As satellites around the planet proliferate, the tug they feel from international tensions seems to rival the gravitational pull exerted by the Earth itself. On issues from Space Traffic Management to scientific data sharing, the need for global cooperation is high but rarely easy.Dr. Mariel Borowitz is head of the Program on International Affairs, Science, and Technology at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, where she is an Associate Professor, and author of Open Space: The Global Effort for Open Access to Environmental Satellite Data, which dives deeply into the history of government agencies' and international organizations' tough choices about when and how to share scientific information collected by various orbiting platforms. David Priess chatted with her about space diplomacy as a domain; auroras and satellites; the Artemis crew; the Space Force; the James Webb Space Telescope; working at NASA headquarters; the changing nature of satellite constellations; Starlink; Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management; countries' choices about making data from satellites freely available; the evolution of LANDSAT; the history of satellite data sharing by entities in the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Japan, and India; the inhibiting effects of Russia's war in Ukraine; commercialization of satellite systems; how to grow space diplomats; and more.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The movie 2001The movie 2010The movie The MartianThe TV show The ExpanseThe movie ArrivalQueen guitarist Brian May's work on the New Horizons missionThe Chatter podcast episode Satellites, Space Debris, and Hollywood with Aaron BatemanThe movie GravityChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Blackouts in Film and TV with Denis Newiak
Season 1, Ep. 79
Widespread power outages have happened before, but authorities usually diagnose the cause and restore electricity within days, if not within hours. And with few exceptions, such blackouts occur without dissolving social bonds and prompting massive violence.In big screen and television fiction, however, things are different. Thrillers show us the dangerous, life-or-death scenarios that can arise when regular power and all it provides disappear. Science fiction explores diverse causes and implications of blackouts. Horror stories take full advantage of the darkness and the resort to pre-modern technology. All of them say something about us and about modernity.Denis Newiak has extensively researched and written about the intersection of crises, film and TV, and modern humanity. Most recently, his book Preparing for the Global Blackout: A Disaster Guide from TV and Cinema jumps into how fictional representations of lost electricity show us the contradiction that modern life is both safer and more dangerous than it was before the widespread availability of power. David Priess chatted with him about the field of media theory, their childhood attraction to disaster films, the many causes of fictional blackouts, how characters tend to react when realizing that things will be very different, the importance of radio in blackout fiction, the importance of darkness, what becomes valuable in no-electricity worlds, how comedies handle power outages, and Newiak's hope that government officials and business leaders with emergency management responsibilities are paying attention to what movies and TV reveal about humanity pushed to the edge.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The movie WALL-EThe TV show The Big Bang TheoryThe TV show 13 Reasons WhyThe TV show Bates MotelThe book Wicked by Gregory MaguireThe movie SoloThe movie ContagionThe TV show The Walking DeadThe TV movie 14 HoursThe movie The Book of EliThe TV show Grey's AnatomyThe TV show Tribes of EuropaThe movie The PurgeThe movie How It EndsThe TV show BlackoutThe movie CloverfieldThe movie 10 Cloverfield PlaceThe movie The Cloverfield ParadoxThe TV show V (1984-85)The TV show V (2009-11)The movie Close Encounters of the Third KindThe TV show SuperstoreThe TV show CommunityThe TV show The Flight AttendantThe movie MoonrakerChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Reporting from the Front Lines with Nancy Youssef
Season 1, Ep. 78
Nancy Youssef has reported on war and conflict around the world and from Washington. As a young journalist, she went to Iraq and sensed early on that a war most presumed would be over quickly was only just beginning. Her career has taken her to Afghanistan, Egypt, and into the center of power at the Pentagon. Nancy is now a national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. In her conversation with Shane, Nancy talks about her Journal colleague, Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested last month in Russia and accused of spying, charges that his family, his employer, and the U.S. government vociferously deny. Like Nancy, Evan is the child of immigrants. She says she admired his reporting for giving voice to the Russian people at a time of war. Nancy has seen other colleagues taken prisoner amid conflict and shared her thoughts about the risks that journalists face both in war zones and from states that see information as a weapon. Shane and Nancy are old friends and worked together at The Daily Beast, where they covered U.S. national security and foreign policy. Nancy’s work at The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/news/author/nancy-a-youssef Nancy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nancyayoussef A recent profile on Evan Gershkovich from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/08/evan-gershkovich-russia-wsj-journalist-arrested-profile/ More on Austin Tice, a friend of Nancy’s who went missing in Syria: https://www.austinticefamily.com/ Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Environmentalism in Russia after the Invasion of Ukraine with Laura Henry
Season 1, Ep. 77
Since the days of the USSR, the Russian people have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the country's environment. The post-Soviet years witnessed an explosion of grassroots, professional, and government-affiliated groups to advocate in this space, but widespread public support and lasting impact on government policy haven't developed. And now, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prospects for progress on environmental concerns seem especially dim.David Priess hosted this conversation with author and Bowdoin College Professor of Government Laura Henry about this topic and its implications. They discussed what it was like for her to conduct research across the Russian Federation starting in 1991 and in the decades since, the roots of environmentalism in the Soviet Union, what changed under Boris Yeltsin, how environmental organizations in Russia vary, the benefits and risks to these groups of taking funding from outside Russia, Russia's Foreign Agent Law, Russian environmentalists' attention to the oil and gas industry, how to think about measuring "success" of the environmental movement in Russia, how the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted environmental cooperation and impacted climate policy, sources of cautious optimism for the future of the Russian environment, and more.Works mentioned in this episode:The book Red to Green: Environmental Activism in Post-Soviet Russia by Laura HenryThe book Red Plenty by Francis SpuffordThe book Disappearing Earth by Julia PhillipsChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Noam Osband and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Debunking Nuclear Proliferation Myths with Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer
Season 1, Ep. 76
Misperceptions about nuclear proliferation attempts abound, particularly when we find authoritarian leaders involved. It is easy to picture these determined owners of nuclear weapons as omnipotent, unconstrained micromanagers--willing and able to do whatever is necessary to take their country over the threshold.Political scientist Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer disagrees. She conducted extensive research in IAEA and other archives as well as in-depth interviews with senior scientists and regime officials from Iraq and Libya, including Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. What she discovered led her to question much conventional wisdom about the Iraqi and Libyan nuclear programs, and about proliferation writ large. Her book Unclear Physics--which borrows its title from a typo in an Iraqi report from the late 1960s that characterized well the vague objectives of the early Iraqi nuclear program--presents intriguing information and insight on all of this.David Priess speaks with Braut-Hegghammer about her interest in WMD proliferation, how she researched secretive nuclear programs, the value of archives, Iraq's quest for the bomb, the impact of Israel's strike on the Osirak reactor in 1981, how close Iraq was to breaking out when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the origins of Libya's nuclear program, Gaddafi's turn to the A.Q. Khan network for the equipment and blueprints needed, implications for the potential proliferation paths of countries from North Korea and Iran to Saudi Arabia and South Korea, the rising salience of nuclear weapons in Arctic security debates, and Norwegian views on nuclear deterrence in today's evolving strategic environment.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.