KPFA: Letters and Politics [News Feed]

  • Islam in America & Populism and the Enlightenment
    A conversation on the first Muslims in the United States and Thomas Jefferson’s Quran. Guest: Denise Spellberg, author of Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders. Then, a conversation on the Enlightenment, Populism and the debate between Voltaire and Rousseau with guest Pankaj Mishra, author of the Age of Anger: A History of the Present.
  • The Use of the Classical World to Promote White Supremacy. Then, Slums: A Global Injustice
    A conversation on how white supremacists throughout history and now appropriated the classical world to promote their own ideology.  We speak to classicist Sarah Teets. Guest: Sarah Teets is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, her focus is on the classical world. Her article Classical Slavery and Jeffersonian Racism: Charlottesville, One Year Later can be found on EIDOLON. [1] Then, a conversation about the so-called “slums” or the neighborhoods of entrenched disadvantage in urban areas where more than half of the world’s population now lives.  According to professor Alan Mayne, slums are often seen as a debilitating and even subversive presence within society. In reality, though, it is public policies that are often at fault, not the people who live in these neighborhoods. Guest: Alan Mayne is a visiting professor in the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester and adjunct professor at the University of South Australia. His latest book is Slums: The History of a Global Injustice.   [1]———0———————
  • Letters and Politics – August 13, 2018
    A look at burning political issues and debates and their historical context within the US and worldwide, hosted by Mitch Jeserich.
  • Letters and Politics – August 9, 2018
    A look at burning political issues and debates and their historical context within the US and worldwide, hosted by Mitch Jeserich.
  • Letters and Politics – August 8, 2018
    A look at burning political issues and debates and their historical context within the US and worldwide, hosted by Mitch Jeserich.
  • Letters and Politics – August 7, 2018
    A look at burning political issues and debates and their historical context within the US and worldwide, hosted by Mitch Jeserich.
  • Measure to Allow Psychologists to Return to Guantanamo. Then, The 73 Anniversary of the US Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima
    This week the American Psychological Association (APA) will consider a measure to allow psychologist to return working at Guantanamo Bay and other detention facilities where so called enemy combatants are held. Mitch Jeserich talks to Dan Albers about his opposition to this new rule proposal as well as the history of the use of psychology in warfare. Guest: Dan Aalbers teaches psychology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and a co-author of the APA’s membership referendum, the policy that removed psychologists from Guantanamo and the CIA’s dark sites. Then, Marking the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we speak to Deborah Leah Steinberg. Hes father worked at the Manhattan Project. She is the author of the book Raised In the Shadow if the Bomb.    
  • A Battle With the European and American Deep Establishment
    Mitch Jeserich talks to renowned economist and former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, he gives the full, blistering account of his momentous clash with the mightiest economic and political forces on earth. Guest: Yanis Varoufakis is a Greek economist, academic, politician and author of several books including his latest Adults in the Room. In March 2018 Varoufakis announced the launch of his own political party MeRA 25, with a stated aim of freeing Greece from “debt bondage”. The party, whose name stands for “European Realistic Disobedience Front”, is affiliated to DiEM 25 Support KPFA today, Click Here to Donate! [1] BOOK Adults in the Room by Yanis Varoufakis  $90.00 [2] BOOK TALKING TO MY DAUGHTER ABOUT THE ECONOMY or, How Capitalism Works–and How It Fails by Yanis Varoufakis  $110 [3] MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack  $100 [4] Combo Both Books + CD  $250 [5] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
  • The Collected Letters of Alan Watts
    Today we are in conversation with Joan Watts and Anne Watts who have collected, curated, and edited the Letters of his father, Alan Watts. Alan Watts is best known as an interpreter of Zen Buddhism in particular and of Indian and Chinese philosophy in general. He earned the reputation of being one of the most original and unfettered philosophers of the twentieth century. About The Collected Letters of Alan Watts The engaging letters of Alan Watts cover a vast range of subject matter, with recipients ranging from High Church clergy to high priests of psychedelics, government officials, publishers, critics, family, and fans. They include C. G. Jung, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, Aldous Huxley, Reinhold Niebuhr, Timothy Leary, Joseph Campbell, and James Hillman. Watts’s letters were curated by two of his daughters, Joan Watts and Anne Watts, who have added rich, behind-the-scenes biographical commentary.       KPFA Needs Your Support, Click Here to Donate! [1] CD Alan Watts PRA Library Collection – 3 MP3 CDs or online as a digital download  $180. [2] BOOK The Collected Letters of Alan Watts  $120 [3] Combo Book + CD  $250 [4]   [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • Haunted! No Escaping the Shame of Slavery
    Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Hurston scholar Deborah Plant to talk about the tragedy of slavery and its pernicious legacy that continues to haunt America. Guest: Deborah Plant is a Hurston scholar at the University of South Florida. She is the editor of the book Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston. About Barracoon It took more than 90 years for Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” to be published. In 1927, anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston began to interview octogenarian Cudjo Lewis in  Plateau, Alabama. His first person story begins as a free teenager in Africa, follows his capture by Dahomian women warriors, his journey through the Middle Passage, his life as a slave, his subsequent emancipation, and his part in the founding of Africatown in Alabama, the first town established by and controlled by Africans.     KPFA needs your support, Click Here to Donate Securely Online! [1] MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack  $100 [2] BOOK Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neal Hurston  $120 [3] Combo CD + Book  $200 [4] [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • The Christian Destruction of the Classical World
    Mitch Jeserich talks to Catherine Nixey about the history of the rise of Christianity and how its radical followers ravaged vast swathes of classical culture, plunging the world into an era of dogma and intellectual darkness. Guest: Catherine Nixey is a journalist and a classicist. She is the author of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. She is the winner of a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award. About the Darkening Age: Today, we refer to Christianity’s conquest of the West as a “triumph.” But this victory entailed an orgy of destruction in which Jesus’s followers attacked and suppressed classical culture, helping to pitch Western civilization into a thousand-year-long decline. Just one percent of Latin literature would survive the purge; countless antiquities, artworks, and ancient traditions were lost forever.  As Catherine Nixey reveals, evidence of early Christians’ campaign of terror has been hiding in plain sight: in the palimpsests and shattered statues proudly displayed in churches and museums the world over. In The Darkening Age, Nixey resurrects this lost history, offering a wrenching account of the rise of Christianity and its terrible cost.   Support Your Station! Click Here to Donate: [1] MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack  $100 [2] The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey $150 [3] COMBO CD + Book  $225 [4]   [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • This Is How An Empire Falls
    Mitch Jeserich is in conversation with Professor Kyle Harper to talk about one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. Central to this issue are question such as how does an empire fall? What’s the role of climate change and pandemic diseases in the collapse of Rome’s power. Guest: Kyle Harper is a historian of the classical world and the Senior Vice President and Provost at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. About The Fate of Rome: The book explores how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. Kyle Harper takes us from Rome’s pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a “little ice age” and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague. Support Your Station, Click Here to Donate to KPFA   [1] MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack $100 [2] BOOK The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper  $175 [3] Combo BOOK + CD  $250 [4] [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • Aristocracy, Oligarchy, and Donald Trump
    We are in conversation with Arthur Eckstein about how democracies and republics fell apart into chaos or despotism in the ancient western world. The history of those states recounts the history us of our own current state and the rise of a despotic demagogue in the White House. Guest:  Arthur Eckstein is Professor of History and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a specialist in the history of Roman imperialism under the Republic and is the author of a number of books including Rome Enters the Greek East, Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome and his latest Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI and Lost the Revolution.  Support free speech, support KPFA, Click here to donate:    [1] MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack $100. [2]   [1] [2]
  • Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics
    We are in conversation with Stephen Greenblatt to talk about the psychological roots, and the twisted consequences of tyranny from the study of Shakespeare’s tyrannical leaders: Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, and the societies they rule over. Guest: Stephen Greenblatt is Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, a world-renowned Shakespeare scholar, and the author of several books including his latest Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. About the book: Stephen Greenblatt illuminates the ways in which William Shakespeare delved into the lust for absolute power and the catastrophic consequences of its execution. In his book, Greenblatt delivers his own critique of the current occupant of the White House, amazingly, he doesn’t even have to mention his name. We all know it! The parallels seem obvious.       Support your Radio Station, Click Here to Donate! [1]  MP3 CD Letters and Politics:The Tyranny Pack $100 BOOK Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt $100   [1]
  • Understanding Marx’s legacy
    Mitch Jeserich talks to Gregory Claeys about Marx’s ideas and their development, from the nineteenth century through the Russian Revolution to the present. Guest: Gregory Claeys is a professor of history at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has written several books focusing on the history of radicalism, socialism, and utopianism; his latest is Marx and Marxism.    

Archived Snapshot: 2017-04-02

Russian Perspective on the Election Controversy Mitch Jeserich interviews Robert English Professor of International Relations at USC, who has just written a piece for Foreign Affairs [1] that is critical of the US's reaction to allegations of Russian interference in the election.


Trump and Russia and the Politics of Nutrition Mitch Jeserich interviews David Cay Johnston about the controversies surrounding the Trump family's ties to Russia. Johnston is a renowned journalist and the author of the book, The Making of Donald Trump.

Then, Mitch interviews renowned nutritionist Marion Nestle, (no relation to the Swiss food giant Nestle.) Her most recent book is, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).

Trump's Enviromental EOs and The Legacy of McCarthy's Red Scare First, Mitch Jeserich speaks with environmental journalist Mark Hertzgaard [1], about the Trump administration's recent executive order's attempting to overturn environmental regulations from the Obama era.

Then, Mitch interviews David A. Nichols, author of the book Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy, about the history of the Red Scare and echoes of today.


US Military Escalation in Iraq and Syria and the Downfall of the Republican Party Mitch Jeserich interviews Reese Erlich about American military escalation in Iraq and Syria. Erlich is an accomplished independent journalist and the author of the book, Inside Syria.

Then Mitch speak with Geoffery Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, about the recent public implosion of the Republican party's unity.

Today's Strange State of Affairs with Rebecca Solnit Mitch Jeserich interivews Rebecca Solnit, and independent writer, historian, and activist, she is the author of twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster.

The Repeal of the ACA and The 1980 Assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero Mitch Jeserich speaks with Stephanie Woolhandler of Physicians for National Health Program about the impending changes to the health care system in the US.

Then he interviews Matt Eisenbrandt, author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, and an attorney for the prosecution of the case.

Genghis Khan and the Origins of Religious Freedom Mitch Jeserich interviews Jack Weatherford, a renowned anthropologist and author of the book Genghis Khan and the Quest for Religious Freedom, as well as many other books about Mongolia. In 2006, he was awarded the Order of the Polar Star, Mongolia [1]'s highest national honor for foreigners.


House Intelligence Committee Hearing on Russia-Trump Campaign Ties Mitch Jeserich interviews Mel Goodman about the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the links between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Melvin Goodman, was division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1986, and is currently a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C.

Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0 and America's First Drug Tsar In this episode we discuss the Muslim Ban "2.0," and the legal challenges have come up against it with Elica Vafaie, an attorney with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus and an expert on National Security and Civil Rights.

Then we hear from Alexandra Chasin, author of the book Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs, about the infamous Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner who has gone down in history as America's first drug tsar.

Understanding the Federal Reserve's Next Moves In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Josh Bivens, the Director of Research at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). His areas of research include macroeconomics, fiscal and monetary policy, the economics of globalization, social insurance, and public investment.

The Secret State: A History of Intelligence and Espionage In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Colonel John Hughes-Wilson, one of Britain's leading military historians. He served in the British Army's Intelligence Corps for 30 years. He is the author of the book The Secret State: A History of Intelligence and Espionage. He lives in Cyprus.

North Korea and Trump's Foreign Policy in Asia. And How the US Goverment has Evolved in the Past Hundred Years In this episode host Mitch Jeserich speaks with Hyun Lee, a researcher and reporter for Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization. Her latest piece is North Korea: Trump's First Foreign Policy Test in Asia [1]. Then and interview with Alasdair Roberts [2], Professor of Public Affairs, Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri. His latest book is Four Crises of Democracy: Representation, Mastery, Discipline, Anticipation [3]. About Four Crises of Democracy In the last ten years, there has been an outpouring of literature concerned with the crises that impact democracies in our era. Observers have noted a range of causes, including endemic corruption, gross incompetence in delivering basic services, and a corresponding increase in voter disaffection. Lurking in the background as well is the global resurgence of authoritarianism, a wave bolstered by the Western democracies' apparent mishandling of the global financial crisis. In Four Crises of American Democracy, Alasdair Roberts locates the U.S.'s recent bout of democratic malaise in a larger historical context, arguing that it is the latest in a series of very different crises that have plagued America throughout its history. He focuses on four crises, moving beyond descriptions of what each crisis involved to the solutions the government evolved in response. The first crisis-the of representation"-occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was dominated by fears of plutocracy and debates about the rights of African-Americans, women and immigrants. The of mastery" spanned the years 1917-1948, and was preoccupied with building administrative capabilities so that government could improve its control of economic and international affairs. The of discipline," beginning in the 1970s, was triggered by the perception that voters and special interests were overloading governments with unreasonable demands. The final crisis, what he calls the …

Chris Hedges on the Bleak Future of the US In this episode we hear a recent speech by Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize winning journalist and political activist, given at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, CA on March 3rd.

Lynne Stewart and The Republican Healthcare Proposal Lynne Stewart [1] died yesterday March the 7th 2017, she was an attorney known for defending those who challenged the system and she herself spent years in jail for representing Omar Abdel-Rhaman.

Then, we talk to Edwin Park about the Republican Healthcare proposal. Edwin Park is Vice President for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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The Updated Muslim Ban and Readings of 1984 On today's show host Mitch Jeserich speaks to Rose Cuison Villazor about the new Muslim Travel Ban. Rose Cuison Villazor is a Professor of Law and Martin Luther King Jr. Hall Research Scholar University of California at Davis School of Law.

Then, we hear clips from the audio book of 1984.