September 11, 2020
Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson is proud to present the first interview with Condoleezza Rice in her new role as Director of Hoover Institution. After a storied career that includes Provost of Stanford University (1993-1999), United States National Security Advisor (2001-2005), and United States Secretary of State (2005-2009), the author of numerous books, and an inaugural member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, on September 1st, 2020 Director Rice became the Hoover Institution's eighth director in its 101 year history and the first woman to hold the position. In this wide ranging conversation, Peter Robinson and Director Rice discuss Hoover’s mission in the 21st century, the role of think tanks in crafting public policy, her views about the current geo-political situation regarding Russia and China, and her personal thoughts about the national conversation currently underway in the United States about racial relations and how we look back at the country’s founding and history.
Recorded on September 9th, 2020
September 6, 2020
Recorded on September 4, 2020
This is our third conversation with Hong Kong entrepreneur and freedom fighter, Jimmy Lai in less than a year. During that time, Lai has been arrested twice, his family and his employees and colleagues have been harassed and in some cases forced to leave Hong Kong, and Lai himself has been incarcerated. Currently free on bond and facing a trial and an uncertain future, Mr. Lai gets philosophical in this conversation. He describes how his faith has given him strength and comfort and that he is willing to make whatever sacrifice required in order to maintain democracy in Hong Kong. We discuss the political situation in Hong Kong, the precarious position of Hong Kong Executive Carrie Lam, and how the United States and the world can apply pressure to the Chinese, and what’s at stake if Hong Kong becomes just another Chinese city.
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August 4, 2020
Recorded on July 29, 2020
On the occasion of his new book, Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power, Hoover visiting fellow and Berkeley Law School professor John Yoo joins the show to make a spirited case against the criticisms of Donald Trump for his supposed disruption of constitutional rules and norms. The conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump is a threat to the rule of law and the US Constitution. Mainstream media outlets have reported fresh examples of alleged executive overreach or authoritarian White House decisions nearly every day of his presidency. In the 2020 primaries, the candidates have rushed to accuse Trump of destroying our democracy and jeopardizing our nation’s very existence. In his book and on this show, John Yoo argues the opposite: that the Founders would have seen Trump as returning to their vision of presidential power, even at his most controversial and outrageous. It’s a fascinating and often humorous discussion that could not be more timely.
July 28, 2020
Recorded on July 24, 2020
This week, a conversation with Bjorn Lomborg, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and one of the foremost climate experts in the world today. His new book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, is an argument for treating climate as a serious problem but not an extinction-level event requiring such severe and drastic steps as rewiring a large part of the culture and the economy. Bjorn responds directly to some of the most vociferous climate policy critics, including Greta Thunberg, author David Wallace-Wells (The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming), and proponents of the Green New Deal. We also discuss some promising emerging technologies and why worst-case scenarios are often just that—scenarios that are used to motivate the public into action but are not in fact likely to occur. It’s a sobering and even-handed discussion on climate that does not include apocalyptic endings for the planet.
July 2, 2020
The day before this show was recorded, Dr. Thomas Sowell began his 10th decade of life. Remarkably on one hand and yet completely expected on the other, he remains as engaged, analytical, and thoughtful as ever. In this interview (one of roughly a dozen or so we’ve conducted with Dr. Sowell over the years), we delve into his new book Charter Schools and Their Enemies, a sobering look at the academic success of charter schools in New York City, and the fierce battles waged by teachers unions and progressive politicians to curtail them. Dr. Sowell’s conclusion is equally thought provoking: If the opponents of charter schools succeed, the biggest losers will be poor minority children for whom a quality education is the best chance for a better life.
Recorded on July 1, 2020
June 30, 2020
As the United States and the world embark on fraught conversations about race, history, law enforcement, and the underpinnings of our very civilization, Ayaan Hirsi Ali joins Peter Robinson for an enlightening conversation. A refugee from Africa, Hirsi Ali fled to Europe to escape an arranged marriage, becoming an activist, (now former) member of the Dutch Parliament, and now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. With a different set of life experiences and perspective from American-born Blacks, Hirsi Ali discusses how, as a Somalian, she views America as the best place on earth for minorities to grow up and achieve their potential. While acknowledging the hardships and miseries that American Blacks have endured and that racism still exists in many quarters of American society, Hirsi Ali emphatically believes that America is more than capable of solving racial inequalities, provided it preserves the institutions that ultimately ended slavery and empowered the protest movements of the 1960s that birthed the Civil Rights Movement. As she wrote in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal, an opinion she reiterates on this show, “There will be no resolution of America’s . . . problems if free thought and free speech are no longer upheld as sacrosanct. . . . Without them, honest deliberation, mutual learning, and the American ethic of problem-solving are dead.”
Recorded on June 25, 2020
June 23, 2020
Recorded on June 18, 2020
Dr. Scott Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an accomplished physician, and a scholar of public health. For several weeks, Dr. Atlas has been making the case in print and in other media that we as a society have overreacted in imposing draconian restrictions on movement, gatherings, schools, sports, and other activities. He is not a COVID-19 denier—he believes the virus is a real threat and should be managed as such. But, as Dr. Atlas argues, there are some age groups and activities that are subject to very low risk. The one-size-fits-all approach we are currently using is overly authoritarian, inefficient, and not based in science. Dr. Atlas’s prescription includes more protection for people in nursing homes, two weeks of strict self-isolation for those with mild symptoms, and most importantly, the opening of all K–12 schools. The latter recommendation is vital for restarting and maintaining the economy so that parents are not housebound trying to work and educate their children. Dr. Atlas is also adamant that an economic shutdown, and all of the attendant issues that go along with it, is a terrible solution—the cure is worse than the disease. Finally, Dr. Atlas reveals some steps he’s taken in his own life to try to get things back to normal.
June 9, 2020
Recorded on June 8, 2020
When Hong Kong democracy advocate Jimmy Lai last appeared on Uncommon Knowledge in October of 2019, the situation in Hong Kong was dire but still hopeful. Now, eight months later, the situation has gone from bad to worse, and since that interview, Lai has been arrested twice. In this conversation, Lai explains the widening crackdown the Chinese Communist Party is imposing on Hong Kong, including his interpretation of the recently proposed national security law, which Lai believes will give China the ability to control all aspects of Hong Kong’s freedoms and culture and destroy the city’s financial and media businesses. Lai also makes a plea to the United States and the rest of the world: help Hong Kong by sanctioning China, because in the wake of COVID-19, the country is at its most vulnerable moment in the last 40 years. Says Lai, “If we surrender, we will lose [our] freedom, we will lose the rule of law—we will lose everything.” Whether the world will hear Lai and the rest of the Hong Kong protestors and take action on their behalf remains to be seen. Finally, we ask Lai why he continues the fight for democracy even against seemingly unsurmountable odds. A visibly emotional Lai responds: “Now is not the time for safety, now is the time for sacrifice. . . . I can’t leave; I will fight until the last day.”
June 4, 2020
Mitch Daniels is the former governor of Indiana (2005–13), former director of the Office of Management and Budget (2001–03), and current president of Purdue University (since 2013). In this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Robinson, Daniels discusses his insistence on keeping Purdue’s tuition below $10,000 and how he does it, his vision for Purdue that includes a mix of online and onsite education, and his efforts to hire an ideologically diverse faculty and recruit students from various backgrounds and ethnicities. He also shares his thoughts on the recent civil unrest, protests, and looting across the United States, and his plans on how to open Purdue and keep it open this fall amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
June 2, 2020
Recorded on May 28, 2020
In his new book, The Decadent Society, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat presents a theory: “Western society stopped advancing in the second half of the 20th century, and the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of ‘sustainable decadence,’ a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.” Against this backdrop, Peter Robinson and Douthat discuss movies, TV shows, the iPhone, SpaceX, and the 747, with some detours into the COVID-19 crisis and our current political situation.