A President and a Gentleman

December 18, 2018
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Recorded on December 5, 2018.

As the country mourns the passing of President George H. W. Bush, C Boyden Gray and Haley Barbour join Peter Robinson to discuss fond memories of his leadership, friendship, humility, and legacy. They discuss the 41st President’s involvement in the Clean Air Act, the reputational teeter totter the public had with him and Reagan, and his foreign policy decisions.

They talk about Kuwait and the first Persian Gulf war and speculate that if President Bush had decided to go after Saddam Hussein then the Iraq War in the 2000s could have been avoided. They argue that President Bush took foreign policy in a good direction for the United States in the wake of the Cold War. They go into detailed analysis about President Bush, the issues he faced, and how he worked for peaceful negotiations, and was grace under fire.

President George H. W. Bush was a gentleman of a past generation, says Robinson. They discuss whether or not being a gentleman is still something to aspire to in politics and in the office of the president.

Remembering President George H. W. Bush with Chase Untermeyer and Andrew Ferguson

December 17, 2018
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Recorded on December 5, 2018

On November 30, 2018, forty-first president George H. W. Bush passed away. Andrew Ferguson and Peter Robinson both served as speechwriters for Bush during his tenure in the White House as both the vice president and president. Chase Untermeyer served as the ambassador to Qatar under the forty-first president. The three men gather to remember the man they knew and the legacy he left behind.

Untermeyer, Ferguson, and Robinson reminisce about their experiences with George H. W. Bush. Robinson relates a fond memory he has of meeting with Bush, who was vice president at the time, to discuss Robinson’s career as a speechwriter or as a law student. They discuss Bush’s amazing military career as a pilot in WWII. Bush postponed his university studies at Yale after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and enlisted at age eighteen. By the age of twenty, Bush had flown fifty-eight combat missions and had been shot down once. After the war Bush finished his education and went on to become an expert in foreign policy as ambassador to the United Nations and then as director of Central Intelligence. Bush was president during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and oversaw the nonviolent transition period from the Cold War to peacetime. They remember the former president’s graciousness, kindness, humility, and desire to help others (and not hold grudges), and they discuss how those qualities translated into his life and political career.

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Thomas Sowell on the Myths of Economic Inequality

December 3, 2018
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Recorded on November 15, 2018

Thomas Sowell discusses economic inequality, racial inequality, and the myths that have continued to falsely describe the system of poverty among different racial and economic classes. He explains the economic theories behind these pervasive myths and proposes fact-based solutions for seemingly intractable situations.

Sowell discusses his early life as a high school dropout and his first full-time job as a Western Union messenger delivering telegrams. He admits to flirting with Marxism in his early twenties as he first tried to grapple with the housing inequality he saw across the neighborhoods of New York City. Marxism, he says, was the only explanation he could find at the time. He went on to serve in the Marine Corps before continuing his education in economics at Harvard and earning a master’s at Columbia and a PhD at the University of Chicago.

Sowell’s first job after his receiving his PhD in economics was working for the Department of Labor, and he says it was there that he realized Marxism was not the answer. He argues that the government has its own institutional interests in inequality that cannot be explained through Marxism. He began to be discouraged by Marxism and the government in general and began searching for better economic ideas and solutions (the free market).

Robinson and Sowell discuss Sowell’s written works, his ideas of racial and economic inequality, the state of the United States today, and much more.

A New Afghanistan with H.R. McMaster and Janan Mosazai

November 14, 2018
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Recorded on October 23, 2018

Former National Security Advisor H.R, McMaster and former Afghan Ambassador to China Janan Mosazai analyze the state of affairs in Afghanistan today. They discuss the role that terrorist groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban have had in the formation of the country, the United States’ military action in the country, and where Afghanistan is headed.

John O’Sullivan: Brexit’s Past and Future Paths

October 29, 2018
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Recorded on September 26, 2018.

As the Brexit deadline of March 2019 draws near, John O’Sullivan discusses the status of Brexit today and the history of Britain’s decision to enter the European Union in 1973. He explains how Britain’s entry into the European Union first came about under Margaret Thatcher. He argues that British citizens had objections to joining the European Union back in 1973 and those objections never went away. Over the past forty-five years, the British have become increasingly more skeptical and frustrated with the European Union and resent the degree of its interference in the government’s decision making.

O’Sullivan and Robinson talk about the upcoming March 2019 deadline set by Theresa May for Brexit to officially occur. They talk about the state of the government as it stands, its preparedness for Brexit, and the opposition to Brexit by some parts of the government and the younger citizens.

How the World Recovered: The 2008 Financial Crisis Ten Years Later

October 17, 2018
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Recorded on September 28, 2018

Ten years ago, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression hit the United States and spread to other countries, including the United Kingdom. Here to discuss what happened then and where the world is now are former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh and former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne.

Kevin Warsh and George Osborne discuss the 2008 financial crisis, how they dealt with it at the time, what they would have done differently, and whether the economy is headed toward another downturn. Warsh discusses how the United States failed to realize how bad the crisis was until it was already too late. The crisis had a huge impact on Europe and the United States and set off a global panic. However, within two years the economy was already growing by 2 percent and the quantitative easing used by the Fed was no longer needed as the world changed.

Warsh and Osborne analyze the state of the US and UK economies today and the trade war with China. They argue that there are two ways to approach China: either try to contain it or co-opt it. Innovation and growth in the United States are necessary to prevent China from gaining more purchasing power and greater influence on the international market.  Osborne analyzes the effects Brexit could have on the single market and trade with the UK’s geographically closest trading partner, France, and airs his concerns about what Brexit means for the UK’s future. He argues that Margaret Thatcher, who helped create the single market in the EU, would never have voted to leave it.

While a future financial crisis is always possible, Warsh and Osborne end on optimistic notes: that there is still room for growth in the two countries’ economies and that a better financial future for many Americans and British is still possible through good economic policies, including lower taxes and less regulation.

George Gilder: Forget Cloud Computing, Blockchain is the Future

September 24, 2018
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Recorded on August 28, 2018

Is blockchain the technology of the future? George Gilder, author of Life After Google, argues that bitcoin and blockchain technology is revolutionizing the Internet. He sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss technology, cloud computing, big data, and the growing role of blockchain in innovating new technologies.

Gilder argues that cloud computing, while it was the hot new technology ten years ago, has reached its limits as the physical limitations of big data storage centers maxes out. Improvements in parsing big data are incremental at this point, and it’s time for the next big technology to take its place. Gilder points to blockchain as the technology of the future, with its ability to prevent corruption and manipulation of transaction data and the infinite uses it could have in third world countries.

Gilder also discusses the history of technology, artificial intelligence, and the revolutionary bitcoin. He argues that artificial intelligence can never replace human intelligence and creativity and that in principle, it is impossible for machines to take over.

Judging Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court with John Yoo

September 5, 2018
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Recorded on August 28th, 2018. 

Is Brett Kavanaugh ready for the Supreme Court? John Yoo, Yale Law alumnus and Hoover Institution visiting fellow, breaks down Kavanaugh’s law career in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Yoo argues that the United States has concentrated too much power in the Supreme Court since the New Deal era legislation and that the Supreme Court is now more powerful than Congress and the President. Based off of Kavanaugh’s past career, Yoo predicts that Kavanaugh will help reign in the power of the Supreme Court and give it back to the states.

Yoo argues that based off of the Constitution, power to decide social issues should reside with states rather than the court. According to Yoo, prior to the New Deal era, the Supreme Court focused on regulatory issues rather than social issues. He argues that momentous social legal decisions like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges are meant to be left to the individual states to decide.

Yoo analyzes the records of the current conservative justices and predicts that Kavanaugh will side more often with Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch, interpreting the Constitution as it was written by the founders, rather than by the changing will of the people.

About The Guest:

John Yoo is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a professor of law at the University of California Berkeley school of Law.

Additional Resources:

Russia, China, and the Future of Democracy

August 20, 2018
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Recorded on June 22, 2018

In a special edition of Uncommon Knowledge at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Peter Robinson interviews former presidents and prime ministers on one subject: democracy. Following a unique format, Robinson asks each of the guests the same questions to get their distinctive perspectives on issues such as the rise of authoritarianism in Russia, communist China, and the prospects for democracy.

The guests include the former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg; former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón; former president of Estonia and current Hoover visiting fellow, Toomas Henrik Ilves; and former prime minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The guests analyze economic growth in China and how that growth did not lead to the democratic country predicted by economic experts in 90s. They dive into why China does not truly have a free market, nor does it follow traditional Leninist/Marxist communism’s disdain for material goods. The guests go on to analyze changes in Russia in the last thirty years under President Putin and how foreign policy with Russia has affected their respective countries. They discuss the future of Russian and Chinese relations and how they believe those two countries are trying to shape the world.

About the Guests:

Nick Clegg was the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015.

Felipe Calderón was the president of Mexico from 2006 to 2012.

Toomas Henrik Ilves was the president of Estonia from 2006 to 2016. He is currently a Hoover visiting fellow.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. He was the Secretary General of NATO from 2009 to 2014.

Additional Resources:

 

Uncommon Knowledge in Copenhagen: Revitalizing Democracies Around the World

July 26, 2018
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Recorded on June 22nd, 2018

At the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, Peter Robinson moderated a panel discussion featuring prominent politicians from some of the world’s leading democracies as they discussed why democracy is declining around the world and what the prospects for democracy are in the future. They discussed how we can build friendships that will support our ambition of bringing together an international alliance of democracies for a freer and more prosperous world.

Participants include José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain; Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico; Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada; and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia and Hoover Institution fellow.

For many citizens around the world they do not feel that democracy is working, that there is too much corruption, too much nepotism, and too much bad behavior for democracy to survive. The 2008 crisis and the technology revolution created continued suffering, and citizens feel that democratic systems are not working and that the citizens are burdened with the consequences. The weaponizing of social media has further exacerbated the pain as bad actors can quickly mobilize and cause more confusion and problems.

So what can be done?

Countries need to work together and act super-nationally to give their citizens as well as citizens of other countries security, prosperity, and sustainability. Countries need to use technology to implement coordinated responses to quickly stop the misleading attacks that are causing disruption, disinformation, and decentralization.

Democracies need free and fair elections, an independent judicial system, an independent legislature, freedom of speech, property rights, and an immigration system that works for everyone especially the citizens of a country.

Populism and disagreements are expressions of democracy, and disagreements do not mean we should delegitimize and reject unconventional choices for leaders and label them undemocratic. When we do that, we are heading in the wrong direction. Instead we should ask: what are our citizens telling us and why are they unhappy? How can we offer citizens democracies with better solutions?

As a world, we need to provide security together, but strength comes from within. Countries need to address the shortcoming of how democracies are developed socially, economically, and politically in their own countries first. Democracies must be able to adapt and innovate and they must be allowed the freedom to thrive. The strength of democracies over time is resilience.

Countries also need to promote free trade while respecting borders, which are not incompatible especially when using the United States and Canada as examples.

If we go towards a Chinese style of government there will be no more Facebook or Twitter and fewer freedoms. One man ruling for life almost always ends up with stagnation, tyranny, or both.

Part of the problem democracies are having is that people do not remember what it is like to live in a country where you do not have democratic rights and freedoms. People really need to understand technology and history and to remember what communism and authoritarianism were like in order to avoid those forms of government in the future.

With all of the technologies, ideas, and access to information that we have today, we have greatest possibilities for human life ahead of us if we embrace free and fair elections, an independent judicial system, an independent legislature, property rights, and freedom of speech. If democracies do those things then the force of freedom will be unstoppable and democratic societies will thrive.