Lyndon Johnson was a President who knew how to get things
done. During the five years of his Presidency, he pushed through
a reluctant Congress hundreds more legislative initiatives than
most Presidents accomplish in eight. His top domestic aide,
Joe Califano, tells Jim Zirin how he did it.
In office from January 2014, with the crime rate down, terrorism checked, but community relations strained as police departments fall under a cloud throughout the country, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is in the midst of a major community-based overhaul of the NYPD. He tells Jim Zirin that the police need to heed the words of Sir Robert Peel, and be at one with the communities they serve.
The world seems plagued by instability, and American foreign policy doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. Obama failed to show up in Paris. Europe is besieged with rising nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Middle East is chaotic. Russia continues its moves on Ukraine. Nuclear talks with Iran face domestic opposition in both countries. China’s leader is ruthless as he cracks down on dissidents.Foreign Affairs Editor Emeritus Jim Hoge tells Jim we are hanging in there, but our grip is loosening.
An outspoken centrist in the U.S. Senate for 18 years, Olympia Snowe overruled her pro-choice convictions and voted to confirm Alito and Roberts. Later, she also voted to confirm Sotomayor and Kagan. Hear her tell Jim why she left office, although her re-election was certain, and how she now proposes to end the dysfunction in Congress.
The LA Times calls him “the most powerful and dreaded investigator in the world.” Terry Lenzner, author of the red-hot new book, The Investigator, recalls his remarkable half-century career in private and public sleuthing, and shares with Jim the secrets of his amazing success.
Congress approved an 11th-hour deal to raise the debt ceiling, in the face of dire threats that not to do so would bring down the global economy. But, instead of resolving the crisis, the lawmakers merely kicked the can down the road four months. Financial Times chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, tells Jim that the US debt ceiling is “the legislative equivalent of a nuclear bomb aimed by the US at itself.”
After the King and Kennedy assassinations, LBJ pushed hard for comprehensive gun control, including gun registration and licensing of owners. Congress dithered, and all Johnson got was a ban on mail-order sales, sales of guns to minors and imports of $10 specials. Joe Califano, LBJ’s domestic adviser, tells Jim that Obama needs to act fast before the gun lobby blocks any real legislative changes.
The Fiscal Cliff bill may have saved us from the brink, but there is trouble ahead as we approach the “March madness” of raising the debt ceiling, approving the budget and dealing with the mandatory spending cuts known as the sequester. Investment banker Peter Solomon tells Jim how things will likely play out with a new Treasury Secretary and a deeply divided Congress.
Obama recently said he wanted to take the Nation off a “perpetual war footing,” in favor of robust diplomacy, foreign aid and more measured responses. Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass agrees. But will Susan Rice? Taking the line of his new best-selling book, Foreign Policy Begins at Home, Richard tells Jim that America’s claim to leadership is based mainly on economic power, and we have much to do domestically if we are to maintain our primacy abroad.
Foreign affairs experts are worried that our Russian deal on Syria, the Snowden affair, Internet balkanization, and the government shutdown have combined to undermine international perceptions of US leadership. Jim Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations tells Jim Zirin that we will need to do much to regain our position of global primacy.
The former chief counsel to the legendary Knapp Commission, chair of the Mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption and author of the bestselling book, “They Wished They Were Honest,” tells Jim why systemic corruption flourished in the New York City Police Department of the 1970’s and how the NYPD has succeeded in policing itself today.
Democrats have attacked Romney for trying to “end Medicare as we know it.” But is it the other way around? Close to 25% of seniors have opted for Medicare Advantage, a private plan subsidized by Medicare. Obama has financed Obamacare with $818 billion in cuts over 10 years, coming mostly from cuts in Medicare Advantage subsidies. Will this result in greater costs to seniors and a reduction in benefits? Former HEW Secretary Joe Califano tells Jim the answer.
When four days of rioting broke out in London last August with thugs mobilizing on the social media, the British government turned to our own Bill Bratton for advice in handling the violence, the street gangs and the Metropolitan Police. Bill explains his strategy to restore law and order in England.
The biographer of Speaker Thomas B. Reed tells about the Gilded Age in America from 1870-1893, a time of dysfunctional government and deep partisan divide over such issues as international trade, monetary policy and foreign wars. Sound familiar? Reed, a staunch Republican from Maine, ungummed the government and broke the logjam.
The House repealed Obamacare, but the Senate refused to go along. At least one federal judge has declared the entire law unconstitutional. The former HEW Secretary says he sees benefits in Obamacare, which should be preserved, but that reforms are necessary to make the measure work.
The distinguished author tells us what we can learn from Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President. Though a man of few words, Coolidge believed in less government, balanced budgets, lower taxes and a climate friendly to business. Unemployment averaged 3.3 per cent. Yet, in the vortex of the Great Depression and the New Deal which followed, his legacy has all but disappeared.
The Democratic political strategist talks about the way forward for Obama as he faces a Republican House and a Senate where Democrats cling to a razor-thin majority.
Obama claims he can achieve huge savings in healthcare. One part of it is the digitalization of healthcare records. Can he force doctors into the Digital Age? Califano, who was at LBJ’s side when Medicare was enacted, knows how healthcare costs can spiral out of control.
The lawyer, author and social reformer wants to overhaul the American legal system, and he wants the Net to help him do it.
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