tv 2015 Tucson Festival of Books Sunday CSPAN March 15, 2015 1:00pm-8:31pm EDT
tucson festival of books. the panel on the obama administration will begin shortly. mark and david marinas are two authors participating and people join us for a call-in program. his book is a biography of president obama called barack obama the story. this is booktv live coverage from tucson. good morning, everybody. thank you all for coming here today. thank you all for being part of the festival of books. really one of america's premier book festivals and one of the really great parts of being in arizona. so appreciate seeing everybody here today. as some of you know, my name is
>> who are freezing can admire your shorts and t-shirts and silently curse you. speaking of the tucson festival of books, we have bill minor here today, one of the visionaries. give him a round of applause. very much a volunteer-driven effort a group of people bill and many others who made a big impact on the community. if you want to be part of that, i hope you will consider becoming a friend of the festival. a tax deductible donation that
impacts this event and were moting around the country. let me introduce the panel. david maraniss author of many books, he was won several wards prince of tennessee about al gore books about sports in the 1960s, and other political books as well. so please welcome him. [applause] >> if you are political aware and not living under a rock you know about mark levitch and his
book "this town" that caused a lot of stir and conversation. number one new york times best seller followed up with a collection of his fantastic articles over the years called sitcitizen citizens of the green room. he is the chief correspondent for new york times previously and we have ian lopez author of dog politics. a professor at uc berkly -- i feel like i am getting graded as we speak. berkeley -- and a senior fellow
at the progressive think tank. let's start off with david. in the book about obama, you really look at the people behind the politics. you look at him before his first run for office as he was headed back to chicago after harvard law school. so i think the question given the title of the panel when we look at the politics in the age of obama how much of the politics is about obama, bill clinton, or gore and how much are the larger trends that come and go no matter the people and their biography. >> i think you cannot separate the two. i think my fascination -- the
reason i wrote the books about obama and bill clinton is because i am fascinated by the forces that shape people. so that it is the person himself and their ability and character and history. but also it is all of the forces around him. i don't separate the two. i think with obama in particular it is obvious and huge -- the fact he is an african-american defines not everything but so much about the way he is viewed in this country today. my feeling, based on the books i have written, and reporting over the decades is race is still the huge scar in america. and obama, even as he ran, you know, trying to bring the country together in his rhetoric and he is biracial and there is talk about healing, obama is
sort of opened the wound without trying again. he doesn't talk about it that much but there it is in a different way i think. so in this case the age of obama is both him and all of those forces around him. >> mark was going to ask you the opposite question. you know i think the subsection of this town is our politics today is trivalizing, super superficial process that is larger than one individual. when we look at politics in the age of obama how much does one person coming in especially someone who came in with the goal of changing the tone in washington and the kind of politics you lay bear how much can one person or any group of
people affect that change? >> as i found out, and this wasn't part of a grand plan but obama in the chronlogical order i was writing about, which was a profile in washington where everything was changing, he was the cunary coming through the coal mine. he had ground-breaking politic and i got to watch him go through it. i think to some degree he would say or has said his inability to change washington has been have single biggest disappointed of his presidency. i go back and forth on how hard he tried. i think the neverminds on the things we was promiseingpromising, especially relating to money in
politics, may not have been sincere. i still think that for as little as he might have changed the politics in washington he is as transforming of a figure as we have seen in a long long time in this country. i think this is a relatively recent revelation i had but i think one of the biggest accomplishments of this presidency and people debate and will debate the merits of the health care bill and what he did to get through the economic crisis/the economy, leaving all of that aside, i think between getting elected and maintaining an admirable level of dignity 32 what i think has been an absolute circus in the last few years which doesn't seem to be going in any good directions has been a major accomplishment that
i think over time might be something he is praised for or should be praised for. >> i think that leads well into ian, your writing and work as david said race is still the scar in america and you write about this permanence of racism almost as an immutable fact of society, culture and so many different aspects of our lives. we just experienced the 50th anniversary of selma and this moment of having that with a movie and everything else elevated into the hinge of american history and seeing john lewis there and seeing the president there, and you almost wonder when the people were marching across that bridge 50 years ago what would have
surprised them more? having an african-american president 50 years later or still arguing about the voting rights 50 years later. can you talk about those factors and how it is dog whistle politics >> absolutely. i would say we have turned the civil rights era into a morality tale in which of course all good people were for it and that is why the triumped and transformed the country and why we don't have to deal with it anymore. but that is not how the par participants in the movement saw themselves. they saw themselves as being courageous, fool hearty risking everything -- not just their bodies but their jobs, the mortgages on their home that could be foreclosed upon the futures of their children -- they risked everything for
profound social change. and they were deeply optimistic in the way that angry people can be that if you just do this -- if you just fight thinks can get better. but they were almost pragmatic about what was happening and the violence was indicitive of the change they were trying to make. i think they would be surprised to see an african-american president and not surprised to see the resistance to the voting act. but surprisingly they might have been disappointed with that african-american president. they would have understood what he represents but might be disappointed obama didn't bring the fierce courage of change and didn't see himself in a period
in when he was optimistically pushing profound social change. very soon after being elected he pivoted and began to retreat. it says liberalism is about give aways. now we have a black democrat who is also going to be a liberal? it would be like the perfect storm obama thought. so he said i'll be a black democrat but i will distance
myself from the minorities and i can be above the fray. not realizing that trying to stay above the fray meant he would not be effective at changing the direction of the country which is toward increase racial polarization increased resentiment against the government and increase in hand outs by the government to the very rich. that is the process he saw but refused to intervene in. so we have this period of we are now six or seven years in the this presidency and it is only after the 2014 election when he faces no more elections that obama, who has some sense he could be a change agent, is really starting to surface. i wish we had had this obama back in january of 2009 rather than in december of 2014. [applause] >> ian let me stay with you and
obama for a moment because you have a particular perspective, not only as a scholar, and thinker in this area but somebody who went to high school with him and then went to law school with him, and tell us about -- a gather you were not basketball buddies or best friends along the way -- not saying you have not great on the court. but tell me about a little bit about your reference of them then and talk to us more importantly about his election as the editor of the harvard law review and really the subtext of what was his first campaign and what you saw then and what you can gather from that experience. yeah a couple quick points. one, obama was a senior in high school and i was a very, very
cool freshman. but not withstanding that apparent apparently i didn't matter. let me tell you about growing up in hawaii. it has a lot to do with obama. i am biracial with a white father and salvidorian mother. we were more shaped as a mixed identify and hawaii as a place where people talk about race all of the time. it is part of the daily lexicon. mainly in terms of group generalization and i don't say stereotypes because you don't allow exceptions whereas ppwhereas with a generation you say people are like this most of the time. one thing that was shocking when i came to the mainland and i would guess obama had same experiences but sharper and
harder blows. one experience i had was how seg segregated society it was. the other kids on the mainland was one when was rude to acknowledge and discuss racial differences. hawaii was more integrated i was used to talking about race and now any time i say this is really segregated people look at me and say that is racist. and i am like it is racist to talk about the racial composition of the classrooms neighbored or where the university is located? and i think that must have happened to him. he has been thinking about race, struggling to place himself racially, he comes to the mainland to la and then chicago, these are segregated places but one in which he is not able to talk about what he is seeing.
another quick story. i grew up biracial and eventually changed my name. it was ian heiney and people were not seeing me as latino. first paper i submitted under the last name lopez came back ungraded with a comment is english your first language. by becoming lopez i rendered myself not intelligent. i am pretty light skin i am latino i cannot imagine the shock to a 19-year-old obama. he was african-american american in hawaii and there were very few and it wasn't a meaningful identify. i cannot imagine the shock of what he encountered in los
angeles and chicago tin in terms of how he waw seen and demeaned. at the same time i think it is crucial he went through them at 18-20 when he had a strong sense of himself and his intelligence and moral fortitude and he didn't go through them when he was three and four and five. in a way that might have in capacitated him and not let him have the ambition and drive to inspire to become president of the united states. i think that is part of this hawaii experience that protected him and allowed him to become secure in his identity before the buffeting i am sure he received on the mainland. harvard law school. we started at harvard law school in the late '80s and it was a
time royaled by racist behavior. there was a leading african-american law professor, derrick bell who was an outspoken critic of the administration because the law school had a small handful of african-american faculty on a total of 70-80. it had no women of color on the faculty at all -- not teen tenure tenured or not. and derrick bell said i am going out on strike and refuse to teach here until you bring in a woman of color. this led the activism and mobile ism on part of the students. i was part of what they call the angry let. i guess i am still part of that. and there were a lot of us
organizing around race angry about the way in which power expressed itself at the law school going on strike with derrick bell occupying the dean's office. that is not who obama was. he completely avoided the racial controversy of the time. he was a member of the law review. they do elections. it is a three-year program and the law review is going to be in the spring of people's second year. at that time there was a white conservative candidate, there was a black progressive candidate -- neither of those was obama. and so these two fought it out through multiple round. there was a schism among the board and many conservatives
align aligned around one liberal blacks around another and only until fighting till exhausted they selected obama. he came in older than us he had organizing experience and was an imposing figure on campus. i don't mean he was a consensus candidate to belittle him. but he gets the position at harvard law school a position that garnered him a profile in the new york times and gained it by staying out of the racial firm and not talking about race and seeming to be all thing do is all people and i would say that is a crucial forming moment that he learned the lesson in a divided country you succeed
while staying a part of the division, wait until the fighting sides are exhausted and step in as this revolutionary figure except i think he understand what we were fighting about. it wasn't sim simple politics. in that context, either side is willing to give up and saying we will go with the consistent candidate. he tried to stay above the frame but i think he was doomed >> that is telling. let me stay on that story. as he is describeing the story when you write about in your book obama was a little older. he was 20 years old. this was his first election. he had never run for student
council or school government. he won the first election with that kind of background. contrast that experience with another person oakland, who ran for every open office in elementary school, junior high high school actually i think you stopped running in high school because he was told. in college. by the time he was 28 he had run for u.s. congress and been elected attorney general of his state. what does that say about these two individuals and how they act as president of the united states? >> they both came from dysfunctional families without fathers. alcoholic alcoholic step-fathersism.
obama had to figure out who me was because he was biracial. you have bill clinton from the earliest age he was singing about being president some day in second grade. in high school he went to washington with 99 other young men and bill clinton is the one who shakes john f. kennedy's hand because he was the first off the bus. in georgetown, he was freshman sophomore class president and by the time he was a junior returning for senior president the whole student body was so sick of them they defeated him. versus obama who had no interest in politics that whole time. these two guys coming out of nowhere, in dysfunctional situations, and dealing with it in opposite ways. bill clinton learned how to
become the ultimate survivor. my whole thread of his life is lost in recovery. the loss of his father loss all of the time figure out how to recover from it. and his way of dealing with everything was to push forward. keep going. wake up every morning. forgive yourself. forgive the world. keep going. he became better at that than anybody in the world. he had a need to be loved and not alone. he would invite friend over in high school to watch him do a cross word puzzle because he could not stand to be alone. and that need and that ability to survive and keep going made him the best politician i have watched in my career. it got him to the whitehouse and it got him in trouble in the whitehouse because he figured whatever happened he would survive it. so that loss and recovery played
out in the whitehouse and will until the day he dies. he never tried to figure out and resolve the contradictions of his own life. he just kept going. with ohm obama from the time he got out of hawaii -- i agree with half of what ian said but i think there is another opportunity. there were not many african-americans in hawaii and it wasn't until he got to occidental he was dealing with african-americans and in chicago much more deeply. but from the time he was 17 until he got to harvard, that entire period he spent trying to fig re himself out. receding from the public in a totally opposite way of bill clinton and dealing introspectively with who am i.
i think he found out after being a community organizer after this long search and developed what i would call a confidant, unnarcissistic, integrated personality. he figured if i can figure myself out why can't the rest of the world? this confidence got them to the whitehouse. it got him in huge trouble. if i can do it if all of the contradictions can be resolved by me why not congress and the rest of the country. you have two people working in similar backgrounds in many ways except for race although maya angelo did call clinton the first black president. but different ways of getting to the first place. our strengths are our week
patience -- weaknesss and that played out in the whitehouse. >> you were talking about bill clinton not being able to be alone. it seems obama doesn't have the same problem. he is perfectly happy doing a cross word puzzle by himself and rather that is neediness or politics or whatever you call it but i think it strikes one of the tensions you talk about in your book and last night as some of you know and no doubt people know was the grid iron dinner in washington where all of these people who fight tooth and nail get together in white ties and tuxes and hang out together. you had obama and scott walker who just a few weeks ago wasn't sure if obama was from america. and terry mccullic and others
yapping it up together. talk about the washington tension between the two things that drive people crazy about washington which is one these kinds of occurrences where everybody is hanging out buddy-buddy. and others saying why isn't obama inviting boehner to play golf. there seems to be a tension between the two >> last night at the grid iron obama made a point during the speech saying everyone says that me and the democratic party need to reach out to aging white voters and that is why i am here. for the president -- this president has a very good team of comedy writers. i will say that. he actually does seem to inact
his anger through comedy quite effectively. all presidents have good comedy writers at this point i would assume. >> and plenty of material. >> plenty of material. to actually put the presidencyt presidentancy inside the culture of washington these days is hard to do. the tip o'neill-reagan friendship is one of the great chest chestnuts of washington. tha they were never that close. the presidency does allow you to state above that and experience this as the president rather than as a person conducting politics. and chuck schummer said obama
cannot stand the greasy pole of politics. he has been contempt with himself. his unnarcissistic is not a term you normally hear in a president. narcissistic behavior it be a benefit tool and many have proven this for good and some for evil. i think the degree of self-knowledge he has has been extraordinary. his first book still blows me away to this day. mostly because of the level of work he put in and the level of self-psycho analysis you do not usually hear or see in a
political process. you hear about people being shaped through war or religion but he has that and has taken it with him. and you know i think one of the things that also might be enduring about him and he is most attractive when there is a blatantly political force at the front of the line. the clintons are back. i think you can almost feel you know a preemptive for the non-clintonness of the last few years. i mean the clintons are a huge force and going forward i think they will be especially if hilary clinton runs. but you know she and bill clinton were vulnerable to that fatigue eight years ago and i think they are vulnerable to
now. i think the anti-political instinct he ran on and governed with is part of the american public learning. especially today. now more than every. >> before i turn it over for the next question. and we will be ready to open it up for question do is the group so make your way to the mikecro microphone. as you are getting ready let me ask, speaking of a president obama and president clinton you write about the relationship and the way these two individuals, along with hilary clinton, interacted, and what it says about race in america. >> what has been happening in the united states since johnson
was elected is the conservatives have been using race as way to create anxiety among white voters to the extent that today the republican party draws 94% of its support from white and 93% of the party is white. how have the democrats responded? the initial response in the 1970 and this is when the republicans realized they could win with this and the democrats realized the republicans could win. what do they say? they say we should withdraw from race, stop helping minorities and this next generation will pass. johnson himself said in 1964 when he signed the civil rights act he thought he lost the south are a generation.
and they were so wrong. and they were wrong because they didn't realize it was primary backlash. they wanted to sort new racial anxiety and new racial complaints. and it reinvented itself. by 1992 it is clear that staying silent on race isn't going to work. so how to defeat this sort of politics. adopt them. bill clinton adopted these race baiting politics in 1992. he ran on a promise to end welfare as a way of life. well for whom precisely was it supposed to be a way of life? the subliminal message was it is a way of blacks and i will cut it off. welfare is a way of life and crack down on crime and slash
taxes were the three programs he ran on. and that is the conservative frame that says resent government they refuse to control them cut the government off. bill clinton adopted ronald reagan's rhetoric and that is what led the democratic party to lurch rightward. our whole political systems republicans have been going rightward and the democrats have been following them. what about president obama? where is obama in this story? obama has largely tried to avoid talking about race. i don't think he is the strategic dog whistler clinton was. he largely avoids talking about race. obama has talked about race less
than any democratic president since 1961. when he talks about race why adopts active themes. he lectures to the black community on the need to take responsibility. on the need to turn off the television television, on the need to take chair children's education seriously, for fathers to step up -- those are the themes conservatives pioneered to tell us this isn't reflecting hundreds of year of white suprem supremeacy. you want to be clear; of course there are cultural problems and dynamics if you understand cult culture and the behaviors you learn in a marginalized segregated position. but the larger part of the problem is the structure and you don't hear obama togging about
that. third thing he did is realizing race is going to be used against him he tried to defend himself by being aggressive in race and here i have in mind deportation. since 2001 republicans have been hammering the issue that you cannot trust liberals or democrats because they have lost control of the border we have to slam shut the southern border, all democrats do is hustle in these new grants from mexico and give them citizenship papers so they can be future democratic voters. that is the old conservative line that says democrats are behold behold beholden to racial minorties and serves them. the obama administration has deported over two million people. a level of sustained deportation we as a country have never seen before. he has engaged in mass deportation. and not just mass deportation but mass produced deportation.
he setup a deportation system in which people with claims of asylum some claims were lasting under 70 seconds. 70 people would go through in under an hour. it was ludicrous. why was he doing that? to show he was tough on immigrants. and what has he gained? broke up a lot of families and destroyed a lot of lives but politically he gains nothing. it is not about what democrats are doing. but it is about the frame. the frame is gave away to minorities. if you don't contest the frame you cannot change the rhetoric. and changing what you actually do is not enough. here is obama on race worried that he is going to be tarnished by the dog whistle politics and tries not to talk about it or picks up themes or worst of all he engages in exactly the
punitive politics this sort of poiseon leads us to. i think obama at a certain point needs to stand up and say what is really dividing the country is the notion that we need to fear minorities and we need to articulate that is going on name it surface it and reputate -- repute it -- [applause] >> can i respond to that slight le slightly? >> i agree with the larger frame of what was said and i am not here to defend president obama but i think all of the issues are questions of ends and means. where is the end now with obama and immigration? he took the strongest action of any president.
where was it with gay rights? for a lot of political reasons he was very cautious on that but what is the end? he had a stronger end gain for that than any president before him. i think that is the way obama operates for better or worse. he is a chess player. he is thinking further down the road and he makes several decisions in that process that infuriate and seems wrong to progressive thinkers. >> i agree with the point about gay rights. i would say with respect to gay rights obama wasn't a leader. he was a follower and got dragged alone and delayed it further than he needed it. obama's changes in the deportation law i welcome and celebrate and they are really
important. they were challenged in a case heard by a federal district court judge in texas. everybody knew the history of this judge. it was clear this judge who was an outspoken critic of immigration reform before was going to strike it down. the obama administration had month do is prepare and when it happened they said we didn't see it coming and will take a couple months to see how to proceed. but in the mean time we will suspend the changes to the law. that is the obama administration folded. and rather they will regroup and take a strong stance to change immigration policies is a question. i hope you are right and he finds his spine on this and understands politically he will be better off taking a strong stance because he is going to lose in the conservative frame anyway. with respect to gay marriage, there is something different
between delaying the recognition of gay marriage and changing state laws and making it more and more available and authoring policies that deport two million people and breaking up those families and creating all of the heartship and terror that people live under -- hardship -- fearing when they send their children to school the children might be picked up or they might be picked up and never see their children again. that is really different. i think you are right to say this as a a calculus of ends and mean but i want to say watt what a calculus to deport that many people because you are playing a political game. >> along those lines besides all of these families that have been broken up which is in a way irrevocable damage
regardless of whether people get reunited in the future but children and families have been broken up and that is going to have lasting impact no matter what. i am a family practice doctor and i had a patient in california who was a state worker and her husband had a business for almost 20 years and he was deported because he was undocumented and for over a year she was, you know trying to get attorneys and trying to get him back because she was just broken up and the children and whatever. and the state government and he was an up standing citizen and this was just gratuitious and
this symbolized some of what you were talking about. about the break up of families. and the other thing i want to mention that was just breaking my heart is the people that got thrown out of their homes. i don't know -- it just seems to me somehow that should have been prevented. millions of people thrown out of their homes because of some banks and mortgages and paperwork that was sometimes not even valid? and the means and the ends you know, the harm that gets done by some of the means is just not really tolerable. >> thank you. and immigration is close to home here in arizona. let me bring mark in on this. it speaks to the 2008 mortgage crisis and financial crisis and the period of you write about in
this town is around that time period. how does this affect washington or does the band play on? >> the caravan moves on as brian would say. it goes to a couple themes that david was talking about. and one is the ends being mean team in politics and going back to the obama point in many ways politic politics just means history and 99.99 percent of the noise machine we operate is about means, short-term, just to the very, very investigation of today thinking. i also think that you know if you go back to 2008 and if you look at the economic prices, i mean there was a moment there, forget the campaign rhetoric but there was with a moment in which it did look like it was somewhat
quasi-apocalyptic upon us. and the most disturbing thing i found in my reporting was the bap band played on and money in politics was a pet issue for me and i think a lot of people, but i think the infusion of money in the political system i don't think it rescued the country in any way, shape or form but i think it created a blob of status quo in the middle of politics, in washington and in business and in campaigns, that i just think is as changeable as it has ever been. i don't think that directly answers your questions but i see that as part of something that was not tackled then and a big enity now and we have a lineup finally
finally finally finaly. >> do you see anyone in washington, leadership or otherwise, democrats or p republicans, woo are trying to change the culture and the partisan divide and could make a difference in the future? >> you want to take that? >> go ahead. >> i think there are a lot of people like that. i think there is a sort of gauzy feel like if we only got along better or only had cocktails at the whitehouse or if democrats and republicans socialized more on weekends we could get more done. i think there are a lot of very good people in politics. i think the best leaders are those who obviously have convictions but who are not blinded by them to a point. barnie frank has a new autobi
autobiography out that seemed good. he is one of the most important liberal lawmakers of his generation and an icon to many in different realms. but he is an incrementalist, too. he had a lot of republican al allies and they hated him and he hated them but he recognized the big view. and tom burn who was a republican senator from oklahoma. i think elizabeth warren is a reformer. i don't think people know who she is really but i have been impressed with her. i think the system we are talking about can create an obama or a tea party. these are both products of the grassroots and the one thing that gives me hope is that
washington, for as awful and unchangeable as it seems, bends to the will of self interest and the grassroots can sense self-interest kicking and screaming into some kind of change. >> anyone else want to tackle that? >> i don't think you will see anyone running this time using the same rhetoric obama did in 2008. so in the sense that you could talk about elizabeth warren i think he is much less interested in using rhetoric to bridge the divide instead of clarifying what she see as the major dilimas of america and policies. with hilary clinton there is a different matter. the clintons have been in the public eye longer than anybody in american history in a sense in terms of running for
president. so there is so much elts else there that clouds it but elizabeth warnren, if he does run, and we don't know much about her, but her rhetoric would be completely different. >> yes, i would pose the question to david. the big criticism of obama has been he hasn't been able to bridge the gap. that the polarization just increased. when you look back at the at attitude the republicans took from the very beginning is there anything he could have done to change that dynamic or would it have happened regardless if he was stronger as the progressive wants or reached out more like the conservatives want? >> is there anything that obama could have done?
you know you can hear arguments that if he had compromised more than he did even on the deficit of things. i don't buy that. i don't think there is much he could have done. i think there is no much inherent reaction to him for what he was and what he represented that it is -- you know, mark, as brilliantly portrayed the craziness and the circumstances of washington and the sickness of modern american politics, that existed before obama and wil exist after obama, but he brought it out in a way no other person would because of his race. i think why that is not the only reason there was animosity, i think it intensified it greatly and the republicans were
determined from the beginning to delegitmize the president. >> [applause] >> so i think it is possible to talk about a sickness in american politics that seems to suggest that is just normal. it is not normal. this has been a creation of the last 50 years and it has been a purposeful creation. a hundred years ago we were into period where the rich controlled the government and you had the progressive movement to use government to regulate the marketplace and that didn't succeed until after the great depression until people realized they needed the government to invest in programs. that is what we realized and what led to the biggest expansion of the middle class
the world has ever seen. and conservatives have been at war with that since roughly 19 1970. or successfully at war with that since that time. they said your position is under threat from the liberal women, the gays the people that go against your religion -- vote against them. and that is watt the rhetoric. and vote against government because government can't hurt you. of course conservatives want people to vote against government because they are voting against the social welfare policies that built the middle classment they are getting a hand over of regulation to the very rich. to the extent republicans para
paralyze the folks. in 1980 we bottom out surge again and we are at levels of wealth and economy higher we were during the run up to the great depression. so obama faced a situation of tremendous tremendous opposition to reform because lots of people got rich from this. that required him of the same opportunity there was in the great depression; an opportunity to say to america the systems we have been following for the last 30-40 years a not working, it is failing us and it is benefiting the 99%. we need to fight hard to change the dynamic, recapture government for every and take it away from the very rich.
that is what he could have done in the spring of 2009. that is what he didn't do. instead he adopted the same rhetoric conservatives were using -- government is too big and tax cuts are necessary. and the only thing left to understand what just fell upon us the real human lives deportation, the people who lost their homes, the kids who chance of life was poorer than yours. the only narrative was conservative. blame the government and minorities. and we need to lay the ground work. not in terms of political leaders in washington but in terms of all of us we need to lay the ground work for a movement that says we believe in us, the american people, taking care of each, working hard sharing and we believe in tolerance and refuse to be de
decidedde divided divided. and you will find pauloliticianpoliticians that will adopt that and make changes. if we develop a sense of solidarity among ourselves, then the next recession, and it is coming, it will allow a politician to say we will change the conversation and change the way america does politics and restore a government that can build a middle class rather than wreck a middle class. [applause] >> let me ask mark to respond to that before we move on to the next question because it seems to me there is a tension there. right? one is about building movements a president inherits. whether it is tea party or whether a president can lead and create that movement with himself and just with us one
>> i don't think that's the exclusion to have ideals we're talking about in the presidency, but that's sort of how i think his thinking must have gone in 2009. i mean, you know, you could have -- i don't know. so that's my take on that. but i think you should ask the question. >> thank you. can you talk a little bit about how dark money and how dark money has reinforced the what you call strategic racism from willie horton on to the birther and how we can come to stop it? i mean -- >> dark money as far as superpac, like money? >> yeah. and the negative -- >> oh, it's -- >> even before somebody gets elected. >> i mean, i think it's dreadful. i think it's just a damnable outrage. i mean, i think all of that i think it just exacerbates all of the dog whistles and the worst instincts just because there's so much more money to fund it and so much less restraint on people wanting to, you know, or needing to just, you know, go
that route. so yeah, i think it's huge. >> and it'll take one vote in the supreme court change to -- >> right. >> met me thank you -- let me thank you all and by that also thank our panelists. [applause] in order to get everybody to this amazing festival please make sure you go out and buy their books. all three of them will be signing in the u of a bookstore tent outdoors u is so please head over there. -- so please head over there. thank you all for being here. [inaudible conversations] >> host: and this is booktv's live coverage of the seventh annual tucson festival of books
on the campus of the university of arizona. we have several hours of live coverage coming up including panels on the environment politics, immigration and football and concussions. after each of those panels, we'll also be doing a call-in program. right now david maraniss, from the panel you just heard, is joining us for a call-in program. 202-748-8200 for those of you in the east and central time zones, 202-748, 8201 if you live in the mountain or pacific time zones. mr. maraniss, thanks for being with us. >> guest: thank you, peter. >> host: how much control does the president have over the narrative about his or her administration? >> guest: well it depends how capable they are at controlling narrative. i think that modern presidents have tried increasingly hard to take the press out of it and to find themselves in so many different ways now through social media through presenting
themselves outside of the traditional press corps. but still there's something sort of overwhelming about the modern american political culture where if something sort of catches the president can't really control it. >> host: has barack obama been successful? >> guest: of course he worries about it as much as any president, but he thinks about it in a different way. president clinton was situational. he was great at situational politics. he was always thinking about that moment and how to survive it and how to redefine the issue and himself in relation to that. i think that president obama is more of a long-term thinker, and so he is willing to sort of let the zeitgeist overwhelm him for a moment. i've always said that he either seems behind the times or ahead of the times but never right at the curve. that's just the way president obama looks at life and
politics. >> host: your first volume, "barack obama, the story," ends where, and when's the second volume coming up? [laughter] >> guest: i call the first volume a multigenerational biography, because that's what interested me. what was the world that created this person who became president? so it ends when he's leaving in a little yellow toyota for harvard law school at age 28. and it's really about his own search for identity about the incredible forces from all over the world that created him, how he found himself how he found what he wanted to do with his life so much different from bill clinton, barack obama was not really drawn to politics until he studied power in chicago as a community organizer and realized that it was only through elective politics that he could really make social change. and so that's what drew him into elected politics.
>> host: second volume? >> guest: second volume i'm going to wait. i'm not robert caro, i'm not devoting my entire life to barack obama. i only want to do two volumes, so my plan is to wait until five years after he's done being president so that i'll have more documents, a clear arer line of -- a clearer line of writing. you know one of the dilemmas of my biographies two of them vince lombardi and roberto clementi were both dead when i wrote about them. the presidents were both alive and it's very difficult to write -- it creates certain problems to write a bowg my when someone's alive and particularly when they're president of the united states. so at least in this instance i'm going to wait until he's no longer president until i deal with him again. >> host: christine in stewart, florida, you're the first call for david maraniss. >> caller: thank you. hello, david. >> guest: hello, christine. >> caller: hello? >> host: we're listening. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you.
knowing what a great thinker barack is and planner and insightful as he is, do you think he anticipated where he would be right now, also knowing what washington is like? and do you think that he has a plan that may still surprise us and change his legacy just from being the health care that he pushed through but maybe something else? maybe a new deal type thing like public works, you know, the infrastructure problems that we have now? so huge -- >> host: all right. christine, i think we got the idea. thanks for calling in. >> guest: yeah. you know, it's an interesting question how much of what he was saying in 2008 was rhetoric and how much did he really think he could bridge the divides. i think that to some degree he was a little bit naive about politics in washington each though he'd been -- he'd only been a senator for a few years when he ran for president and before that, you know in illinois politics it was,
basically, a very different ball game from washington. so i think that it's been a very much a learning process for president obama over these suggestion years five years of his presidency, and i think that you're seeing him at a comfort level right now even though the congress is so much divided and dealing with so many things coming at him from all different directions, i think actually he's more comfortable with the job now than he's been before, and you're seeing him being more decisive when he can. >> host: claire's in huntington station, new york. you're on booktv with david maraniss. >> caller: thank you very much for taking my call. i love this program. i watch it every weekend. it's like a college education. i really wanted to speak to mr. lopez, but this whole panel was terrific. i just want to say that it's probably very naive for me to
say so, but i get what's going on. i get what's been going on for years. the bottom line here is to create fear among the people fear of something whether it's the atomic bomb, whether it's -- whatever it is. but it's fear. it's fear of the other person. and also it seems human nature, everybody has to have somebody to look down upon, to make them feel that they're better than somebody else. >> host: claire, thank you. >> guest: yeah. claire, i wrote a column after the last election actually for a german newspaper where i was trying to explain what had happened, and i said that the big winner was fear. so to that degree, i think you're on point. >> host: has that been a has that been consistent in american politics? >> guest: um -- >> host: the use of fear? >> guest: it's been cyclical. fear definitely was used in the 1950s by senator mccarthy and many others, it was
certainly used again in the 1960s, the whole southern strategy of richard nixon. i wanted to ask mr. lopez why he chose 1970 as the demarcation line instead of '68 when the southern strategy was a key part of richard nix sob's election -- sixson's -- nixon's election. >> host: steve from california you're on booktv. >> caller: hem low there are. my -- hello there. my comments are directed to mr. lopez who was fast and loose with reality and facts. truman and hoover and eisenhower all deported people to make jobs for americans. eisenhower as many as 13 million. and i'm from california. i'm an independent libertarian and we have black contractors' associations writing letters to the editor about they can't get their wages because of -- their past wages because of the immigration problem, and yet california has used that against
republicans forever wanting cheap labor, and now they're using the other side of the equation. they can't keep having it both ways. >> guest: i'm not going to speak for mr. lopez. so thank you for your comment. >> host: and ian haney lopez was on this program yesterday from tucson, and david maraniss of "the washington post" is our guest today. we're talking about the obama administration and politics. coming up next is susan in eureka california. good morning. >> caller: hi, i am a liberal democrat and this question may be off course, but why wasn't jesse jackson in selma and why hasn't anybody mentioned it or interviewed him? >> host: well, david maraniss, the if you could answer that, but also in your first comments on this panel to the you brought up the issue of race. >> guest: i did. and all of my, all of the books i've written race is the major thread that runs through them. and i think, as i said, it is still the central scar of
american life. why jesse jackson was there i'm curious why you would even care. i think that, you know a celebrity, so-called celebrity being there whether it's al sharpton or jesse jackson is by no means the point of some demonstration like that. i think that the president being there meant something. i think the people who weren't there, the republican leadership, meant something. but as to other people there or not, it's not about them. it's about something much larger. >> host: now mr. maraniss, you wrote the first volume of barack obama came out in 2012 i believe it was? >> guest: yes. >> host: and you've just finished another book unrelated that's coming out in september. what is that? >> guest: it's the title is "once in a great city." it's a book about detroit. not so much about its collapse, although that's the shadow of the book, but it's essentially a book about what detroit gave america. it's based in an 18-month period
between october of 1962 and may of 1964 when no -- motown was booming, when labor was still strong, the uaw had such an important role in american life and they were essentially helping -- they were part of the bank for the civil rights movement. martin luther king came to detroit in 1963 in june delivered his "i have a dream" speech there before he did it in washington. 150,000 people marched down woodward avenue and so -- before the march on washington. the mustang was coming out i write about ford motor company and the development of the mustang and about the struggle with race in detroit at that moment. and it's interesting, this is a point when detroit was still booming, and you can see the shadows of what was to come. this is before the riots of 1967, it's before the major labor contracts that many people blamed detroit's demise on.
it was before the larger municipal corruption. those three factors are what people tend to blame it on. but you can see in 1963 the systemic difficulties of detroit in terms of housing in terms of the loss of the auto industry to elsewhere. you can see the demise coming in so many different ways. and i'm trying to portray that and also remind america of how important detroit was. you can't just blow it off. >> host: and that book comes out in september of this year. nick is calling in from lake hiawatha, new jersey. nick you're on booktv. >> caller: yes. yeah, how you doing? great show. why do you think president obama didn't put together a case for the supreme court or constitutional amendment to make sure that a one-payer health
plan was a goal or objective for the american people and him as the main advocate as the chief executive? to represent the american people? >> guest: well, there's a very strong argument for a single-payer health plan. i think that president obama considers himself a pragmatist and even though it's possible he could have put together that strong argument, he decided that he wouldn't win it. he was determined to get some form of health care beyond, you know, the clintons tried it and could not pull it off. president obama was able to get it. it's certainly not the end of the whole process and it's still vulnerable in many ways. but i think that when you study barack obama going back to his earliest days as a community organizer in chicago, you'll see a very pragmatic streak of not dealing with the world as you
want it to be, but dealing with the world as it is. >> host: brian's in chicago. brian, please go ahead with your question or comment. iraq and yeah. my -- >> caller: yeah, my question's related to your first book, "when pride still mattered." [laughter] you've talked about dan shulman who was the union organizer for the players at that time. >> guest: yes. >> caller: and -- yeah. i just, you know the couple of pages in, you know reading those two pages and, you know, how we related with lombardi and stuff made me want to read more about mr. shulman. >> guest: this is a fairly esoteric question, i'll try to answer it in a larger sense for the other listeners. this is a book about vince lombardi, the great football coach of the green bay packers in the 1960s. lombardi is sort of viewed
mythologically as this hard line old school autoto accurate -- autocrat, and what you're talking about dan shulman was a labor organizer. in the early stages of the players starting to get power after decades of the players being basically -- not saves, but all the power rested with the owners for so long. and lombardi was right at that hinge point. and he had, actually, a very interesting and sophisticated, nuanced relationship with dan shulman. he wasn't totally in the owners' camp, and it's part of my effort to break the mythology about vince lombardi that i dealt with that. >> host: and "when pride still mattered" came out in 1999 -- [laughter] followed up with that you had a play on broadway based -- >> guest: yeah. i joked that of the ten books i've written, all of them are in various stages of being made into movies. my book on vietnam, "they marched into sunlight," and one
became a play on broadway with dan lawyer playing vince lombardi and the great judith light playing maria lombardi. >> host: next call from james in indiana. good afternoon. >> caller: hi, thank you. i do want to say what the previous caller, i read the lombardi biography and, david, it was a terrific book. thank you so much. and it did bring tears to my eyes at the end of that book. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: but my question to you relative to obama's presidency, do you think it was a huge strategic blunder that such a major piece of legislation, the health care legislation, wasn't bipartisan in some manner? >> host: thank you sir. >> guest: a strategic blunder that's assuming that the republicans would have bought on to some health care plan that did what president obama wanted it to do. as limited as what was passed is. so, you know, it might have
been but that's a counterfactual question. we don't know what could have happened. so i'm always reluctant in is situations like that to call something a huge blunder. i would say that it's a good question, that's the way i would put it. >> host: david maraniss, i hate to do this, but i'm going to do it anyway. when you were a daily reporter with the washington post, you used to react to events all the time on a daily basis. >> guest: yes. >> host: right now how would you grade the president? >> guest: well, you know it's still an incomplete because we don't know what the supreme court is going to do with health care, we don't know what the resolution of the immigration issue will be. i think that to a large degree in all of my biographies i i try to ignore the present and deal with what i think the long range will be. i would say that i think that history will grade president obama better than the moment we're at right now.
but it's still incomplete. we're not quite sure because of those major issues that are unresolved. >> host: what about his lack of relationship with congress or his reported lack of -- >> guest: yeah. i mean that's barack obama. it doesn't surprise me from my study of him. i saw him as that sort of personality. he doesn't need people in the same way that lbj and bill clinton did and even george w. bush. he doesn't have that schmoozing capacity. you can say it's hurt him, and it certainly has in many ways. and yet he was able to pass health care and the great schmoozer, bill clinton, was not. so you have to, you have to take that into account but think about ends versus means as well. i think that is one of his weaknesseses, but in another level it's a strength. he doesn't need people in the same way that clinton did. >> host: and bea is calling in from georgia. you're on booktv with david maraniss. >> caller: yes hi. mr. maraniss, i have more of a
statement, i guess, than a question. i was very pleased to hear that you're going to follow up and write another book on the obama administration. five years after he leafs office. he leaves office. don't you think it's very very important for this country and the history of this country to document the administration of president obama during this time and do it unbiased and very honest from a very honest perspective? because it's going to contain an enormous history of change in this country, and i think it would be just really a horrible thing not to do this in an honest and unbiased way. and i'm hoping that you're going to be the person that can do that for us. >> guest: well, thank you very much. i'm hoping that too. i'm certainly not the only writer that will be doing that, but i believe as you do that
it's important for history. >> host: virgil, california. hi virgil. >> caller: hi. i'd be interested in your -- i haven't read your biography i've read several other ones but my question is this: i feel that the president's emphasis on the brain and the maturing of the human brain as a recognition of a new medicine that will have to replace the old medicine which didn't include children didn't include women, didn't include african-americans and didn't include anybody that wasn't white upper class in the whole medicine that we practiced from 1945 to 1969 when they finally said that we were being murdered by this the cigarette companies. but i believe that his most important attribute in health care is giving children coverage
til 25 and saying that the human brain does not make adult decisions until 25. and we have to be recognition that if children, as an example, commit a crime such as murder when they're 12 years old, they cannot be tried as an adult because they have a child's brain that cannot possibly make a decision of that magnitude. >> host: that's virgil in california many maraniss. >> guest: -- mr. maraniss. >> guest: thank you for your comment is about all i can say. i don't know if there was a question there, and if you believe that's his major contribution, you have every right to think that. >> host: a few minutes left with our guest. may in columbus, nebraska please go ahead with your question. >> caller: yes hello. yes. i was wondering if the president was born in, on the mainland, would he have been elected president? >> host: if he were born where ma'am? >> guest: on the mainland. >> host: on the mainland.
>> guest: that's a wonderful question. i think the fact that he is biracial that he had this upbringing in hawaii which is a very multicultural multiracial place gave him a certain grounding that helped him along with -- along his rise. and, you know, it's an open question which i appreciate. >> >> host: one of the things you did in your "barack obama: the story," was to travel to kenya -- >> guest: yes. >> host: and to see some of his roots. what are people going to learn about kenya? >> guest: well, you'll learn a lot about his father who was a brilliant but troubled man. one of the themes the question is did growing up without a father, how did -- did it debilitate barack obama? and i think from reading the book i think you'll see it's probably lucky he didn't live with his father who was an alcoholic and abusive. i think you'll also see just a
fascinating country which barack obama didn't know and you'll find his real relatives versus the relatives that he talks about in his own book. there's a lot of mythology there as well. and, of course, the book completely demolishes the whole birther notion that he wasn't born in the united states. >> host: david maraniss, on the orr side of his family his white grandmother who, essentially raised him in honolulu -- >> guest: yes. >> host: she too, had an alcohol issue. >> guest: she did, and that was not public knowledge until my interview with the president and he started to talk about that. but she was a very supportive, instrumental person in his life. she provided him with a sense of discipline that no one else around -- not his grandfather not really his mother who loved him deeply and was very intellectual but not always there, it was grandmother who was the rock of the family. >> host: next call is mark in lexington, massachusetts.
mark, please go ahead with your question or comment for mr. maraniss. >> guest: thank you, mr. maraniss, for your many excellent books. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: it could be argued that presidents generally do worse in their second than in their first terms. do you believe this to be true generally? was this true in your judgment of mr. clinton and to this point of mr. obama? thank you. >> guest: well it's often true that certain problems arise in the second term. definitely president clinton had to deal with a lot of things that were extraneous from policy in his second term with the impeachment and so on. i think with president obama as i said, i think he's really learned how to be president, and so there have certainly been some drawbacks in the second term mostly political in terms of the elections. but i think he's become a stronger president and health care was passed in the first term, but i think he's learned how to deal with congress and with what he really believes in much more strongly in this second term.
>> host: carol texas. >> caller: yes hello, david. if you were to give obama a grade as to how well he has handled everything so far during his presidency, what would that grade be and why? >> guest: i'm a pass/fail guy. [laughter] i'm not sure about grades. i'd give him a pass. and a partial incomplete. and i think that, as i've said i think history will be better to barack obama than the current political climate is. >> host: david maraniss you're not the only author in your family. >> guest: no, i'm not. i'm very very happy, my son, andrew maraniss, has written his first book which later today we're going to have our first event together, father and son. my daughter sarah is also a writer. so -- and my grandfather was a printer, my dad was a newspaper man, my mother was a book editor. i think it's a lineage in my
blood. >> host: and young maraniss, andrew's book is about? >> guest: oh, it's called "strong inside," it's about the first black athlete in the southeastern conference, the jackie robinson of sports in the south, perry wallace. and i couldn't be happier for andrew and this great book. >> host: phil, portland gop. hi phil. >> caller: hi. thank you, c-span, for taking my call and mr. david maraniss i have a kind of two of parter. >> guest: yes. >> caller: given what has happened in wisconsin, what is happening to the labor movement, and why hasn't president barack obama befriended the labor more? i'll take my answer off the air thank you. >> guest: well, i think, you know, my next book "detroit," about detroit is right at a point where labor's already started its long decline. and i think it was a concerted effort to de-legitimize and diminish labor's strength in the
united states. certainly, labor made some of its own mistakes, but i think there was a lot of attacking labor. and to see not only wisconsin, but even michigan go after labor and with right-to-work laws is kind of a stunning end game for this long decline. you know, in 1960s and before that every democratic presidential nominee would start their campaigns on labor day in cadillac squaw in detroit, michigan -- square, in detroit michigan. the heart of labor. and you've soon presidents need labor since then, but not being afraid to fully embrace it including bill clinton and barack obama. >> host: your home state of wisconsin just became a right-to-work state. >> guest: it did yeah. just in the last couple of weeks under governor scott walker who's now a significant player in the republican party's quest for a nominee for the next presidential election.
>> host: and we have time for one more call and this is -- [inaudible] in brooklyn. >> caller: yes hi, david maraniss. i have a quick question. >> guest: yes. >> caller: to what extent do you think the endorsement from ted kennedy played had an effect on barack obama's success in 2008 and did that relationship, do you think, have any bearing on the fact that obama spent so much of his political capital on trying to move health care forward? was there an agreement between him and kennedy? what do you think? >> host: what do you think caller? >> caller: i think, i think it was -- i think that that endorsement was very helpful, the whole kennedy machine, the whole kennedy family, you know, agreeing with, you know to endorse him. and i think that he probably --
i think there was a price for that. i think that price was you get my health care across that i've tried my whole lifetime to move in this country and i'll support you, barack obama. >> guest: well, i think that hillary clinton would have tried the same, but i think that it was both a practical and symbolic effect of that endorsement. the symbolic one was, you know, going back to john f. kennedy; the young handsome, you know, man with brilliant rhetoric and a certain wit and barack obama getting that sort of symbolic transference of power from the kennedys to him. and i think practically, you're probably right, but i that's a price -- it's not a price for money, it's a price for the policy that barack obama already believed in. >> host: david maraniss, "barack
obama: the story," is the name of the book. thank you for being on the. >> guest: thank you, peter. >> host: several hours of live coverage. coming up next from the gal bear theater here -- gallagher theater here in the student union building is a panel on the environment. dan fagin will then -- he's one of the panelists -- he will join us for a call-in. he was a pulitzer prize winner in 2012 for his book "tom's river." so we will talk to him after this panel. this is live coverage on booktv. >> good morning. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning, my name is jim cornell, i'm the president of the international science writers' association and a member of the science book committee for this, the seventh annual festival tucson festival of books. this morning's presentation, the catastrophe, calamity and cause clism, reporting -- cataclysm is sponsored by cox
communications. glad i got through that one. [laughter] if you or your company would like to become a friend of the festival, your tax deductible contributions can help us continue to present these free programs for the public as well as to support literacy programs for southern arizona. information about the friends and how you can join is available online, or you can go to one of the information booths on the mall outside. the book signing by our that ares will also -- by our authors will be just outside the south entrance of this building at the u of a bookstore tent. if you don't already have them, you can pick up copies of the authors' books in the tent just behind the sign, make sure you pick them up before you go to get in line. please note, however that one of our speakers today, dan fagin, will be about 30 minutes late for the signing he'll be doing a live interview with c-span, as you just saw the ending of one with over here
just after our session, and he should be in that signing area by 1:00. our other author alexandra wit city, will be there immediately -- witze, will be there immediately following the the session. this session and all the others here in the gallagher are being broadcast live on c-span2 with taped repeats later in the week, and i think here locally on comcast channel 19, you may be able to see the again tonight. i should remind members of the audience you may also appear on screen during this, so if you -- somebody, you don't want somebody to know you're here today, i would get up and leave now. [laughter] out of respect to our television audience not only to mention audience, but also our authors moderator and the person sitting next to you please turn off all your phones, ipads, gaming devices, whatever. i forgot to do this myself yesterday. [laughter] i will do it right now. i hope i serve as a role model
for you all. i can't get it to go off. there we go. there. we'll have time for questions at the end of this session and as you can see, there are microphones in the aisle. so at the time, step down to the microphone, stand in line we'll call you in order. and remember because we are broadcasting live, please keep your questions short succinct and loud and clear. disasters have always fascinated us. a flood that went over the tigris euphrates valley in 4000 b.c. affected the members of all our cultures. it's filled with lots of other tales of famines, plagues and examples of god's wrath -- the bible. long before the age of mass communications calamities were mortalized in folklore, and in the 18th and 19th century gruesome catastrophes inspired
barroom lithographs and popular plays and penny novels. today the disaster theme appears again and again in movies television shows video games and in the wall-to-wall coverage of our cable networks. no wonder, perhaps. compared to our confused national goals, our anonymous international threats and somewhat inexplicable economics disasters are very clean cut. they're easily-grasped events they're comprehensible by almost anyone. indeed, they make for perfect media events; pure facts, time date praise, cause, effect and countable casualties. it's a gripping human drama in a neat two-minute spot complete with vivid scenes of destruction, grim-faced rescue workers and weeping survivors. more most journalists -- for most journalists that's enough. they fly in, shoot some film get some quotes fly out. and this week's story -- oil
spill, tsunami whatever -- is done and over, and it's on to next week's story of death and destruction with i new gory details. always slightly different slightly different cast of characters or victims. but there is a very small group of journalists who realize that the disaster story is much more complex. indeed, much too complicated to be simply reported and resolved in a few days, a few months or even a few years. the long-term effects of disaster -- financial, environmental and cultural impacts -- may be felt by affected communities for decades, even generations after the event. we are very fortunate today to have with us two authors, alexandra witze, we have a mutual friend who pronounces his name slightly differently, and dan fagin who are among that small group of reporters
concerned with both the far-reaching and often unexpected results of disasters and the very human costs paid not only by disasters' victims immediate victims but survivors and sometimes even a much broader population far beyond the immediate disaster zone. on the surface our two books and their disasters would seem quite dissimilar. in "island on fire," alex and her husband -- who's here in the audience, the two of them made a presentation yesterday afternoon here -- wrote about, they're writing about an icelandic volcano the that erupted more than 200 years ago. in "tom's river," dan fagin reports on a contemporary disaster in a new jersey seaside city. but there are many similarities between the two stories not the least of which is the tenaciousness and thoroughness of the authors themselves. i'd like to let the authors describe their reports and the
surprises they found either in iceland's landscape or along jersey's somewhat descent my tranquil shore and start perhaps with alexandra witze and "island on fire," co-authored with her husband. alex is an award-winning science journalist with a national reputation for elegant coverage of very highly complex topics. she began her career at earth magazine and the "dallas morning news" and later served as chief of the washington news bureau of the science journal "nature." after a stint with science news as a contributor, she has now returned to "nature" as a contributing correspondent based in boulder colorado. she has a ba in geology from mit and is a graduate of the science communication program at uc san jose. santa cruz, excuse me. last year she was a journalist in residence at the santa fe institute, and among her honors
is the science and society award for the national association of science writers and the american geophysical unions award for feature journalism. as a personal aside, as a writer myself specializing in astronomy and astrophysics, i've known alex and jeff for many year so i was delighted to learn their book -- which was originally published in the u.k. last year -- would be out in time to qualify for the tucson festival of books. good sometiming, guys. [laughter] you're up alex. >> great. thanks so much for that lovely introduction, jim, and as a native new jerseyan, i'm really glad i decided to write a book not about new jersey, but about iceland. i think i got the better end of the travel deal there -- >> i think you did. >> we can talk about that more. i see some faces from the presentation yesterday so i'll be short in summarizing the eruption its significance, and we can have a conversation more generally about catastrophes. i'd like to point out that i
have a natural catastrophe to write about. not only do i get to go to iceland, but i get to write about something that was a natural event so it's much less of -- there's a lot of human intrigue in your story, but it is not human driven. the main character is, essentially, a volcano in south-central iceland. so this volcano is called lock key, and we're excited about that because it's short, easy to spell and pronounce unlike many other sol today knows. [laughter] and in june of '83 the ground rip ared open and began spewing mountains of fire along a rift that extended for something like 16 miles along. over the course of eight months, these fire fountains continued along, just a massive sheet of flame. so you can imagine you wouldn't want to be living nearby. and part of our book part of our story is telling the story
of people who lived nearby, the people who lived near this incredible eruption, what it's like to basically have your backyard go down in flames one day. this is iceland in the 18th century, it's basically sheep and farms and that's about it. you either fish or you farm, and that's about your only extent of living in iceland at this time. finish we had a character in the book who's a pastor a rural pastor who's basically in charge of this area of this district which is bloat each from -- remote even from reykjavik. it's not the kind of place a lot of people go. and we tell the story of his incredible chronicle. he was a pastor, but he was also a scientist at heart. he kept a day-by-day diary of how this eruption happens. and the first day when he was riding on his horse to go to services one day and basically black clouds started rolling over the horizon. and in the weeks that followed,
the flames they could see over the hills to the knot, the smells -- the sulfur, bitter, nasty smells they could mel, the earthquakes that were rending the ground, and then the lava started to pour. so we have incredible stories from this guy this pastor pastor john about the lava about to engulf his town and what he has to do to try and save it. and i won't give anything away too much, but it does have a quasi-happy ending for john. but for the rest of the people in iceland the catastrophe continued. and, again, this is an eruption you may not have heard about, but one-fifth of everyone in iceland died. it's something icelanders learn about in school. it's kind of a national catastrophe for them. again, even though we're talking about 1783, essentially what happened is the volcano poisoned the countryside. the ash killed the grass, it poisoned the grass the sheep died and there was nothing to eat, and iceland do descended into famine. so it's a story about famine and
a story about iceland specifically, but it also has much wider repercussions as a catastrophe. not only did it pour lava onto the countryside and send ash across iceland, it also sent poisonous gases huge distances. these massive gases got caught up into the winds, carried it across and made it all the way to europe. so in the summer of 1783, people who lived in paris in london in germany reported this strange haze. it was like a white fog that rolled across the countryside. it smelled bad, it looked weird, it didn't burp off. -- it didn't burn off. people didn't know what it was, and they puzzled over it. you wouldn't think that would hurt people a whole lot. but if you breathed it in, people with respiratory problems started to get sick. it was, basically sulfur dioxide. it was like acid rain from this
volcano that settled across all of europe. so not only was the catastrophe, you know specific to iceland it also sent this nasty poisonous stuff rolling across europe. and people across europe suffered. death rates started to soar that her, senate -- that summer, in the her of 1783 and people didn't know why. usually most people died back then in the winter when it got cold or nasty, and you couldn't fight off your colds or typhus, whatever you were going to get but that summer people started to die, and they started to link it back to this mysterious fog. and we talk about in the book scientists trying to puzzle out why it was so famous. ben frankly is win -- franklin is one of the scientists who figures out perhaps this weird haze comes from a volcano so far away. this was right after the revolutionary war ended, and he was there to help hammer out a
piece treaty. so he's one of the scientists at the forefront of trying to understand what this catastrophe is, where it came from and what it might mean. and then finally beyond that, not only was it a catastrophe for people in iceland, not only for people in europe who were breathing in this gas and getting sick on it and trying to figure it out, it was also a catastrophe around the entire northern hemisphere. because not only did that fog roll across europe, it got so high into the atmosphere and carried all around the northern hemisphere by the winds that the sulfur particles, they turned into like little sun-reflecting particles, and they acted like a giant umbrella and they reflected sunlight back and cooled the ground underneath. and so we had global climate change for a couple of years after the eruption. things cooled down for a couple of degrees for a couple of years. and that may not sound like much, but it led to extreme
winters. you had incredible cold. you had frost fairs inening lammed everyone goes out onto the ice and does stuff because they're not used to see the thames freeze like that. you had crops failing all across europe. and then also even down into africa locky's cooling particles cooled things so much in africa that the monsoon storms didn't come. this was no rain. the nile -- not dried up, but the nile dropped. the farmers couldn't farm and famine set in in egypt, and as many as 11 million people may have died that traces back, again, to this one remote icelandic volcano. so it rips out around the northern 'em inter. even here -- hem steer. even here in the states we had effects. in alaska the winter of 1783-1784 and into the next
summer, there's stories about how cold it was over the winter how bitter and how summer did not come the next year. that year without a summer in 1816 that's linked to an indonesian eruption. but back in 1784 the inuit were experiencing the same thing. it was so cold that in the u.s. that along the mississippi river, we had icebergs. there were icebergs coming out at new orleans in the gulf of mexico, it was so cold that winter. we have that global effect from one little volcano. and some people have even linked locky to social unrest. this was 1783 1784. you had cooling effects, you had climate failures you had crop failures across europe. in france, of course, we had a couple years of peasant rebellion, and in 1789 we had the paren. revolution. it's -- french revolution. there are scholars who link the eruption and say hey, maybe that was a contributing factor to the french revolution. so there we go.
we've got the concentric ripples from iceland across europe and around the northern hemisphere. locky was an incredible natural disaster that very few people are aware of, and we're just hoping when we tell the story of people whose lives it affected we get a sense of what the earth can throw at us and maybe what we need to be prepared. [applause] >> thanks, alex. i did mention that we'll save all the questions until the very end. there's, obviously, an environmental component in here isn't there, dan? dan fagin, our next speaker, is an associate professor of journalism at new york university and directer of that school's master-level science health and environmental reporting program. before joining nyu in 2005, dan was for about 15 years the environmental writer for newsday on long island where he was twice the principal member of reporting teams that vied for pulitzer prize or pulitzer prize
finalists, i should say. as an individual reporter, he won both of the top science-writing awards the one that alex won from the national science and society award from the national association of science writers, excuse me. these are like tongue twisters, aren't they? [laughter] science journalism award of the american association for the advancement of science. but it's his book, "tom's river: a story of science and salvation," that has taken home the bacon. the 2014 pulitzer prize for general nonfiction as well as the new york public library's helen bernstein award for excellence in journalism, the national academy's science book award and the society of environmental journalists' rachel carson environment book award. on another personal note, it's -- although we toiled in the same trade for years, i don't think we ever met face to face until yesterday. of course, i knew of his work and his reputation and there's a funny festival connection here
because in 2001 -- or 2012 one of his newsday colleagues, beth whitehouse -- >> that's right. >> came to the festival to talk about her book, "savior siblings," i should say. and beth was so entranced by the festival and so enjoyed her experience, she suggested to me that by e-mail that a good candidate for the future might be this guy who's writing a new book on environmental pollution. and that book, of course, was account tom's river," and i'm glad i listened to her. dan is here today with his long tie back to the festival. he doesn't even realize that i bet. go ahead. >> okay. thank you very much, jim. beth, by the way, is a new jersey woman. [laughter] she grew up on the jersey shore or nearby and worked there as well. so there's a tie on tom's river, another tom's river connection. so thank you very much, and thank you all for coming. it's really wonderful to be at a place where so many people love books. it's very affirming.
and it just feels great to walk around and see so many people who are so jazzed about writing. and it's great. i would like to sort of live at this festival permanently. [laughter] that would be, that would be every author's dream. so thank you for coming. so tom's river is an ordinary place where extraordinary things happened. and, well, that makes for good nonfiction for many reasons. i, as jim mentioned i was a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years and most of that time was spent covering environmental issues. and if you write about environmental issues you know almost immediately that one of the things that really con b assumes readers, that -- consumes readers, that they're really concerned about are patterns of disease around them. on their block, in the place where they work.
and so i tend to want to write about this things that my readers are concerned about and sort of give them the scientific facts, and so i did that often. many forests were felled with the paper that we printed writing about cancer clusters and other issues involving epidemiology. epidemiology is a long word that stands for something very simple. it's science of studying patterns of disease over space and time. and there happens to be -- it happens to be really interesting. it's csi science, you know? it's figuring out puzzles, making sense out of them. so i did that up at newsday, and i discovered i was really interested in this and that my readers were really interested in it. so much so that there was actually a major study that was done on long island that was, in part, a result of all the work that newsday did, but even more importantly, all the work that local activists did on long
island. that study was problematic. it had some big issues, and ultimately, its results were inconclusive, i think pause it was not designed -- because it was not designed well. but while i was investigating, while i was writing about that study, i heard about this place in new jersey where really terrific science was being done and i went down there and met the people involved and it was a very compelling cast of characters really good signs was being done, and -- science was being done, and it was quite a saga. 40 50-year-old saga of like i said, in some ways an ordinary all-american place a place that celebrates little league and parades. the ideal day is when there's a parade for the little league. [laughter] that's the perfect day in tom's river. but it is also a place where some really horrific pollution
occurred and where there were also extremely high unusually high rates of cancer among children in the town. so i resolved that someday i would write a book about that situation because in journalism we're always looking for what we sometimes call the microcosm something small that stands for something big. just as alex was explaining about the ripples from the locky eruption tom's river stands for something much bigger. it stands for this 2000-year effort to try to make sense of what's happening around us, to try to figure out what is the connection between the environment in which we live and chronic diseases many of which have very long latency periods so it's very tough to figure out what really caused them. so i started digging into this story and just got increasingly fascinated and, you know, what i thought would be a two-yearbook
project became a sick-year project. -- six-year project. and i started realizing that to really tell this story well, i needed to also talk about the history. you know how was it that a major plant wound up in, you know, one of the largest dye plants in the country wound up in this relatively small town in the pinelands of new jersey? what were the roots? and so i started to, started to really delve deep into the history of epidemiology and toxicology and the very dramatic events that led to the sort of gradual collection of knowledge that is helping us to sort of try to decipher these environmental connections. and it's a very difficult process. a friend of mine has a funny definition, speaking of catastrophes. since this is the disaster
panel, this is david who's a terrific pluck health epidemiologist at boston university. he says a good working definition of a public health catastrophe is a health effect so large that even an epidemiological study can detect it. [laughter] so, yeah that's a little epidemiology humor. little geek humor there. [laughter] and so what david is saying is that on the one hand this pattern interpretation -- which is what epidemiology is -- we can learn a lot from it. and one of the big things i tried toot in "tom's river" was to try to show how important epidemiology is and all the lives we've been able to save because we've been able to connect cigarettes as an important risk factor for lung cancer, for example or working in a dye factory as an important risk factor for bladder cancer but that it is also a problem listic science -- probablistic science, and anytime you're
dealing with probabilities as opposed to definite causes, you can be led astray. it's murky. personally, i like writing about the murky stuff. i think that's where the really interesting work is in science, but it does make for very tricky reporting. and this booking is my attempt -- this book is my attempt to explain how that scientific detective work really occurs and also to explain what really happened in this town. and it's really quite extraordinary. and thirdly and finally, this book is my attempt to try to bring out the lessons of tom's river in a way that we will hopefully not repeat them. because the chemical industry is gone from tom's river now, it's gone from much of united states with some exceptions, but it is very heavily in china today. and the last chapter of "tom's river" i go to china and talk about how this pattern is repeating, is repeating itself and what can we do about it.
so my -- this book is my attempt to make sure that what happened in tom's river is not forgotten and that we can learn from it. thank you. [applause] >> i'll ask you a couple of questions. met me start with dan just because it's in my mind at this moment. in a recent issue of national geographic, joel talks about the war on science and one of the pseudo-ideas people have is that clusters of cancers are may just be random. but, in fact, you found it wasn't. did you get some pushback from people when you would say this is just a random effect? >> yeah. >> this really isn't real? >> right. well, this is a crucial issue with clusters and it's accurate to say that some clusters are random. you know the whole tricky part you know we know that things cluster in nature. sometimes there's a reason.
you see birds flying across the sky, sometimes they're not evenly distributed they're in clumps. and so the question is is there a reason for the clumping, or is it just random? there are all kinds of statistical it'ses that scientists a-- tests that scientists apply to try to figure out whether a cluster is statistically significant, and there's huge controversy over how appropriate those tests are and how do we really know. the bottom line is that epidemiology is probablistic. it is not deterministic. and so we can never say for sure. so a skeptic who says, you know what? i choose not to believe that disease clusters occur, well, there's no real way to disprove that. but common sense tells you, you know, we know from -- we know chronic disease clusters, i mean, ebola is a cluster or of diseases that obviously occurs in particular places over
>> something was definitely happening in "tom's river." what role pollution played we will never know for sure. >> by contrast, you knew where the volcanos are. you can tell there is going to be a disaster. but there is a deal of uncertainty and prediction right? i will let you describe because you cannot predict them but you have a good idea things are lurking. >> the article he is talking about is the first attempt by scientist to figure out who is at the receiving of volcanos worldwide. yugoslavia you go around and
look at the mountains, and look at how likely they are toerupt. they came up with you don't want to live in indonesia. deeper than that is how do we know we are in harm's way and keep ourselves from harm's way. it is much more than what is the likelihood this volcano is going to erupt. it is where do people want to live, why do they want to be there, who is likely to evacuate if one starts to rumble. you can tell with tools if a
volcano is going to rumble and with gps you can see if the ground is moving. and then you translate who what you should do. there was an eruption that buried the island in ashes. the decision to live there is human not made on scientific factors. >> i grew up in western new york, downstream of lub canal which may explain odd behavior at times but is there something similar to alexandra's risk of
pollution sites in the united states? could people go to a register before moving to an area for example? >> people are always asking me that and the answer is not an effective one. the toxic release inventory is one released but they have big limitations. it is an attempt to apply a risk algorrhythm and try to identify sites that are most polluted and should be the highest sites. but it is political, information is very incomplete and there is
no answer that satisfies people how to do research to find out what is happening around me. and that is one thing that motivated me do this book. i know an agency with $80 billion annually is a aces at trying to identify patterns and therefore protect us and that is the national security agency. they collect vast amounts of data and they don't just collect it they use it to identify threats to the united states. i don't begrudge them. but i know another agency the environment protectional agency gets $8 million and collects data like cancer registery data
and does something with it in terms of trying put the health and environmental data together to try to identify possible patterns that are worth investigating. we just don't do that. the only thing in my mind that is surprising about what happened in tom's river is we found out about it and that is because of brave individuals spoke up and used the political leverage to try to draw attention to watt was happening and finally through using protest and the political process attracted enough funding to do a full-blown study that sure enough found some connections. we don't have a satsfactory system and i think we could do better. >> one of the wonderful things about this book is the description of the people,
normal citizens, who took it upon themselves to bring attention to this. and they are the real heroes of the book. i think it a role model for many who live in areas that are dangers whether that is a mine or ground water and tell what concerned citizens can do. dan gives examples of ways people can change laws and de the way industry works. >> that is what is interesting in china right now. there is a budding environmental movement with many problems in china but one good thing is there is an environmental consciousness rising and i think some of us in the united states could learn from the ordinary chinese citizens who are in some ways more engaged on environmental issues than many of us americans are.
>> could it be that we have cleaned up these environments just enough so we are happy with it? whereas, chinese people are eating and breathing in the bad area. >> that is part of it. the environmental movement was in full flower when lakes were watching fire and pollution was incredibly visable and now the problems are more subtle. we have made big progress in the united states in cleaning up the environment and we should not ignore that but we should not pretend the work is done because it is not. >> alexandra, though the volcana was 200 years old we have islandic problems and you talked
about the air traffic problems that are still a problem. >> i would say i read through iceland books and studies but the few things people remember about the volcanos are the one of 2010 when europe was shutdown through much of airplanes because of the risk of flying through. and i will make my husband pronounce the name of the vol cano later. and the other with serious implications is that last august in north/central/eastern iceland a volcano erupted, one that was
fairly pronounceable and spelling but it is similar to what happened in 1783 that we write about. the ground ripped open along a fischer and large amounts of silver dioxide poured out. and the levels in many towns not nearby, the towns are don't, but they would violate world health organization standards for breathing in the chemical. so kids were kept inside at recess and people in elderly folk's homes were staying inside with win windows shut. >> we think of ourselves being remoat remote from this but hawaii is a
problem area. >> there is fog forecast there and in oahu you can see what the drift is like on the island where the big island has the volcano erupting. >> could both of you respond to the comment of why disasters are fastinating to the public and writers? >> kind of what you were talking about at the beginning, jim, i think. the way in which an earthquake or flood can suddenly and absolutely just change our lives in a matter of hours and days or seconds with earthquakes. there are stories of drama,
survival, and terrible stories of death and what could we have done about this t. as a compelling story that works on the news-driven cycle. >> i agree. disasters are the extraordinary occurring suddenly in the context of the ordinary and that is just compelling. it has always been compelling. we have all kinds of emotions when we read about a disaster. we are sympathetic and relieved saying thank goodness that is not me. as a journalist who cares about public health i think of disasters as the opportunities to eliminate the underlying
relationship that might newt be visible if it were not for the disaster. so to me it is really an opportunity and lot of journalist feel the same way >> i would say disasters expose shortcomings in society in so many ways. i reported some in china after the earthquake in 2008 and it absolutely exposed the chinese seismology community to not talk about too much because they were saying they were better about predicting earthquakes so this exposed what is true and not true about what people are saying. >> as one funny counter point to this. dean sell wrote in the globe that we wished boston was treated a disaster stone because
he wanted something to really cover. >> i agree with that. walter lipman said journalist is like a search light forever shifting and shifting and illuminating something briefly before moving on to the next. the best journalism seizes as an opportunity to do more searching coverage. and i really admire that kind of journalism wherever i see it. >> that is the kind of journalism we are talking about. let's turn to the woman on the right. >> thank you. i offer to you the disaster of the oil transportation from the balcon oil fields to railroad cars throughout the country that continue to blow up every so
often, in small towns usually, but it doesn't mean that is the only place it will happen. it seems we have a limited amount of journalistic interest in what is going on there but it is very dangerous to the country >> i think that is a very legit point. there are lots of things about fracking that is concerning. in some ways it is postponing and making more painful the in evitable decarbonization of the system. fracking extends the fix 10-20 years making the transation rougher. and there are significant environmental exposures to be concerned about. people are aware of possible con tam contamination on sight but there are issues with transportation. it is clear that will regulatory
network we have setup is overwhelmed by the speed at which the sort of fracking revolution as occurred and we need to get a lot smarter about the oversight that we give to hydraulic fracturing. i don't think there is any doubt about that. >> a report came out that the center for frequency of earthquakes in the united states is now oklahoma. directly associated with fracking as far as they can see. that is right. >> hi this is a personal the speedway race my family about a 150 yards and six adults of us contract cancer. i am the only survivor. two of my daughters tested positive for a disease as well. is there someone we should be
contacting to report this? if so, where would start? >> you could start with the state health department. it is there job. an epidemiologist could say cancer is not one disease it is many. they have certain things in common but all have different risk factors. and they would tell you that six cases is of concern put if is a very small number and it is such a small number that it is very difficult to figure out whether it is random or non-random. this is the difficulty that you know i am terribly sorry this happened to you and that you have going through this and that the uncertainty of what this
means is compounding the pain you are going through. we don't have a satisfactory answer. we don't look pro-active for the patterns. we tend to wait until they pop up. epidemiologist are the people coming after the house burned down to see why the house burned down. they are not fire investigators who look at the premise and say here are the risks and how you can reduce them. i don't have good answer except our system is not setup to help you. >> all right. thanks. >> a question on "tom's river." i know you reported on the cancer the children cancer rates, do you have any information about birth defects at the time in tom's river?
>> there were an dotal talk about that. the truth is that no one really took a comprehensive, analytical look at if there were unusual numbers of birth defects. so as far as i know that information was never actually analyzed. we don't really know much about adult cancer rates in tom's river. it is all fluky we know what we know about the children's cancer and it is all related to the brave efforts of the fogs involved. >> this underlies the contrast of the two books about disaster. one is clear, the volcano and the other goes on and on and you never get the answers. the two books compliment each
other in how we deal with disasters. >> i think it is important and we need to rethink the idea of how we feel about uncertainty. when he hear a shot we don't pause and say let me calculate the trajectory of the bullet and if it is headed our way. we duck. we instinctively take cover. in some areas of public health we require certainty instead of a preponderance of evidence. and i think we need to be more comfortable with the idea of uncertainty and the idea of weighing evidence instead of waiting for certainty because we will not get certainty. >> i have two areas i might like you to comment on. one is how industry and
businesses that are choosing to move select the most desperate communities far away from scientific communities that could help them establish whether it is a good thing to bring to their community and what parameters to set on that. and then the other thing is you know we spend an awful lot of money and time and effort on treatment for a lot of immune disorders and cancers. and where really think in the country people are not making the connection between the environment and pollutants and their health. and in europe there are thousands of chemicals they are not allowed to have in their skin products cleansing products, that we are using every day here because of our
government just doesn't set you know any limits on what is out there, or enough limit or study on the long-term effects of these things. >> those are two different but both really good points. you know the first question refers to what we call the race to the bottom sometimes. and that is there is a disincentive to provide environmental protection if you think that you can attract industry and get short term economic growth. this is a problem. we have federalism which means in some ways devolving power to the state and it can create problems within the united states where you have very different standards in different places. there is not an easy way for
that. but we want to try to make this as uniform as possible so there is no race. and i think it is important we have fair trade agreement and labor and environmental standards and you know in the rush to create free trade zones all over the world we do need think carefully about environmental standards and labor standards and try to normalize them as much as we can because if we don't we will have a race to the bottom. to your second point, remind me what that was again. >> about in europe -- >> yes sorry. so it is true that europe is increasingly moving to a more precautionary type regulartory system and many things and products that are either up restricted in the u.s. or
restricted less than they are in europe. i am of two minds about that. i think europe has a better system than we do but i don't think it is as rigious as it should be and we have lot we could learn from each other. as an american i am offended that we have lost our edge really in developing smart, effective environmental regulation and that concerns me. i think we need to do significantly better and there is a lot we could learn from europe. i know no politician would every day that. >> as an author i am sure you want your books read and i am wondering after writing a book, do you ever get the feeling, or have you got the feeling that government officials, politicians, are taking notice in any way?
>> i can address that a little bit with regard to the uk government at least. the uk government has a list ofthi things with worries about like terrorism and flooding on the tims but actually the cab cabinet office has a program that will evaluate what happens if a lockede style eruption goes off again. there has been a model showing 140 deaths across europe if this happened again. so it is on the uk cabinet's list of stuff to worry about and they have an active research program. two officials went to the erupti eruption going on last year to research the affects >> you have heard a lot of activist, political people and
industry people too who have read the book and are asking what do you think of this. in terms of specific major reforms what i really talk about in the books are such good ideas it would take years to develop a proactive approach to start looking for and analyzing disease patterns. there is some talk there are various bills in congress that would attempt to do that. but as everyone in the room knows at the national level we are afflicted by paralysis on so many issues including environmental issues, that it is impossible to get through any environmental related legislation. we are seeing this concerning the most important toxic substance control act there is all kinds of maneuvering going on over will it be possible to
update this law and it may happen but if it does happen ift may happen in a way that is not helpful. it is difficult to change anything in the country given at the national level and the sort of political paralysis that is gripping us. >> lady on the left. >> hi it sounds like both of you approach your issues -- or describe them in a scientific way. i am wondering if you can describe the general approach of investigating and writing about the issue while finding a way to respect the human nature whether it is natural disaster or industry. if you found or had a way. >> i can start and you can pick up. we had some amazing interviews with icelanders who lived in the town affected and to go and meet people whose ancestors had been
killed or affected by this was kind of an incredible story. i talk today a guy -- the hotel manager in the local village and his ancestors were the one -- the couple was found dead in their house after many months having starved to death. but today they are generations removed from the disaster and what was happening. we had an interview with the local wise man, elder man in the village, who talks about remembering a third of the way back to the bankrupteruption. because it was so distant in the past it was part of thir lives and links but not something they had experienced. so i didn't have to interview people who had lost people they knew in their life time >> that is a really good question. the nature of science audience
when writing for large audiences is we are combining the evidence-based world of science with narrative. humans are a story-telling species and we love to tell stories. it is wired in our dan fagin -- dna and that is how we remember and attain information the best. those of us in the business try hard to get the science right and explain it carefully but to do it in the context of a human story. and the very best science writing writing writing merges those two worlds. it is difficult to do. it requires compromise on both ends. you want to reflect the scientific reality as closely as you can. you want to make sure you are writing a story people will read
and people will be interested in and retain. we are constantly figuring out the balance and that is what we do. >> time for just one more. >> i was just wondering do you think the technique you are talking about now do you know of anyone who is working on all of the issuess related to the dead zone in the gulf, the red ties that impacted the drinking water for the people in toledo ohio. >> i know lots of people who covered those issues and covered them well. i don't know of anyone writing a book on either topic but i happen to know many of the reporters who have worked hard on both of those issues and they are doing the best they can given the constraints in which they are operating t. the constraints of daily journalism where there is not a lot of time and space. journalism has a lot of problems but there are better journalist
today than every. scientist journalism better than it has ever been but the environment is very challenging >> i would like to get a list of reporters you know who are working on that issue >> we can talk afterwards >> the lady touched on a great closing for this. many of us went into science writing, like myself because they were interesting things and removed from human activity. you could look at the great results. but more and more as you got into journalism you realized you cannot separate the human part of science. that becomes part of really good journalism we have been talking about. thank you both of the authors, thank you to the audience. alex is going directly outside. the signing area is out the do
to the right to the south enterance at the book tent. dan will be there at 1 o'clock. thank you for coming. enjoy the rest of the festival. >> and booktv continues the live coverage of tucson festival of books on the campus of the university of arizona. in just a few minutes, dan fagin, author of "tom's river" is joining us to talk about environment and politics. here is your chance to talk with him as well. 202-748-8200 if you live in the east and central time zone and want to talk about the environment and the political politics.
202-768 202-748-8201 for mountain and pacific locations. if you want to see behind the scenes photos we have been taken follow us on twitter at booktv is our twitter handle. you can also follow us on facebook. facebook.com/booktv. other panels are coming up this afternoon. a politics a southwest u.s. panel that focuses on immigration, and then football and concussions. that will be the next three panels and after each of the panels we will continue to have call-in programs with some of the authors who participated. and joining us here on the set in galger theater is dan fagin win of the pulitzer prize for "tom's river." what is tom's river like today?
>> it is a nice place to live. one of the things that concerned me is i want people to have the correct context for tom's river. because of whatever that happened there, the air and water, i would feel more comfortable living there then i would in other parts of the industrial parts of the united states for the simple reason so much care and attention has now gone into the making sure that the tom's river environment is okay. >> and i want to pick up on one of the questioners who asked you whether or not companies pick communities that maybe economically disadvantaged. was tom's river like that when the company moved in? >> it was. life was slow and there wasn't a lot of economic growth was a bit of the back water frankly.
the company was looking for an isolated place, where there was plenty of water, a rail spur, and this met all of the requirements. the two previous places where the company had been really more than two but in bosel and cincinnati things were quite and they were on top of neighbor and lots of conflict resulted. tom's river was more isolated and that had important advantages for the company. >> you talked in your presentation about the regular regulatory environment and it is too complex. am i correctly para phrasing you? >> it is not that it is too complex. it is not up to date. our most statutes date from the early '70s with some exceptions
like the clean air act being revised. but generally speaking we are working in a regulatory environment that is out of date. we have a funny attitude about government regulation in the country. we assume regulatory agencies are not competent and won't do the job so we underfund them and guarantee they cannot do the job effectively. so funding and archaic regulationerize regulationerize -- regulations are problem. >> dan fagin is our guest. chris in oak park, illinois you are the first call. hi chris. >> hi i grew up at exit 117 on
the parkway just a little north of tom's river. therefore i was shocked to read about that much pollution for this situation in tom's river. i was used to swimming during the day and coming out of the water dirtier than when i went in. and now as you said it is a lot cleaner. but i was wondering in light of the pollution coming from the bay to the north what your impression is of governor christie's settlement with bp rather than what the state wants to get out of it. i will take the answer off the air. >> thank you for that question. it is true that people in tom's river and around tom's river are often surprised at the extent of what happened in their own town. some people knew about it. many people did not. one of the arguments i make in
the book is it only through a series of flukes and the personal bravery of people involved in tom's river that we know what i call the secret history of tom's river. that doesn't mean tom's river was an extroidinarily polluted place. it is just we know about it. that is point one. point two; i have not covered the new jersey political scene day in and day out so i would not want to set myself up as an ex expert on governor christie and his record. based on what i read i have concerned about the settlem. it it appears to be way too low. so i am skeptical it was
appropriate but i am not an ex pert. >> environment in politics is our topic. and sheila in carol ton georgia, you are on the air. >> i wonder if he had any thoughts on radiation and also we had the out there out west back in the day, we had a nuclear test and then we had an accident in the east and we had chernoble and the japanese accident and i understand it was just a news blip back at the time about chair noble but some of the radiation came over to the west coast and i was
wondering about about your thoughts on that. >> sheila thank you very much. let's here from author dan fagin about radiation. >> radiation was the first environmental carginogen exposure that was identified to cause cancer. so radiation is always a concern of course. i am not convinced that the united states has anything to be worried about as result of the fukushima accident. i think there are exposures in japan and i do think in general it is really important to have
regulations of power plants. but i am not concerned what happened at either plant posed significant risks here in the united states. i have not seen evidence i find convincing on that. >> haven't we reduced the number of nuclear power plants that are active in the united states? why? >> that is true. we haven't had a new nuclear plant come online in a very long time. we will soon have some nuclear plants coming online but they are situated' places where they are already there. the reason we have not had more nuclear power plants are economic. it has to do with the huge capital investment associated with a single plant. for that reason it is not a risk the financial community is eager to take on.
i am not one of those people that think there is no future for nuclear power. i support research into innovative plant design and i take the threat of climate change very seriously as we all should. it is an existintial threat for everyone on the plant. so i think it would be irrational to not investigate al alternative plants >> what is your day job? >> i am a professor at new york university and run the science health and environmental reporting program at nyu. a job a dearly love. we play an important role in producing the next generation of science journalist. i love my students. i love working with them.
i am excited about the new media environment they are confronting because it is so different than the environment i did my forming work in. >> when dan fagin's book "tom's river," came out, booktv did an ex extensive interview with dan fagin at the university. david is calling in from pittsburgh, california. you are on booktv from tucson. >> caller: i have not read your book or anything like that yet put i am curious you sort of quickly mentioned the free trade agreement. and i am kind of apprehensive about the way the free trade agreement was discussed, signed into law and implemented for the united states and so forth. and i am also very skeptical of
the transpacific partnership we are entering into that is totally top secret. i would like your feedback on why you support this type of treaty agreement with different nations and stuff. >> thank you sir. >> thank you for that question. again, the first thing i would say i am anything about an expert on trade negotiations. i do know something about environmental risk here and broad and i can tell you that -- abroad -- the difference in labor standards and environmental standards between the developing world and developed world is a huge area of concern for me. so i don't have any kind of a formal position on the transpacific partnership or nafta but i can tell you
philosophically i think it is very important we try to level labor -- try to have a level playing field for labor and environmental standards. that just has to happen. theoretically i think the trade agreements are a very good thing. i think we have to take labor and environmental standards into account for be very serious about that. >> have those trade agreements upped environmental standards around the world? >> certainly environmental standards are improving around the world. whether we could attribute that to trade agreements is a whole another question. i am somewhat encourageed d
about what is happening in china. i would not say that that is due to fair trade or that is due to lower tariff except in the sense that all economic growth is a good thing most of the time and that in the long run as you get economic growth you get more health and concern raises for the environment. >> june is calling in from delaware delaware. >> caller: hi, how are you. thank you for taking my call. i agree with you that regulations is a complicated problem, but i also take issue with the fact you have politicians who utilize the mantra of government in your pocket government always regulating, when it is the governmental agencies that have
responsible for taking -- that are -- of the people with reference to health issues. >> yeah. i agree with you, june. i think this is a problem. where whereas i said we have a funny relationship with the government in the country. i rarely meet officials trying to do anything but protect the people's health but they are working with outdated standards, and an environment with many people are hostile to any kind of government intervention in the marketplace and dealing with lack of funding. they are overworked and this is something we need to get serious about in this country. we cannot have it both ways if we are serious about protecting public health and decide that environmental issues are important to us and consumer protection is important to us.
we will have to have sensible environmental regulations and have to fund the agencies appropriately. if we don't, then we will get what we deserve, which is ineffective government regulation and reduced health and environmental footprint. >> john sacremento. good afternoon. >> caller: i want to say i found the book a gripper. how much time do you spend reporting verses writing on a daily bases and over all? how many trips did you make up there? how much reporting was, say on the internet or other sources verses going up there and having interviews and did you have assistant from gradute students? >> thank you for calling.
did you pick up the book before or after it was nominateedd for the pulitzer? >> before but i knew it was nominated. >> i didn't use my research students but for minor things because i like to do my work on my own. but not because my students are not great. most of the work was in the reporting, not the writing. i am a big one for revise so work takes a long time. i tell students the first thing you write is never going to be good but the important thing is to write it and then redo it over and over.
i went to tom's river many times. i probably went around 30 times? i am a big believer in face-to-face conversations. yes, i used the freedom information act and i am a big one for reading documents but nothing are replace direct face-to-face conversations. so i interviewed more than 150 people for this book and most of those interviews were done in person because i believe that is how you get the kind of information that is closest to the truth. >> dan fagin, what was the level of cooperation from the company? >> they were civil. i asked them several questions at various points and they more or less responded. and the same goes for union carbide another company that was a big part of the narrative.
neither of the companies are in the chemical business any more. they are there different form actually. union doesn't exist at all anymore. put yes, they cooperated to some extent. and there could be disputes about some things but the facts were pretty well established by the time i started reporting the book. so there wasn't a lot i needed from the company and not a lot the company could do. so much was well established by the time i did my work. the journalist who i admire are the ones in the trenches as the events were unfolding and one thing i tried to pay tribute to with the book is the work of
absolutely terrific local journalist who had played very important roles in explaining what the heck was going in tom's river even if they didn't have the advantage of putting it in a narrative >> jim in lewisville, kentucky, thanks for holding. you are on booktv with dan fagin. >> caller: good afternoon. first i would like to congratulate and the tucson festival of books for wonderful work. i think it important all of the authors pointed out that science can't be removed from public policy. and the role is very important. i could not help but notice the smiles in referencing whether or not we could get our representatives to hear us. and i am wondering what did you find were the most affective
actions that public could take to try to get policy to cleanup the environment? >> right. well that is a big question isn't it? and there are lots of different ways to answer it. lots of things happened in tom's river at various points. there were protest led by green peace, some creative and even hu hilarious. there were meetings some of substance and some chaotic. each of those happen and played a role in the secret history of tom's river. what they all have in common is the idea of an engaged idea and we have a republic if we keep it
and you keep it by getting involved. tom's river shows what happens be when people lose interest in a community but it also shows what happens when people get involved educate themselves and go to meetings and i should be careful when i say the people of tom's river because it was just a small amount of people at first and they faced conflict with other family members saying why are you making our town look bad. it was braver what the early folks did and ultimately now the people of tom's river recognize what they accomplished and respected them for it. when i go back i don't hear people saying why did you dig up
the dirt on our town why are you bringing this up again. instead what i hear people say is thank you for chronicle what we did and making sure it isn't forgotten. thank you for helping to make sure other communities, whether here in the states or china, can learn from what tom's river went through. when the company came to town the population was small and not much was going on. as a result the company became very important in the '50s and '60s especially. it spurred growth. the town started growing and ultimately it started growing so much in the '70s that ocean county was one of the fastest
growing counties in the entire united states. it grew so fast the company became less important and when the environmental prophecy became more severe the company did not have the support in tom's river that it enjoyed early on that was the only gig n town. >> dennis lynwood, illinois. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: first of all i want to thank you for a great book. and second of all i want to thank c-span for having him on earlier so i can find out what a great book it was to read. the question i want to have commented on is this is on the east coast. i live in an area that is all steel mills when i was growing up. it was like someone would retire from the steel mill and six months later they would die of cancer.
it was such a company-area or whatever you want to call it that you know we just had to endure. no body actually did the research on it to sit there and say where were all of these cancer cancers coming from. i would like to see someone in the midwest take on the pollution that we had here. i mean the best books i read are all of the east coast or whatever. >> well certainly these problems occur any place that there is industrialization. in fact they can occur in places that are not very industrialized at all. your corner dry cleaner has significant risks in chemicals they use if they reach ground water. environmental risk is everywhere and we should not be paranoid or
lock up selves in our home but we should be aware. everyone has stories about encounters with pollution and they tend more extreme in the '40s '50s and '60s. but you are great, it would be great to look at old sites and look at the patterns around them. >> pat in wanesboro, pennsylvania we have a minute left. >> i have two questions. one regarding the state of the gulf of mexico after the bp oil spill. i was so shocked by the information on msnbc and how bad the situation remains. and the other is when i was a kid in the '50s and ''60s why
parents took us to seaside heights and we passed through tom's river and a place that was labelled as a medical plant that had a terrible odor and i never knew what it was. can you help me? >> the only plant i can think of would fit that was the plant we are discussing here. i don't know if that is what you were thinking of but that is the only large industrial facility that would have been on the way to sea side heights. as for the gulf of mexico i would not want to set myself up as as expert on that but there are concerns about the long-term empath related to the spill but perhaps relate today the long-term degrading of the nitrogen coming down from the
mississippi. they are part of the disaster and chronic exposure. >> here is the book "tom's river" winner of the pulitzer prize winner. >> our live coverage from tucson continues. up next a panel on politics. former congressman ron barber is going to be the moderator. mickey edwards, lee fang of the nation and john nickels who wrote a book called dollar-ocracy. and mickey edwards will join us after the panel to talk live here.
>> good afternoon. welcome to the tucson festival of books. i am ron barber and i will be your moderator this afternoon. [applause] >> so i will start by thanking cox communications for sponsoring the venue and thank the nation for sponsoring this section and you might be aware there is a table out in the mall for the nation so hopefully you will stop by. ...
your donation allows us to offer festival programming free of charge to the public and support critical literacy programs here in our community, and thousands of dollars have come from these festivals over the years to support literacy programs. you can learn more about the friends of the festival benefits at the information booth on the mall or at the web site. we ask if you could turn off you're cell phones. or put them on vibrate or michigan that doesn't -- something that doesn't found out, and we'll get start with brief introductions. we're very privileged to have some amazing folks here today who are commenting with i think great insight on the state of american politics and the future of politics in our country.
the first member of our panel former congressman mickey edwards, served in the united states house of representatives for 16 years, and he served on a budget and appropriations committee and was ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations and a member also of republican leadership in the house, serving as the chairman of the house republican policy committee. he is one of three founding trustees of the heritage foundation and national chairman of the american conservative union. he has served as cochairman of brookings institution council on foreign relations and a task force of resources for international affairs. he has also served on the board of directors for the constitution project and was director of congressional policy task forces advising president reagan during the presidential campaign of 1980. after leaving congress he taught at harvard kennedy school of
government and harvard law school for 11 years. he is currently the vice president of the as spend institute and director of the as spend institute fellowships in public leadership. also cofounder of no labels and his latest book, which is a must-read -- all of these bookers must-reads -- this one called "parties vs. the people how to turn republicans and democrats into americans." a very good read. [laughter] [applause] >> he is not a magician but does know how to do it. some great ideas in his book. so, just we'll close with this comment, that apparently in 2008 congressman edwards said he had voted for barack obama in the 2008 general election so you can see from his record history, and also his voting record he is a man who is willing to cross the aisle.
next panelist is mark leibovich, the "new york times" chief national correspondent. he tame to the times in 2006 from the "washington post" where he worked for nine years. he ills the author of two books that we have today, and they're both really entertaining as well as informative. one called "this town. "which i read when i was in congress. on the back he says warning, this town does not contain an index. those players wishing to know how they came out will need read the book. good selling. then this one the newest, is "citizens of the green room. profiles in courage and self-delation." -- self-delusion" so mick that one up to. the arm title of the first book was "the way it works in suckup city." "the new york times" best
seller, called the hottest political book of the summer containing juicy anecdotes and tails of corruption and dysfunction. he is here with us after having a morning session, which i understand was really outstanding. he was named by the new republic as one of washington's 25 most powerful least famous people. nextes john nichols a progressive journalist and author a washington correspondent for "the nation" and associate director of" the capitol times" his books include the genius of impeachment and the death of an america -- and life of american journalism. he grew up in wisconsin, lives in madison, is the editor of the cap times and writes the beat for a blog for the magazine. regular contributor in these times, the progressive, and has appeared in documentary films
regarding politics. his latest book is called "dollarocracy" how american, money, media, and election complex is destroying america. and other books he has co-authored with robert chesney, includes the life and death of american journalism, the media revolution that will begin the world again." and our fourth panelist is lee fang. lee is the reporting fellow or has been a reporting fellow at the nation institute and a contributing righter at "the nation." a former senior investigator at the republic report and a former investigative reporter for think progress. he was the president of the federation of maryland democrats and edit cor of the maryland blog. we know his politics a little
bit. fang interned as think progress and as an undergrad interned on the will with congresswoman stephanie tubbs-jones, and the current minority hip steny hoyer. he has published several articles notably accusations against the u.s. chamber of commerce for receiving foreignman money to influence american elections. reporting to pull back the curtain on alan west and his attack on free speech and journalism and reporting on the koch industries. the book he wrote last year is called "the machine: a field guide to the resurgent right." we have people with vast array of experience different perspectives, but they have reached some common conclusions or at least observations about the american political rose. -- process. so i'd like to start the discussion this afternoon by posing a broad question to each of them each of them responding, and we'll get into the specifics of their
perspective. the question is: how is the introduction of virtually unlimited financial campaign contributions, the 24-hour news cycle, everything is breaking news, an mental social media which is proliferating the political process now wasn't even present four years ago in this regard and how are these activities, this work -- how has it affected american politics and the 2014 election, perhaps the last two election cycles and how are these factors likely to impact on the 2016 election. so let's start with congressman edwards. care to comment on this question? >> which one. that covers the whole thing. first of all i have to say congratulations on trouncing oregon. [applause]
>> my greatest hope right now is that my oklahoma sooners don't have to play arizona at least until the finals. the role of money and media have totally changed over the time that i was in the house and in a very negative way in both cases. i am a lawyer so i'm cautious about saying a thing like this. i don't want to get in trouble with the supreme court. but when they passed citizens united i don't know what they were smoking but it's not legal except in colorado. clearly there's a strong distinction between corporations and individuals which they would have nope if they ever studied corporate law. but there really is a serious problem, and i personalize -- when a billionaire casino owner
in las vegas can make an idiot like nut gingrich look like he is a possible sear candidate there's something -- a possible serious candidate, there's something wrong. it's not just the outside money having sufficient an undo influence. out at also the fact that members of congress are under surf pressure to rates the enormous, obscene amounts of money it takes to win even a u.s. house race that just individual contributions from people like you just get so overwhelmed that your voice is not muted but it's really greatly reduced. i also think that -- i'm not against partisan media. i'm actually written for "the nation" and publications on the other side of the issues but i am not a fan of violence. i won't go to see a violent movie, but i have said the only
violence i've ever advocated is to take rush limbaugh and keith oberman and put them in a bag and drop them in the river together. there's so much toxicity being poured in on the networks now that what has happened is instead of just somebody being on the other side, somebody you would maybe vote differently then and then eventually go out and have a friendly relationship with. now it's just somebody who --ing this is not just among members of congress. it's among people generally. an unwillingness to listen to a different point of view, and maybe this room is an exception, but outside of you, most people only hang out with their friends who think just like they do, watch the same shows they watch vote the same way they watch. so i think in terms of what is happening in both the media, ron, and money, they have been big contributing factors to the
fact we can't seem to get anything done in washington anymore. >> i wish you were still there by the way. [applause] >> mark, what's your take on this? i know you have written about the incestuous relationship between the media members of congress and lobbyists. interesting know how you look at this. >> let's put the media -- i don't think we'll solve the problem of the american media. i don't -- my head is just not that -- i'm going just sort of start with money and the political system. i would broaden it to not just be money and campaigns. i think the biggest difference in washington now compared to, say, 30, 40 years ago has been the introduction of this permanent -- theirs very well-funded permanent political class in washington. always been permanent political people in washington but companies have decided that it is now very good business for
them to spend billions of dollars to lobbyists to super pacs to try to influence the movement of one decimal point in a tax bill that may or may not be ever realized. but i think you mentioned the -- the fact that mitt romney can name paul ryan his running mate in 2012, traditionally when a party picks its ruining mate the running mate will make courtesy calls upon maybe party leaders, members of congress, go back to his home district do -- the immediate first thing that paul ryan did was fly out to las vegas. this is what every republican in this case -- democrats would do it too have done and also once you get into office the overwhelming mechanism once you're there is self-perpetuation, how do i stay here and stay here including how do i stay in office but even if i leave office how aim going to
make sure i stay in washington at a very, very very well-paying job afterwards. no one goes home anymore. with some very very few exceptions. so that creates a system where you have members of congress spending 20, sometimes 30, hour 40 hours a week raising money. that might be low. some of the most depressing news stories you ever or memos you'll read are those that just talk about the hammer lock that fundraising has on the life of every elected official working in washington today. so this piece has a million components. another depressing thing is no one is talking about campaign finance, at least in congress anymore. doesn't seem to be a campaign issue. i think if you talk to a lot of people they'd say it's the single biggest hill on the face of the body politic, and i would agree with that. >> mark is so right about the time spent.
25, 30 hours a week is the norm for members to be in call time and not something that i think most of us appreciated but it became essential tocompete. >> you've missed call time. >> i do not miss call time at all. i was back there in january and i went to the cal room to see if anyone was there, and it was january 16th and people were calling for dollars for 2016. not good. john, what's your take on this? >> i'm going correct mark. he was wrong. some members do come home. whether they like it or not. [laughter] >> i just know that ron is with us today. he found his way to tucson. the only place where i can think you were inaccurate. >> that's my theory. >> there's a reason they put washington where it is. they wanted to find a swamp, and i have no patience whatsoever
with people who say wow, they've made washington worse. it was awful 40 years ago. it was -- this is a place that gave you vietnam. come on. this is the town that has a deep long history of awfulness. and it -- now all they've done is professionalize it. they've gotten really, really good at being awful, and here's the thing to understand. once upon a time politics existed beyond washington. it existed in this place called america. and you had local newspapers and local radio stations local tv stations that gave you something other than the weather and we actually had some sort of discourse in america. that is over. that is done. the fact of the matter is, they have collapsed our politics into washington so much that we actually think we have a media system in america.
we think we still have free press and media in america. the fact of the matter is it is basically gossip in washington looking at the people who are there, and out in the rest of the country, staggeringly limited coverage of anything that isn't happening in washington. and so our brilliance has not bubbled up there. their stupidity has pushed down upon us, and the money does it. this is important to understand. most members of congress know whether they're going to win at the start of an election year. it's not a debatable point. i have a friend rob richey a senator -- now they call it fair vote. and rob richey every year, predicts every congressional race in the country and rarely does he get more one or two out of the 435 wrong. so all the coverage of the whole year, you can just go to rob, and he can tell you what will happen. and know what he does? he says 90% of the districts
jerry maundered beyond competition so there won't be competition in most of america. and that is not done gently by some guy with a grown shade. it's computerizees. people with tens of millions of dollars have taken over the gerrymandering process and professionalized it, and professionalized corruption, and they professionalized the antithesis of democracy. your creating noncompetetive districts. that's number one. number two they have flooded washington with lobbyist when we did our book we charted the number of lobbyists in washington -- when ronald reagan came to the white house, ancient history -- >> thanks a lot. >> i was covering it. there was a one-on-one ratio, right? you had a one-on-one ratio of p.r. lobby to journalists. right? we were charting four years ago it was now about a four and a
half to one ratio. we now have four and a half people trying to spin the thing versus one person trying to get any kind of truth out and that one person by the way is part of a newspaper that has cut staff, doesn't cover things, et cetera, et cetera et cetera. so a lot of lobbying. this is the key, to though. the money that has come in is only a tiny number of places where i there might be any kind of chance that the people's voice might be heard, and yet they're terrified of you. they're horrified you people might actually come along and say, i don't think i'm going to play by their rules this time. i think i'm going elect somebody who might actually be useful. and so what they do, they don't spend the money on campaigns to influence politicians. the politicians are already influenced. that process is done. and they represent a district where if they stepped out of line, by and large they would be primaried by somebody who would be in line because it's not the general election, it's the
primary that matters. hearst what the money does. it tells you not to vote. and that's a critical thing. we got to get the people out as much as we can. so we now have, last elections mid-term election, 36% turnout in the united states of america. 36% turnout. you need three people. two of them didn't vote and it's declining. we had the lowe's turnout in a mid-term election last year since 1942, and many of you know about world war ii will recognize that in 1942 a lot of americans were otherwise involved. and so what you're talking about is we are collapsing small d democratic participation and i'll close off by telling you how it's done. every campaign of consequence is driven by negative ads. negative ads which tell you not to vote for somebody. now, the average person is not
as involved in politic as mickey edwards so they're not charting everything. they turn their television on, turn the radio on, it says don't vote for lee, okay? cool i got that checked. don't vote for his opponent mark. okay, check that. so they're like okay get it. there's no one to vote for and you understand the dynamic that we have created is a process drenched in money with little competition, and then all of our messaging around elections, don't vote. and people take that seriously. but you won't fully get what i'm trying to say unless i give you a closing metaphor. i say all my friends in conservative -- not all -- mickey is wonderful -- not even a conservative now but he was once one. they awe say we got run government like a business. let's run campaigns like a business. all right? so, if we ran campaigns like a business, monday morning, coca-cola would put up a in ad and say we regret to inform you of all the health violation over
at the pepsi plant. and monday afternoon, pepsi would come on and say in response to the scurrilous ads from coca-cola, we have to tell you about a coke plant that had very vermin and the next morning pepsi will be saying coca-cola gives you diabetes, and that afternoon pepsi will say coke makes you fat -- whatever. bottom line is, by the end of the week no one would drink pepsi or coke. what money and politics does what the money and politics is doing, is creating and circumstance where the overwhelming majority of americans will not par -- partake of politic. we're creating a plutocracy and we're destroying the country. that's your answer, ron. >> thanks. but there is hope, right? we'll talk about that. >> check. there's hope because they're going to go out and organize and amend the constitution of the
united states and georgetown turn citizens unite because that is what we have to do. >> in your book lee you have done an incredible job. i enjoyed reading it immensely, digging into the history of the conservative, i would say extreme right wing money people in our country, and how they've influenced politics. so, from your perspective, as you looked at that machine, as you described, what do you see happening in the last election and what too you see might be happening in 2016? >> sure. thanks for having me, and it's great to be on this panel. the role of big money in politics is really everywhere. we talk about campaigns, elections, but it's so much more than that it creates perverse incentives in politics and manipulates what you see and don't see in the media. even here in your introduction of me a quick correction some of the firms i have reported on
they've hired p.r. companies to manipulate my wikipedia boyow which you used to introduce. it's incorrect and incomplete. i could go into the history of wikipedia, you can see the manipulation there. in any case, i want to talk about the relationship between money and media. we like to think the media holds big money accountable but it's the other way around. so for mccain feingold, as men well recall the last big campaign finance reform push there was a provision to give candidates free air time so you didn't have to make -- do that call time of begging for dollars. but the national association of broadcasters the lobby group for nbc and news corp they stripped that out of the bill because they like the big money
interest the system because they're buying the ads. they're enriching the big media companies. and even in the last kind of minor push for a little bit of transparency, the ftc in the -- right before the 2012 election had a tiny regulation to ask broadcasters to disclose the forms of who is buying the political ad. not who is paying for them but who is making the purchases of those americans for apple pie or whatever super pac and who fought this regulation? it was the media companies, the big media companies across the country, including the corporate owner of politico, one of the biggest political outlets in d.c. fought this tooth and nail. still went through but it worth neating. you look in d.c., i lived there for a number of years, and this culture of corruption, the fact that no one goes home as mark was mentioning this is fostered by the d.c. media. you're a loser if you are a
congress communicate -- congress communicate you work at a watchdog agency or work as professor. you're a winner someone cool, if you go and work for a lobbying firm, if you're featured in washington life featured in the hill newspapers top guns of top grossing lobbyists you. take on the egypt union dictatorson, you're invited to all the big parties and the d.c. media is part of that. right and because they'll feature you as one of the top hired guns of fall of 2014. there's a whole series on this in the d.c. media. so, that is a big problem. and the way we kind of portray big money and politics, the role of lobbying, you watch television and you see the lobbyists on television who are giving you the news but they're not disclosed as lobbyists. they're portrayed as independent
republican or democratic strategists when in fact they're working for the industries they're talking about. alex on cnn is brought on as a republican strategist talking about corporate taxes, but it's not disclosed his lobbying firm works for the same corporate group that wants a hike in the tax rate and you turn fox news on you'll see him. he forks general dynamics, one of the largest defense contractors in this country, and when he is demanding we sell more tanks and weapons to middle east regimes he might have a conflict of interest there. i don't know. there are many very simple actions our government can take to reform this problem but the media gives nome air time. i want to -- gives them no air time. i wanted to recall last year when obama wore a yellow suit jacket on tv that was the coverage the whole day. look at this weird jacket he
world, it's unfactable or something. that one scene was given more air time than a single executive order that obama could take to really clean up the dark money political problem we have. he could issue an executive order with the stroke of a pen that forces government contractors to disclose their secret money donations to these 501(c)(4) and c6 groups that have flooded our election system with undisclosed campaign cash but he doesn't and the media doesn't even give any coverage to these issues. >> thank you, lee. [applause] >> i wanted to move in the remaining time we have to having each of you talk from the perspective of your examination of the political process. what we can do about this. i think there's a general consensus in our panelists we have a serious problem, and most of us agree we have we money, the media, being very well off
because of the political money that goes into advertising and so on. so mickey, can you talk about the institutional reforms you have proposed in your book which has to do with how congress operates and comment about the influence or the pressure if you will that members of congress get from their party leadership to toe the line. >> when i was in the house you said this in the introduction. i was the ranking member of the subcommittee on foreign operations and the subcommittee on foreign operations has men tasks. one of them is the subcommittee of the appropriations committee that decides who gets foreign aid. how much foreign aid you spend and who gets it. there is a bias, and i think it's a proper bias, in favor of giving american tax dollars to democracies rather than to
nondemocracies. so, i imagine this scenario. if a country was being considered for u.s. foreign aid and it was a country that held elections, they held free elections, and they were competitive elections, but they had set up of you really looked at it -- set up a system whereby relatively small groups of the population, some cases as mall as one tenth of one percent could keep other people off the ballot. and they could also draw a plan so that people who were unlikely to vote against -- who were unlikely to vote for them would not be allowed to vote in that election. and i would ask -- would you give foreign aid to that country? that's the united states. that's our political system. i gave a talk once and describe what it was that i saw in our
system, and somebody said, oh you're a systems engineer. yeah. the problem is that it's not that we elect stupid people. it's not that we elect mean people who don't care about the country. it's that we have created a political system, not a constitutional system political system which allows the political parties -- 46 states 46 -- including arizona -- have laws that say that if you ran for your party's nomination in a primary or convention and you didn't get your nomination you were not allowed to be on the ballot in november. which means, take an example in utah, they had a convention and senator robert bennett, moderate conservative, was running for re-election in the senate. they had a convention with 3500 people there in a state of three million people, by a very small number of votes he lost the nomination in that convention
and was not allowed to be on the ball president in november when he would have overwhelmingly been elected to the u.s. senate and would have a vote on supreme court nominees and whether to go to war. so we have created a political system that allows the parties to control access to the ballot to draw district lines to benefit their club, so i am a city dude. i really am. to me food either comes from a grocery store or a waiter, and i -- but i was the first republican elected in my district since 1928, and it was a heavily democratic state with a heavily democratic legislature. they didn't like you very much. so they redistricted me finally after a couple of attempts to beat me, and they said we're going to take all the republicans and put them in his district to make the other districts saver for their party. the result of it was me, the city dude, i was now
representing tens of thousands of wheat farmers and cattle ranchers, i didn't understand their issues, i didn't care about theirs. that's not my area of interest. because the political parties in this country have the ability to draw congressional district lines to suit the benefit of their party and screw the voters. and that is our system. it's a system in almost every state. there are 13 states that now have some form of nonpartisan redistricting. and you all have a chance to do what washington and california did, and to get rid of party control of who can be on the ballot, and you blew it. you blew it. and so what we have to do is change the system so that we don't allow -- i'm not antipolitical party. i am appalled by the idea that we have laws that allow political party insiders party hacks, ideologies to decide who
you can vote on. so it's going to require serious -- one quick thing you asked about inside congress. we allow party leaders to decide what committee you can be on. these are the choke points of legislation, and you get on the committee in exchange for to two things. one is raising enough money for your own party and the other is promising your party leaders that on the major issues you're going to vote in line with the party. before you have even seen a bill. i don't even -- how can i describe all the reforms? i wrote a book about it. anyway -- >> i want to just before we leave you mickey on this you mentioned arizona, and arizona is independent tree districting commission did in fact give us more competitive legislative districts and congressional districts. and now of course the supreme court has taken it up as a question of constitutionality. >> it was poorly drawn. because we -- the other 13
states have some role for the legislature which is what the constitution requires. and when it was done in arizona, it was done in a way that did not allow that. that's what makes now vulnerable -- they haven't ruled yet but maked it vulnerable constitutionally. so you can go back and fix that pretty easily. >> if we get another initiative. mark let's talk about your point of view on this. >> well, i wonder how a city dude got elected in oklahoma to begin with. i guess tulsa oklahoma city. it's a great question. one of the interesting experiences i had after i wrote eye pi this town" is one of the overwhelming responses get from people that was really entertaining really funny, but filled me with despair, and i was proposing the book and when the paperback came out the most common question i got from people especially outside of washington so, what's the source of hope? what can we do?
which was in itself very encouraging. it shows that audiences like this audiences like virtually all i came before and i'm sure people up here would have similar experiences -- have that question still at the forefront of their mind. one thing we have learned over and over again, despite the dysfunction, despite the money we're talking about, despite the utter perversity of what is actually legal in the system today, the legalized bribery that is so much of campaign and lobbying is -- i said this earlier -- washington actually does respond to self- , and especially when it puts the fear of god in them. and barack obama began as a grassroots movement. the tea party began as a grassroots movement. we're talking far left far right, maybe. this is not a partisan thing at
all. and one of the pet issues i have is that a lot of what goes on in washington, and a lot of the money going on in washington, that is spent in washington, is geared towards things not getting done. if an immigration bill passes tomorrow, it would be despite billions of dollars being thrown into thwarting it, and the day-to-day business, lobbying fields wind bell realized. shouting matches on cable is not going to occur if consensus is made and a bill passes itch guess -- this always sounds a little polly janish -- pollyannaish. candidates can appeal to hope to movements that can appeal to some kind of reform. i think so much as rand paul has support on the right or within the republican party, i think part of the appeal is that he is
selling a different paradigm. i think elizabeth warren on the left, the hankering for her, i think she represents something different from in the case of the democrats, the clintons. and gun control got close a couple of years ago. the reason is there was a level -- you can talk about gun politics and gun lobbying forever and that's a very depressing topic, but especially in a mails like tucson, which experienced is in a very, very palpable way. unfortunately the grassroots is where a lot of this starts and the change is not every day. but i have seen over and over again that the actual voices of the grassroots are extremely powerful and can be if organized correctly and leveraged correctly. >> i think that's a great segway for john. your major thrust is we need a reform movement in this country like we have had in the past
and yet we have heard today and we know from what we have read that the forces against that are formidable. how do you propose that we actually get something like that going so we can make these changes from the people as opposed to the politicians. >> well, let me first say that mickey's book is great and the stuff he is tucking about is fabulous, and i would say if you want anything that mickey wantsor, do what i tell you to do. [laughter] >> so, very simple calculation here, brothers and sisters. it is absolutely absurd with the supreme court that we have today, to suggest that you are going to pass and put into place meaningful campaign finance reforms. it is absolutely absurd to sit around and wait on the possibility that the right person gets elected and the right person leads the court and maybe you'll hit the balance
some day. that is an antidemocratic premise. what that says is it's a mess, we all agree it's a disaster so we're just going to sit and wait until something good happens. wrong. the fact of the matter is, this country has had a lot of problems through its history. we were founded as the original sin of human bondage, we decided to give african-american men after the civil war, the right to vote and we realized women didn't have the right to vote. we thought that's a bad thing, too. we gave women the right to vote. and we thought it's a bad idea that we have a wealth barrier to voting. so we elimitted the poll tax, and we thought it's a bad idea that we send 18 to 21-year-olds a off to die in places like vietnam and we don't let them vote. so we gave the vote to 18 to 21-year-olds. we did every one of those things by amending the constitution of the united states of america. the constitution was not hand
down, written in stone to michelle bachmann. the fact of the matter is it's an amendable document and if we are serious about anything we are saying anything we are saying on this table. everyeveryone in this room has to recognize it is our fundamental duty to amend the constitution of the united states to say, money is not speech. corporations are not people. and we have a right to organize elections where our votes matter more than their dollars. that's the bottom line thing we have to do. and the good news is, you don't have to start anything, ron. 600 american communities have already formally demand that congress take that action. 16 american states have formally demanded that congress take that action. when it is put on the ballot, the people vote for it. in 2012 it was on the ballot in colorado and mt.. colorado voted for obama, montana voted for rom romp they
both gave almost 75% support to money is not speech corporations are not people, we have a right to real elections. the bottom line we can talk about all this other stuff but everybody in this room and anybody watching beyond here the bottom line is you got to stop worrying about parties and stop worrying about candidates and start worrying about democracy itself. if we could amend the constitution give african-american american the right 0 vote give women the right to vote, amend to it get rid 60 a poll tax, amend it to give 18 to 21-year-olds a the vote to amend to have an elected rather than appointed united states indiana, this is we are lease than our grandparents and great-grandparents we can amend it to get big money out of politics. period. [applause] >> we'll just wrap up the
panelists' comments and then go to q & a. lee, think you nailed it with your history of how money and right-wing kole pick goes hand in hand. i was somewhat disappointed at the end you seemed very pessimistic the changing you quote jefferson saying that his dark vision of an america governed not but the people, for the people and by the people but ruled instead by a small selfish oligarch can i is coming true because of the conservative machine. what's the way out? we heard there are s some ways. what is your take on that. >> thank you for reading the pack. you're part of an elite few. >> it's a great book. >> i actually take issue -- not call you out mark because this is kind of what many folks say but the conventional wisdom is that all of this big money sloshing around in our system is legalized. this is all legal corruption.
that's the scandal, what's actually legal. i'm not so sure about that. i don't think we have a cop on the beat. the office of congressional ethics hasn't really lifted a finger in many many years. when they're submitted evidence of congressional corruption they have a mandate to investigate, and they do investigate and eventually they do release the documents relating to that investigation and you see these things come out of that office that show pretty clear evidence of corruption. there's one that was released by the office last fall of kentucky congressman whose wife is a lobbyist, and they released e-mails and the wife is saying sign on to this bill do this, do that. pretty clear rule-breaking but as usual the office of congressional ethics did nothing. we have an fec as i mentioned that has not lifted a finger to investigate a multitude, real
mountains of evidence given to them of campaign finance law breaking why? because it's a dead looked 3-3, republican-democrat commission and they refuse to do anything. and that is a problem. we have a department of justice that has not taken a look at lots of evidence of political. -- they'll investigate city councils, state legislature, even governors, but they won't touch congress, and it's very bewildering. we did a story at the nation last year that took a look at lob lobbying registers and if you don't register that's a civil penalty and then when democrats quote-unquote drained the swamp they add criminal penalties if you don't register. we have a scoop that shows the department of justice has never brought an enforcement action
under that law ever under bush or obama. so doey we know if that's corruption? we don't. we don't have a cop on the beat. they don't have the same justice system that everyone else has. we haven't an fbi that monitors peaceful domestic protesters but we don't -- but they're not taking a look at these political elites that are probably breaking the law. there's ban lot of calls by elites and people in the media for just sweeping new campaign finance laws and congressional ethics reforms. i'm not so optimistic about that. i don't trust congress, given the state of affairs today to police itself and reform itself. we need to have a more eannual justice system where our law enforcement officials, our department of justice, our fbi is taking a look at congress. >> all right. very good. [applause] >> thank you. let's go as quickly as we can to
as many questions as possible. microphones at the bottom of the auditorium. if you could state your question, not a comment please. a quick question, and we'll ask -- if you want to direct it to a particular panelist, do so. if you want them all to respond, that's fine, too,. >> thank you all for you time today. i'm hoping you can talk about voting rights and i.d. laws and the efforts being made to keep people from voting. >> go ahead. >> go for it. >> it's an unbelievably horrible circumstance, and the same court that says that corporations can spend pretty much as much money as they like on politics and now rich people can spend as much money wherever they want, are saying that we don't want to make it too easy to vote, and so we actually have an incredible mess and we have so corrupted the process in washington that
the people who a few years ago got across every line of partisanship to support the voting rights act now we can't get them to even consider the thing again. it's an absolute disaster. and here is the thing that frustrates the heck out of me on it. the republican party, founded by people who were ready to take on all the great challenges in -- not all but a lot of them in this country -- and that through the $1,950 and 1960s, was -- the 1950s and 1960260s was a good player as regards civil rights and voting rights. a lot of republican were privileging the critical mass. this party currently lacks leadership on this issue. and it issue. i am not interested in the partisanship of it because the democratic party is an indefensible disaster on a whole host of issues but at then this point the party of lincoln is refusing to stand with james
sensenbrenner, an incredibly conservative republican from wisconsin who has come forward with a good voting rights act, a good new bill, and so what i would suggest to you is, go and find your republican representatives. i'm serious. i know some people would say it's hard to communicate -- go and find them and look at them -- look them in the eye and say, how can you as the party of lincoln, the party that actually did back civil rights -- how can you not get on board with this and at the same time one final thing, i absolutely agree with those who say that voter i.d. is a new poll tax. the fact of matter is you have to pay for an i.d. and we have a constitutional amendment from 1964 that banned the poll tax and as lee says if we had a cop on the beat, voter dining room laws would be getting knocked out like that. so an answer but not happy one. >> let's go over here. >> ron barber not withstanding with the incredible dysfunction
and paralysis of congress, why should we care who gets elected? >> i would say that because of the incredible dysfunction in congress, that's why you should care who gets elected. i mean there is -- the argument for despair and doing absolutely nothing is made pretty eloquently every single day. just turn on your tv. read the internet. congress is not a singular entity. it's made up of people, just like the media. everyone says the media doesn't care about this, the media is this. ultimately politics is -- unlike corporations, you could say, politics are people and that's your last recourse. sounds pollyannaish. >> can i add something to that. why should you care?
there's two reasons. first of all, we're talk hearing about congress being difference -- dysfunctional it's not. if you get in your car and put in the key and the car comes to like it's functiony. it's working the way it's designed to work. same thing using your remote. so the congress is functioning according to the design. the design needs to be changed which is mayhew we need make fundamental laws about primaries and redistricting and the systems is different. why should you care? everybody in this room is an exception but if you went out on the mall out here and talked to people and said who is the head of government in the united states they'd say, barack obama, or early george w. bush. no. we don't have a head of government in the united states. we have equal branches except that every major power of our government is in congress including the war power the spending power, the taxing power. who can sit in the president's
cabinet? who can be his secretary of state? what treaties -- all of this is congressional power. that's why it matters. it matters like crazy. because a president may come and go but what congress does, enacts into law can make a fundmental change one way or the other for good or bad in theirs country. the idea that people don't vote in off-year elections because the president is not on the bat'll. who cares you've change congress and you'll fix it. that's why it matters. >> one thing i was going to ask you to comment on, too mickey, you suggested in your book that one way to -- with many institutional reforms but one way in particular would be to have a speaker actually elected by the house not just by the party. and seems like an impossible climb but say a little bit about that. >> most people are not aware the speaker of the houghs dent even need to be a member of the house. you could pick oprah to be the speaker if you want.
and the reason for that is that what we have -- we do not have an in either party house or senate, legislative leaders. we have party hacks. boehner is a party hack, pelosi is a party hack, mitch is, harry reid is. they're motivated by what helps the party, not how to make the legislative system work in britain you cannot be elected speaker of the house of commons unless your nominate bid members of more than one party. and so we should just make it where you can't get just the straight party line vote and be speaker. >> let's go to the next questioner. >> bankey frank and his book on dodd-frank suggested that he thought lobbyists served a useful function by providing information they would not otherwise have and points of view that were important to hear. so, i'm wondering if you think that it is all bad or do they in
fact serve a useful function. the other site of the question is do you actually think members of congress vote a certain way because of money? >> industry neats to be represented and they need a voice, but as we mentioned before they're not regulated. lobbyists are not following the ruled and not being prosecuted for not following the rules. congress, since the gingrich era has hollowed itself out. the commit yesterdays used to have staff, poll see rae searchers, academics that could come up with interesting legislation and analyze bills and come up with solutions they could propose to their boss, the committee chairman or on to the lawmakers. they got rid of that you. look at the biggest and most important tax writing committees, the financial services committee that wrote dodd frank, there's a tiny
staff. only maybe like 20 people or something e-mailing be getting the number wrong. but a very small number of folks. they have to town to lobbyists because they have no one to come up with interesting ideas or analyze big problems and that's by design you look at the big think tanks in washington that are supposedly academic and are paid to think, but many times really it's -- they're simply controlled by lobbyists as well, fundses by big industry, take what the corporate interests want and give 'academic veneer it to and then pass it to congress. so the system is corrupt, and dodd-frank has lots of problems. we obviously needed financial reform after the 2008 crisis, but, look many of the rules still haven't been implemented. and they're riddleed with loopholes. >> could >> as one of the founders of the heritage foundation -- i didn't
know that until the introduction -- that do you think of what has happened to the heritage how long? >> let me just say that when my previous book came out before this one, did i mention i had a book -- maybe -- makes a fine holiday gift. >> right. i had a previous book called "reclaiming conservatism" about how the conservative movement has changed, and so i tried to get in front of the heritage foundation to give a talk about my book, and they didn't want to let me talk, but i said look, i one of your founders, you can't tell me i can't talk so i did. they said to the crowd at the beginning, because you may not know the heritage foundation, let us tell you who we are our mission statement, strong national defense, less regular legs and i said wait a minute, wrote that in 1973. said nothing about social values. you add nat 1993. especially now that jim demint
has gone over to heritage and turned its into nothing but a partisan advocacy group instead of a think tank, it's gone a long way from what was sent up to be. >> i'll throw in one line for you as regards to lobbying. the biggest problem as regardses lobbying is that you pay for it. the fact of the matter is that the most -- maybe of the most active lobbyists in washington are entities that live off the federal large largess they get the taxpayer dollars and it's mad nose set up a system where your tax dollar goes to a company that now hires hundreds of people, many former members of congress to come to washington and to tell them to take more of your tax dollars and give more of it to them. and then if they've got any left over now the supreme court said they can use that to influence our actual elections, and so this is the crisis, and this is a little built of what -- some
of what lee is talking about here. we absolutely should just say if you're taking big money from the government, you can't turn it around and use that money to ask us for more. >> i do think you have to be thoughtful how you react to that the university of arizona has lobbyists. your hospitals have lobbyists. your chamber of commerce has lobbyists. the childrens defense fund as lobbyists, the sierra club. so it's not pure like it's just those guys. you have to -- >> that's why i do think those who are taking huge amounts of our tax money, we might want to have some sort of oversight on that as regards what they use our tax dollars to demand. >> we have time for one more question. >> ...
of. so there was a lot more than 40 years 40 years in 1787 to 1861, and the fact of the matter is changes that come as fast as we want. if. we stop worrying about how long it for working at it and start worrying about whether everybody in the room is on board and in the struggle. the structure we must change, referencing this gentleman's question somehow we must put more money into a politics but less votes. 40 percent of american registered independents.
>> specialty dr. something like that billy, former congressman, when he was in congress he talked away a a bunch of special provisions that enrich the pharmaceutical industry. when he left on receipt immediately became a from surgical industry lobbyists. and when your alone he made over 11 million i believe dollars. think about that. search from lobby. think about think about his lifetime career potential. those kind of problems. >> the chair for our panelists. >> if you want to meet the officer book signing you go to the bookstore ten on the
mall. >> reporter: -- >> in a just a minute former congressman edwards will be joining us here at the tucson book festival for a calling program. his most recent book is the parties versus the people. how to turn republicans and democrats into americans. 202 is the area code. for those of you in the eastern central time zone. congressman original be with us in just a minute. if you want to follow everything we have been doing here in the psalm or see some behind-the-scenes pictures you can follow us on twitter.
thank you for being with us. would you be saying some of the things you had said if you are so on now? pee dee absolutely darlington as our member of the republican leadership what kind of why did you have to walk between partisanship and what you consider to be the correct way to go. >> i have always been one who, if i disagreed with the leadership, even when i was in the leadership, i did something else. the idea the idea that when you are in the house you must go along is nonsense. all you have to do is be yourself. >> host: one of the things you talk about in your book the party versus the people. >> guest: thank you for holding it up so that they can see it.
>> host: the open rule and filibuster in the senate why is it important and how has it changed? >> guest: the idea originally was the purpose of congress was to be a great deliberating organization. you had complex issues that you would talk about bring bills to the floor and offer amendments to make them better. the the house where they don't use roberts rules of order, they have their own rules open rule means, here is the bill, what are your amendments, let's hear them, let's submit them. closed rule which has become more and more common over the years is that here is the bill. the leadership is bring it forward. take it or leave it. and the result is it shuts down debate, shutdown alternatives and makes people vote for too much or too little and does not allow you to work to legislation. the filibuster serves a useful purpose because if
you see that your colleagues are getting ready to do something that is unconstitutional, that you think is bad, you can tie things up and say don't go there. you can let the american people hear the argument and making contact the senators. what has happened is it has become something of the new all the time. it used to be very rare that you would have a filibuster. now you don't even have to sit or stand on the floor talk about the issue you can just send a note to the majority leader and say consider is a filibuster and it brings everything else to a halt. >> he reports that when you 1st started in congress 70 percent of the legislation was be a open rule down to about 13 percent, particularly for the major built. again, going back, if you were in the republican leadership in the majority, would you have encouraged bringing, let's say, an immigration bill to the floor under an open rule? >> absolutely i would have come although i must say that it is self-serving by
telling you what i think because i think because every single they are serving congress i was in the minority. we had no say. i believe in open rules. i believe in allowing people one reason i am so strongly against fast-track trade authority was the president is pushing for you have trade agreements that affect working conditions for americans or whatever else and you are saying to the congress this is our legislative branch, you are not allowed to change it take it or leave it. i it. i was always for open rules and everything. i'm going to a few of congress and 93 where did you go? >> guest: i went to teach. i taught for 11 years at harvard. i went and taught at princeton. now the vice president of the aspen institute.
they may just taken the the clock is off the left and then there's the big that they can move it around the impound lot they do that you argue it as well as he could. at the end of the process suited a conference committee or some other way and let's get together. we met to keep the bridges from collapsing. that is what is missing today. people unwilling to compromise because of our
party primary systems, but it was just different. the problems that existed they were not nearly the same. >> host: ferndale michigan. >> caller: good afternoon congressman. i just talked about the primary process. would you agree that the primary process is broken because they do not allow equal opportunity for all of the 3rd parties that exist here in the country to the.that we are living a democracy by not allowing equal voices in the primaries. >> it is worse than that. that. what happens now is in 46 date you have what is called the sore loser law. even if you would have been the person the majority of
voters in the state would have preferred, you are not allowed to be on the ballot because several of the nomination and the endorsement gets to be the only person. what i favor his were california digital washington state did, to have open primaries where every candidate for the same office is on the same ballot and every voter regardless of how they are registered or not can vote in every election. >> host: we are talking with former congressman edwards. edwards. how to turn republicans and democrats into americans. jack in new york city please go ahead. >> caller: good afternoon. this is jack calling. my question my question is all this talk about limiting money and the people who currently run the system, i think it would be a good idea to limit the number of terms that the congressional representative can have. what are what are your thoughts on that as well sir?
>> guest: well we actually do that. we make everyone have a charm in the future years and they are out of office and was the voters say we we will send you back. so the voters of the best term limit mechanism. there is a lot of turnover in congress in both parties. some people stay a long time but there is enough turnover. the turnover is not the problem. what will be worse. >> host: your assessment of the 1st 50 days of the 114th congress? >> i was helpful that after the election the leaders in both parties were talking about getting together but nothing is changed. it it is just as party line both parties equally guilty.
why are we allowing this great democracy of ours to function as though is a football league? the nfl the for the cowboys against the eagles every week instead of let sit down together. doesn't mean they're not good, well, honest americans who care about the country. they are in a system that pits people against each other for party advantage rather than working as americans in common. >> host: next caller right here in tucson. >> caller: will we here about dark money usually associated with the american public, can you talk about the dark money that is also alive and well in the party?
are a lot of words like right wing come up palm ryan heritage foundation, but i heard nothing about palm sire and what he is doing in funneling money to democratic party. i wanted the listeners to walk away that this is not just a republican conservative problem but also happening and the democrat problem. >> guest: bless you. before you. before you use his name i was going to use it. we have all this corporate money that comes into the election. you also have labor union money. the labor union money is even worse because you are spending money from people who don't want to be contributing only members of the union. they are forced to contribute. it is against their we will.
there is a serious dark money problem, problem serious problem with all the wealth that pours into these campaigns but it is a a problem of the system, not of democrats or republicans. the people on the liberal side like to say if republicans were just saying it would end the problem. you are absolutely right. it comes from both sides. >> caller: from -- >> host: from rhode island. hello? .-dot think she's here. we will move on. >> guest: probably covered by snow. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. congressman, i am happy to talk to you. a great panel. i just noticed that i have two comments now that i nevertheless, talk about the emphasis on dark money and
all of this being referred to as republican which, which, of course, it is not. you are calling from a university. my question has to do with i thought that at some.there was a rule having to do with congress people, either senators or legislators for staff having restrictions placed upon them as to how long they could -- they must wait before they became a lobbyist. >> guest: that is still the case. i do not remember whether it is one or two years, but you are not allowed to just go immediately from congress into a lobbying job. some people get around it. what they do is go to work for a firmware what they are doing is giving internal
advice about how to do something and later they move into lobbying, but that rule is still in effect after one why did you retire? >> guest: i get mad because the voters gave more votes to the other guy. the republican primary. >> host: what was the issue? >> guest: there was an orthodoxy, term limits, line-item veto. i me. it did not always go over well. i was offered a position as a lobbyist. never made any money my life. i did not want to do it. it. i believe in lobbying. it is constitutionally protected. i did not want to be in a position of calling on people i had just worked
with, my colleagues, trying to get them to do something. i thought it was demeaning to me. >> host: as a freshman congressman what kind of pressure did you get to go along get along, whatever? >> guest: the kind of pressure you beget when i was in the leadership i was on these committees at the side of what committee assignment you might get. and i would see where somebody would say we're not going to let you be on this committee unless you promise in advance that you will vote with us all which i never would have done. you know the most important thing, thing, to words for every member of congress to learn is when the lighters to your leadership either party start leaning on than just say, stick it. you can't take away my seat, my parking place, my salary, my office.
stick it. i was elected by the people to do what i thought was right and represent them. that is what i do. >> host: paul and lincoln, michigan. you are on with mickey edwards. >> caller: thank you. two questions actually. why can we not limit the amount of money that is the same for everybody command that way take away all of this i have money like jeb bush made the remark that he already has enough money to win the election why wouldn't we want to go out and vote of all it takes is his money? and the other thing is, wouldn't this have to go back to one vote for one person and do away with the electoral college? >> guest: 1st of all, i don't take what jeb says
seriously because it having a lot of money is all it took to win an election you would be asking me questions about president romney. he has raised a lot of money. the supreme court in citizens united in other cases has made it impossible to live in for contributions. so it might be that you want the same kind of money going to each of the candidates but the sprinkler said you can't do that, you can't limit speech. they say that intervening money is the same as speech so one of the people on the panel made the comment in order to write a paragraph.
i don't remember enough about mccain-feingold. are you need is a way that have transparency. when i was in office i cannot take corporate money, i had everything reportable, everything limited it was a thousand dollars. that is what we need to go back to. but i propose in i propose in my book is no batteries know pac money, no political party mode. >> lawrence calling in from millwall, pennsylvania. >> caller: high. i want to refer to last question during the panel, i think that we all should go back and read a great deal of his essays. what a great american. congressman edwards you
were in congress i believe congress, i believe, during the insanity of the nixon and reagan drug war, and now we have the biggest mess in our history. what would you suggest on how to get a way out of this just absolutely ridiculous thing that has been going on for 70 years? >> well, i was not there during the nixon years, but i was there during the reagan years. i think that there is a movement away from having criminal penalties. penalties. it is not just colorado. dc is doing it. there is a movement toward an openness either by making whatever drug use penalties there are less or legalizing it as colorado. i am kind
of libertarian. he had it at the federal government is going to tell us or state government everything that we can cannot do is just appalling to me. and we have really run up the cost of government -- >> host: we often appear chris matthews talk about how to polio and ronald reagan could fight all day and have a drink at 5:00 o'clock. was that your experience during the reagan years? >> guest: yes. i was close to reagan. someone complement someone complement to me the other day, and i kind of decline the comment. they said, well, you tend to be not very ideological. that is what you are able to
>> host: calling from the central. >> caller: comments, what you said the polarization. this is from my own personal view. you. don't you think that the left is pushed everything whatever people have said about the right they're been consistent. because back to how he corresponded with the congressman about 30 years ago or so during the continental illinois scandal. ridding tradition of corruption and crime i was a one-man show lobbying on the hill trying to warn of the banks collapse. i i had the opportunity to meet with members of the banking community, the staff
was. was kind. they gave me reports. very kind lipservice. that fell on deaf ears. he continued. ears. he continued. i went to my senators office, dixon. >> host: i apologize. bring this to a conclusion. >> caller: okay. my question here is, this environment we are talking about, this has been in the making for 30 years. a lot of this involved from the campaign-finance reform post- watergate?
>> guest: people they give home loans to come alone money to come i mean, the relationships and banking industry very very important. it was a terrible mistake. i can deal with everything you asked, but that seemed to be a central part of it. >> host: georgian san francisco, please go ahead. >> caller: hello mr. edwards. i have a theory a theory that i have been working on for a long time. it is not a conspiracy theory, and i would like to hear your opinion on it. i i think that all of these problems stem from one single source and that is that there is a big a big war going on between the ultra rich and everybody else. the very rich have plenty of money to lead the discussion they only allow people in
power who will not talk about it you know like it is hard to convince a person who is -- who has an income that depends on something to talk against it. do you believe there is any truth to the battle between the ultra rich and everyone else? >> host: thank you, sir. >> guest: i think that oversimplifies it because i have a lot of good friends who are very wealthy multimillionaires who are totally against what is happening in politics, reformers, trying to change things. they acted in very bipartisan ways. i think you have oversimplified. after one last call from mickey edwards.
>> guest: would you comment on the 47 republican senators 47 republican senators signed and that this will ultimately hurt the republican party? >> host: what do you think, phyllis? >> caller: i think it is treasonous. >> host: thank you ma'am. >> guest: it is not treasonous. it is completely nonsense. but i think it was stupid if you wanted to send a letter saying what the agreement sugar should not be, we should do is communicated to the president the american people not to the iranians command secondly there was in place an agreement where you had a lot of democrats and republicans coming together to insist that the president submit this to the congress for approval. by having by having a completely partisan letter signed by only members of one party it appears that.
it was not treasonous. it was not was not unconstitutional, but it was just stupid. >> host: here is the book, the parties versus the people. mickey edwards, the author edwards, the author, now with the aspen institute. thank you, congressman we still have a couple more hours of live coverage on the campus of the university of arizona. up next, a panel on southwest america. one of the one of the issues we will be talking about was the immigration issue coming up next. after that another call on immigration football and concussion. that panel will conclude the day and one more colin on for five concussions. live coverage on book tv on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] >> the 2015 warrants carl lecture at the 7th annual tucson festival of books. i am pleased to be the moderator today.
would like to thank cox communications for sponsoring this menu in the university of arizona southwestern are for sponsoring the session. the presentation will last about 55 minutes including question and answers so please hold your questions until the end. immediately following the session after 30 minutes there will be book signing sponsored by the university of arizona bookstores. if you are enjoying the vessel please become a friend. your tax-deductible your tax-deductible donation allows us to offer accessible programming free of charge to the citizens in the services and the public to support critical literacy programs in the committee. out of respect for the authors and fellow audience members, please turn off your cell phones and i we will allowed you to have just a couple of words. >> hello.
i would also like to thank the river program at the university of arizona. university of arizona library student organization the beta phi chapter a beta phi mu. and thank you for all of the hard work and organizing this lecture. this lecture series honors the late laurence powell library and literary critic prolific author and tucson resident for more than 30 years. after retiring as dean of the library school at ucla in 1966 he moved to tucson where he was a professor and resident at the university helping to found the university of arizona library school in the 70s in honor of his contribution to libraries and literature and his reverence for the southwest, this lecture bears his name and is
delivered by a panel of authors whose birth of work reflects the values, landscape, and history and culture of the southwest. thank you and enjoy. [applause] >> in late august 2014, the southwest lost one of our greatest literary voices and chuck bowden. today we're here to are that voice. widely known for his prose, poetic and prolific production command for his relentless pursuit of the truth as he saw it whether writing about landscapes people, politics. his ability to transform the lives of others that are both direct encouragement and through the written word are lasting legacies that anyone can be proud of. is particularly appropriate we celebrate and honor him. was here that he wrote and here he offered some of his best-known early work including blue desert.
many of us in tucson unfortunately lost connection with chuck about 2,009 as he moved to las cruces, new mexico, having turned his focus to the brutal impact of the narco violence of the car children trade along the border, especially in morris. this transition had the masterpieces murder city and sick of oreo written with the support of his partner editor, and often co-author who could not be with us yesterday. but in thinking about who could honor chuck, our panelists chuck, our panelists today, fellow authors jim harrison, luis alberto r a and clear jeffrey really need no introduction. we all no jim harrison is the author of more than three dozen books including my all-time favorites. but what may be less well-known is his long friendship and the frequent
stays at his house where he walked the mountain streams. an award-winning author of almost more than two dozen books including devils highway only one of many writers were greatly encouraged early in their careers. one of my favorite stories is about chuck calling up design here just purchased some two dozen: to have copies of his latest book. as the story goes, he probably got in the car and knocked on his door. being a friendship that lasted for many years. we now know the editor transforming mother jones magazine to its next level of excellence and was critical to the early career editing and publishing his work over the years. the impact and importance will be with us for generations to come.
i ask you to stay tuned to the software center at the university of arizona for the forthcoming symposium and conferences. a vestige of our panelists today to speculate on the importance of chuck's work in the years to come and how they 1st met and became aware of chuck. i i leave each of us to think of these words. i have crossed the line into freedom land. i have become one with trees dirt, things, musk, high water, and, high water, and howls in the night. if there is to be good it must come out of us like an upwelling of which that wars in the vast lonely of the fancy. let us begin by celebrating his southwest. [applause]
>> published 35 books. i suppose i have something to say albeit subject. my 1st many years ago. except by what dog i own at the time. and i could remember where we worked, you know where i want. get get your up in the morning to take a walk which was magical. my poor dog would get up and wait to see.
up in the past or. because we split the year between patagonia patagonia and montana. montana i have heard the chuck chuck was to have everyone was drinking quite a bit at a bit of the time, and everyone was talking very, very loud. i thought they were maybe going to have a fight or something, but it was a
heavy. zero, don't pay any attention. they all talk this way. very loud very somewhat hostile but not really. one thing you notice you could never really tell how close a friend you are with him because he was a creature utterly without sentimentality. came to any kind of settlement, we are very glad. i think what was hardest about chuck for me early on
when i 1st start it occurred to me you don't read chuck boutin. you boot him. the start and you blew your way through the book. i thought at the time it's a joke. when you get older you forget a great deal. without realizing i had written a forward. anyway, i don't really write that. when i 1st started reading
i thought, this i thought, this has to be the most alarming writer in the united states. easy. i. easy. i just don't know who else it would be. you no. really grab you by the years without letting off the work and then i went a long time without seeing them at all. then when i moved down here for half the year i want to watch for bonnie fontana a great lab. i noticed chuck always said and talk started having lunch secretly. if you live in patagonia he
going to have to go to tucson to get prime roast. [laughter] it is not available down there by and large. i told louise i finally found a place that has turned tacos that i feel very lucky. a lucky. a been looking a long time for turned tacos. but it had occurred to us when we moved every year it would be better maybe to have someone in the house you know although my wife at one time was -- she said how do we no some of his enemies aren't going to come to our house.
i said my only have three guns here. that is maybe not enough but it will take care of the 1st wave. [laughter] but it is funny. wherever you go in america and they hear you lived for 25 years on the mexican border they say zero my god, is that not dangers? i said no as dangerous as new york or chicago. you know, and this -- what you think of that sector is really the sierra this that to the gallows. no civilians no civilians have died on our side. you no?
i mean,, you can -- i'm not saying you know -- you don't occasionally share shall fire when you are hunting down the border. in the old days it was like doug's hunting quail. in mexico in mexico you just delicately step over the fence. [laughter] so you know, i don't see any anxiety as i go to mexico frequently. never had any problems. much more friendly than the english.
[laughter] i don't know certain things tried to figure chuck check out. was a mistake, but what you are really trying to do is what you do to almost everybody, trying to get a focus which is also not possible. was not possible. i've think at the time, when you meet you want to five you want to be without some surprises, you know that's a
cardio stuff was awful. i talked to his old wine merchant at the prince plaza i went in there and got some wine. so terrible. he was one of the happiest man i have ever met. i thought, really? [laughter] maybe. maybe. maybe that's why he is in the wine store. [laughter] but i could go start stringing, you know, correlate. [laughter] but as far as i was talking
away. [laughter] my current puppy my wife got called falling for what you get when an old woman it's a puppy. goes to hummingbirds. and she keeps looking at me as if i was supposed to explain hummingbirds, you know you know one it was like being in a blood feud. very literally solve. but he did not separate.
i hated how they would talk about the hideous hyena. i always like hyenas. i was in africa and saw hyena puffs and certainly wanted one. chuck also loved chihuahua. if you go over to the food city in the gallows. get a 2-pound block of lesser tripe. he picks it over like that. but jack said if you did renew the cd they would rock across and pick out where he was sleeping.
they also i think chuck was a dingy much. all the years i've known him, him, just like he is, he had. [inaudible] moved to step on the gas. i said that is because it's much easier to write when you don't have a hangover. true. [laughter] but we had set for hours and months that allowed just a little poker of sentiment. he knew i had had a big farm
so sort of a big farmer. was not seen anymore. and he says he would have liked to have had a farm who is pretty tough. the soil was so bad and my grandfather worked in you needed three task forces to plow. have the strength. and so as you can imagine all day with one hand. 1 foot out one hand. but i don't know. maybe you would've liked it.
he says, i says i know i would have liked it. you can't argue with that. i hope he gets a chance for another chance as a farmer i don't know. i think of the number sort of arguments that we used to have come they were not the arguments that they were not the arguments that were one except the raven graduates. [laughter] you know, do you really like [inaudible]
that we realized that i also taught little trick. let them use themselves up. let them use all of their ammo. they will rise up to this crescendo. and you don't dart in and tell harold on. the views of all the ammunition, and now they are on the and sent and you can have them all the way down. which tends to work very well except not necessarily with tea party people. [laughter] we had a buddy where everything is possible.
with canada if you've not been there, try it. [laughter] >> on that note i note, i could listen to you all day, as we all could, but they left the cold and snow of chicago to come down here. quex's got a snow shovel, he shovel, he told me. >> just in case. [laughter] >> thanks, jim. [applause] >> well,. [laughter] >> good luck following that. >> yes. yes. [laughter] >> i defer to my colleague. >> is.
>> arizona aside from the trip. and after being crazy blue desert and i had i had never read anything like it. not only the nature of writing it but the essay of our bats in that book is off -- awesome if you are a bad man. his introduction of knew stories and the start -- darkness, so i was reading chuck. i had been living in a colorado i went back to san diego. and my 1st book was coming out. and as you heard, i was awakened was awakened one morning. the phone rang about 6:00 a.m. i staggered out of bed and answer the phone. i was like, hello. at 6:00 a.m. call. it's both.
chuck boat. zero, my god. why are you calling me? you only money. i have never spoken to this man before. are you money for what? i ordered 40 copies of your book and my and i want the money. >> what is happening. and we chatted for a long time. he was so sweet about this book. going to come now. so we made a date. he met me at that hotel at the corner of speedway in campbell. his like me me in the bar. after about the. i did not no i was stepping in to the scenario. i went out there with the a biker who used to sell lsd to the hells angels. i thought this is going to be cool. a big guy, giant beard.
we go to the bar command he was sitting with his back to the wall. those of you who know him will remember are strong his ex- bodyguard. he was leaning against the wall by chuck clearly packing doing this. [laughter] and we walked in there, sat down. mr. bowden mr. barton. what is going on? hillocks and said, the bastards are out to kill me. watching for knockers. wow. you no? [laughter] so cool. and so we had a little a little beer and started to talk. he was so gracious and kind that he did this thing i will never forget. he looks at this 300-pound guy big grizzly adams beard and says your name is rick. yeah. my name is rick.
vick, are you a good man? and the guy was like, you can answer. and he left. and i was looking you are trying to figure this guy out, this euro watching him in action. i we will tell tell you, the sentimental moment was the only time i ever side that 1st day. you are friends with edward abbey. his like, yeah. what was that like? and i'll never forget community took his beer and just looked at it and started to cry and left. i thought, great. i run. i run my relationship with charles bowden in the 1st minute i i met him. but he stayed loyal and stayed in touch. he sort of took it i think as his business since i was
and he was getting really fed up with my take because i think as we progressed doing our work chuck got a more and more deep look into the black abyss, and i was born in tijuana, and my family is all border border, border. i was trying to talk about hope and i realized one thing you didn't talk to chuck too much about was hope. he didn't buy it. and twice he completely destroyed my talks.
we were on panels like this. once in santa fe, and i was going on and on each one of us had a moment to speak, and i went on and on what i thought would be the new trends in fraternity and outreach, and i was going on doing my thing and all of a sudden i hear from down the table i don't know what planet you're from. [laughter] >> and i was done. the place breck up laughing. and the next time we were in bend oregon, on a panel with ursula la gwen and i was frequenting out, between the two, and i was starting again. they were asking beamier about the hope? is there hope on the border? i said of course, and i startled talking about the border, and this time chuck moved into a zen purity. all he said was oh god. [laughter]
>> and that was the end of that talk. so to me, it was just observation of him, and so many conversations and so much advice and so much clear-eyed vision about what we should be doing, and what our responsibilities were as writers, and a whole lot of field sightings. everybody had tales about, did you hear what bow den did? he broke the tree, yeah and one of the last times we really had a moment that i'll not forget anytime soon was -- it was a journalism conference right? and i'm asking my wife we were in texas. i was a black time. everybody had to be there in tuxes and so forth. dan rather was there and all this stuff. and chuck rolled in with a
jacket jeans and bolo tie some he was like, i'm dressed up. and one of the bush administration showed up, and chuck went after him. and i remember him screaming fascist! war criminal! and the secret service my last sight of chuck was going backwards, levitating, being carped away by secret service guys into the night. i love this man! i'll leave it at that. [applause] >> i'm clara jeffrey the editor of mother jones, and i started working with chuck at harpers magazine in 1995. he was gifted to me by colin harrison, the deputy editor at the time, and colin said i did this story with this guy but you should edit him. i think a woman will be in a
better editor for him. it will be interesting. and in part i think colin was right. i think chuck's work was better when a few layers of machismo were taken out but colin's hidden agenda was no phone call if chuck bowden lasted less than two hours. i remember one clocking in at five hours. and you'd be talking about the peace and what needed to happen and the work going on, but also you'd be talking about edward abby and angela davis, and the -- meal he was making and the rain washing through an arojo and on and on, just all these desspirit things coming together and stitched together by chuck saying, you know you
know do you follow, do you follow? and it was hard as a young editor to say not really following how those are connected but it's magnificent to hear your deep voice. but the phone calls would last so long, and still had the round receivers. i remember one time pulling my ear away and literally a vacuum has formed around my ear. from then on i always warned the fact checkers about bowden ear. they had to figure ute way to break up calls or they'd pay the price for them a little bit. one thing i would say about working with chuck people would say you have to see this person's photography exhibit. he was an amazing champion of people's work.
his interests were broad and he never failed to share them with sort of everyone in his life. sometimes really bizarrely. chuck, i'm not a museum curator. i don't know what i'm going to do with the lovely sculpture you just informed me about, but thanks i'll tree try to see their work if they come into town. but it was an amazing and rare thing the way he worked with people in that sense. fact checking and editing sessions can be a long and arduous process, and when you're trying to fact-check a work that has to do with the slaughter of women on the border or many of the article is worked with chuck on, they're very long, complicated, hard to source things and you've got editors and sometimes very young fact-checkers trying to piece together what chuck has provided, trying to get articles translated from spanish and he
was so gracious in that process. there are lot of writers who frankly aren't that gracious. chuck, i remember one time we closed a particularly hard article, and he sent flowers to the fact-checker who was working at the time, and she came in and said, everybody else is such an asshole, but this guy is so nice and i'm so privileged to work with him. he did not write for money. one of the reasons he wrote so much for harper's and mother jones: he did not write for fame. although he got -- he was renowned in his way and in his circle, but he really wrote with a sense of passion and urgency about issues that most people found too difficult to try and untangle and tide not -- did not do the job we could do with stitching together these very complicated tales. he was such a voicey writer. i don't think if a ever worked
with a more voicey writer. but he was also amazing in letting his voice come through and finding the virgil for each story he had. the first piece worked with him was on the street photographers or juarez, and the work of julian cardona and the eothers he worked with on that piece, showing how they were photographing the brutality and all these unsolved murders. he let their work and their explanation guide the readers through something that to most people would have been very alien to them. a city they probably never heard of which at the time were not really well understood, the politics of nafta and he did that by literally turning these guys' lens on that story. and it was so amazing to watch him, time and time again finding sometimes really unusual vehicles to tell a story. he wrote another really amazing piece called ike and lyndon
which i think is structurally one of the most interesting pieces i've ever read and certainly worked on, where he used an institutionalized outside artist to somehow channel the recordings of lyndon johnson and sort re-tell the tale of vietnam. i can't gwen describe the piece because i don't know how it came together, but it is one of the most interesting pieces of writing. i know everyone who ever read it, a writer who is up in new york, said i still have that piece in my bindings of just a few pieces i look to for inspiration about structure. another really amazing story he told for us at mother jones was using the story of aheel ya gee tier razz -- -- gutierrez who fled mexico when he thought
maybe the army was come offering him -- coming after him for work that had been forgotten but the came to kill him, and telling the story of what happened to him in mexico and then this man's -- and his teenage son's attempts to get asylum here in the united states and how difficult it was and still is for people fleeing violence of mexico and central america to find asylum. again, just using one person's story to tell such a much larger issue. and i -- chuck talked about at abby all the time. and had this phrase that i really associate with chuck, that the work and life should be fueled in sort of equal parts by love and anger and i really feel that chuck was both. he was a very dark writer, and i
think there was hope underneath the darkness but i think he increasingly felt that these things were not changing, why weren't they changing? he was sort of not the only person but one of many to beat their head against the wall of some of these issues he cared about and why wasn't anyone listening, why wasn't the world changing. it really is work like his that will lead to change some day. it doesn't happen overnight but for all of to us have read the work that he did i think gave us a much better richer deeper understanding of the issues that affect the whole country but particularly this region. so thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much. looks like we have 15 minutes for questions. so if you have a particular question, if you'd like to make your way to a microphone now is your chance. >> i want to say one thing to her because we talked -- we
weren't feeling well, a rotten cold day, but down in the san rafael valley, talking about male and female editors, and i said, my entire career i've always had female editors and he says why? because that dick thing just gets in the way. [laughter] >> nothing more to add. [laughter] >> anymore comments? >> i would like to say one
thing. a lot of chuck's work, just so you know, has been collect at the whitcliff collection part of the texas state university at san marcos including drafts of all of his pieces and books and correspondence with editors friends and acquaintances. so for those who are deep lovers of after archives i suggest you check out what they have been archiving and there's much more to come. >> my question is, why you think it too so long -- what is it about the human condition it took so long for people to believe what chuck was writing about the border? >> i think it's maybe the unilateral unpleasantness of it. across the board. there's nobody's.
[whistle] -- nobody's whispering sweet nothings to it. and people ask me, why did you get me to read this? i couldn't go to sleep. i said that's the point. you don't deserve to go to sleep. >> i think people reduce it to issues and that can feel partisan or can just feel overly simplified. it's a big complicated story with a lot of different players and sides and there's no one truth. i think his work was very prismatic in a way. i heal relatives who work in federal law enforcement along the border and one thing i liked about chuck's work he never reduced it to good people and bad people and good issues
and bad issues. everybody was complicated. he knew more than most, and that the issues are too and he wanted to lay that all bare but was not simplistic about it. >> i think also he had really good sense -- i think a lot of times people think of chuck as a mongolian horde of literature rushing down at you but he had so many tones and i think sometimes he knew -- when he wrote about objects, for example, it was so devastating. when he'd go out and find the abandoned clothing of immigrants it was a devastating piece of writing. he would focus on things. he did a wonderful piece -- might have been for geo -- maybe it was harper's -- the piece about the abandoned houses when the bubble burst in the united states, and he went down i-15, and he figured out that if you see a house with a dead lawn and high grass, you can go ahead and
break in, and see what's in it. started going from house to house and realized all these houses are full of all this stuff, clearly bought and abandoned, and he found a marine uniform, hundreds of big screen tvs everywhere. one place had a car. the thing that broke his heart -- you could tell as a writer some kids' homework still sitting on the table, and the family just left and left it all. when he realized this stuff was going to go to the garbage dumps, the banks were sending teams to pick this stuff up and throw it away. all of this american dream wasted, and it haunted me so much, i wrote a story about some chicano gangsters who form -- they see the article and they form the bowden federal bank. i thought -- too late to show it to them put i thought it would give them a chuckle and they'd get a truck and have bedeafen painted on it with an eagle and just go around and take the tvs
out of these houses once he told them they were there. >> in the subdivision runners where the houses were repod chuck told me they'd hire through central casting families to stay in the homes, having a barbecue so when they brought clients to the subdivision -- >> wow. >> and just the residual disony there is -- dishonesty there is overwhelming. >> i love it. >> more questions? >> kind expecting dhak walk in the back door and make some comment. >> i'm curious, you're saying a prolific man but where was the real source of his income that he was able to travel and live a
lifestyle of someone who is dedicated to art but necessarily isn't dedicated to the commerce of art? >> i think art protected him just out of love and loyalty. i don't know that -- >> he lived very simply too. i was -- he is not -- he didn't have a hollywood year where the blew through millions like i did. [laughter] >> he lived very simply. the equipment he was proudest of was his coffeemaker. i don't know anyone who could work it. it was immense. it was good. >> claire, you touched on this but i wondered if luis or jim
could also talk about the increasing darkness of chuck's writing that i would start with "down by the river" and then end up with" murder city" and sacario, both of which you talk about not sleeping. both of those did that to me. they were really creepy. what do you think accounted for this other than this frustration with communicating what was going on, this increasing darkness. i almost felt like he was getting, if you excuse my saying so fascinated and captivated by evil. >> i think you're right there. i think the other thing is he got to feeling that there's not much time left and his eyes were
opening wider and he has to get the depth of evil has to be fully perceived. i think that was the feeling he had urgency toward it, because -- [inaudible] -- says they don't really believe the existence of evil, get a horrible quarrel with my publisher because a lot of my new novel is downright nasty. i said i told you i was writing a novel about evil. what am i supposed to do?
>> i mean i wonder, too, if that -- i think he wasdrop more to that in recent years, but remember that he was a pulitzer finalist in 1984 for exposing and writing about a lot of horrible especially child raped and murders, and he -- i edited a piece for harper's a sort of memoir of coming to terms with that and coming to terms with some things in his own past. i think there was a pool there that he could access of very disturbing memories, and things he had encountered as a reporter and i think there were years maybe where he chose to or was better at sort of finding more optimism in that than at other times. >> he also liked that i sprang one on him that he was amused by. i said when you get in trouble
arguing about the dates or what is happening in our country, in new york you have to know that probably the only newspaper that they read is "the new york times," so they're not reporting stuff like we get -- the methodist minister bangs to 13-year-olds. that sort of stuff is totally left out of the times. so they never read these editors in that direction. >> i can hear him saying oh, god, to this, but i think in some sense part of his work seems to me almost had a -- i hate to use the word but don't have another word -- almost a theological bent.
he was seeing this damnation and was just tolling the bell over and over again. >> absolutely. >> he was so frustrated, i think. i tell this story just jokingly because it was funny at the time but the more i think about it the more it haunts me. a great relationship with all the little book stores in town. they're all gone, and one of the book store employees i went to this person's home and i was looking around and they had photos of chuck writing carousel horses -- riding carousel horses a merry-go-round, and he was just like oh. i said you do destroy charles bowden's entire career. when i think that, i think it was a sensitive man. the reason he was so crusty, i think, was there was very tender heart in there or he wouldn't have reached out so often and so relentlessly to other people and done this work so much, and i
think you can't take the abyss that long without it breaking your heart and i think he was -- i said this on the panel yesterday, this great quote, out of love you can write with sheerest rage. i think there's a secret there with chuck. there was some love there he hid that was killing him. that what suspect, not being superintimate with him but i felt that. >> well, it's interesting to see, being in somewhat remote contact from new york how the whole chuck reputation is lifting rather precipitously. i'm wondering why do you have to die to get that kind of -- that might be part of it, but the fatalists among us which are millions, say i've been trying to get you to read this for
years, which is the true. and on the discovery, they know. >> more questions? >> probably be our last question today, too. thank you. >> this might be more applicable to luis and clara. i'm curious, those who are really interested in border immigration, war on drugs issues or offer kind of dismayed at the lack of coverage, and nothing in the journalism or reporting business likes probably most of us here we might not understand the forced behind that, so as experienced people in this field -- if you could just touch upon what you see the state of that and is the source of origin for not covering it and in the ways some can be behind the scenes -- that might be a naive
question to ask someone in the business to answer forth comingly but if you could touch on that subject. >> well, first of all there's just been a gutting of reporting across the country basically from -- especially local and regional papers. the kind of weekly work that used to be done that led to this grand narrative writing style that chuck has had been decimated. i think there's less people reporting the -- being in journalism has never been a particularly lucrative or even survivable field but things that are being rewarded are less and less about serious reporting, and then i think the border is a complicated, sometimes dangerous thing to cover, certainly at the kind of way that chuck did, and again, there aren't that many places that either have the resources or the institutional fortitude
or whatever to invest in that kind of a thing on a sustained level. so you see a really great project like npr did the big borderland series and it was quite large in scope, and there's a lot of good work there and there's other great people doing it. but i think to the size of -- it's not just the issue of the border. there's so many inherent ones. there's just not a lot of work being produced period. >> i agree, and chuck and i talked about this often. i kind of learned this from the border patrol. they used to tell me if you're going really write about the border, and talk to us, find an agent who has been in ten years or longer because everybody suddenly discovered the border and nobody knows anything about and it nothing is true. find somebody who has been here
for a long time and understands the desert and the culture. chuck used to call it, stole it from him, my day at the zoo reporting, where people would come -- gabby gifford got shot and a million reports showed up and then went home. so to have somebody who has the investment -- i guess almost a beat long-term dedication to this subject and slogging it and slogging it. you know stuff and you understand stuff about it, and you try to absorb the culture, and he and i may have had different views of what border culture was. i'm south of the border and he came from the north of the border but at least he had the years of steady gaze and focus and thought and risk. i'm not sure that many people -- first of all there aren't very many border beats left.
a woman out of san diego i've written with who has gone on now to miami. so not a lot of tijuana stories in miami now. that's part of it. having the beat and having the news organization available to do that beat. >> just seeing it as more than like the border patrol versus. i mean, if you get to know the border patrol, my brother was an agent for a while, it's really much more complicated. more than a third of them are latino. it's just as much more complicated situation than the sort of boiled down 1500 word news piece when you can get them. culturally structurally. not just one tiny part of a sub order in general. so i agree, there's not much institutional investment in it. i mean it's also because it is sort of like cover climate
change another very complicated issue that has a lot of fascinating elements to it but it's hard for people who don't -- to wrap their head around it. >> i suspect people don't want to hear about it ultimately. they say oh, yeah, okay narcos. really? we're buying cocaine so they're in power? well okay, don't point at me. wait, we sell them guns? that sucks. people just are worn out and there's bad news exhaustion, and to keep reminding people, you do have a terrorist insurgency happening next door. >> i think partisan divide how people are seeing that is one issue that has gotten just more and more talking points and not an -- >> when they say guzman grossed 20 billion a year. who is going to believe that? it's beyond comprehension. >> i notice our timekeeper in
the back has been giving me the sign has been hopping up and down. i'd like to thank everyone for coming today, for attending the session. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> you have been watching booktv z live coverage of the tucson book festival on the campus of the university of arizona. the last panel talking about the southwest, some of the border issues and charles bowden marx bowden who died last year appeared on booktv several times. if grew to booktv.org and type in his name, you can meet the person they have been talking about via video. well, one of the panelists is joining us, a pulitzer finalist for his nonfiction book "the devil's highway" a couple years ago.
we'll be talking about the border issues they were discussing here on the panel. this is luis alberto urrea, and he will be joining us. if you have questions about immigration, narker to -- narcoterrorismism, the drug wars dial in now. 202-748-8200. for those in the east and central time zone 748-8201 for those in the mountain and pacific time zone. you can also if you'd like to follow us on twitter, you can follow us @booktv. joining us now here on our set is luis alberto urrea, "the king's highway." his nonfiction book, finalist nor pulitzer a couple years ago. mr. urrea, for those who maybe tuned in late, fifth us a 101 very quickly on charles bowden. >> guest: charles bowden was
perhaps the premiere journalist or new journalist guess, writing about border issues. he particularly later in this life took on the narcowars. sort of started as a nature writer wrote always with an eye on the dark side. he was the master of the abyss. and he maxed out the laughs few years writing about this drug wars and particularly the violence in the juarez area and violence against women in juarez, and i think he was one of the great modern nonfiction masters a la maybe hunter thompson. >> oo for those who don't live 70 meals from the border here in tucson is life different because you're so close to the mexican border here? you're not living here -- >> guest: i live in chicago but here's the deal. every city in america is a border city now. accept it. chicago, there's a runoff
between rahm emanuel and a mexican mayor, chewy garcia. but i think life is different. i don't necessarily believe it's dark and panicky. depends on the neighborhood. but if you go to el paso, right next to perhaps the most dangerous city available, juarez, el paso is one of the safest american cities. so it's a very interesting and i think paradigm shifting experience to live near the border. here in tucson it's a very -- in my view, anyway, integrated place where you can have a mix of cultures, or two separate cultures, a choice, and it seems a very comfortable mix. aside from political complications like -- >> host: you say it's a comfortable mix in your view but there are political issues -- >> guest: oh, yes. no question. >> host: we talk about them quite often. >> guest: yes, indeed. i did an hour with bill moyer
about them but i think those things are partially fueled by find e phoenix's politics and the school board dismantled mexican american studies for reasons that seems specious to us writer, and the kids did their best to continue their education. they formed their own mexican-american studies and were studying on their own on weekends. people here in the area, the general population seemed to be really supportive of those kids and their struggle, and nobody wants to see books banned. i don't think. except the folks who actually perpetrated the banning. but that begins the american process, and my message to my mexican-american population, if you want to affect the change, then vote. register vote, take part and move the conversation.
and that i think is going to happen. there's a lot more -- that program had a very high retention level, a very high college placement level, the highest test scores. so those kids will grow up into working, functioning citizens and they'll vote for change. >> host: luis, where is the king's highway. >> guest: devil's highway. it's along the southern bored of arizona and kind of runs on and off from out near texas, all the way to the colorado river. so people who are maccar the fans, blood meridian is a great novel, and the devil's highway at yuma, and it is the path that many people have to cross when they come north or travel it, and it's got a long history of torment and sorrow indian wars. i wrote in the book the first registered nonindigenous person
was a spanish conquistador so you have many hundreds of years of rough death and suffering, very little water. a beautiful place, ed abby loved it. chuck bowden loved it. it's a place of natural splendor but also great danger. border principal knows it well. >> host: what's the danger? >> guest: the danger is there's a hideous death. death -- now there's a lot more drug smuggling on it. a lot more chance for criminal experience on it. and it's so isolated, so far. the devil's highway book i wrote, 14 men died out there from sunstroke essentially. so it's a really harsh landscape and it's a surreal landscape, but a heart-rending by beautiful one as well.
indian territories, a lot of it is parts of reservations or traditionally indian lands so in thesome way -- as a border patrol agent said to me, it's very much like 1890 here. there's the cavalry and there are indigenous people in this wild land, which was kind of interesting. and i think one thing that would shock most americans if you go along the devil's highway, it's right along the mexican border, and there's nothing. there's no fence. there's no sign. just a dirt road. and you can step into mexico as they step into the u.s. there's nothing there at all. and sometimes when you're with an agent they'll say would you like to illegally penetrate mexico? step one foot forward, one step back you've been to mexico. once you see that you start to understand how strange the environment is for those agents and the walkers and so forth.
>> host: so, if you're crossing there, it's actually relatively easy to cross into the u.s., but then -- >> guest: yes. easy is a -- i guess one could say there's no wall there's no fence. but it's a very rough, very hot, very isolated place, that is quite dangerous. the number of immigrants have fallen precipitously from the first dives immigration madness and the number of border patrol agent hayes really mushroomed. the deaths are still continuing at high rate because it's so physically harsh. for example in the book i wrote, they crossed and were lost in the mountains walkers, came out on the federal bombing range, the eisenhower bombing range so your in the middle of this mad place and there are abandoned
airplanes and bombers come over and drop bombs. can you imagine what a strange thing that and is you're dying of meet and hallucinating and you're lost. it's a rough traveling experience and there's a rest area where many of the people who survive this, many of them don't but they get there to drink water from the bathroom so the border patrol spends a lot of time patrolling that bombing range to try to find the law. >> host: luis alberto urrea is our guest. "the dis' highway" was a finalist for the pulitzer prize in nonfiction. first call for him from david in rochester, new york. you're on booktv. >> caller: hi. thank you mr. urrea. i want to thank you because you came to rochester a couple of years ago and i heard you speak, and i bought your book " the marking bird song" and i left it with somebody and you were very kind to sign it for
me and the little mocking byrd picture was great. and i loved it. i just wanted to thank you for that. and. >> guest: thank you, david. >> caller: good you think the -- do you think the situation -- since you wrote the book "the dis' highway" has gotten better or worse? >> guest: that's a good question, brother. there are lot more agents there for example, the welton station had 30 agents when i wrote the book and had 300 now. so perhaps americans don't know the border is very heavily patrolled the way it was. the issue that has complicated and it turned it into a worse nightmare is this narcowar and the violence level has turned exceedingly high. some regions have calmed down a little bit, which is kind of weird, but if you go to the old smuggling towns i went to in mexico, that used to be completely full of floods of
people, they're ghost towns now. aside from -- the joke in mexico is everybody already left. there's nobody left to come north. but i think partially it's because it's such a harsh environment and people are afraid to come forth, and i tried to suggest in the book that the narcos might control immigration, and i think that's what they're doing. >> mr. urrea, what is the novel that david in syracuse -- rochester referred to. >> guest: called "the hummingbird's daughter." >> host: the topic. >> guest: historical novel about a great aunt of mine who was called the saint of cabora also known as the mexican joan of arc, and she was a sort of visionary and healer and was a precursor of the mexican revolution. i did 20 years of research which is what brought me to live in the tucson area to be near the yaki people and study with
medicine people. so i walked the deserts a lot but wasn't dying of thirst. i was with people trying to teach me the life source in plants. >> host: jim is in new jersey, you're on booktv. >> hello. this is jim carvallo, when i lived in tucson -- >> guest: oh no; hi, jim. >> caller: i published a little journal called border beat. it's nice to see you. >> guest: oh,ey. thank you for publishing me. >> you're very welcome so nice to hear you again. i have a quick anecdote about chuck that you'll get a kick out and gift insight into his temperment. i was in a massacre in juarez at a restaurant, and when i told chuck about it, i also referred to one of the victims of the actual massacre was an american and the mexican press made reference to him as joe cool.
so chuck said joe cool from america was shot in mexico. perhaps there is some justice on the border after all. >> guest: oh my god. that's chuck. that's chuck. >> caller: exactly. that was chuck. he was also the one who turned me on to of all things, the drudge report. so you could never pigeon-hole chuck. he was wide-ranging. finally, i have one last comment that concerns chuck's girlfriend molly malloy. and i want you to comment on this if you don't mind. she did some interesting exposure to the actual what she described as the myth of the women massacred in juarez and not taking -- the terrible victimization of the women that were killed. it was not anywhere near as large as many in the media have portrayed. and i'll hang up now and say, thanks again. it was great to hear from you.
best of luck to you. i appreciate seeing you again some time. thank you luff with. >> guest: thanks jim. that's great. the issue of the women murders in juarez was a very unpopular stance chuck was taking later on because he kept insisting that finally, as near the very end there wasn't a massive wave of women killings, and i among many was outraged by this until he put it in this context. he said there's a massive killing of everybody. everybody is dying. and there are hundreds of thousands of people dying in mexico where you hear ten or 20,000. and that was strange. and so he -- i never saw the material but he claimed he could prove percentage-wise this massacre this huge serial killing of women, was partly a process of an ongoing massacre in general. and that men as well as women in great numbers were going.
>> host: would you go to juarez today? >> guest: i would. perhaps not at night but ya. juarez -- i'm from tijuana, i was born there, and tijuana was going juarez style re had the soupmaker who melted over 300 people for the cartels, and so the tijuana self-regulated. they realized they could not afford this kind of chaos, and the chaos in juarez really harmed the city, and the moneyed people in juarez fled to el paso to save themselves. so juarez although dangerous and violent, has toned it down, and people are starting to go back. i was just here at the book festival with some writers anna castillo and she went down to juarez and went shopping and ate and went out for an evening of dancing. i thought, are you crazy?
but she said no, it was just like the old days. so i thought -- i think in some sense some of this is abating a little bit. self-regulating a little bit. and a lot of the real heinous violence seems to have moved a little farther south right now. around acapulco, the state of guerrero is in a lot of trouble. i would go to hard res. >> host: tim, grand rapids michigan you're on booktv with luis alberto urrea. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i want to know if readers can expect a sequel, an underdate to your work "the dis' highway." >> guest: thank you. >> caller: or picking up the great work that you have done in the past. >> guest: thanks so much. that's really sweet. the devil's highway was a weird experience because it just has kept going for ten years. you never expect that. so we have just done a ten-year
anniversary edition at little brown, and i added updates, and then some personal material that wasn't in the first book. and i continue to write this stuff. i am doing a -- three books this spring one of nonfiction one of fiction, and one of poetry androdly enough the poetry book is continuing some of that. it's called "the tijuana book of the dead." and i'm looking for that story. i'd like a full narrative rather than a collection of essays, but i am planning to put some of the immigration essays out as i did in my first nonfiction book. so, thank you. >> host: next call from steve in yuma arizona. hi steve. >> caller: good afternoon. how are you. >> guest: i'm good. >> caller: i haven't read you nor chuck, although after this panel i certainly intend to do so. i'm looking forward to reading
both of you for the first time. i'm located here in yuma, and of course we're in the very southwest corner of the state right next to the colorado river and california and mexico. and i think yuma is a rather unique city, unique area. my question is, do you have any observations about this part of the country, the city in particular and the yuma area in reference to your experiences. >> guest: yes, sir i sure do. i love yuma with a particular passion for a couple of reasons. when i started working on devil's highway, yuma was the first border patrol agents who take me in. after four months of trying. and the sheriff took really good care of me and has always been
really kind, and later on a photographer friend of mine wanted to photograph the border, and those agents who put me to the test in yuma, took him in and helped him do his book. so i feel that a lot. on a personal note, my father died in san luis, south of you, at the hands of the mexican cops and at the time unfortunately they killed him slowly. don't have enough time to go into it but it took eight hours for him to die, and yuma send an plans to the border waiting the full eight hours, because they couldn't cross to get him and the mexicans outwaited him and he died. so i feel a lot 0 for you. ya i think it's a -- for yuma. i think it's a beautiful town and i o"the devil's highway" to the sheriff and your agents there at yuma station. besides the guys who died in my book were known as the yuma 14 so there's a lot of yuma in it
and i'll just to the this out too. my -- one of my first ash city reads was in ma yuma, and i had to confront the whole bored patrol who showed up in uniform. didn't know how they would take it but they're were really great and really hilariously funny. so i love yuma, and i income some ways -- i think in some ways your city is one of the harbingers of the future how things will work out in this situation, for better or worse, and i suspect it's for better. i know what you're dying with the river and the river walk and making -- clearing out the salt cedar and getting the danger areas safe again. that's fantastic. love yuma. >> host: mr. urrea, why was your father killed by the mexican police? >> guest: he was -- i was his first child to go to college, and he had driven deep into mexico to retrieve money as a
gift for me and he was trying to get home, and some of the police in that town are notoriously crooked, and there was some evidence that they forced his car off the road and they stole everything. and realized he wasn't an american tourist but was actually a retired mexican federal judicial police officer, and i think they felt it was most expeditious to let him pass. and then they started making threatening calls to me in california. so i like chuck. i have a different personality than charles bowden, but i think we both had some dark views of the border. there's nothing darker than that. and that kind of fueled my interest in writing about it. all these stories are hidden and i don't think americans or mexicans know. if you go into mexico they don't know what's going on the border either. people don't know. so i try to learn as much as i
can, and then report it so other folks can see what i found out. >> host: richard, los angeles, good afternoon. richard? are you with us? he is not. how did you end up in chicago? >> guest: one of those mistakes of fate. i have been a gypsy-ish write for a long time and was living in louisiana, and the university of illinois offered me tenure if i would move to chicago. i thought wait you're going to give in the a job you canned fire -- can't fire me from? i'll take it, so we moved there and we've been there 15 years. >> host: what's your take on the immigration debate going on in washington. >> guest: oh, my goodness. i don't know. i just get so frustrated. i almost gave up the ghost
bowden style when the children were trying to get here and save themselves and i was really excited that obama after so many years of hard-core deportations, was going to take a reformist stance, and i share america's sense of quagmire. we move a little bit and then we get bogged down again and bogged down again. i think we have to realize what we want. we have to agree on what we want and act on it. >> is the president's executive order the right approach? >> guest: i don't know. i thought sometimes you have to just take a bold step. right? and make a major gesture, damn the torpedoes. but clearly a lot of people did not agree with that. so i'm watching. i don't have baited breath anymore because i have seen too
much but i'm watching and wondering. i think the issue of the immigrant in the united states is being taken up by the small towns where those folks live and a lot of the solutions are quite humane and smart and you can see things happening on the ground level because people have to move ahead. they've got to make their towns work. and i see it in iowa, in illinois, in those bread basket places. you see it in michigan with the apple crops. so i'm watching that and that heartening. you can take a tour with me to the k towns, in kalamazoo michigan, and watch the smaller communities work it out regardless of what is going on out there or regardless of political reticence or fear but saying look, we have to survive. there's this population here. how do we put them to work for our town and save our town first? and it's a beautiful thing to watch. i've written a little about it in "the new york times" and so
forth, but it is -- things are going on because we're human and we want to survive. >> host: what about the current -- or semi knew mexican government. are they good partners with the u.s. and trying to come to solutions? >> guest: the president is growing more and more unpopular in mexico. and i think it will behoove to us watch and see what happens with the population in mexico and his administration. there is a lot of fracture right now in mexico. fueled by the impatience with the drug war and the trouble. i think if -- oddly enough president bush was working out a pretty good deal with president fox. i'm one 0 those of brain damage end liberals. i thought two conservative guys working out a business agreement and forgetting the colonialist
uproar but a business agreement would work until 9/11 set them on opposite courses. so watch and ski hsieh what happens with the popular uprisings in mexico first in my opinion. >> and finally, you've said three new books coming out this spring. the nonfiction is? >> guest: "wandering time" the nature book. writing about elk. and the story collection is called "the water museum." and then teapot the book is "the tijuana back of the dead." >> host: luis alberto urrea the devil riz highway, thank you for being a guest. >> guest: handor to be here. thank you so much. >> our live coverage continues now. we have one more panel and one more call insure. this is the final panel being held here at the gallagher theater at the university of arizona, and this one is on concussions and the future of football. and two of the panelists are
co-authors of this book, league of denial. and mark -- one of the co-authors with join us to talk about football, concussions and policy around that issue. also participating on the panel is helen mcdaniel a former professional football player and author and lee steinberg, sports agent and here's the last panel from the tucson festival of books, football and concussions. >> our thanks to cox communication for sponsor the venue and. preparation today will last 55 minutes and that includes
questions and answers for all of you, so please keep your questions to the end and perhaps keep them as short as possible so we can work in as many questions as possible. then immediately following the session, the authors will be autographing books at the u of a book store tent on the mall, sponsored by university of arizona book stores. ...
is the senior writer with espn and with his brother mark. he is the co-author of the league of denial the nfl concussions and the battle for truth of "the new york times" best-selling book on the nfl efforts to cover up the link between football and brain-damaged. steve worked previously as a correspondent for the "washington post" where he worked the pulitzer prize for international reporting for his investigative series on the role of mercenaries in the iraq war. he is the author of big boy rules america's mercenaries fighting in iraq and the co-author of the duke of havana baseball, cuba and the search for the american dream. his brother is an investigative reporter for espn and a member of espn espn investigations and
enterprise unit which produces work for the award-winning program outside the lines which i know many of you have seen. steve and mark serve as reporters and writers on a companion documentary of the same name for pbs award-winning program "frontline and the league of denial," that earned the prestigious george polk and peabody award as well as in any nomination. for mark along with colleague lance williams he earned national honors in 2004 and in 2005 are there coverage of the steroid scandal in baseball and the book game of shadows barry bonds and the steroid scandal became an immediate "new york times" bestseller and prompted major league baseball to investigate steroid use in its sport. the ucs pattern beginning to develop? leigh steinberg is regarded as one of the greatest sports agents in sports history.
in one stretch during his career he is the agent who held the six overall number one picks in the nfl draft over a seven-year period and the number of picks that he represented in his career is unmatched in nfl history. at one time half of the starting quarterbacks in the national football league were his clients. he founded his practice in 1975 and has since represented over 250 professional athletes including troy aikman, steve young, bruce smith, thurman thomas, ben robison berger and many more and he is president and ceo of steinberg sports and entertainment and advocate for player safety. he has hosted two national conferences on the subject of compassion's in the nfl and finally, the third and fourth member of the panel is pellom mcdaniels iii here as a former football player having played
for the kansas city chiefs. [laughter] he's assistant professor of the african studies at emory university and his scholarly interests include african-americans and world war i and the intersection of sports intoand civil rights. his first book prints of jockeys examines the career of the 19th century african-american jockey. we'd also like to welcome the audience watching around the country on a c-span book tv. the issue in the nfl came to the forefront because of the book that steve and mark had co-authored so we want to begin by asking them to quickly issue a kind of summary statement about how this issue came to their attention and the nation's attention at what the status of the debate is and then we will invite leigh to weigh in having a couple of conferences for the players and sports administrations. we would like to invite pellom mcdaniels to weigh in on this issue.
so i will turn it over to you. >> before i start we really want to thank you for having us here. this is our second time back at the festival and it's amazing how huge it's gotten and we are grateful to be here. i will just give you a quick synopsis. digging into the story there had been a lot of good reporting done on the issue of concussions and football prayers to us jumping into the story in 2011. our colleagues at espn have done fantastic work on the issue and ellen at "the new york times" and others. but i think one of the fundamental issues that haven't been really addressed about this is what did the league know and when did he know it and how did it address a problem that was becoming a huge public health crisis not only had the nfl level but the youth level and the pressure of the nfl was rationally quite considerably on this in 2010. the commissioner was called before congress and just
hammered by the representative henry waxman are basically raising the question asked of the commissioner is there a connection between football and brain-damaged by this time, there have been a number of stories about this connection to raise the specter and the commissioner don what he has done repeatedly to distinguish his slave of the question and say let's let the medical people decide that. to which their representative was not only sort of dismissive but also divisive and i think a lot of medical people were too because for them to question had the question had been answered and to this day this could have been the commissioner's position wake up with the medical people decide. for us the book was an opportunity to reflect that to the beginning of this issue which began to percolate in the nfl in the early '90s or in large part because a few other folks. so we wanted to get at the core
of taking a look at the denial and ultimately with the book represented for us was presenting what had happened than two decades of denial become a sort of a two-pronged front of ip nfl in which they went after scientists raising the question between football and brain-damaged and sought to ostracize them and their statements and at the same time essentially taking over a medical journal and publishing paper after paper after paper in the journal and suggesting that there was no problem playing football and there was no connection but essentially they had different greens and the rest of us and they just were not susceptible to getting concussions are the kind that would cause brain damage. and the wisdom of such the but percolated them for years. and i think the book is an effort to do that and what came out of the box was book was a high level of publicity around the issue accompanied by the documentary
that generated additional focus around this issue and to that point now there is an ongoing dialogue. >> when we started to get into this, we had a real opportunity to talk to a lot of football players to get their thoughts on what was going on so you have on the one hand as mark said the nfl with all of its power and resources trying to deny that this was actually a problem and yet we were going from player to player receiving the incredible devastation that had been wrought. and it was strictly attributable to their career. so you have this obvious tension
where these people were feeling left out. they were feeling abandoned. i think like many mental health problems, you saw that it was not something that simply affected the players. it's simply a fact that everyone around them and so we tried to him as much of a sort of granular way to lay out what this looked like. and so when we began the book we knew we wanted to start really as patient zero. it was mike webster at the center for the pittsburgh steelers during the 1970s. and what we did is we just essentially chronicled what had happened to webster and what had happened as he had gone from being this person who was the stream like conservative, stable i hear in the community so be there was a great teammate and family man to somebody who was completely unrecognizable to his friends and his family. he went from somebody who was
financially conservative to somebody spending every dime his family had. he ended up living in his truck almost as a transient shuttling between wisconsin and pittsburgh at some timehave some time essentially living on the road sometimes sleeping in train and bus stations. he had incredible physical problems as a result of his career in the nfl even beyond his obvious mental health issues. and he would go to these sort of extremes to try to deal with them. he would've utterly was utterly superglue his teeth back into his mouth. he had incredible trouble sleeping. he couldn't sleep in a bad decision would sleep in a chair and when that didn't work he tried to sleep in his truck and when that didn't work he had purchased several mail order stun guns and had his friend
literally teaser him to sleep and so it would give an idea of the magnitude of what these issues were. and i think what we saw over time as the book came out and we were able to dramatize some of these issues, use all the tension that exists and continues to exist today and on the one hand that is a major public health problem in the country that affects thousands of kids and parents and players all the way up to the nfl and there's an incredible powerful lucrative entity but we have what it means to the culture. you know the nfl is still incredibly popular well over 100 million people watched the most recent super bowl. our employer has a 15.2 billion
over contract to broadcast monday night football and they have that contrast for a reason. it makes a lot of money. so that is at the heart of what i think we are now and i think it is going to be fascinating to hear what we say about this and where we are going so i don't think that anybody really totally knows where this is going to end. >> you've hosted conferences for your clients and anyone that would want to come through the sports agents or scientists, what kind of a reaction did you get at those conferences and also from your clients and players what came out of it and what did you learn about the issue from having done that? spin at first i want to thank the festival of books to be surrounded by other people who love books and what an amazing thing and with a mind-boggling presentation they do. and incidentally my book is the agent for making deals into changing the game.
so i had a practice that they look for role models of the that would re- trace their roots to the high school and professional community. i had to start in the nfl and i watched them get hit in phoenix and knocked on the ground and blood coming out of his ears and she looked for a while like he had died and petrified me. then there was a night in 1995 data between the san francisco 49ers for the right to play in the super bowl and the whole city was lost with celebration. i went up to his room and he was sitting there he looked at me and said where am i.
did we win the game did i play today? yes. did we win the game yes. his face brightened. five minutes later he looked at me and said where am i? why am i here? i almost thought he was joking but this went on ten minutes later with the same sequence again and i finally wrote down on a piece of paper the answers to his concussion questions. and it terrified me. and i felt a crisis of conscience because if my work with athletes was designed to enhance their lives to lead them into the second career fulfillment, then how was it can't juggle for me to enable players to do an activity that would lead to all the rest of
it. but we didn't know anything. we were told by the doctors over and over again and i did go to the conferences that there were no long-term consequences from concussion. and one hit doesn't need another in the temporal proximity don't do anything. so i told the conference where we brought the leading urologists from around the country. manufacturers tried to approach it in different ways. i had tried a command and others. gary plummer was one of the players now that has dementia. so we issued a white paper and not much changed. we did it again in 2005 at the institute and then we have
robert and kevin and a whole series that have been with me on this from the start. they had done come to studies and so they told us three or more conversations and exponentially higher risks of alzheimer's, parkinson's and chronic traumatic encephalopathy and depression. so i called it a ticking timebomb and academic. so every time they hit the defense of linemen at the inception of a football play, it produces a low-level sub concussion hit. so you could have an offense of linemen walkout after playing the high school pro football with 10,000 hits none of which had been diagnosed and none of
which the aggregate will certainly do much worse than the three knockout blows. and so what has changed? we do baseline testing we have better diagnostic techniques. but the bottom line is that it's not healthy and 50% of the mothers actually knew what this concussion crisis leads to. they can play any sport but not tackle football and the socioeconomics of football with change. it would be impoverished people who knew they were going to get brain damage. so i had been working and this protects against the skull fracture but there is a compression system we've been working on all sorts of ways
ultimately that will help us but thank god for these gentlemen because it was lovely for year after year. they studied medicine at the university of guadalajara and was a room of her -- rheumatologist and he had his studies and research. now i am not a doctor mac but i don't think that rheumatology is the brain. [laughter] and what they told him over and over again was there is no risk from concussion and no long-term effects. one doesn't leave to another and that's what they told the players. so, one last thing you have to
stick against the culture of the health of denial that all athletes have. they are taught to ignore pain. real men don't get locked out of the lineup, don't complain. we would have known sooner about this if they would have been honest and if they understood what it was that they were suffering from. i had the players so if you and i see long-term health is the biggest parity and after that would come again and the game and after that one play in the priorities they would turn on their head. it's display. so you get athletic denial and young men deny a. it's difficult. none of my athletes have been happy with the way that i've spoken out.
and by their book especially if you have kids who are thinking about coalition sports. >> you play in the national football league. take us inside of a typical game in the hit along the battle line of scrimmage. how violent is it and were you ever aware of the potential danger from concussion a-qwex. >> i am a historian and i'm someone who thinks very deeply about issues. he brings up a couple different things about the impoverished communities and the idea that sports like football and basketball or other ways out of poverty and not just for the individual but to communities and families and so this issue is going to have an impact on people. they are big into the industries and we all acknowledge that and recognize that and so we
understand it's escalated into the ground because more people of disposable income to attend and follow their favorite athlete and if you were a kid wants to be with them and so the marketing of the nfl has made this not an impossible kind of quest that we are up against much more than just educating them about the future of their bodies and their minds if they pursue sports in this particular way. so there is something here to the culture that has to be recognized that will make this a difficult task. from the standpoint of somebody that played high school college professional football i think that the ways in which we are groomed as athletes do not just suffer through pain or injury but to have a common objective is to be supportive of the team's intention.
you want to suck it up because it is for the team and that is how we have been conditioned into our supposed to represent your manliness even at the age of ten. so that is a social conditioning. we also have to address and understand what does it mean if you are 10-years-old. the fans are trying to do the same thing so from that standpoint you have to address these issues not from a former athletes that played in the nfl but when you are a free agent and as someone who's tried to secure positions on the roster. you have to continue to play foggy headed or not and so from leigh's standpoint your health and future and life, livelihood all those factors play a role and you make the decision whether to speak up and say coach, i can't go.
when you think about the rookie behind you who wants to be in the position that you are of your in making six figures every year that the difficult decision to make and so you suck it up. i enjoyed the game. but when i go back and visit and i had forgotten on the charge you get from being in that space is a limited space if you've been there before you want people to think about you because you are in that space and able to perform.
we know the names and the guys and you can imagine in my household with my two children and my life we think about these things and we have to because as stated at the defensive end in my career playing in the coalition and so every play you are sustaining these jarring as of the brain over the ten-year period including training camps. so you have whatever it is that we are trying to understand and escalate at some point if it
will. so it's not every one that has the same results as some of these other men who've passed away. finally, the other thing i want to say is on that moment in 1988 they played against ucla in the rose bowl. oregon state didn't win a lot of games in the 80s. to play at the rose bowl someone like troy aikman. there was a roster of future nfl football players and so we got wired to play this game and i beat of the offense of tackle bad.
iran today thati ran the way that you're supposed to. [laughter] the way that we are taught to play the game. you don't run up and say you're it. you make the play. you make sure that he's down. but i didn't think about that until now because we have a highlight film and think about the greatest hits we have a highlight film that represented the play for the football team so imagine being responsible for the play and reflecting on it thinking about the person that was on the ground. so, not everybody i think will be able to do that because if it is a part of the game you don't necessarily think of about those individuals that you are playing against. you're doing your job but when you know the people it is a
difficult thing to revisit because you hand in what they are experiencing today. >> there were a group of people that became much more prominent and came to be known as the dissenters willing to take on the nfl and one made a comment that if only half of the mothers in america understood what was at stake for the young boys they wouldn't let them play football. that was ten or 12 years ago when the statement was made. have you seen in terms of the numbers of kids playing the game have you seen an impact in that area yet? >> there is a scene in the above
query there is the neuropathologist mike webster presenting data to the longtime neurological specialist for the pittsburgh steelers and that guy in the middle of the meeting pause and said do you really understand what you're doing and he said yes i think i get it. and then he just sort of moved on and she said i want to ask you again do you understand what you're doing and he said i think so but why don't you tell me and he said 10% of the mothers in america belief that football causes brain damage and that is the end of football. and i think what we are seeing now we did a story about a year or so ago about the
participation rates and they dropped something on the order of 10% since this issue went before congress and became a public health issue about their own kids or about what they believe the potential impact of this and should you let your kids play and say the risk is too great. the question is to me what does that mean long-term and does it mean to theater system to the nfl is going to dissipate to the extent that it will affect the league. and my personal opinion is that it is going to be decades before we know it is ultimately going to be the science that decides the question that if the
prevalence at the rate of the cte among football players is a huge number that is obviously going to have a seismic effect on the sport but we are not there yet. >> before we really know it's not about waiting for that the answer in one fashion. i think that it's instructive to look at the way that the nfl has marketed the issue over time. for years the marketing was all about the balance of the sport that was basically you could go back and see their greatest hits and it was all about the hardest hits that you could see and be we have microphones on the field and it was visceral and you felt it. now it has really shifted and it seems to be torn because the
violence is what compels him of people to love the sport and buy one of those people that enjoys it and i think while it's true it is an appealing piece of it the league is grappling with this issue now and what its begin to do is market itself towards mothers and we addressed this in the book and then we have done some follow-up reporting on it where they have collectively gone after moms and brought them into the nfl headquarters and tried to sort of educate them about how the sport can be safer and they have created a whole program called heads-up football which is designed to suggest there's a way to play the sport without having vote. that's the idea supposedly that we need to go back to the way in which the sport was played in a safer manner and when you talk as we did about the former players of the program you hear a lot of guys that are skeptical because the suggestion that if you watch the way that the game
is played at the speed that it's played and the level, no matter where the suggestion that you can figure out a way to navigate your head out of a play seems fairly ludicrous. nevertheless they are pouring a lot of money into that issue and i think that's where they are seeing that decrease. when you carry this news about the potential danger of the concussion from the player's standpoint do they want to know are the implications and possible? spinet i would like to say a word about the question that you asked. first of all this is not just a
pro football issue if the collision sports issue is a college and high school issue. when it comes to get the second thing i would say the brain is still in formation when kids are nine, ten to 11 12 you can still get hit wrong and enough times. i love football and i spent 40 years working with the biggest stars but understand this.
the nielsen rating on television were nfl nighttime football. it neverit's never happened before. this country is so crazed that football in america which is a pregame show. it will start every form of entertainment so it is not only the most popular sport by 2-1 it is the most popular television show. 40 million people a week play the football. the estimates are 20% of the computers in use during last season and businesses were used for fantasy football. so you're talking about an obsession that we all have and after the nfl football, second, college football.
because the concussion settlement hasn't been approved totally, we don't really know what the nfl would do if they were not worried about the liability that would come from them instituting new things showed that they actually knew a long time ago. so, we will see. i tried to get all of our older players to get scans to charge thechartthe blood flow and then the best thing that we know right now which in the first hour starts to read growth capital areas after 40 hours. players haven't changed at all.
i would explain everything to them. then rodders berger got a concussion and i said so, you understand that the risk of you getting a second concussion in the next game is much higher right? you understand the two of them in close temporal proximity is a perfect their logical storm and the reason steve had to retire. so do you get that this isn't going to make a difference in your season? and then i went to his mother and his father and because they are my best allies it is us against, and he played. he played in the game and i have not seen very much change at all the bible taught you this when i saw patrick retire after years at the top of his game we are going to start seeing this manifest while players are
playing and people start having a symptomatology and the 10-12. it's not going to take 20 years so that's why we are sitting on top of an epidemic as the strong players that hit has changed. you didn't have -- i had a player for the cardinals. he weighed 375 pounds and he could run a sub 5-40. [laughter] >> what is the reaction that you get when you talk to former players and they are aware of this issue and you even get to the mindset earlier of how important it is to stay in the game. how willing do you feel that a player would be to a growing understanding of the risks of concussion? >> i think that they would be
inundated with information and some are accepting of information and it is telling you that there is a great possibility that you are altering your life and the more hits but you sustain and if you receivereceived concussions and you are in a position where that's kind of on par for the course, you are going to do damage for your self and if they are paying attention and if there is any information being circulated then there should be a genuine concern. from the former players in atlanta there are these lawsuits i'm learning that they are coming together to see the teams and kansas city in particular there's a question about how much was known and a number of guys have several concussions and so the families are concerned that eventually they will experience what we have seen with the junior i think the
older players are now more concerned about the potential outcome of this and the current players are aware of it but i am not clear necessarily of the percentage that are moving towards pushing for regulations or pushing to retire early. we had a great time talking in the green room and the idea is retiring at this point because of his feet, that's one thing. but i think there's something else we have to understand because there is so much available right now if you play out in the contracts you don't necessarily have to go back and play again unless he wants to especially if you have a life plan if you figure out i'm going to spend five years playing in the nfl and i will retire 27 28 and going to get my degree and practiced law for the released 25 years after i'm done playing then i
start a business so you have been strategically thinking about the play it's going to shorten that they have so much money they can move on but the injuries that while in kerr -- and kerr over that time. have i helped concussions and one on the kickoff return and one window waiting for the return i'm looking back at him waiting to pick it up so that i can turn and leave the ledge and turning automatically having the guy in front of me but on the sidesign mine was loopy. but stayed in the game and so trying to answer the amount of money it's a very lucrative occupation that if you make the
choice to pursue it you can say i'm going to play five years and then i am out. >> we want to invite questions from all of you so we would like your youtube work your way to the microphone so you can also hear the question gives your name and go ahead and wrecked your question please. >> my name is tony from the league and just about everybody. it appears that the game has changed the way that it's being played. it's just a totally different pace and they started increasing exponentially. it has the game changed the way
they play it up to the 60s versus later on. it was bigger, stronger, faster if you have linebackers. that is these human beings and so it's a traffic accident on every play. when they gave the presenting speech at the hall of fame he gave a brilliant speech it was wonderful and he now has dementia. >> you gave a great state. 1970 usa merger and so now it is
a commodity and it is commercialized on television audience. so if it wasn't geared up to be exciting if wouldn't have been on television and so you are playing into your audience as well and so having the time constraintsa timeconstraints and the opportunity to sell to a national audience that accelerates the importance of football and kids like me who watch it as a kid to want to be like those guys on television and so if you are watching in the '90s and you are playing you want to make a hit like your favorite defenses on the receiver who caught the ball blindly so what we are seeing on television.
we have the space program that we lost a lot of astronauts but we got communications and other products and we've had military but we lost a lot of people but we got the interstate system and because the internet. is it causing more research leading to more cures and benefits? >> there's a huge race going on to see who can be the first to develop, and again it just protects against the skull fracture that the use the compression to attenuate the energy field so that it dissipates and will also be used for for motorcyclists, bicycles and everything. so yes the research being done
to provide a nasal spray that stops the brain from spoiling. there's a posttraumatic brain injuries and they are looking at things like progesterone treatments to heal the brain so you have these different opportunities but whether or not it is the mission of something these types of particles would be available on the sideline so to have the opportunity to test the protocols it would be for football hockey soccer so you are correct there is an opportunity we have a stopgap right now do we admit this one
along term effect if it will what can we do to help heal the brain. >> there's hundreds of millions of dollars to be made out of preventing a concussion, healing compassion i consult for a few companies that are there. it's like the first person that gets their come a concussion, alzheimer's, i went to a six companies on stem cells that are approved and i went and visited one and they are three to five years away from being able to insert the stem cell because there's profit if we can send a man to mars we can't make a helmet protects people at all? engineers, profit motive.
>> good evening gentlemen. this question is for mr. steinberg as an attorney and a sports agent do you anticipate as the researchers become more accepted and understood in the community and the nfl did you anticipate a guaranteed money of contracts increase coming for to help players with those liabilities and help them offset the liabilities? >> they agree to accept the settlement in the $975 million. 975 ilion dollars might have been closer to actually dealing with the incredible pain and the rest of it. >> be older players have common grief right now and they want
the money, so it is the same reason that they took 55% of the growth they were making in the last one. we are not talking about players off the field are not the advanced workers party. they are non- label activists that they think about now and all the rest of it. the guarantees are going up in football because we have a salary cap and so they are starting to guarantee some salaries for the first time until the last couple of years only the signing bonus was guaranteed in the football contract and that years of play were not guaranteed. baseball and basketball were completely guaranteed so they
could cut players at any time for any reason. we are getting a few more guarantees. >> i watch more college than nfl but i do see them doing concussion checks and i'm wondering if you feel that is very effective in preventing further injury in the game. >> there is certainly more awareness around this issue and they have put in place an increased level of eyes in the sky basically people that are watching out for this and so you'll see circumstances they will come off the field and maybe the players are even more attentive to talk about this. they just want to play and to stay on the field. >> in college football if that's test that they do is positive they don't come back on the field until they are tested further. >> that is the way the policy is
supposed to work. there is a suggestion they go to the sideline and in six minutes -- so that's where the challenge is increased and it's especially challenging the dynamic i always said i think the hardest job beyond actually playing the game to they are serving the impossible role. they try to get on as fast as they can because they are played by the team and yet they are trainers into so they are supposed to be responsible for the health and welfare of the players and as if it is an impossible job to deal with and so they speak around the country and have all of the new technologies and companies write
their. they are trying like mad to get a better way to diagnose the sideline khan cautions so that again the free-market system is allowing that to happen. but remember unless you are laid out flat on your back and you don't get up quick, it's almost hard to see if you are on the sidelines what just happened. so we are detecting this as of this. >> my name is melanie and i will admit it comes from the league of denial as my nephews were playing high school football so this might be a naïve question that wasn't if they are able to detect the concussions now why can't the nfl just say we will not let a player come on before a certain amount of time since the players clearly are not going to take their own interest into that?
>> that is what is this to happen. there's a protocol and they are diagnosed with a concussion they have to go through a series of tests to determine whether his levels are back in the place in which he is essentially ready to perform again. the players talked about basically cheating the test to get a lower score they come back and do the baseline and again they just want to play. >> it's interesting there is now a technology where the helmet sensors can be implanted to detect the number of hits that are occurring and the amount that are being generated into these sensors have been used by some colleges like north carolina for a decade now and
they've accumulated in our mass amount of data and so he is also an adviser at the nfl for a period of years now and just a couple of weeks ago they announced again that they are not going to use them and the reality is that if they did use than they would immediately know a lot of information about the amount of force that is being generated on the field and how many times people are getting hit in the head and it's kind of a no-brainer but they don't seem to want it and the players don't want it because they don't want that information to be used in contract negotiations with so where does that leave you he want to get to the bottom? they took a college game two
seasons ago and there is a presence of the marker in the blood. they found that in a game with no concussions, no diagnosed concussions 70% had the marker which is a precursor to the long-term injury. >> let's go back over here. >> i was an athletic trainer mike question is about the contestant injuries we don't see that much about the injuries and what they are and to me that's the real problem talking with the coach in different ways we could practice and different ways that we could go without
taking the hit and learning to tackle because i've been educated and i've done the impact testing and i know how to do those tests and how to read the results but how do kids and parents interact in these things and how come there isn't more coming from the injuries. [laughter] >> i think one issue is there's a lot of debate over what these actually mean. but i think that there is a -- we agree that there is a larger question here which is if the sub concussion is the issue you really cannot eliminate this problem without eliminating the
sport and so -- we are not advocating that it gets to this question of prevalence again and what sort of dosage and how many hits do you need and if it turns out that huge numbers of people are getting this and we are going to be facing a question and answer to your question is an issue that is being pushed especially by boston university that the cases haven't been diagnosed and there are questions about what role do they play exactly and are they really -- is that where this is
starting and spreading or is it something different? >> from the nfl perspective of course they love the fact that this is not a conversation right now and frankly because it is the definition of the sport it is the coalition but i think if you noticed they can only handle this in so many ways that are basically saying football is a problem and so the answer is we are going to legislate all of the huge and the hard hits that you see because that's what we can do and that is what it looks like to be the problem. but when you look at the data that suggests it is an issue i don't know what the current numbers are good when we look at the look at book at the time the boston university folks it was the preponderance of the cases that this narrow degenerative disease
for offense and defense of wine in and playing the core of the sport so it's being talked about but the answer is to focus on the celebratory heads to say look we are going to talk about this. >> is that arizona or alabama? >> my name is michael and my question is both mostly for professor mcdaniels. do you think that the denial is the fact 75% of the week is african-american. from the standpoint of somebody that is african-american a high percentage are seeking opportunities to create social mobility and so it is to better
the physical attribute and take advantage of the money available and therefore also help your family community is a narrative that we all hear how are things and get these contracts and they are willing to sacrifice for their families. you can have tv contracts and enforcement appeals and everything attached to this game that we play that is a business that it has to be if you admit to it all these connections will unravel. no one wants to lose and it's on the number of levels too so they want to take advantage of what they feel is their opportunity and take advantage
of what they see as their god-given gift abilities. so in the family community as they are looked upon as men who are making a way for their families. you have these articles that deal with the golden goes to extract student athletes of urban environments more than football so that's part of what we are seeing right now is that you have these young men. what is it about they were not willing and one of its alumni said we don't have the right athletes here we need to get the job student athletes we just need the football players to get the best athletes in here and so at the end of the day and how to
sign those new contracts. [applause] >> don't forget to become a friend of the tucson festival of books so we can make sure that it remains free and to support important literacy programs in our community. if you would gather your things and without us quickly as possible and don't forget the gentleman will be outside and again, thanks for coming. and audible conversations [inaudible conversations] ..
tucson time. the seven and a half hours of our coverage will be on. if you would like to see a behind-the-scenes pictures you can follow us on twitter or check out our facebook page at facebook.com/teesixteen. this festival and its 7th year being held on the campus of the university of arizona. about 350 authors were here this weekend participating. we have given 15 hours of live coverage on teesixteen. we have been here at the gallagher theatre,'s theater, student union building. we would like to thank the two stuck -- tucson festival of books organizes and the university for their help and cooperation. co-author, league of denial. what was the reaction from your employer, espn?
>> they were supportive and continue to be in many ways. we ran into a bit of a pickup and ended up doing a documentary with pbs frontline which had some complications about it. in the end the book would not have been possible without the support of espn. during the two years that steve and i were working i were working at the book we produced story after story after story that appeared on espn network or espn website so it was really an incredibly supportive effort after one let's take some calls. a lot of viewers have been watching watch the panel with you want it. we will begin with larry in kansas. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: it is my understanding that sends a texas football lineman this year all-stars are bigger
than the pro players in 1998 suggesting what made the most sense was to get people and used i.e. off of so many drugs. get people who are normal like they used to be. >> i think there is no question that players are bigger and faster and stronger than they were. the one thing, as we document in the book this issue dates back, the 1st case of this is mike webster diagnosed as a player in the early 70s, the heyday before players got it. so a suggestion that this
was not going to be an issue but i think there is no doubt players have gotten bigger and stronger and faster. just the amount of force is that much more substantial and creates a much more complicated issue and trying to address the problem. >> host: what kind of changes has the league made with regard to concussions and hits? >> the most substantive change has been to reduce heading during practice time that is the biggest thing have done. it is not just a matter of whether you are getting hit during a game but the practice time as well. that is a change that they made that is a tip to this issue. what else they have done to try to suggest that they are addressing this is they have become much more address to the aggressive at
finding and penalizing players for helmet to helmet hits where defense it back slammed into a wide receiver at the same time there are a lot of people who suggest that is not the crux of the issue but it is sub concussive hits that are really more problematic. i am not sure that the league can legislate that out. after one what is the purpose of congressional hearings? >> guest: there had been a few, but in 2010 the concussion issue have begun to peak in a lot of ways and the nfl was getting attacked in ways it had not previously. this was an effort by congress for a story was getting a lot of publicity to seize on it and begin to raise questions about whether the league was addressing this in the proper way and was also an
opportunity for the politicians to do what they do sometimes to posture and attack which is what they did. you saw did. you saw the representative really go after the commissioner of football. is football leading the concussions? the commissioner basically dodged the question. >> host: here is the cover of the book. in colorado. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: in the late 60s i began to look at the foundation research and sacramento, california. we put the headgear on our athletes. this is a short story. the guy went the guy went on to play ten years for minnesota. the kid said, my head on her