Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

America's War on Sexual Rights

Has the conservative agenda come to dominate the national and international conversation on sexual rights?

Obama's victory and the vote against abortion bans in Colorado and South Dakota brought some sexual rights back from the edge of a political precipice, but others remain in the balance.

Join scholars, journalists, and policy makers to talk about how we can help the new administration change policies and reframe national and international thinking on sexual rights.

Participants include Dagmar Herzog, author of
Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics and Professor of History, Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, and Faye Wattleton, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Women.

Discussant: Rosalind Petchesky, author of
Sexuality, Health and Human Rights and Distinguished Professor of Political Science. Moderated by Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY - City University of New York. About 90 minutes.

Gun Control on Trial

Recently the Supreme Court had its first opportunity in seven decades to address one of America's most impassioned constitutional debates: Does the right to possess firearms, as stated in the Second Amendment, apply to individuals?

Yes, the Court ruled, it does.

And, with that decision, the District of Columbia's handgun ban--one of the most controversial in the nation--was ended.

Gun Control on Trial, journalist Brian Doherty tells the full story behind the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling. With exclusive, behind-the-scenes access throughout the case, Doherty's new book takes readers on a remarkable journey--through the legal, scientific, and historical debates; the political battles; and the myths about gun control that have become widespread.

How is the District's new registration process working?

How will the Heller precedent impact the firearm regulations in other American cities?
About 70 minutes.

Free to Booze: Repealing Prohibition

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, thus ending our nation’s failed experiment with Prohibition. Organized crime flourished during Prohibition, but what were the other effects of the national ban on alcohol?

How and why was it repealed? Michael A. Lerner, author of
Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City presents the history of Prohibition, and a panel featuring Glen Whitman, Asheesh Agarwal, and Radley Balko discuss Prohibition's lasting impact. About 2 hours.

The Constitutional Legacy of the New Deal

A panel of legal scholars discuss the lasting impact of New Deal policies on the Constitution.

They highlight how every branch of the government, from the legislative to the executive to the judicial, has seen increased power derived from New Deal policies. About 75 minutes.

Would We Better Off Without Religion?

While the world's religions have inspired stunning acts of creation, they also have been implicated in some of the darkest deeds in human history.

If God cannot be blamed for such moments of evil, His priests and prophets at least have a case to answer.

So what might they say? That religion is unfairly blamed -- and that we should look to other factors? Admit that there are problems but argue that on balance the good outweighs the bad? That there is no alternative; that people need religion like they need air? About 100 minutes.

Is There a Free Market Alternative?

At the White House summit on health care reform, President Obama said, "If there is a way of getting this done where we're driving down costs and people are getting health insurance at an affordable rate, and have choice of doctor, have flexibility in terms of their plans, and we could do that entirely through the market, I'd be happy to do it that way."

Are there free-market reforms that can meet those goals? Can the market reform health care? About 70 minutes.

Censoring You: The Limits of What You See and Hear

If you google "Tianamen Square" in China, no results pop up. Stateside, the FCC doesn't want you to hear George Carlin saying certain words on the radio or see Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunctions, whereas violent movies and video games have been generally tolerated.

How does limiting access to information shape you? And, who's watching the watchers?

The Commonwealth Club's uncensored panel discusses who decides what we hear, if they can be trusted, and what we can do about it. About one hour.

Jefferson and Mason: From Toleration to Freedom

Bill Barker has enjoyed portraying Thomas Jefferson in a variety of settings over the past twenty years. He first came to Williamsburg in the spring of 1993 to perform as Jefferson in a film made to honor Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg. He has continued to appear as Jefferson for Colonial Williamsburg, and assists in the development of Jefferson programs for the Foundation.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bill's interest in Thomas Jefferson reaches back to his youth. He enjoys researching the American world Jefferson knew with an interest in the role the man played and continues to play in our American identity.

Bill received a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history, from Villanova University and attended the University of Pennsylvania for a brief time.

Attracted to the stage at an early age he became a professional actor, director and producer. He was cast as Jefferson in many different venues including the musical, 1776. Bill is the same height, weight and general appearance as Mr. Jefferson.

Mark Sowell

Mark Sowell is an actor and impersonator of George Mason.

About 80 minutes.

Breaking Down Healthcare Reform

Richard Epstein, professor of law at The University of Chicago, discusses the current proposal for healthcare reform.

He points out inconsistencies in what is been promised and what is in the bill, and makes suggestions for a more efficient health care system. About 30 minutes.

Marriage Equality: A Debate

With a potentially precedent-setting legal challenge to California's Proposition 8 working its way through the federal court system, the National Constitution Center presents a timely program on the issue of same-sex marriage. Last November, California voters approved the Proposition 8 ballot measure, amending their state Constitution to ban marriages between same-sex couples. A lawsuit filed on behalf of two gay couples wishing to marry has attracted national attention.

David Boies, one of the leading lawyers in the case, is joined in a conversation by Keith Boykin, anti-marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher and Glenn Stanton. Margot Adler moderates. About 1:45.

The Rise of America's Surveillance State

Shane Harris, a reporter for National Journal, talks about The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State.

Harris charts the rise of America's surveillance state over the past 25 years and highlights a dangerous paradox: he argues the government's strategy has made it harder to catch terrorists and easier to spy on civilians. About 55 minutes.
To order The Watchers go here.

Nomad: From Islam to America

The controversial author, feminist activist and politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes to Melbourne. A vocal and prominent critic of Islam, Ali has been celebrated and criticised for her work and writings. A former member of the Dutch House of Representatives, she has campaigned passionately for conflict resolution, ethics and world citizenship. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2005, her memoir Infidel has been praised as profoundly affecting and powerful. The followup, Nomad, tells the stirring story of her search for a new life as she tries to reconcile her Islamic past with her passionate adherence to democracy and Western values. About 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Overtuning Proposition 8

David Boies has been deeply involved in some of the most prominent legal disputes of the past two decades. From serving as special counsel to the Justice Department in the United States v. Microsoft trial to representing Vice President Al Gore in the Bush v. Gore case following the 2000 presidential election, Boies' legal experience is extensive and varied.

Currently, Boies and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson are working to overturn California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. In a recent interview with, Boies asserted that overturning this legislation will "improve the lives of gay and lesbian will not in any way harm heterosexual marriage." In 2010, Boies was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Boies will provide a behind-the-scenes look at his most well-known cases, including Prop. 8, and provide insight into what it takes to challenge the status quo and make legal history. About 70 minutes.

Why Voting Just Encourages Politicians

With more than 1 million words of trenchant journalism under his byline and more citations in the Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotationsthan any living writer, O'Rourke has established himself as a premier political satirist. He is the best-selling author of 12 books, includingParliament of Whores, Give War a Chance, Eat the Rich, The CEO of the Sofa, Holidays in Hell, Peace Kills and On the Wealth of Nations. BothTime and The Wall Street Journal have labeled O'Rourke "the funniest writer in America." On the eve of the release of his highly anticipated new book, Don't Vote, join us as O'Rourke unleashes his wit on our nation's capital and its larger-than-life inhabitants. About one hour.

Marijuana Economics

Will California become the first state to legalize the production and sale of marijuana? November ballot measure Proposition 19 would allow local governments to choose whether and how to regulate and tax marijuana. Some are concerned about legalization's effect on consumption and public health, while others tout the potential boon to city and state coffers. Besides the jaw-dropping estimated retail price decrease from $400 to $38 per ounce, nothing is really certain about the potential impact of Prop 19. Advocates of both sides argue the pros and cons of pushing pot through the legal pipeline.

Peter Thiel on the Economic Situation

Peter Thiel argues that a book published in France in 1968, Le Defi Americain (The American Challenge) has a lot to say to us in the United States in 2008 and discusses why the U.S. has failed to rise to the heights predicted by its author, J. J. Servan-Schreiber.

In explaining what's wrong with the U.S. economy, Thiel points out that, although we have benefited from growth that is both extensive (e.g., free trade) and intensive (e.g., technology), we have not featured enough of each.

He asserts that the credit crisis of 2008 has nothing to do with the failings of the free market but rather is a by-product of government entanglement, nurtured by the motors of economic growth working less well than expected. Remember while much of what Sowell says is of interest to libertarians, he is NO libertarian. About 38 minutes.

The Housing Boom and Bust

Thomas Sowell analyzes the recent housing boom and bust, beginning with the underlying economic causes that artificially inflated housing costs in certain markets. He points the finger directly at political decisions in Washington -- particularly involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- that enabled and promoted the financing of an unsustainable housing bubble in which the collapse of prices in a few inflated markets rapidly evolved into a national crisis.

Sowell challenges the accepted wisdom of modeling a recovery based on the New Deal, which he asserts did little to help -- and perhaps even extended -- The Great Depression. Finally, he disputes the value of the recent stimulus package and argues against Obama's health-care and energy initiatives. About 34 minutes.
Thomas Sowell's book can be purchased here.

How Exchange Has Improved the Human Race.

A former science and technology editor for The Economist magazine, Matt Ridley is a journalist and best-selling author whose books includeGenome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. His most recent book is The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.

Matt Ridley discusses the evolutionary process of "ideas having sex," calling it the secret behind human progress. He asserts that "barter was the trick that changed the world" and outlines his argument that life for the average human being is richer, healthier, and kinder than ever. Finally, he discusses whether limited government and rational optimism go hand in hand. About 33 minutes.'

Is Obama a Socialist?

An author, journalist, and social anthropologist (PhD Harvard), Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and a contributing editor to National Review Online. His latest book is Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

"President Obama is a socialist!" The explosive charge has been made, rebutted, and laughed off since the 2008 campaign. In
Radical-in-Chief, Kurtz asserts that the charge is not off base and backs up his assertion with a detailed examination of President Obama's past from his college days to his Chicago associations with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

He details the gradualist, socialist strategy of Obama’s mentors and answers the key questions at the heart of this issue. "What difference does it make what Barack Obama believes? All that need concern us is what he does. Isn’t that right?" ABout 37 minutes.

Public Education a Relic of the Industrial Age

Sir Ken Robinson is an expert in creativity, innovation, and human resources. He works with governments in Europe, Asia, and the United States, and with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and cultural organizations. Robinson led a national commission on creativity, education, and the economy for the UK government and was central in forming a creative- and economic-development strategy as part of the Northern Ireland peace process. Formerly, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick. He discusses how the need for public education is changing. About 75 minutes.

Robert Nozick on Civil and Economic Liberties

In an interview, philosophy professor Chris Frieman discusses the work of 20th century philosopher Robert Nozick. In this segment, he describes how Nozick's endorsement of civil liberties led him to support similar liberties for economic decisions. About 2 minutes.

The Roots of Freedom in Ancient Greece

In an interview, philosophy professor Mark LeBar discusses how core ideas in classical liberal thought, such as individualism, sociability, and justice, originated in Ancient Greece. About 4 minutes.

Opportunities as a Solution to Poverty

In an interview, philosopher David Schmidtz discusses the social conditions necessary for alleviating poverty. Opportunities to trade and to better one's life, through voluntary relationships in a world of peace, lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for everyone. About 3 minutes.

A Philosopher's Take on Political Bias

Chris Freiman, a philosophy professor at the College of William and Mary, describes the phenomenon of "confirmation bias": how people look for evidence to confirm their existing beliefs. He shows how confirmation bias plays an important role in citizens' voting decisions. About 4 minutes.

Equality and Respect

Philosophy professor Aeon Skoble asks, "What do we mean when we talk about equality?" In this lecture, he discusses the theory of natural human rights and its extension to positive / negative political rights. Filmed at the 2006 IHS seminar "Exploring Liberty" at Princeton University. About 65 minutes.

History professor Rob McDonald of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point gives a lecture on the conflict between the ideals of the American Revolution, such as individual liberty, and unfortunate realities of the time, such as slavery. Filmed at the 2006 IHS seminar "Exploring Liberty" at Princeton University. About one hour.

Incentive and Institutions

From the IHS Vault: Economics professor Howie Baetjer of Towson University discusses how institutions, both public and private, affect the incentives that individuals face. These incentives impact the issues people care about, such as wildlife conservation. Filmed at the 2006 IHS seminar "Exploring Liberty" at Princeton University. About 75 minutes.

Economics professor Howie Baetjer of Towson University explains how the market process generates improvements in the human condition. In particular, he highlights how profit & loss serve to help people channel their activities in creative and socially useful directions. Filmed at the 2006 IHS seminar "Exploring Liberty" at Princeton University. About 55 minutes.

Economics professor Howie Baetjer of Towson University explains how the market process generates improvements in the human condition. In particular, he highlights how profit & loss serve to help people channel their activities in creative and socially useful directions. Filmed at the 2006 IHS seminar "Exploring Liberty" at Princeton University. About 55 minutes.

Economic Freedom and Growth

Economics professor Josh Hall describes how greater economic freedom leads to higher incomes and more economic development over time. When governments allow citizens the freedom to trade, own property, create businesses, and contract with others, the income of average citizens grows over time. This effect can be observed internationally when comparing countries, as well as domestically when comparing states in the US. About 3 minutes.

Economic Freedon and a Better Life

Economics professor Josh Hall explains how freedom leads to greater prosperity. 3 minutes.

What is Classical Liberalism

Dr. Nigel Ashford lays out the 10 core principles of classical liberalism. 7 minutes.