EPISODES

Truth, Politics and Power launched on January  13, 2017 with an “Inauguration Special.”  You can hear that and all of our episodes here.

FAMILY TIES AT THE WHITE HOUSE

February 16, 2018

Episode 47

For more than half a century, Presidents based major decisions on a deliberative process that invited input from all the government agencies concerned. In the next Truth, Politics and Power, a critic describes President Trump’s style  as “sultanism,” with impulsive decisions based on personal relationships rather than the interagency process. In a conversation with George Washington’s fifth great-grand nephew,  host Neal Conan learns why our first president rejected political ties of blood or friendship and why many of his successors were not so meticulous. “Family Ties at the White House”, next Truth, Politics and Power.

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PRESIDENTS, POLITICS and the FBI

February 9, 2018

Episode 46

While the FBI is no stranger to political controversy, the bureau is now the target of an unlikely attack.  President Trump and his allies have launched a campaign to discredit the FBI…and, by extension…the Russia Investigation headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller. In “Presidents, Politics and the FBI”, host Neal Conan speaks with former FBI Agent Asha Rangappa about declassified memos, smoking guns and the culture of the bureau. Plus NPR’s Ron Elving on the political history of the FBI from gangbusters to Watergate, and Garrett Graff, on how the bureau’s changed since 9/11.

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AMERICA FIRST

February 2, 2018

Episode 45

In his address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Trump turned to a slogan he trumpeted during his campaign and his inaugural address to describe American trade policy.  “America First”. Host Neal Conan asks whether the slogan more accurately describes a nationalist revision of American foreign policy that threatens to make the world more chaotic and more dangerous.  Plus we revisit interviews on the original America First movement, when the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh  campaigned to keep the US on the sidelines of the Second World War and on the issue that underlies much debate on US foreign Policy since the 1890s – intervention.

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THE POLITICS OF OIL

January 26, 2018

Episode 44

Turkey’s escalation in it’s war against US backed Kurdish fighters puts the United States on a collision course with a NATO ally and offers a window into  the contradictions of U.S. Middle East policy in a post ISIS Syria.  For Syria’s Kurds, it means being caught in between President Erdogan’s plan to eliminate  a “mortal enemy”, and President Trump’s overarching goal in the region … to confront Iran.

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INAUGURAL EDITION: One Year Later

January 19, 2018

Episode 43

A year ago, as Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States, many compared elements of his campaign with fascism. This week, we invite you to revisit the Inaugural Edition of “Truth, Politics and Power,” where host Neal Conan asked whether it was fair or accurate to use terms like fascist, Nazi or make direct comparisons to Adolph Hitler. A year later, the conversations with Hitler biographer Volker Ullrich and historian Robert Kagan resonate with the tumultuous events of President Trump’s first year in power.

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CONFRONTING IRAN

January 12, 2018

Episode 42

As President Trump makes a crucial decision on the deal to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program, two old enemies confront each other in eastern Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and in the waters of the Persian Gulf. In “Confronting Iran ” Truth, Politics and Power host Neal Conan considers the consequences of the current stand-off, and re-visits  conversations on two crucial periods  – how Iran emerged as the winner of the US lead invasion of Iraq, and the small naval war between Iran and the US in 1988.

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7 DIRTY WORDS

January 5, 2018

Episode 41
The effort to suppress specific words at the Centers for Disease Control represents another round in the long conflict between politics and science. In a “Seven Dirty Words” Edition of Truth Politics and Power, host Neal Conan revisits the history of science and censorship. Plus a conversation about what actually happened in Florida after the state government prohibited employees from using the term, “global warming”, how the Helms Amendment changed the way we talked about AIDS education, and a strange story of the FCC and George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words…you know, the ones you can never say on TV…or radio.

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WHEN THE WORLD OUTLAWED WAR

December 29, 2017

Episode 40

Two law professors from Yale argue that a now-obscure treaty, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, marked a major turning point in world history; prior to its ratification in 1928, war and territorial conquest were entirely legal. Their book, “The Internationalists” has been hailed as one of the books of the year by, among others, The Economist. In a re-run of one of our favorite episodes of Truth Politics and Power, they tell host Neal Conan how an agreement to outlaw war transformed the world conflagration that erupted only a few years later into a war between the Old World Order and the new. The pact also enabled the Allies to try German and Japanese leaders for an unprecedented crime – waging aggressive war. Since then, wars between states and territorial conquest have declined dramatically. “When the world Outlawed War” on Truth Politics and Power

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KING GOAL

December 22, 2017

Episode 39

Donald Trump’s promise to end what he called the war on coal played a critical role in his presidential campaign. On a “King Coal” edition of  “Truth, Politics and Power,” host Neal Conan asks what Trump has done in his first year in office to redeem his promise to revive the industry. We’ll also go to Appalachia to listen to the men and women whose jobs and way of life are threatened by cheaper, cleaner energy alternatives and mechanization; and we’ll learn about the critical role coal played as America emerged as an industrial and military power. It all started with delivering the mail.

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PLEA DEAL

December 8, 2017

Episode 38

After Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, admitted that he lied to the FBI and agreed to co-operate with the Special counsel, host Neal Conan and his guests re-evaluate the case for  obstruction of justice on a “Plea Deal Edition” of “Truth, Politics and Power.” Plus a conversation with Dana Priest of the Washington Post on why two presidents fired Flynn, and what we can learn about what might be going on inside the Trump White House, from a look back at the besieged administrations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

WAR POWERS

December 1, 2017

Episode 37

From Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo to the War on Terror, presidents have gathered more and more authority to start and conduct wars on their own. In a “War Powers Edition” of Truth, Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan asks how the commander in chief acquired that authority, why Congress has surrendered its constitutional role and whether there are any checks and balances on President Trump’s ability to launch a nuclear first strike on North Korea.

THE POLITICS OF DENIAL

November 24, 2017

Rebroadcast

Legions of lobbyists and lawyers obscured the facts on tobacco and cancer for decades…even when tobacco companies knew their products caused cancer.  Host Neal Conan talks with writer Alan Schwarz, who found that the football industry followed the same pattern in response to discoveries about the long term effects of concussion, and with Science Historian Naomi Oreskes, who argues that the chorus of climate deniers also follows tobacco’s lead, and that the result, will be global calamity.

THE U.S. & SAUDI ARABIA

November 17, 2017

Episode 36

 Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has overthrown the political order to install his 32 year old son as Crown Prince. Mohammed bin Salman now controls the army, police and the National Guard, He’s also in charge of an enormous program to modernize the economy. As the head of a new anti-corruption unit, he’s arrested hundreds of prominent Saudis in what some describe as a purge. And MBS, as he’s known, is conducting aggressive proxy wars as part of an escalating conflict with Iran. On the next Truth Politics and Power, host Neal Conan discusses how Saudi Arabia’s radical new policies destabilize the Middle East. Plus the history of the US-Saudi alliance from FDR to President Trump.

THE PRESIDENTS’ CLUB

November 10, 2017

Episode 36

  With Europe in chaos at the end of WWII, President Harry Truman called on a logistical genius to sort out food delivery to Europe …disgraced former president Herbert Hoover. Hours after he was sworn in, Lyndon Johnson told Dwight Eisenhower, “I need you more than ever.” From political exile, Richard Nixon phoned Ronald Reagan with advice on the Soviet Union, and Reagan took it on himself to teach Bill Clinton how to salute. In the next Truth Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan talks with Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, the authors of “The President’s Club,” about the co-operation, competition and consolation among presidents and their predecessors.

TAX REFORM EDITION

October 27, 2017

Episode 35

 As the White House and Congressional Republicans press for sweeping tax reform, Truth Politics and Power Host Neal Conan explores the economic and political history of the federal tax system. From the tariffs and excise taxes that funded government in the 18th and 19th century to the 16th amendment and a permanent income tax to “Taxes to beat the Axis” in WWII which created the federal tax system as we know it. How both political parties became allergic to tax increases and the hidden tax benefits of the welfare state that subsidize the middle class..

FORSEEABLE FUTURE EDITION

October 27, 2017

Episode 34

While details of the future obviously remain unknowable, we can  predict that the next few decades will be profoundly affected by climate change, that unmanned weapons systems – drones – will come to play bigger and bigger roles in war and that changes in the populations of Japan and China will be a major factor in the destiny of East Asia and the Pacific Rim. In a “Foreseeable Future” Edition of Truth Politics and Power, host Neal Conan holds in depth conversations with leading climatologist Michael MannMissy Cummings, an expert on the development of unmanned systems and Howard French, author of “Everything Under the Heavens.”

New World Order

October 20, 2017

Episode 33

Just a decade before the outbreak of World War II, most of the world’s countries agreed to make war illegal. The Kellogg-Briand Pact may have seemed like a failure, but two law professors from Yale argue in their new book, The Internationalists, that the treaty marked a major turning point in world history. In a “New World Order Edition” of Truth Politics and Power, they tell host Neal Conan the agreement to outlaw war made the world conflagration that erupted only a few years later into a war between the Old World Order and the new, and enabled the Allies to try German and Japanese leaders for an unprecedented crime – waging aggressive war. Since then, war between states and territorial conquest have declined dramatically.

Gun Rights & Gun Control

October 13, 2017

Episode 32

Host Neal Conan delves into the long history of the debate between gun rights and gun control going back to the Founding Fathers who required every adult white male to own a musket, and bring it to musters where it was inspected and registered. How a  duty for community self defense evolved into an individual right to bear arms and how the laws changed with both weapons technology and the rise of the National Rifle Association. Plus restrictions on research into guns and gun deaths.

Brinksmanship

October 6, 2017

Episode 31

As President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un exchange insults and threats, host Neal Conan puts the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang into historical and intellectual context in a Brinksmanship Edition of Truth Politics and Power. Conversations about strategist Thomas Schelling and the risks of gaming nuclear conflict; Josef Stalin, Harry Truman and the lessons of the first crisis of the Cold War; and how hyperbolic rhetoric and apocalyptic threats affect the calculus of deterrence.

Politics of Disaster

September 29, 2017

Episode 30

As people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico struggle to recover from storms, the Politics of Disaster is the next edition of Truth, Politics and Power. Host Neal Conan with conversations about how federal policy contributes to catastrophe, how an enormous flood in 1927 changed the way Americans think about the size and role of government , and the secret history of FEMA, the agency created to manage the ultimate disaster…nuclear apocalypse.

Ethnic Cleansing

September 22, 2017

Episode 29

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled across the border of Myanmar…they say the military is mounting a campaign of murder, rape and arson that a senior UN official calls a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. On the next Truth Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan explores how and why nations unleash mass violence on minorities, what’s happening in the fledgling democracy of Myanmar, and, after Rwanda and Kosovo and too many others, what we’ve learned about how to answer the atrocities of ethnic cleansing.

The United States and Iran

Episode 28

September 15, 2017

The United States and Iran confront each other  in Yemen and the Gulf, while the longtime enemies act as uncomfortable allies against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, President Trump faces a crucial decision on the nuclear agreement he’s long vowed to tear up. Host Neal Conan explores the consequences of that decision, and delves into  two crucial periods in the troubled history between the US and the Islamic Republic..…The Iran-Iraq War, when the US sided with Iran’s bitterest enemy…and the Invasion of Iraq, which left Iran as the principal beneficiary.

Politics of Denial

Episode 27

September 8, 2017

Legions of lobbyists and lawyers obscured the facts on tobacco and cancer for decades…even when tobacco companies knew their products caused cancer.  Host Neal Conan talks with writer Alan Schwarz, who found that the football industry followed the same pattern in response to discoveries about the long term effects of concussion, and with Science Historian Naomi Oreskes, who argues that the chorus of climate deniers also follows tobacco’s lead, and that the result, will be global calamity.

States’ Rights

Episode 26

September 1, 2017

The tension between the States and the Federal Government animates American History from the Constitutional Convention to Charlottesville. Host Neal Conan traces the political history of States Rights which turns again and again on the issue of race, from the fugitive slave law of 1792 through the Civil War and on into the Twentieth Century, where the term became a code word for Jim Crow racism. Plus a look at how both left and right use the States Rights playbook today, on issues including marijuana, abortion and same sex marriage.

Propaganda

Episode 25

August 25, 2017

While every country puts the best possible face on events, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has devised a post modern propaganda designed to undermine truth itself. On this edition of “Truth Politics and Power” host Neal Conan discusses the Russian state’s wide scale use of blackmail known as “kompromat,” managed democracy and non-linear warfare. Plus a conversation on information agencies operated by the US in both world wars and the cold war.

North Korea Update

Episode 24

August 18, 2017

After the recent exchange of threats between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, host Neal Conan updates earlier edition of Truth Politics and Power on the crisis in North East Asia. Fresh interviews with Ambassador Chris Hill, a former North Korea negotiator, and Michele Flournoy, a senior official in the Pentagon during the Obama Administration on how the diplomatic snd military situations has changed after north Korea’s tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles and the unanimous approval of new sanctions by the United Nations. We also hear historian Sheila Miyoshi Jager on the 70 yea struggle between the two Koreas and how the US found itself in a nuclear standoff with an impoverished cold war relic.

The Wall

Episode 23

August 11, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump described his big, beautiful wall along the Mexican frontier in existential terms; If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. Host Neal Conan explores how secure borders became part of the definition of a state, how well walls worked through history and talks with Peter Robinson, the speechwriter who came up withPresident Ronald Reagan’s famous line in Berlin: “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Voter Fraud

Episode 22

August 4, 2017

As congress and a special counsel investigate allegations of Russian meddling and collusion by the Trump campaign, a presidential commission looks into charges, that millions voted illegally last November. In a “Voter Fraud” edition of Truth Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan learns that non citizens were allowed to vote in 40 states- conversations on why, how that changed, and what happens if we find proof that the 2016 election was a fraud: do we get a do-over?

Impeachment

Episode 21

July 28, 2017

With investigations of the President and his campaign staff underway in Washington, Host Neal Conan talks about the procedure for the removal of the Chief Executive.  An “Impeachment Edition” of Truth politics and power explains how and why the Constitutional Convention decided to constrain  the powers of presidents and the meaning of “high crimes or misdemeanors.” Plus in-depth conversations on our two presidential impeachment trials: Nina Totenberg, on William Jefferson Clinton, and David O. Stewart on the dramatic case of Andrew Johnson.

Loyalty

Episode 20
July 21, 2017
James Comey says that President Trump asked for a loyalty pledge…and his unwillingness to agree was the beginning of the end of his job as Director of the FBI. On this edition of Truth, Politics and Power, Host Neal Conan talks about the loyalty past presidents have asked of their political appointees with former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, on the line between loyalty and public service, and former Assistant Secretary Peter Edelman, on how and why he chose to resign. Also, analysis of when members of congress start to abandon a president of their own political party.

Mission Creep

Episode 19
July 14, 2017
As US advisers and aircraft lead the battle to capture Raqa’a, Russian, Iranian and Syrian government forces are also converging on the Capital of the so-called Islamic State…and US goals may be shifting. In a “Mission Creep” Edition of Truth Politics and Power, host Neal Conan discusses the complex situation in Syria with former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, talks with author Mark Bowden about “Black Hawk Down, “ the operation that even a quarter century later continues to define the dangers of Mission Creep and looks at the ever expanding role of the US military overseas, as the Defense Department’s mission grows to cover tasks previously handled by diplomats and other civilians.

Big Government

Episode 18
July 7, 2017
The battle over health care encapsulates the philosophical chasm between the two major parties: Democrats want to expand coverage even at the price of new taxes…Republicans want to reduce the size and power of government, even if millions lose coverage. Host Neal Conan traces the evolution of the argument on the appropriate size and role of government from the New Deal through Civil Rights, the Reagan revolution and the partisan warfare of the 21st century

Gerrymander

Episode 17
June 30, 2017
A Gerrymander Edition of Truth Politics and Power delves into the structural advantage that Republicans enjoy in the House of Representatives. Both parties redraw electoral lines to help themselves – Host Neal Conan asks why Republicans do it better and whether Democrats hurt themselves by packing into urban districts. This may all change, as some states adopt bipartisan commissions and the Supreme Court takes a case that challenges the principle of partisan advantage

National Security Council

Episode 16
June 23, 2017
President Trump is delegating more authority over National Security to the generals who lead the National Security Council and the Pentagon. On this Edition of Truth Politics and Power, how the National Security Council makes decisions, how it meshes with the President and his Cabinet, and the vast differences between the two generals he’s appointed as National Security Advisor.

Unthinkable

Episode 15
June 9, 2017
Candidate Trump vowed to put America’s nuclear forces back at the top of the pack, and a Strategic Weapons review that’s underway comes as new technology upends one of the principal tenets of deterrence: for the first time, nuclear arsenals may be vulnerable to a first strike. Neal Conan talks with Keir Lieberman and Daryl Press, the authors of a paper that describes how advances in technology combine to undermine deterrence and about a case in point: North Korea. Paul Bracken, the author of The Second Nuclear age, concludes that we’re about to enter a new nuclear arms race with a president who trumpets unpredictability.

Politics of Fear

Episode 14
June 2, 2017
On this Edition of Truth Politics and Power, David Livingstone Smith, author of “Less Than Human,” analyzes the meaning and purpose of hateful language, like Donald Trump’s descriptions of Mexican and Muslims. Neal Conan also speaks with Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah about the failure of imagination, that’s left so many Americans without meaningful employment. Plus, in Recommended Reading, retired Major General Mike Davidson on “Dereliction of Duty”, by HR McMaster; the analysis of the failures of leadership that lead to the Vietnam war by the man who’s now President Trump’s National Security Advisor.

How Do Civil Wars End?

Episode 13
May 26, 2017
As President Trump expands US involvement in he Middle East, host Neal Conan explores the conflicts in Iraq and Syria in depth. Professor T. David Mason will put Iraq in the context of his ground breaking analysis on how and why civil wars end. Former NPR correspondent Deborah Amos helps us understand the convoluted history of the conflict in Syria; plus author and historian Annette Gordon Reed on the Civil War we know best- our own.

You’re Fired

Episode 12
May 19, 2017
President Trump caused controversy when he dismissed the Acting Attorney General and dozens of US Attorneys, but set off a political tsunami when he fired the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Host Neal Conan asks Constitutional Law Professor Michael Gearhardt whether the firing could amount to obstruction of justice, delves into the history of the FBI and presidents with Yale’s Beverly Gage and recalls the most dramatic of all presidential firings: Harry Truman’s dismissal of war hero General Douglas MacArthur. Plus, recommended reading from historian Annette Gordon Reed,.

Strongman

Episode 11
May 12, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declares that American values must take a back seat to American interests, host Neal Conan explores Human Rights place in President Trump’s foreign policy after he embraced autocrats and alienated democratic allies. We’ll look at the Human Rights record of one of those strongmen, President Roderigo Duterte of the Philippines, talk with Professor John Mearshimer about the history between US Presidents and dictators and explore how Human Rights became so important to the American public.

Politically Correct

Episode 10
May 5, 2017
On this edition of Truth,Politics & Power we examine the origins of “PC” on the fringes of the American Left in the 1930s, how it evolved into a catch-all insult hurled from the right at the left and how it came to take a central role in the election of Donald Trump. Conversations with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on political rhetoric; linguist John McWhorter and with comedian Josh Blue, whose act requires exquisite attention to what’s PC, what isn’t, and when to cross the line to challenge his audience

The EU: Trouble in Paradise

Episode 9
April 28, 2017
The institutions that created an extraordinary era of peace and security in Europe face an existential crisis. Torn by internal divisions and challenged by an aggressive Russia, the European Union and NATO struggle to sustain support amid a wave of populism. On this episode, conversations with Steven Erlanger, London Bureau Chief of the New York Times and Timothy Gaston Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, on the French Presidential election, nationalism and the erosion of liberal democracy.

Party Politics

Episode 8
April 21, 2017
A Party Politics Edition of Truth Politics and Power explores how Donald Trump thrives in a time of political extremism, obstruction and filibuster. Boston College History Professor Heather Cox Richardson on Trump’s affection for another disruptive president, Andrew Jackson; Democratic Strategist Cornell Belcher on the seismic charges that shaped both parties after the 1960s and scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein on the future of our fractured parties in the age of Trump.

Chemical Weapons

Episode 7
April 14, 2017
A single chemical weapon attack caused President Trump to switch positions on Syria and Russia. How did chlorine, mustard gas and nerve agents become so reviled?  Neal Conan talks about why the world banned these weapons and where the Chemical Weapons Convention stands now with Richard A Price, the author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo. NPR correspondent Dan Charles, author of Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, tells the story of the Nobel laureate who became the father of chemical warfare.  And Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator, puts the sarin attack, and President Trump’s response, into the context of an emerging Middle East Policy.

DPRK

Episode 6
April 7, 2017
As Pyongyang continues to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to carry them, the Trump Administration vows that the U.S. will resolve the crisis — with China’s help if possible, but on its own if necessary. In this episode: hear from former Ambassador Christopher Hill on where we stand now and why options range from bad to worse, and Sheila Miyoshi Jager, author of Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, on the 70-year struggle among Koreans to determine the future of their peninsula.

America First

Episode 5
March 24, 2017
The slogan of Donald Trump’s campaign has become the mantra for his nationalistic policies as president. And the term comes freighted with history. In this episode: a look back at the America First movement of the 1930s, often described as isolationist, but which also developed an affinity for Adolph Hitler and Fascism. Also: how Donald Trump’s version of America First has changed US economic and foreign policy.

Deep State

Episode 4
March 13, 2017
Some Trump supporters claim that progressives burrowed into federal agencies to thwart the new President’s agenda, and even that President Obama stayed in Washington to run a “shadow government.” In this episode: civil service, bureaucratic opposition and the cautionary example of Turkey.

South China Sea

Episode 3
March 10, 2017
Donald Trump is not the only Nationalist in charge of a major military power and will soon run headlong into a long simmering dispute with another one – China’s Xi JinPing. The South China Sea is the economic lynchpin of the Asia/Pacific and a flashpoint between the US and China. Why a little known waterway is so important to the world’s two strongest powers and how nationalism could lock them into a spiral of aggression.

Enemy of the People

Episode 2
March 3, 2017
In February, President Trump escalated his self-declared war with the media when he labeled major networks and newspapers “enemies of the people.” Neal speaks with two thoughtful veterans of the adversarial relationship: Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush and Ted Koppel, longtime anchor of Nightline on ABC. Why an administration’s credibility is vital to its success and what’s the cost when it’s squandered.

Inauguration Special

Episode 1

January 12, 2017

In this hour-long special, host Neal Conan delves into one of the most provocative questions being asked about our next President. Is it fair to compare Trumpism to Fascism?  While Donald Trump and his supporters ridicule the comparison to fascism, critics on the right and left find troubling parallels. “Truth, Politics and Power” will examine the similarities and differences between the fascists of the 1930s and ’40s and the 45th President of the United States with Volker Ullrich, author of the brilliantly reviewed new biography “Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939,” and historian Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of, among many others, “Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century.”