Jonathan Alter

I’m Jonathan Alter and like many of you, I’m often at my happiest when experiencing what the writer Diana Trilling called “a life of significant contention.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean arguing, just conversing about what’s important and compelling instead of trivial and boring.

I launched OLD GOATS as a platform for my own arguments and to host fun yet meaningful conversations among people who’ve been around for a while.

This country has always been fascinated by what’s new, and recently we’ve begun listening to younger, more diverse voices. I think we can all agree that’s great.

But I’m in my mid-60s and still get up most mornings with some things I want to say—many of them rooted in what’s old. 

I like to use the past to help me think more clearly about the present and the future. 

As Dwight Hansen, the otherwise despicable father played by Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life, puts it: “I know a thing or two about a thing or two.”

I imagine you do, too. Plenty of old goats aren’t ready to be put out to pasture.

I can see the eyeball-rolling now: OK, boomer. OK, wise janitor (the character in Not Another Teen Movie satirizing the old guy at the high school dispensing pearls of wisdom to teenagers). OK, original gangster.

But you know what? We’re still here. Per Hamlet, we’re not ready to “shuffle off this mortal coil” —or to a shuffleboard court.


When the inter-generational tension fades, we all know that experienced people in any realm have a lot to teach each other and younger people.

This newsletters provide a forum for that and a little counter-programming to society’s constant focus on the new.

Many weeks, I “ruminate” with compelling people who have a little mileage on the odometer - but still know a thing or two about a thing or two

I encourage all of you to react to what you’re reading. Please post your comments and mix it up all with me and other subscribers.

If this community was an investment, it might be called a “wisdom play.” I hope you’ll stumble on a few good stories and fresh insights that --with any luck-- could help make you a little wiser and better-informed.

Most online interviews and exchanges nowadays are podcasts and videos. They’re great, but hard to scan through. OLD GOATS conversations are presented to you in written form—edited transcripts—so you can go deeper, faster and skip ahead or linger at will.

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WHAT YOU WILL GET when you subscribe:

-Every Friday, I post a column or a conversation with a smart friend or acquaintance who has been alive for more than half a century, a few of whom may even qualify as a true GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

All subscribers—paid and free—get these columns and weekly conversations.

To help keep this little enterprise going, I’d appreciate your support.

$6 a month

$60 a year (two months free)


I was born and raised in a politically-active family on the North Side of Chicago. As a child, I loved American presidents the way other kids obsessed over dinosaurs and grew up to interview nine of them (either before, during or after their presidencies) and write books about Franklin Roosevelt, Barack Obama and, most recently, Jimmy Carter. After college, a series of odd jobs and training at The Washington Monthly, I spent 28 years at Newsweek, most of it as a columnist and senior editor, covering a wide variety of stories at home and abroad. I’ve worked part-time for NBC News and MSNBC for 25 years as a contributing correspondent and political analyst. I’ve written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other publications and in recent years branched out and became a documentary filmmaker (the Emmy-winning Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists), a producer of a scripted Amazon television series (Alpha House), and the host of a weekly SiriusXM radio show (Alter Family Politics) where we sit around and talk as if we were at the dinner table. 

Twitter: @jonathanalter


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Ruminating with friends


Jonathan Alter

Old Goats: Ruminating With Friends. Author of books on FDR, Obama and Carter; journalist; MSNBC analyst; documentary filmmaker; SiriusXM host. Emily's husband; Charlotte, Tommy and Molly's dad.


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