Progressive politics, news & talk hosted by David Waldman

We started off this morning with a look at the startling National Journal article, "Gun Deaths Since Newtown Now Surpass Number of Americans Killed in Iraq." But as startling as that is, it's based on Slate's crowd-sourced and "necessarily incomplete" interactive database cataloging gun deaths since 12/14, and CDC statistics tell us that there have been far, far more deaths than that. How many more? Listen and find out. Two recent #GunFAIL episodes illustrate a cultural divide in how we think of the dangers guns can pose. More national press join the gun violence chase, this time watching child shootings. Norm Ornstein on the renewed nuclear option fight. Rep. Bobby Rush swipes at Sen. Mark Kirk's efforts to fund an anti-gang initiative as an "elitist white boy solution." Armando calls in to discuss appointment powers, the "unitary executive" theory, and constitutional hardball, and float some bold theories. Free advice! Just what every president needs! Also: Did John McCain pose with suspected kidnappers during his Syria excursion? ArchPundit sends word to help us clear up the situation with Illinois gun law. And the conservative-leaning Volokh Conspiracy blog dismisses the accusation that AG Eric Holder lied under oath.

Direct download: May_31_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:50pm EDT

Fox sees doom in female breadwinners. #GunFAIL update. Armando's roundup, including: 1Q GDP revisions; comments on takes from Garance Franke-Ruta and E.J. Dionne on Clinton versus Obama "scandals"; the latest in the IRS & AP stories; the nomination of James Comey to head the FBI, and; the plight of Beatriz, the 22-year-old Salvadoran woman being denied a medically-necessary abortion. Other topics of interest: fear of terrorism prevents communities from finding out about dangerous chemicals in their midst; another casual "joking" assassination threat from Tea Party activists; more about women as breadwinners, and; the curious contortions of "pro-business" forces in opposition to minimum wage hikes for fast food workers and others.

Direct download: May_30_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:12pm EDT

Greg Dworkin was back with us, but only for today. Busy week for him! But he was on hand to discuss the Bachmann retirement, today's somewhat laughable Tom Friedman article, GMU's Center for Media and Public Affairs' analysis of Politifact, and the quarter to one-third of poll respondents who are routinely willing to agree to something crazy. Plus, his collection of "But" stories, which make a great point, but sounds funnier out loud than it reads. Afterwards, a broad gun issue roundup including: the nature of traditional media coverage of gun violence; a #GunFAIL report from Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day; a #GunFAIL alumnus & outspoken pro-gun lobbyist arrested in Utah; a local columnist's reaction to the gun-toting Utah teachers story; and a legal backgrounder on the situation in Illinois, where the state legislature has just days to come up with a replacement for its gun laws struck down by a federal appeals court. Wrapping up, we read what appears to be a real and genuinely-offered selection entitled, "Why Are Liberals So Rude to the Right?" No, seriously!

Direct download: May_29_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Seems like the context of the IRS story is changing bit by bit. The White House tees up a filibuster fight over judicial nominations, preparing up to three appointments to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Since that was the court that stood the last century of recess appointments practice on its head, we discuss the background on that issue. The latest Washington Post entry from Walter Pincus was the jumping off point for a discussion of the Fox News/James Rosen branch of the story that began as a branch of the AP controversy. Armando joins the discussion and explains the differences, and we speculate on reasonable explanations for the Fox branch of the story. Also: have the budget battles impacted NOAA and the National Weather Service, or not? Depends who you ask, and how you ask it. And: the latest and greatest in Conservative Crayzee: Unskewed Polls guy says Obama made Nate Silver buy crack from Hitler during Benghazi, or something.

Direct download: May_28_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:22pm EDT

Greg Dworkin discusses the lingering controversies, including some interesting variations in polling on the AP phone records. Also: the strange case of Josh Barro. The IRS story moves into a new phase, wherein Republicans insist that President Obama had to have known about what a field office of an independent agency was up to, and if he didn't, then that's evidence of a cover-up, too. Next, the Mother Jones reporting on AK-47 "build parties," where participants build their own unmarked and untraceable assault rifles. John McCain looks to defuse "nuclear option" showdown. Lamar Alexander pretends not to see the difference between the ACA and Iran-Contra. A shocking chart showing how the mix of sources of total federal revenues have changed since the 1950s. The Atlantic on "Why Private Schools Are Dying Out." The Teamsters blog notes that income inequality today actually outpaces income inequality in Renaissance Italy. The Medicis were pikers!

Direct download: May_23_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss Oklahoma's continuing recovery, and some of the factors that stand in the way of more widespread adoption of protective measures like the construction of "safe rooms" and basements in homes in "Tornado Alley." Then we catch up on the day's GunFAIL stories, noting once again the passive voice construction that makes accidental shootings a rootless, causeless consequence of freedom or something. Also, more notes on the gun-toting teachers of Utah story, prompted by a note from alpaca farmer, a former Utah resident. Seems the teachers interviewed left out one of the key arguments they once made against a bill that would mandate alerting parents when there's an armed teacher in their kid's classroom. And one of the folks quoted as supporting armed teachers, whose argument rested on those teachers being deemed trustworthy because they had to go through a permitting process, turns out to have been lobbying to repeal the permitting requirement entirely. And not only that, but the guy's actually been on my GunFAIL list before! Moving on, more facts about tax-exempt political groups, and more discussion of a possible "nuclear option" on nomination filibusters.

Direct download: May_22_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:35pm EDT

The day's news was obviously dominated by the Oklahoma tornado situation. In addition to providing our morning news and punditry roundup, of course, Greg Dworkin's an expert in disaster preparation, so we dove into that as well. And once again, disaster response reminds us that teachers are often first responders, and that first responders are unionized, public employees. Also: a peek into the thinking of the conspiracy-minded, and yet another reminder that despite it all, it's still the economy, stupid. We turned back to the gun issue to report another entry in wacky gun news, and to finish up the article about Utah's gun-toting teachers today, with more critique of the strange proclivity for insisting that there's a privacy right bound up in the Second Amendment. From there, an update on the 3D printing issue, a story about "Colorado's deadliest neighborhood," and a somewhat surprising investigation into the disciplinary records and backgrounds of Atlanta area school resource officers. Finally, a listener note seeking clarification in reporting about the "unanimous confirmation" of the new Energy Secretary. Was it unanimous consent, or a unanimous vote. And is there a difference between the two? Answers: yes and yes.

Direct download: May_21_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

Greg Dworkin confirmed for us that the weekend political world was pretty much frozen in place in the middle of last week, so we'd have to look elsewhere for political news not involving Republicans making breathless but unfounded comparisons to Watergate. After a brief detour into the  Umbrellacaust, we moved back to the IRS story, reviewing a few more stories providing context that helps us separate it from shrieking about Watergate. First, Garance Franke-Ruta's piece (and yes, I know I mispronounced archetype!), "There Was No Surge in IRS Tax-Exempt Applications in 2010," then David Cay Johnston's, "Lois Lerner Must Resign," and Stephanie Mencimer's "Actually, Tea Party Groups Gave the IRS Lots of Good Reasons to be Interested." Off on a tangent, but not totally unrelated, was Keenan Steiner's, "How ex-Det. Guy Bowers became the biggest campaign donor of all." Finally, we had to get back to the gun issue, with the tragic story out of Hofstra University making headlines, but also a fascinating look at the concealed carrying teachers of Utah. A very revealing look, I thought, into the minds of folks who feel certain that introducing the presence of guns into the daily lives of our school kids is a decision they feel comfortable making for all of us, pretty much by themselves. Because liberty. Unless you disagree, in which case, their tyranny wins, because it's really liberty.

Direct download: May_20_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

Wrapping up the week with Greg Dworkin, it seems the embers are dying in the "scandal" fires, one at a time. The Sunday shows always run a few days behind, though, because guests and topics are typically locked in by mid-week. On the radar today: Kevin Drum's "It's Official: Those Bogus Email Leaks Came From Republicans." Turns out that news outlets got burned by Republican sources, who told them they had damning emails, but it turns out the genuine article emails were very different from those "leaked" to the press. Armando joined in to press that point, and urge accountability for ABC News' Jonathan Karl, who indicated in his reporting that he'd actually obtained and reviewed the emails himself, but clearly had not. Also, the bizarre story of a holocaust denier who reinvented himself as a Hollywood conservative player, until he was recently outed. How do these fabulists get away with this stuff? A brief #GunFAIL update. And finally, a bit more exploration of the prospects for mid-session filibuster rules reform, drawing on Joan McCarter's post on Harry Reid's plans to call for a vote on Richard Cordray's nomination next week. And hey, in between, we plug show sponsor Audible, and let you know that listeners can sign up & get a free audio book download at

Direct download: May_17_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:09pm EDT

During Greg Dworkin's morning roundup, we wondered whether maybe the biggest casualty of this week's scandalpalooza has really been the Benghazi hoopla. Conservative fire remains concentrated on the IRS story, though that seems to be the one that offers the most angles for firing back. But it works as a way of not concentrating on what was, until last week, the zOMG stories of the century: the debt & deficit, now plummeting at record pace. Discussion of the IRS story continued around selections from FiveThirtyEight's "I.R.S. Approved Dozens of Tea Party Groups Following Congressional Scrutiny," an old LA Times article on IRS targeting of a liberal California church, the actual Nixon White House tapes regarding political use of the IRS, Rick Perlstein's "Washington Misses the Point on the Tea Party and the IRS," Mark Sumner's "The IRS 'scandal'--all smoke, no fire," and David Cay Johnston's "The other IRS scandal." Armando chimed in from the road on these stories as well. Finally, a word about the ridiculous "wish we'd had some AR-15s up in Boston" talking point, and a short catch-up on new filibuster reform talk.

Direct download: May_16_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Greg Dworkin gave us a round-up sampling on the three "scandals" of the week, the 37th attempt of the House Republicans to repeal Obamacare, and Stanley Fish's question, "Is the N.R.A. Un-American?" Meanwhile, what's suddenly missing from the conversation? Debt & deficit hawkery. Is it the "scandal" feeding frenzy? Or is it because both have dropped precipitously, so the narrative is falling apart? Next, a detour back through #GunFAIL, including the continuing child-on-child shooting spree, and some fact-finding on claims that accidents at gun shows just don't happen, or are super-rare anomalies. Then, back to the IRS story, featuring the 2011 Mother Jones series, "Tea Party Patriots Investigated." Seems some of the Tea Party's own grassroots think some of the groups scrutinized probably deserved it.

Direct download: May_15_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:45am EDT

Washington's focus on "scandal" continued today, to no one's surprise. Armando called in on the IRS, Benghazi and AP stories, plus the truly astounding Washington Post "fact check" of the "act of terror" versus "terrorist act" flap. We expanded the discussion to the entirety of the "Republican scandal management playbook," bringing in Jon Perr to discuss his Sunday Kos post on the subject. Also, information both old and new begins to emerge that appears to indicate that grassroots Tea Party activists had as much motive to target the big name, big money "Tea Party" astroturf groups for IRS scrutiny as anybody. Meanwhile, isn't it amazing how this is never reported as a distraction, or as "poisoning the well" against the prospects of a "Grand Bargain?" Your "liberal media," folks.

Direct download: May_14_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:05pm EDT

Death panels! I mean, Demon Pass! I mean, Benghazi! I mean, IRS! Yeah, we probably shouldn't feed this, but there's so many tangential issues tied up in how we treat charges of politicization of federal agencies, we just had to take a look. Greg Dworkin reminded us all too briefly that there are other things happening in the world, specifically the decision of what to do in Newtown, CT with the now-vacant Sandy Hook Elementary School building. But local decisions, like national ones, are political by nature, and the dynamics are surprisingly familiar. For the most part, the rest of the show was given over to the weekend's IRS blow-up. We recall the Republicans' own effort to "defund the left" through the mid-90s-era Istoook amendment, targeting federal grantees involved in what they felt was "improper" political activities, as well as Newt Gingrich's efforts to shoehorn his own political activity into a tax-exempt context. And the Bush-era audits of the NAACP, Greenpeace and others. We discussed Ezra Klein's take, and were reminded by it of the Bush administration's politicization of the US Attorneys and the wider DOJ (including the voting rights section, which created its own political targeting problems). And Alex Seitz-Wald's compilation of the many, many things Republicans have used of late to suggest impeachment, paired with Michael Tomasky's look at the subject. Finally, we read Daily Kos' own Jon Perr on "Benghazi and the Republican scandal management playbook."

Direct download: May_13_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:35pm EDT

Drawing on the information from past #KITM shows, you can convert frustrated WalMart shoppers into anti-WalMart evangelists, one at a time! Jonathan Chait on "Why Left and Right Economics Can't Just Agree." Catholic hospital ditches Catholic doctrine when it might cost them money. Twitter star @UnitedLiberals joins us to discuss Kutztown (PA) University's decision to sorta-kinda loosen their on-campus gun policy, ALEC's latest anti-transparency play, campaigns-in-a-box, increasing concerns over "political intelligence" consulting, and other issues under which Liberals are typically United.

Direct download: May_10_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

Greg Dworkin joins in the discussion of a proposed open carry gun rights protest in DC on July 4th (because Freedom), the realization that austerity measures are impeding economic recovery, and the persistent belief among some journalists that President Obama could somehow be charming his way into legislative successes if only life were either like the movies or their inaccurate remembrances of history. Meteor Blades then joined us for a look at yesterday's Benghazi circus. Picking up on yesterday's themes, we read through Lee Fang's piece in The Nation, "The Reverse Revolving Door: How Corporate Insiders Are Rewarded Upon Leaving Firms for Congress." And just tossed out there for discussion in the wake of gun rights advocates pointing to decreasing crime stats: firearms deaths are nonetheless on the rise in Florida, even as its overall crime rates decline. And while they're arguing that more guns are what's leading to less crime, there are some strong arguments for many, many other factors playing a bigger part.

Direct download: May_9_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:23pm EDT

Greg Dworkin gives us the latest on the flu & coronavirus front, notes the results from South Carolina, and the big story on the release of data detailing widely disparate costs at hospitals around the country. We followed that up with a piece from Matthew Yglesias on why nobody will care about this stuff. It has to do, at least in part, with differing perspectives on the same facts. And that in turn is what's at play in the procedural fight in Congress about "regular order" playing out in the budget process. Then, Ezra Klein's look ahead to the Republicans' new debt ceiling hostage: tax reform. Further adventures in government "cost-cutting" through outsourcing that ends up costing taxpayers more while helping people less. And why do we continue to do these things? Because it's so much easier to make sure beneficiaries kick back part of the profits when they're distributed narrowly and in chunks big enough that the kickbacks won't bite. Like with the Kochs and the NRA (and everything else). And just for good measure, we return to "political intelligence" consulting, to show how similar schemes fuel the conversion of a taxpayer-funded public knowledge base into fat rent-extraction opportunities, and keep them paying out.

Direct download: May_8_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

The day's hot stories kick off today's show, from Chris Christie to the Cleveland kidnappings. But the bigger picture dominated, as Greg Dworkin filled us in about new studies suggesting enormous savings to come from pretty much exactly what health reformers said they'd come from: bending cost curves down. And though Simpson & Bowles actually had that right initially, somewhere along the line they became convinced of the opposite. Also: "The Layman's Case Against Austerity," David Dayen's reporting on the move to replace FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco, another dive into journalistic discussion of Green Lanternism, and the newest ethical gray area in DC: "political intelligence" consulting.

Direct download: May_7_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:19pm EDT

Greg Dworkin brought us the latest on the flu front, the revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (and how this weedy item will worm its way into "real life), the implosion of the Howard Kurtz brand, and the NYT's follow-up reporting on the tragic child shooting in Kentucky. We also read Jill Lawrence's National Journal piece, "The Most Bogus Argument Against New Gun Laws," reviewed Josh Marshall's stitching together of some of the more outlandish recent gun stories in "When Stories Collide." Plus, a rundown on what's going on in Congress this week. Not much! But we had some good writing to share, from Daily Kos community member Mark E Anderson on the so-called Working Families Flexibility Act, up for a vote in the House this week, plus a note from Jonathan Bernstein on the Senate's Marketplace Fairness Act and what it means in the larger socio-political (and everything else-o) sphere. Fairness and Flexibility! What a great week!

Direct download: May_6_2013_64.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Greg Dworkin shared the latest from Public Policy Polling, showing boosts for Senators facing reelection who voted for the recent background check legislation, and polling hits for those voting against it. Surprise! Plus, Media Matters reporting on new NRA President, who turns out to be a nutter. Surprise! And if you heard Chris Hayes call "gun culture" into question last night, recall that you heard it first from Greg! Also: we watch a conservative commentator say the Age of Enlightenment led to the Holocaust, and therefore reason sucks. (Bipartisan compromise with this, please! Even though compromise is rooted in reason. Which is Teh Hitler.) A great James Wolcott piece neatly rolling up gun issues. A NYT article on a marked increase in suicides, and possible ties to economic conditions and outlook. That segues to Felix Salmon's "The systemic plight of labor," followed by a quick second look at the Pennsylvania privatized prison nightmare, and how it relates to everything else in the show today. Which is to say: ALEC.

Direct download: May_3_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

Greg Dworkin and I got stuck on guns again today, in the wake of the international attention being paid to the child shooting in Kentucky. Sounds like the background check bill might actually come back for another vote, possibly just prior to the August recess. Gun rights advocate Gayle Trotter pulls a story from the files to prove a point about women and guns, but doesn't exactly bullseye this one. An historical #GunFAIL moment, as we pay tribute, Ken Burns-style, to the 150th anniversary of the accidental shooting of Stonewall Jackson by his own men. Other topics: do Wall Street players use a "drug lord playbook?" Polls show a significant chunk of Republicans think "armed revolution" may be necessary. And they're already at war with science. The InfoWars "reporter" is mocked on the street in Boston. Plus, turns out they actively avoid buying behavior that's pro-environment. Just like their Senators actively avoid common sense solutions if it might help Obama. A Pennsylvania judge goes to jail for literally selling kids into private prisons. Because privatization is so awesome.

Direct download: May_2_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

Greg Dworkin notes a measles outbreak in the UK tied to anti-vaccination agitation, Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) scramble to deal with her gun vote backlash, and Larry Flynt's endorsement of Mark Sanford. The day's gun news is sadder than usual, with two young boys in two different states both shooting and killing their preschool aged sisters in the last two days. Gun enthusiasts on Twitter, of course, are outraged that the news has been read out loud. Armando joined the show to discuss all that, plus the emerging "Green Lantern" theory of presidential powers. Other topics: living in a 401(k) world, and the outrageous (and still growing) CEO-to-average-worker pay gap & what's driving it.

Direct download: May_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:35pm EDT