Progressive politics, news & talk hosted by David Waldman

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

We got a lot crammed into today's show. Greg Dworkin called in with news that the American Academy of Pediatrics is carrying forward the position statement of the United Physicians of Newtown, and to discuss the latest polling on how the gun votes are playing in key Senate races, and public perceptions of the prospective U.S. role in Syria. Other topics we touched on: Today's top #GunFAIL stories (another gun instructor has accidentally shot himself); fear of terrorism vs. fear of gun violence; NRO yells at Alex Jones; Congressional Republicans find a new way to combat science; Cass Sunstein demolishes the "slippery slope" argument; former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says that in hindsight, maybe the Supreme Court shouldn't have taken the Bush v. Gore case after all; Republican loon Jan Brewer signs AZ legislation banning the destruction of guns collected in buyback events; VA Gov. Bob McDonnell is alleged to have let a "friend" (and huge political donor) pay for the food at his own daughter's wedding. Family values!

Direct download: April_30_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

Greg Dworkin rejoined us on his regular schedule today, talking about his Sunday Kos piece on the latest iteration of bird flu, before moving over to polling showing the sustained popularity of universal background checks. We read through a Nature profile of lone wolf firearms researcher, Dr. Garen Wintemute, and a NYT op-ed laying out "A Libertarian Case for Expanding Gun Background Checks." Also of interest, an article from the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, noting a growing debate over that country's armed populace. That seems sure to drive American cultural conservatives batty, if they deign to take notice of it. Next, a weedy explainer of the procedure use to pass (sort of) and the screw up (sort of) the much-discussed FAA sequester fix. Finally, we started looking at Matt Taibbi's latest in Rolling Stone, wherein another giant banking conspiracy is alleged to be manipulating the price of everything, to everyone's detriment.

Direct download: April_29_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

A Friday grab bag today. The FAA sequester fix was in the works, just as Congress heads to the airport. But will it collapse on the House floor? Procedure fans will delight in noting that the House will have to waive the normal rule prohibiting consideration of bills under suspension of the rules in order to take up the bill suspending part of the sequester that has become uncomfortable. A new craze in #GunFAIL: "home invasion shooting." Revisiting the wholesale Hostess pension theft as a segue to addressing the petty pension theft of 401(k) management fees. Armando called in with his own grab bag: The continuing backlash against Reinhart-Rogoff; a new low in the Republican Benghazi craze; losing the sequester game piece by piece; and a sneak peek at his Sunday Kos piece on a new lunatic right-wing legal theory granting standing for individual federal employees to challenge agency legal interpretations. Lastly, a gun enthusiast's online post pretty much explains why #GunFAIL, embarrassing as it may be, has real value to gun guys.

Direct download: April_26_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Congress is still mad about airline delays, which are clearly the fault of this annoying "government," whoever that might be. Greg Dworkin called in and let us know that House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, in an effort to put a softer face on the Gop, failed at bringing a not-quite-repeal of Obamacare to the floor yesterday, and ended up having to pull it in the face of Tea Party-type opposition. Repeal or nothing! We discuss the minor media firestorm over the empty dais at the Joint Economic Committee's hearing on long term unemployment. Essentially, that's the way most hearings look. Which doesn't make it a good thing. It just... is. Then, a look at the latest on Hostess. The Wall Street Journal says the new owners (of which they speak to just one of two partners) plan to reopen the bakeries, but without unions. Surprise! And wow, have they got awesome plans to save the brand. You know the plans are awesome because the people who drew them up are rich! In the second hour, we talked to David Wehde, Organizing Director of Working America, about the launch of, a sort of WebMD for workplace organizing. Finally, we read a Concord Monitor editorial on the failure of the gun bill, and the case it makes for filibuster reform. Don't think we've made any progress in that fight? Consider that newspaper editorial boards no longer laugh out loud at the idea that Senate rules can be changed by majority vote. Now they call on the Senate to do exactly that. A key step forward in a relative short time, during what has historically always been a long, long fight.

Direct download: April_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

Had to start off with another rather startling gun story today, this one the Whitesboro, TX gun instructor who decided that since he didn't see anybody around, he could just start teaching his outdoor concealed carry permit class without a backstop of any kind. But, oops! A guy fishing nearby got shot! Then, into the weeds on budget procedure, as three years of Republican bleating for a Senate budget is met by... a Senate budget. Which is in turn met by... filibustering the motion to go to conference with the House on that budget. More on Republican backlash against sequestration cuts that make them uncomfortable. An explainer of why Harry Reid often switches his votes "for strategic reason," but then nothing "strategic" ever seems to happen. Finally, a return to that crazy story line about the collapse of the academic underpinning of the global austerity movement.

Direct download: April_24_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:17pm EDT

We return to the critique of Maureen Dowd's Obama bashing, because it seems the meme is spreading that there were some magical things the President could have done to erase entrenched Republican obstructionism and pass the gun bill. Greg Dworkin joined us on that subject at the top of the show, and Armando comes thundering in on at at the end. In between, we run down the day's headlines from The Hill, using it as a jumping off point for the day's tangential thoughts, also known as: What We Do On This Show. Key issues: filibuster reform, sequestration cuts, and the complicated politics surrounding both. It turns out that the amazing catalyst for sequester frustration finally breaking through is... airport delays. Cancer research and the like, not so much. Even more interesting, Congress reverts to form with the emergence of a new kind of earmark: sequester exemptions.

Direct download: April_23_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:14pm EDT

Greg Dworkin returned to the air with us this week, and although law enforcement in the Boston area was kind enough to wrap up that whole terrorism thing by Friday evening, we figured we might as well revisit it on Monday. Do Republicans really want him held as an "enemy combatant?" Is the Miranda warning as big an issue as all that? Arkansas Republicans provided us with plenty of stupid this weekend, too. There was the Congressman who figured the manhunt meant everybody in Boston was wishing they had AR-15s. Whereas I'm pretty sure it meant everybody in Boston was glad there were no Arkansans around with their guns. Arkansas also brought us the county Republican chair letting us know that the 2nd Amendment is really about guaranteeing our right to conduct sucker punch political assassinations if we lose a vote. We also checked in with Gideon from overseas, talking Boston, America's seeming obsession with violence, and filibuster reform, among other things. Finally, we wound up with Maureen Dowd's much-talked-about gun bill post mortem, and the blistering critique of it by Walter Russell Mead. Yow!

Direct download: April_22_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

Nothing in the world exists this morning but the situation in Boston, about which we know nothing. Greg Dworkin and Armando Llorens joined us as we watched the media circus and tried to make the most of it. Did we treat it too lightly? Did we break a few rules, and take a few liberties with our listening guests? We did. But we also looked away for a few minutes and connected some GunFAIL dots, including the realization that there was actually an accidental discharge at a gun show somewhere in America every single weekend in January! Just for kicks, we threw in a story about the New York hipsters who are raising infants diaper-less, and one about physicists running an experiment to find out whether the entire universe might be a computer simulation.

Direct download: April_19_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:41am EDT

Tough news everywhere today, from the Senate floor to West, Texas. We spent a little more time clearing up issues of procedure, and pointed out that maybe Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, both conservatives, have a little bit of thinking to do about who supports you when you go out on a limb to do what you think is the right thing, and who leaves you hanging out to dry. Turns out that Republicans aren't just opposed to collecting, studying and disseminating data about gun injuries. They also oppose it when it comes to Twinkies. Rep. Aaron Schock declares in an op-ed in Politico that food and beverage makers "shouldn't have to worry" about "their tax money" being used by the government to "attack" their products. Good corporate PR is now a government entitlement. The attacks in Boston give rise to renewed inquiry into the nature of terrorism, and the political symbolism of using the word.

Direct download: April_18_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

The Senate votes today on gun bill amendments, so we go back over the procedure, and some of the more troubling aspects of the substance as well. Everything will require 60 votes, and yet there will be no filibuster, per se. How can that be? And what difference does it make, if any? Among the more problematic issues raised by some of the "poison pill" amendments: inter-state reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders, even as stories are breaking about a not-insignificant rate of suspected fraud in the issuance of those permits, across several states. Not to mention the news that Tennessee's "I'm gonna start killing people" guy may get his permit back now, too. Follow-up on some other GunFAIL stories points up some of the unexamined consequences of gun accidents, including long-term health and economic effects. Also in the news: the collapse of a major tenet of austerity doctrine. Seems one of the academic papers most often cited in support of austerity policies, including the Ryan budget, contained serious errors, including things as basic as spreadsheet coding errors, and high debt to GDP ratios don't predict economic contraction at all. Whoopsie! Sorry, global economy! So, Republicans are pushing gun reciprocity as significant permit fraud is revealed, and they're pushing austerity as calculation errors behind that theory are revealed. Hooray for reality!

Direct download: April_17_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

Thanks to Greg Dworkin, Armando & Meteor Blades for joining us this morning. Naturally, the events in Boston were the main topic of discussion today, and we looked at things from a number of different angles. The cautionary reaction, urging people not to jump to any conclusions. The many-layered question of whether or not there's a difference in investigating the bombing as terrorism versus some other sort of crime. And the continuing issue among observers of different stripes as to whether there even is such a thing as domestic terrorism. We did turn to other current events as well, discussing Senate procedure for undertaking debate of the gun bill, the strategizing about amendments, and what might go into Harry Reid's decision-making in handling it all. And of course, there was a little additional talk about the subject underlying that debate: the guns themselves, and the policies governing their sales.

Direct download: April_16_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

Yes, it's "Tax Day," which apparently still matters to people who don't just take care of business a little earlier. To "celebrate," we read Liz Day's account of "How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing." It not only made appropriate note of Tax Day, but connected us to last week's reading about the "rentier" class. TurboTax maker Intuit apparently spent some $11 million+ fighting to keep tax filing complicated so that millions more would be spent by the rest of us, buying their software to make it easier. Armando called in for Greg Dworkin, who was out today, with a grab bag of items. For one thing, he reminded us that today's Jackie Robinson Day, as well. He also noted Gallup's annual polling asking if people thought their tax bills were "fair." That is, he noted that it's kind of dumb. We also lingered for a bit on the NYT headline, "Hedge Fund Titans' Pay Stretching to 10 Figures," noted the continuing lack of action on Guantanamo detainees, and finally wound up with Missouri's move to certify teachers to carry weapons in the classroom, even as the story broke of the arrest of a St. Louis area gun instructor who was faking his students' qualifications. But hey, what could go wrong? Besides, the answer to gun-related fraud, the logic tells us, is more fraud.
Direct download: April_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:41am EDT

We began the show by catching up with the day's #GunFAIL news, running down the Capitol Hill headlines and noting the insanity of the spin surrounding the Mitch McConnell taping incident. The rest of the show was a hodge-podge of media clippings, including: a look at whether or not the President can or should relieve Ed DeMarco as acting head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; new revelations about the extent and official knowledge of standardized test cheating under Michelle Rhee; the relative value of a watered-down gun bill, and; the NYT's editorial view of the President's budget. Continuing the grab-bag approach, we read and discussed Mike Konczal's, "How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together" and Andrew O'Hehir's "Colonial Williamsburg: Where the Tea Party gets schooled."

Direct download: April_12_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:41pm EDT

While we waited for the Senate to take its cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the gun bill today, the topic was much on our minds. Of course, we're not kidding anyone by suggesting it wasn't going to be on our minds, regardless. But it provided a convenient excuse. We checked in with Greg Dworkin, who was on hand for some of the rallying of public support up in Newtown, CT. He also filled us in on the latest polling on the issue, from NBC. Other tidbits: Some Connecticut-based gun manufacturers are apparently threatening to leave the state in the wake of the passage of its new gun safety laws, though their leverage is questionable at best. A "hermit" living in the Maine woods is suspected of perpetrating over 1,000 burglaries! Compare the treatment of people openly carrying assault rifles versus those who dare try to take video of cops. Guess which one gets in trouble for carrying a "weapon." Moving on the the 4th Amendment, the ACLU asks whether the IRS is reading your emails without a warrant. Finally, we wind up the reading of the NYT article "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood," inviting Armando to join the discussion. Seems we've hit a brick wall for the moment on just how this deal could possibly have been justified, even in the notoriously "cowboy" George W. Bush administration.

Direct download: April_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:10pm EDT

The Senate's attempt at getting to debate on a gun bill is underway as a bipartisan deal on background checks is announced. We review Harry Reid's options and discuss how procedure is likely to play out, noting the threatened filibuster. And speaking of the filibuster, we spoke with Monte Frank of Team 26 and the Newtown Action Alliance about the simultaneous "Filibuster the Filibuster" events being held in Newtown and DC to protest the Republican obstruction. We had a follow-up to that nutty proposal in North Carolina to facilitate the establishment of a state religion (just to stick a thumb in the ACLU's eye), and read a report from Indiana's legislature in which we learned that more guns are the answer because abortion. We also spent some more time on drone issues, specifically, a read through the New York Times' "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood." And just before closing time, we snuck in a quick report on the early word on the background check compromise.

Direct download: April_10_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:43pm EDT

We had to start off with an update on an extraordinary run of child-focused #GunFAIL, this time with three shootings in three days by kids 4 years old and under. Armando called in to fill in for Greg Dworkin today, noting the threatened filibuster of any gun bill, including the universal background checks that have overwhelming public support, and what it means in terms of how dysfunctional our Congress can be. In addition, we discussed the continuing fixation on the "Grand Bargain," adding to the mix Sen. Max Baucus' undermining of the tax policy position of both Congressional Dems and the White House, and Peter Orszag's latest dispatch which seems to be calling for even greater concessions on cuts to the safety net. Meteor Blades also called in, clarifying a key point about the gun issue: there already is a national registry of automatic weapons, and nobody's come to confiscate them yet. He stayed with us for our big interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave us a far-reaching, hour-long, multiple topic interview, pulling in issues of guns, economics, political activism, campaign finance reform, the runaway financial sector and the rampant income inequality it's produced.

Direct download: April_9_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Congress returns to DC, which surely will put filibuster issues back on the table by the end of the week. Greg Dworkin calls in to discuss the passage of Connecticut's new gun policy legislation, the state of play on the federal level, and new Pew polling on the subject. We note the passing of Margaret Thatcher, which somehow caught Fox News flat-footed, but then again, we don't have a great deal to say about it, either. Cuban-American Republicans in Congress are apparently demanding an investigation into Beyonce and Jay-Z's vacation, so that seems super important. Right? Armando joined in to discuss the absurdity of the freak-out, and the inconsistencies of Cuba policy. Setting up an issue for the future, we noted some of the more disturbing issues raised this weekend in the NYT article "A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood." We also read through an interesting discussion between Joe Nocera and Dan Baum on the subject of guns that brings up a lot of great points, but which ultimately degenerates into the same mess as pretty much every other discussion of the topic, thus proving that erudition is no savior here. Finally, a little listener mail raising the always important point that painting with too broad a brush causes serious problems, in this case, when dealing with the topic of corporations and corporate behavior. Listener, Daily Kos community member and business owner Arliss Bunny reminds us that it's corporate actions, not the corporate form, that create problems, and that Democrats would do well to remember that and make allies of the vast majority of business owners who are good folks, and who benefit as business owners from liberal public policy.

Direct download: April_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

Everything on the show today has a Greg Dworkin component to it. First, an extended version of Greg's regular segment, during which we were joined by Monte Frank of Team 26, for a recap of their nationally covered advocacy on gun responsibility legislation, an update on their activities and a look at what's next. Then, the story of the surprising phone call Greg got from Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, regarding my reading and discussion of his latest article, "What The NRA's 'School Shield' Would Cost." And just to be sure we didn't leave it unmentioned that Johnston's an accomplished and celebrated journalist, Armando called in to fill in some background, and I made sure to let him know about the whole Pulitzer Prize situation. From there, I tried my best to properly differentiate between my commentary and the remaining text of article, but hey, it's hard to restrain yourself when you're the only voice in the room. But Armando's working behind the scenes to change that, and with a little luck, next week we'll be able to feature the man himself, so you'll be more able to tell who's saying what!

Direct download: April_5_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:32pm EDT

Greg Dworkin brings us news of the Connecticut legislature's completed work on post-12/14 gun policy reforms, set to be signed into law today, plus a new Q-Poll showing continuing and overwhelming support for universal background checks (even as respondents acknowledge the data could theoretically be used for government confiscation programs). Yesterday was an extraordinary day in #GunFAIL story collection, and we recapped some of the most outrageous and egregious among them, including new entries in the dangerous trend of firing bullets through the homes of neighbors. Next, we noted the new round of strikes by fast food workers in New York, and checked in with Mike Hummel (aka bluebarnstormer) on last night's community event in Biddeford, ME, where bakers and other workers in the former Hostess plant there are facing the same threats and thefts that plagued his plant in Lenexa, KS a few months back. Afterwards, we actually segued back to #GunFAIL, comparing the labor fights to the gun issue in the sense that both controversies appear to depend on manipulation of the facts, and the so-called "conservative" side seems to get pretty irate when people start sharing information about what's really happening out there. Finally, we looked at David Cay Johnston's attempt in The National Memo to begin calculating the cost of the NRA's proposed "School Shield" program. First, of course, we have to wonder whether it's an idea likely to work and actually save lives and prevent injuries, but also, how many of us think the "conservatives" behind it will be there with funding when the bill comes due?

Direct download: April_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

Greg Dworkin fought through his laryngitis to call in and discuss the NRA-backed suppression of federal gun violence data collection, and a new Marist poll suggesting no wavering in public support for stricter gun laws. Afterwards, we drew on a diverse cross-section of insanity for our entertainment today, starting with the introduction by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature of a bill that would free the state to establish a state religion. Because they love the Constitution so much, the bill's sponsors basically declare that Constitution not binding. Louie Gohmert out-derps himself with comments linking gun laws with gay marriage and bestiality, which of course make no sense. But he's angry, so send him some money or something. For variety, we threw in a story about a court ruling in favor of Aereo, a start up that has cobbled together (at least temporarily) a way around copyright laws and allow users to stream broadcast TV to their mobile devices, and another about how much of your current cable TV bill is due to payments tied to professional sports contracts. Armando joined us briefly with the story of a fight developing between Bill O'Reilley and Rush Limbaugh, and the latest in the conservative craze for Ben Carson. We wrapped up with a check-in from Kansas former Hostess worker Mike Hummel (aka bluebarnstormer), who's in Maine speaking to the employees of yet another former Hostess bakery who now stand in the same position as those in Mike's Kansas facility. Seems their pensions, to which they made even larger contributions than the Kansas workers did, are being stolen as well, and this and the threat to their jobs comes after the town gave significant tax breaks and other subsidies to the company to build that plant. Do you think the company would get to keep that money if we really did run the government like a business?

Direct download: April_3_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:08pm EDT

The show went on without Greg Dworkin this morning, but... Ha! April Fool! He was totally on the show. Ha! April Fool again! No, he wasn't! With that out of the way, we actually did get a laugh out of yesterday's conservative freak-out over the Google doodle, and then immediately stopped laughing to get somewhat up-to-date on what's (not) happening in Congress, where they are in the budget & appropriations process, etc. Armando joined in for a round-up of stories including the controversy over a proposed $20 million bonus to the CEO of American Airlines, which is still in bankruptcy, the Jeff Sachs op-ed in the NYT complaining that Obama isn't doing the things he's doing, and new Pew polling on immigration. In the second hour, Gideon joined in for some discussion and Q&A covering everything from Senate voting procedure (on Bernie Sanders' amendment opposing chained CPI), to the threat of a filibuster against gun policy legislation, to Democratic prospects in the 2014 elections. Lastly, we read through Meteor Blades' write-up of the controversy over nominations to the Mississippi Board of Public Health, which has apparently caught the attention of the Reddit community. Always good news to see people sitting up and taking notice!

Direct download: April_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:46pm EDT

Greg Dworkin updated us on the Connecticut legislature's progress toward a vote on new gun safety measures, and notes that a new polling report says the fervor for reform on a national level hasn't dimmed appreciably in the months since 12/14. Indianapolis "Moms Demand Action" rally for gun law reform draws a counter-protest: guys who just want to stand right up next to you with their AR-15s. Because Freedom. Just one of the weird meta twists that protesting about guns by showing up with guns can lend to an already tense situation. Also: a local city council declares all future laws restricting guns to be unconstitutional, because they love the Constitution so much, except for the part about supremacy and also the separation of powers. Later, a story about college fraternities and liability insurance leads to speculation about how they might feel about proposed laws allowing guns on campus. Despite her CPAC railing against high-priced political consultants, turns out most of Sarah Palin's PAC money has gone to... high-priced political consultants. Surprise! Just the latest in a long line of pols who use their PACs as lifestyle slush funds. Finally, we finish up on the "trickle-down consumption" article, and yell at WalMart some more, this time for contemplating a plan to trick their customers into becoming unpaid delivery drivers. Dolts, or evil geniuses? You decide.

Direct download: March_29_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

Greg Dworkin joined the early discussion of our new category of #GunFAIL emerges: guns people claim they "forgot" they were carrying. At airports, courthouses and other secure areas. Cold, dead hands! But also, I totally forgot I even had a gun! Wanting to have things both ways on guns isn't anything new, but it seems particularly outrageous that the same people for whom guns are the end-all, be-all could also forget they even have them. Well, if that doesn't suprise you, you probably also won't be surprised to learn there are those who don't see much point in the TSA screening for guns at all, which is another amazing thing discovered during this inquiry. Also: police departments around the country are having trouble finding enough bullets to keep their officers supplied, thanks to the nationwide panic and run on ammunition inspired by believers in gun confiscation conspiracy theories. The second half of the show was a broad economic discussion centering on the surprising development that Wal-Mart seems to be running itself into the ground in a vicious cycle wherein the drive for ever bigger management bonuses become dependent on keeping payroll--their largest cost center--down, but then seeing short-staffing hurt sales, which they compensate for by... cutting payroll. If that's not a metaphor for spending cut-driven budget hawkery, I don't know what is.

Direct download: March_28_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

Somehow, people keep shooting one another and doing various other wacky things with their guns, so we keep covering it. Greg Dworkin joins us to discuss developments including the decision in the town of Enfield, CT to put armed guards in their schools, the pullback in South Carolina from their proposed Docs 'n Glocks gag rule, and the marriage equality issues currently before the Supreme Court. Armando also joins in the discussion on today's DOMA proceedings, taking on issues of justiciability, standing and others which underlie the substantive issues. In between, we discussed a statistical analysis of guns and safety issues as written up in the UK Guardian, and two recent #GunFAIL incidents that almost perfectly crystalize the issues behind those statistics, namely that gun owners appear much more likely to inject themselves in dangerous ways into already dangerous situations, relying on a false sense of security their guns may sometimes give them. And of course, we had to take note of the insane story out of Tennessee of the "Sharia Sink" in the state capitol, and Glenn Beck's insistence that the ethics investigation into Michele Bachmann's failed presidential bid is really a Muslim Brotherhood plot against her.

Direct download: March_27_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:35am EDT

All eyes are on the Supreme Court today, as it considers the California Prop. 8 question and perhaps the future of marriage equality rights across the country. Greg Dworkin and Armando helped round out the conversation on that topic, noting both the wider social and political trends that make up the context in which the case will be decided as well as the legal and mechanical framework. Two very different ways of looking at the case and its potential impact. We also read Sally Kohn's Salon piece making another key point bound up in the issue: that there are questions beyond marriage equality that have, for strategic reasons, been set aside, but which will necessarily come to the fore once this issue is settled. Specifically, is it worth elevating marriage above other familial relationships at all? And even if it is, is it fair to do so? Expect that to be the future of the debate. Also discussed: that last entry among "The 5 Shadiest Crimes Ever Pulled Off by Famous Corporations," specifically, The Battle of Blair Mountain, and; a fascinating and well-lawyered immigration case that highlights the value of some of President Obama's small steps toward meaningful reform.

Direct download: March_26_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:35am EDT

Plenty of #GunFAIL and gun-related discussion today. Greg Dworkin updated us on his extensive interview with Australian 60 Minutes on the events in Newtown, and on the pace of legislative responses on gun policy. Among the latest to take note of the #GunFAIL phenomenon is The New Yorker, wherein we learn the historical lesson that "melancholy accident" was the original hashtag used by newspapers of the colonial era and early 19th century. We also read Mark Sumner's Sunday Kos piece, "Congratulations on your new gun laws." Switching gears for some economic analysis, we read Salon's "How rich 'moochers' hurt America," and then four entries from "The 5 Shadiest Crimes Ever Pulled Off by Famous Corporations," from Cracked magazine, of all places! Humor and entertainment outlets have a better read on the news these days than most newsrooms do, it seems. Sigh.

Direct download: March_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Beset by a different set of technical difficulties today, the show went on anyway! There was much more to discuss about the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, mostly focusing on the toxic political atmosphere that existed, and still plagues us in many ways to this day. Greg Dworkin joined us despite the live stream outage, to discuss the current state of play of federal gun policy legislation and state gun gag laws on physicians. In other news, Sen. Coburn amends the continuing resolution to block the National Science Foundation from funding research not directly connected to national security or the country's economic interests, the real target of which is apparently the funding of political science research, including surveys of American voters' attitudes toward the Senate and the filibuster, and study of presidential executive powers. Both of those are hot topics on the show, of course. And what have they got to do with the rest of the day's stories? Well, don't the boundaries of executive power have anything to do with, say, getting us into a boondoggle of a war that compromised both our national security and our economic interests? Republicans just can't ever seem to see the forest for the trees.

Direct download: March_21_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:57pm EDT

The 10th anniversary of the Iraq war continues to dominate the discussion today, but of course we can connect it to other top issues, like the strangely Very Serious push for austerity and slashing of the social safety net, which every Very Serious traditional media analyst agrees is absolutely imperative, despite the shrill cries of those who say the evidence points to the necessity for the exact opposite. But other than that, in no other way are the two stories related. Except of course for the deficit "crisis" having been largely created by that war, which was supposed to pay for itself and be a cakewalk. We also take a brief detour for an update on the week in Congress, including the parliamentary maneuverings around the continuing resolution and the competing budget resolutions, including a discussion of how and why the Senate hasn't produced a budget for the past few years but will this year. Afterwards, Armando joins us to take the discussion back to the parallels between the Iraq war political landscape and today's austerity craze.

Direct download: March_20_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:10pm EDT

The 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war gives us as good a reason as any to focus on the Republican history of being wrong and/or ineffective on pretty much everything, since forever. Wrong on foreign policy? See Nixon's interference with Vietnam peace talks, Reagan's interference with Iranian hostage negotiations and Iran-Contra, and the disaster of Iraq. Wrong on the economy, taxes and the social safety net? See their dire warnings of tyranny and socialism from 1935, 1965, 1993 and today. Wrong on their ability to reach out to minorities? See the history of their failed attempts but repeated patting of their own backs for "trying." And of course, wrong on guns and what to do about them, even when those in favor of working out some common sense reforms offer up those the NRA has offered up in the past. Hey, can't we have some kind of bipartisan compromise on a Grand Bargain with these people? Lucy promised she'd let Charlie Brown kick the football this time. So isn't it Charlie Brown's responsibility to lead now?

Direct download: March_19_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

Everything you want in a Monday morning show. Lousy weather and technical difficulties! Republicans in disarray! Yes, one branch of the bitterly divided Republican party is attempting a reboot, while the CPAC branch stomps its feet, bravely endorsing both dynastic libertarianism and the brave protest of drinking a very large Diet Coke on stage, in defiance of... New York City's Republican mayor. Greg Dworkin reflected on the Republican autopsy, as many are calling the report, noting in particular that they're well aware that most voters see them as "narrow minded" and "scary." Hi, CPAC! On the gun front, the NRA steps up its efforts to prevent local authorities from revoking gun rights from the target of protective restraining orders. That ought to help win back the 80+ percent parting ways with them on background checks! Some #GunFAIL stories, new and old that challenge some assumptions. South Carolina looks to join the fool's parade, barring physicians from asking about guns in the home. In other news: Congress continues work on the continuing resolution and on next year's budget. Media Matters points out that Jennifer Rubin is waving around a report that debunks everything she wrote about the New Black Panthers, but saying it proves her right. What a shock. The story of how the federal SNAP program sustains fully one-third of Woonsocket, RI. The implications of reinvigorating labor law with a new fighter at the Labor Department.

Direct download: March_18_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

It's Friday, and that means it's time for publishing the next installment of #GunFAIL. And that in turn means it's another big gun discussion day. Greg Dworkin called in with news of the big multi-group gun policy meeting in Newtown, including more talk about the need for hard data on gun incidents, and viewing gun policy as a public health issue. A few interesting points crystallized by gun news include the enormous costs associated with recovery from wounds, and where those costs (thanks to many other socio-economic factors figuring into gun ownership and usage) tend to fall on the income scale. In other news: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) changes his view on marriage equality after revealing that his own son is gay. And in not-exactly-news: the Popes Benedict were a weird bunch, historically speaking. Lastly, we finish up reading and discussing the Mother Jones piece, "All Work and No Pay."

Direct download: March_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

Connect all the dots! Republicans are busting out everywhere, saying the Supreme Court doesn't actually get to decide what laws are constitutional, the party will do best by opposing the black guy in the White House, everything you think you know about the Constitution is wrong if it disagrees with what we think we know about it, continuing their abuse of the filibuster, etc., etc. etc. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss all this, give a little (important!) context to that quote about opposing the black guy, and remind us that despite the surface crazy, Republicans are playing a patient long game here. And winning. So, where did the dots that we connected today come from? Scott Keyes and Ian Millhiser's "GOP Congressman Says Supreme Court Doesn't Actually Get to Decide Whether Laws Are Constitutional" for Think Progress. Corey Rabin's "I am not a racist, I just hate democracy." Peter Finn's "NRA money helped reshape gun law" and  Jonathan Bernstein's "Harry Reid's only move is to threaten immediate Senate reform" both for the Washigton Post. Jeffrey Toobin's "How Filibusters Harm Federal Courts: Caitlin Halligan's Cautionary Tale" for the New Yorker. And Lee Fang's "Charles Koch Reflects on Last Election, Promises to Do More to 'Persuade Politicians" for The Nation. All topped off by Hunter's dispatch from CPAC, "Lions and tigers and communists, oh my"!

Direct download: March_14_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

Another grab bag of topics and info, today. Greg Dworkin continued building on the narrative of guns as a public health issue, and brought word of Team 26's arrival in DC. Today's #GunFAIL updates included follow-ups on some recent stories, plus the story of a robber shooting himself in the nuts. Always a crowd pleaser! In Congressional and Congress-related news, the Senate is stuck on another filibuster of a motion to proceed, this time to the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government past the end of March, and the NLRB is planning an appeal of the recent DC Circuit Court's ruling invalidating actions taken during the service of recess-appointed board members. Armando joined us to discuss the recess appointments question, and raise a related one about how Paul Ryan's budget purports to commit the Social Security trustees to tackling the task of fully funding the trust fund for a 75 year window. We wrapped up with a return to Robert Parry's "Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra," and some consideration of whether expansionary views of executive power has been equivalent as between Democratic and Republcian administrations.

Direct download: March_13_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

A little bit of everything today. Greg Dworkin joined us for a brief Team 26 update, and a continued discussion of guns as a public health issue. Conservative backlash against departure from the "Hastert Rule." Peggy Noonan's profoundly stupid article. Which one? The one about how she had a sad because she stayed in a budget rate hotel and couldn't find a footman. Shocked by the place being short-staffed, Nooners apparently has no idea how it could happen. But Mother Jones explains in "All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup." Armando then joined the show for a discussion of NRO having a sad because conservatives are the heirs of the situational ethics of John Calhoun, to some poignant examples of the inheritance: their abuse of the "states' rights" canard on marriage, abortion, guns, voting rights, and just about anything under the sun. But don't both parties engage in hypocrisy from time to time? Sure. But you wanna talk about differences in orders of magnitude? Let's start reading "Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra" by Robert Parry.

Direct download: March_12_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:16pm EDT

We're back for another Monday, and the beginning of Daylight Austerity Time. The Associated Press has picked up the drum beat of cataloging and taking a closer look at gun incidents around the country, focusing on January 19th, like I did, and like NBC has done since. But curiously, neither NBC nor the AP bothered to mention that January 19th was "Gun Appreciation Day." Greg Dworkin joined in to update us on the "Team 26" ride from Newtown to DC, now in progress, and continued to make the case for gun policy as a public health issue, as a follow-up to his Sunday Kos piece on the subject. We could use a little help on that score from gun folks, though, who could help a lot by doing their part to encourage real compliance with safety protocols, and stop accepting those who refuse as full members in mainstream gun culture. Despite the lip service given to gun safety, the pattern of shooting two toddlers per weekend continues apace, as does the trend of mistaking one's partner for an intruder. Is there really nothing we can do consistent with gun rights here? Moving on to the political roundup: the Senate begins moving a budget for the first time in years, Republican presidential hopefuls somehow view CPAC as a springboard to legitimacy (!), Jeb denies the existence of Bush family baggage, Sen. Coburn says Senate leadership is the big hurdle to compromise, House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy quietly declares the Hastert Rule dead, and Republican crazies make compromise tough. Shocking. To wrap up, we read Krugman on Dwindling Deficit Disorder, and's roundup of the nonsensical agenda behind "Fix the Debt."

Direct download: March_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:23pm EDT

A good Friday mixed bag. Greg Dworkin called in to discuss the jobs report, the Paul talking filibuster vs. the Halligan silent filibuster, and means testing Social Security vs. lifting its tax caps. Of course, there was more #GunFAIL news, just illustrating that even highly trained professionals find they can have potentially serious trouble with shooting situations. You can't have a discussion of both gun news and jobs news without Meteor Blades. So we didn't! And as always, we were much the better for it. We talked economics in general, reading Laura Clawson's post on the divergence of increased productivity and real wages. Why doesn't anyone ever worry about diminishing that incentive to work hard? Probably because they love being historically wrong. To prove the point, we turned to a Krugman piece reviewing Republican predictions of doom and disaster from the Obama stimulus, and from there, to an old Daily Kos piece reviewing Republican predictions of doom and disaster from the Clinton stimulus. And Medicare. And Social Security. This. Is. What. They. Do. To wind up, we noted word from scientists that the Earth's temperatures appear to be at a 4,000 year high! And we left you with a weekend thinker about immigration, the abandoned capitalist value of the free movement of labor, and just for a twist... how that relates to the consecration of rights, including gun rights.

Direct download: March_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:44pm EDT

The Great Dishwasher Installation Caper of 2013 is over, and so is Rand Paul's sorta-kinda filibuster of the Brennan nomination. We had a shortened visit with Greg Dworkin, but he reviewed a new Q-Poll with national numbers (as compared to CT numbers) on gun policy issues and gave us an update on the "Team 26" ride from Newtown to Washington, DC. After a brief couple of points about the Paul filibuster, Armando took the reins while I managed the household, and from there, the discussion turned to the issues surrounding drone policy, the fatally-flawed AUMF. That encroachment on Congressional power led to discussion of yet another, this time by the courts in the Voting Rights Act case. Rejoining the show (at last!), I revisited the dynamics of the Paul filibuster, took up a listener question about how party leaders are selected and challenged in the Senate, and then had to wrap up with two more rather egregious tales of #GunFAIL that just couldn't wait.

Direct download: March_7_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:04pm EDT

It's finally snowing. Therefore, nothing can get done. That's what happened in the Senate today, as the filibuster once again blocks a top judicial nomination. Did you know President Obama hasn't been able to confirm a single judge to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, by most accounts the second highest court in the land? Nothing to see here! Move along! Greg Dworkin joined us with the latest Q-Poll, hitting gun policy issues from new and interesting angles, plus the latest on United Physicians of Newtown and "Team 26," biking from Newtown to DC to raise awareness of gun issues. Of course, we had to add to the #GunFAIL record with the latest news, both the outrageous and yet more items that really crystalize the problems with widespread gun usage, including a recent Dear Abby column on the subject. You know you're penetrating the popular consciousness when you break the Dear Abby barrier. Next, a review of the day in Congress, including a new CR in the House and a judicial filibuster in the Senate. Then, the foolish Republican state legislator in Washington state, forced to admit (!) that bicyclists don't actually create a carbon dioxide emissions problem. Another look at the gap between record high corporate profits and record low household income, plus a note about how tax expenditures (which are the same thing as grants or subsidy payouts) could more than cover the sequestration cuts they're imposing on us instead. Lastly, some observations about how Republicans redefined "balance" in order to try to squeeze out even more cuts, and who the wealthy (on "both sides," admittedly) are paying to make sure nobody notices that you're getting the short end of the stick. Again.

Direct download: March_6_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

Pundit-centric DC is still insistent that everything is Obama's fault because he's not offering to lead or to compromise, which fact comes into better focus if you ignore all of Obama's efforts to lead or compromise. Greg Dworkin points out the latest to fall into this trap: Bill Keller of the New York Times, who's called out on it by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post. All of which just brings us back to the Upton Sinclair observation that it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. And nowhere is that more true than in Congress, where there's an entire party built on the idea of running know-nothings for office & filling in the blanks later, with the old campaign-in-a-box trick. The less your team knows when they get to Washington, the greater the chance they'll eat what you feed them. We also talked a bit about Mark Sanford's comeback bid in South Carolina, and were reminded that we ought to be talking about the leading Democrat in that race, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. So we did! After a little diversion into regional accents and their political implications, we talked about the latest and greatest in Republican Crazy: the theory of the missing "original Thirteenth Amendment." So now they hate science, history, the judicial system, and basically any metric or system of thought by which people might come to conclusions out of keeping with their wish lists. Hello. Upton Sinclair. Thank you. And just to recap the economic discussion from yesterday, and add a fresh approach via The Atlantic today, this applies to the complete failure to produce job growth even after conceding the entire conservative economic wish list, as well. Ta-da!

Direct download: March_5_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:04pm EDT

Back from the weekend, filled as usual with plenty of #GunFAIL shootings. Greg Dworkin joined us this morning with news of the punditry's discovery that Republicans aren't particularly serious about governing. Not that it's changed anything. It's all still somehow the President's fault, for failing to lead the un-leadable. We also give a hat tip to friend of the show Twigg, who gave us a nice shout out in a Daily Kos diary! Then, a read through a NYT piece on how the recovery is lifting corporate profits to record levels but not adding jobs. Gee whiz! Why aren't things trickling down? And hey, remember when Mitt Romney tried to make political hay out of the President saying "the private sector is doing fine"? Weird! Yeah, we spent a little time on that one! (Including a brief musical interlude from The Union Electric.) Finally, we wrap up with the outrageous story of the Malaysian government payoffs to conservative bloggers in exchange for positive press (and negative press for their opposition). Time for a blogger ethics panel!

Direct download: March_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:54pm EDT

It's March! Happy Sequester Day, everyone! The sequester no longer "looms." It's reality, and with the sun rising in the East, it's a little anti-climactic, as well. Greg Dworkin joined us this morning to talk about our current favorite topics. Besides the sequester, those favorites include government-by-stupid, false equivalence fetishism, the death of the Hastert Rule, and conservatives vs. liberals on interrelationships among issues and policies in general. Other topics: NRO does some victim-blaming on rape in the military (where they have guns), even as conservatives suggest guns will solve the same problem on college campuses. E.J. Dionne and Greg Sargent's recent columns on sequester madness and false equivalence memes. A Utah legislator introduces a bill that would give parents the right to find out if their childrens' teachers are exercising their right to carry concealed weapons into the classroom. And gun rights advocates find this offensive and tyrannical. Armando called in to discuss the continuing Bob Woodward madness, and remind us of the time when Woodward didn't seem to mind the administration threatening the livelihood of people like Valerie Plame. We also looked forward, realizing that even if they settle the sequester issue in some way, we'll be looking at a government shutdown at the end of March, absent negotiating our way through yet another hostage situation as the current continuing resolution expires on March 27th! Finally, one more look back at that Utah bill, and what it tells us about the way conservatives approach rights they like versus those they don't.

Direct download: March_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

Today's topics: the sequester, guns and false equivalence. Greg Dworkin joined us to talk about United Physicians of Newtown's recognition in the traditional media, the dynamics of the gun conversation in general, and as regards the sequester, the continuing media penchant for false equivalency. Other hot topics: the Bob Woodward blow-up, today's most outrageous #GunFAIL examples, and an extensive look at false equivalency and the emerging hotness of editorializing against it. Jennifer Rubin "fans" in particular will delight in her roasting by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf.

Direct download: February_28_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:19pm EDT

Greg Dworkin joined us this morning to congratulate Tom Tomorrow on his 2013 Herblock Prize! We also had other things to discuss, but that was a great way to start the day! From there, we went on to the sequester, Speaker Boehner's puzzling insistence that the Senate "get off its ass," and the equally puzzling fact that the Senate Republicans' inability to settle on what they'd offer as an alternative is preventing Senate Democrats from being able to present their own alternative. Why would that be? It's our friend, the filibuster. And if you're having trouble seeing the connection, we lay it out for you. Taking a look at the Congressional schedule, we discuss the status of the Violence Against Women Act in the House, and how the Senate comes to find itself facing yet another cloture vote on a motion to proceed. Did you think we'd taken care of that in what passed for filibuster reform earlier in the year? I'll explain why that might not be working in this case. We had to check in on the latest in #GunFAIL, of course, then add a little more data to the cars vs. guns canard, the legislative and lobbying machine behind so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, the nutter arrested for threatening the life of a pro-gun control legislator, and a look at the way authorities in Asheville, NC went out of their way to accommodate Second Amendment protesters who just sort of felt like breaking local laws to prove how law-abiding they are.

Direct download: February_27_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:47pm EDT

Nothing pairs better with technical difficulties than still more technical difficulties. But live streaming or no, you can't keep a podcast down. So here we are! Greg Dworkin joined us to set up the day's discussion of the looming sequester, and the continuing traditional media insistence that the fault lies somewhere other than where the data says people are placing it. This morning's edition of The Fix tells us that far fewer people are closely watching the sequester as compared with the numbers of those who closely watched the Fiscal Thingy, even though they set up pretty much exactly the same way. Why? Perhaps because the Fiscal Thingy included the dreaded "T" word (taxes), whereas the sequester is about spending cuts, and most people like to think the government isn't spending money on them, anyway. That opened the door for a far-ranging discussion of why some people seem to have such difficulty understanding their position in an interconnected world (and therefore tend to become Republicans), whereas for others, the understanding comes much more naturally (and they therefore tend to become Democrats). Where do we see this dichotomy played out? Everywhere, from privatization of government services to how we make policy decisions on financial regulatory reform, to, well, everything else. But the financial regulation story is an easy one to understand, and a Bloomberg editorial we discussed makes that surprisingly clear. What does that portend for the future? And does the crazy story surrounding Jack Lew's contract with former employer Citibank fit in as a piece of this puzzle? A surprisingly coherent show, given the technical circumstances!

Direct download: February_26_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

It's Monday of the last week left before sequestration kicks in. Congress has nothing on the schedule about it, but that doesn't always mean they aren't working on things in the background. Only this time, there's a significant part of the Congress dedicated to the proposition that nothing ought to be done, not to mention that the traditional media's pundits often define political bravery (or "Seriousness") in terms of your willingness to do the things people very clearly don't want done. Greg Dworkin talked with us about how different the Senate and House Republicans are in their approaches to crises like the sequester, and how David Brooks was finally called to account by others among the punditariat for continuing to blindly insist that both sides were refusing compromise. He also told us about the new group, United Physicians of Newtown, pushing to restore the ability of government agencies to collect public health data related to guns and gun violence, a reexamination of cultural norms relating to the same, a renewed emphasis on access to mental health care, and endorsing gun safety measures. Afterwards: we read through a fun post on language manipulation from Daily Kos community member jurassicpork, noted the interesting data gathered by the state of Minnesota on gun usage by its concealed carry permit holders, referred to a recent report showing that tax treatment of capital gains is the single biggest contributor to growing income inequality, and rounded up news related to the last-minute sequester scramble.

Direct download: February_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

It's Friday, and that's #GunFAIL day. Greg Dworkin told us about yesterday's gun policy forum in Connecticut, including the participation of Vice President Biden, and noting the odd angle taken on it by the press, which emphasized Biden's "pleading" for the passage of the more controversial arms of a proposed gun violence reduction package. That's another symptom of the continuing media obsession with horse race politics, even as so many journalists cry out for a return to substance. Whatever! Next story arch: conservative cognitive dissonance, in the persons of David Brooks and Orrin Hatch. Each has a completely separate and distinct delusion with respect to the looming sequester. Also: a read through a New York Times story on creeping "degree inflation" in the job marketplace, a new angle on problems posed by the brave new world of 3D printing, the FBI raid on The Scooter Store, and some great points from Dave Johnson about the push for postal service privatization.

Direct download: February_22_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:11pm EDT

More technical difficulties today, but less delay as a result. This is progress! Greg Dworkin had a new crop of polls for us that say the President's popularity is rising to new highs while that of Republicans is falling to new lows, and to top it all off, Republicans are on the losing end of issues like the sequester, immigration and more. Time to compromise! So what's up with this sequester thing, anyway? David Frum asked yesterday why, if all agree that the sequester is a mistake, why it's being allowed to go forward. And the answer is that in Washington, a mistake that you think you can pin on the other side is a mistake worth making. Sure, the polling says Republicans can't pin this one on Democrats, but that's probably skewed, right? And just like the supposedly wise "business leaders" Republicans think would make such great stewards of the economy, it may turn out that many of them are actually economic kamikazes. So what's in store under the sequester? We review last weekend's New York Times editorial running down the impact, and it's an ugly picture. And of course, we spend some time embellishing that picture by tying in some of our recent discussion threads, just to round things out. We also added a mini #GunFAIL roundup, with the most egregious stories of the past day or two, a short clip from Gideon on the interesting development in the scientific world of "pre-registration" of a prominent neuroscience study, some observations on Senate paralysis (including the endgame on Hagel), and we wrapped up with mention of new polling out of California showing that ousting obstructionist Republicans from state government appears to have convinced more voters there that their government is finally on the right track again. Interesting!

Direct download: February_21_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

Wednesday is Technical Difficulties Day on the show. It's a new tradition I just started. We did get the show underway eventually, however, and Greg Dworkin joined us to talk about the Derp of the Day: NY Daily News' Dan Friedman owning up to having inadvertently started the Hagel "Friends of Hamas" rumor, and having run with it and defended it as an accurate story. We also revisited the issue of that Florida gag law preventing pediatricians from asking questions about gun safety at home. That became a wider discussion of how gun rights advocates are reading brand new privacy rights into the Second Amendment, even as courts appear to be chipping away at privacy rights elsewhere, demonstrating once again how Second Amendment interpretation left in the hands of lay people is somehow magically moving in the exact opposite direction of the jurisprudence on everything else. Also: skull-jarringly stupid #GunFAIL stories that just can't wait until Friday; an  interesting Wall Street Journal column from a liberal gun owner calling on "gun guys" to make gun safety--real gun safety, like where smaller numbers of people accidentally shoot themselves and others--cool again, and; a look at the claim some states are making that the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law is unconstitutional. Why not? Isn't everything? Finally, Teh Crazy of Teh Ted Cruz.

Direct download: February_20_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:20pm EDT

We're back from the Presidents Day holiday weekend, and wouldn't you know that guns continue to make headlines? As usual, they tie everything together for us, one way or another. Greg Dworkin joined us to talk about the weekend's kerfuffle surrounding the lack of access for White House correspondents to the President's round of golf with Tiger Woods, and also some other Very Important stuff. Like the reemergence of the Simpson-Bowles axis, along with No Labels and Fix the Debt, which, apparently because they wrap themselves in a veneer of "non-partisanship," are now eligible for outright media cheerleading. The No Labels mention led us to mention that the CEO of Panera Bread was among their founders, which led us to a Huffington Post article about labor practices and union busting at Panera. Who would have guessed the two would go hand in hand? Can we tie that to the gun issue? Sure we can! You'll have to listen in to see how, but from there, we get down to the Missouri state house to check in on the craziest piece of gun legislation yet proposed, which would make it illegal to propose gun legislation that the proponent of this bill doesn't like. Because Constitution! From there, some more random gun notes, including the story of elevated lead levels and lead poisoning indications among gun range workers in Washington state and even construction workers doing expansion work there! While we're tying stories together, how about the news that the tobacco industry and anti-smoking groups both think the ACA's provision allowing insurance companies to charge smokers up to 50% more is beyond the pale? What about letting insurers do the work of gun violence control, while we're at it? And just for good measure, another mention of 3D printing and guns, this time related to last week's State of the Union address. A little bit of everything, all tied together by the guns we're all so crazy for.

Direct download: February_19_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

It's Friday, so it's time for publication of the next installment in the GunFAIL series. Greg Dworkin tells us about an upcoming PBS Frontline episode on the events of 12/14, including a somewhat more sympathetic portrait of Nancy Lanza, mother of the shooter. Next, the incredible meteorite strike in Russia, and just why there's so much in-car dashboard video of it! And speaking of wide adoption of mobile media technology, it's a factor in stories as different in kind as the recent cruise ship stranding and the Republican Party's (so far failed) attempts to remake itself in modern form. After a run through this week's GunFAIL listings, a round-up of Congressional activity, such as it is, including another granular look at the claims by Republicans that they're not filibustering the Hagel nomination, what such a claim might mean, and whether we're likely to see changes in the way Harry Reid approaches filibusters (and/or reform) in the future. Lastly, brief discussions of Sen. Frank Lautenberg's retirement announcement, and how John McCain's explanations for the Hagel blockade are shifting.

Direct download: February_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Here's hoping your partner doesn't shoot you. Happy Valentine's Day! Greg Dworkin chimes in with a collection of stories about the post-election efforts of pollsters to recalibrate the machinery, including their likely voter models, plus some speculation on the crack-up of the Republican Party. Guns are, of course, still in the news, with banner headlines about South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, a New York Times piece about guns and suicides, and Wayne LaPierre's latest ravings. We also dive into Ari Berman's coverage of the appointment of Ben Ginsburg to President Obama's voting rights commission, and dissection of the ridiculous claim that there were no gun accidents in the time of the Founders. Lastly, a run-down on just exactly how Congress will be doing their daily ration of nothing.

Direct download: February_14_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT

The President delivered his State of the Union address last night. But also, Marco Rubio drank some water in a funny way! And I don't blame anybody for focusing on that. In fact, to prove the point, I focused on it a bit, myself! Greg Dworkin reminded us that the President actually said things worth paying attention to last night, including of course, his insistence that the victims of gun violence in this country deserve a vote on proposals to bring that violence under some control. The newfangled dial-testing showed the President gaining ground, approval-wise, across the board. Then, a further examination of the parallels between the availability of non-lethal weaponry to an increasingly aggressive police force, and the availability of low-risk strike capability to an increasingly aggressive national security complex. Plus more side discussion about the increasing disparity in the way even aggressive police forces treat 2nd Amendment protest versus 1st Amendment protest. Then Armando joined the discussion for a further look into where we've gone on national security since the post-Watergate revolution. Finally, we wrap up with a brief #GunFAIL update, and the absurd notion entertained among gun rights conservatives that somehow, the Founders never experienced such accidents.

Direct download: February_13_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:11pm EDT

It's State of the Union day, so everyone's preoccupied with discussing what the President should or shouldn't say, and whether or not it can possibly mean anything, no matter what he ends up saying. Greg Dworkin joined us to remind us that yes, there is polling that can inform us on what should probably be included, and what sort of reaction the President can expect on those issues. And what can he expect? He can expect to be taken to task for not being nice enough to Republicans, who meanwhile have invited Ted Nugent to attend the speech, and give zero indication of any willingness to even cognitively process (much less accept) anything he has to offer. He should also expect that this refusal on the part of Republicans will lead to "reasonable, centrist" calls for him to meet Republicans in the middle. Sigh. How do we know this? In the case of the rank and file, it's what the polling tells us. In the case of the "elites," there's what Jennifer Rubin tells us. Which is that she finds it nauseating and disgusting that President Obama recounted having met the Pope, because that makes his statement on the Pope's decision to step down "all about him." Sure! Why not? Then, we do a procedural fact check on a Politico piece that says Chuck Hagel would be just the third cabinet nominee to have to overcome a filibuster. Is that true? Insert standard answer about Senate rules here: "yes and no." Next, some interesting SOTU meta: aisle-seat-hogging Members of Congress, and how Members get on TV, assembly line-style, after the speech. How about a sports diversion? The International Olympic Committee is set to axe wrestling from the 2020 games, but keep the Modern Pentathlon! Hello? Armando couldn't wait for The 11 Show to get a piece of that conversation! We wrap up with the story of Spring City, Utah's attempt at passing a local ordinance recommending that every home in the community have a firearm, and everyone undergo free, city sponsored gun safety classes. Hey, that's socialism!

Direct download: February_12_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:08pm EDT

We're back from the weekend, but the Pope isn't. Greg Dworkin joined us for his regular segment, noting that Republicans still haven't wrapped their heads around the fact that they lost the election. That gave us a chance for a little explainer on what remains of the Senate hold, especially with respect to executive nominations, as Republicans attempt to stand in the way of the Hagel and Brennan appointments. And just for fun, did the weekend blizzard in the Northeast perhaps have implications for the 2016 presidential race? Then, an update on the latest #GunFAIL news, and a nod to the traditional media outlets like the New York Times and NBC news who are picking up the ball and running with it when it comes to giving wider and deeper coverage to the prevalence of gun violence and gun deaths in this country. Armando came in briefly to remind us today's the 7th anniversary of Harry Whittington unconscionably putting his face in the way of Dick Cheney's shotgun. Breaking news of the shooting in the Delaware courthouse broke through into the discussion as well. To wrap up, a look ahead at the week in Congress, through the headlines in Monday's edition of The Hill.

Direct download: February_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

We wrap up the week with visits from Greg Dworkin, Armando Llorens and Gideon. The ex-cop in LA now on a revenge-driven shooting spree, and the seemingly insane LAPD response that's hospitalized a few innocent bystanders! Greg updates us on super-early horse race numbers in the primary race jockeying for president in 2016, analysis of recent gun polling, and David Brooks on drones. Thankfully, it isn't Brooks who has the last word on that subject. Armando filled in for a segment outlining his thinking on the legalities of drone policy, previewing his upcoming Sunday Kos piece. Also: a few of my own observations on drones, the wacko smoothie shop guy whose stunt of charging liberals more for their drinks recently made the news, and a preview of the next #GunFAIL installment. Finally, another visit with Gideon, and his salient points on drone warfare, and how we make decisions on it, as well as how we register our protest with those decisions.

Direct download: February_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

New issues polling round-up from Greg Dworkin today, including new data on gun policy, with some surprising breakdowns in demographics by age, of all things. Next up, Daily Kos Contributing Editor Steven Andrew, aka DarkSyde, with a review of the science news headlines, plus the fascinating tale of his own recent heart attack and recovery! Then, a few words about Republican drama queen Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and his penchant for hyperbole, this time on potential defense spending cuts under sequestration. And finally, another visit with GideonAB, for a wide-ranging discussion touching on grassroots support for progressive leadership, campaign finance reform, and more.

Direct download: February_7_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:24pm EDT

An informative follow-up with Greg Dworkin today on the complex issues squashed (before being enjoined by the courts, anyway) by the blunt instrument of Florida's NRA-backed docs gag rule on firearms. Yet another opportunity for people on both sides of the debate to recognize the subtleties of the issue. So weird, though, that people so demand deference to the complexities they like, yet seem so eager to bulldoze those that are inconvenient! Next, we returned to Sarah Jaffe's fascinating look at the "emotional labor" demanded of service workers (and increasingly, from everyone). We weren't able to connect with Gideon today, but we did hear from yuriwho, raising the issue of the KeystoneXL pipeline, and this Daily Kos diary connecting it with the Republican blocking of Susan Rice for Secretary of State. We'll have to revisit that one! Also, we discussed Laura Clawson's coverage of the arrest of a construction firm owner in connection with the NY Attorney General's accusations of wage theft, and the vast array of issues that interesting bit of news brings up.

Direct download: February_6_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT

Guns N' Meta today. Greg Dworkin joined us as usual, to discuss the curious issue of pediatricians being banned in Florida (and perhaps elsewhere) from "harassing" parents (whatever that may mean) about the presence of guns in the home, and the safety issues associated with them. Then, a Daily Kos meta-fest with special guest Gideon, wherein we reflected on Greg's analysis of the Florida law, threw out a few ideas for filibuster reform, and even got into the ins and outs of the moderation of discussions on Daily Kos! In between Greg and Gideon (and afterwards, as well), we teed up a few issues we'll no doubt revisit in the days to come: revelations about Justice Department memos purporting to establish legal grounds for targeted killings of suspects connected to terrorism, and the strange (though admittedly less dire) demands for "emotional labor," especially from low-wage service workers.

Direct download: February_5_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:54pm EDT

Lots of discussion on today's show, first with Greg Dworkin in his regular spot at the top of the show, and then with UK fan Gideon. Very much a guns and "inside baseball" program today, as we discussed some of the latest incidents of gun violence in the news, the state of play for legislative initiatives on gun policy, filibuster reform, etc. And having finally seen Lincoln, lots of talk about how though times may change, political dynamics sometimes stay very much the same. What ought we expect to pass? For what should we be pushing even though it won't, at least right now? And Gideon tells us a little bit about how all this looks from overseas, too.

Direct download: February_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:45am EDT

Happy February! New (and newly revised) job figures are out, and Meteor Blades joined us during Greg Dworkin's regular morning segment to talk it over, and Greg brought us up to date of the latest polling on gun policy issues. And yes, it turned into a gun-oriented show today. We reviewed some of the stories compiled in the GunFAIL III post, plus some quick Internet research on accidental firearms discharges in schools by the armed police guards, known as School Resource Officers, posted there over the years. Plus one rather amazing story of a University of Florida student shot while sleeping, by a contract security officer whose accidental shot pierced the student's apartment wall! There's a whole lot more crazy out there than we first imagined!

Direct download: February_1_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:19pm EDT

Yep, we talked about guns again today. Greg Dworkin took us through the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup, which included yesterday's Senate gun policy hearing as well as Newtown's town hall on the subject, plus the "controversy" over whether or not 12/14 parents were heckled in the hearings in the state capital the other day. The crazy stories keep pouring in, too. A hunting accident that ended up shooting a kid on a school bus in the back, for instance. And five people who've dropped or forgotten their guns in bathrooms in the space of a month! We also took a look at TPM's reporting on the movement to nullify federal gun laws, and The New Republic's on how to build better gun policy. Then we checked in on the economy, looking at the connection between government spending cuts and the 4th quarter contraction, and the looming sequestration, and a peek at what's new and coming up later at Daily Kos.

Direct download: January_31_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

A little gun news, a little economic news, and a little pundit #FAIL news. (OK, a lot.) Greg Dworkin had polling for us from NY and PA on proposed gun policies, as well as NY Gov. Cuomo's approval ratings in the wake of policy changes in that state. Armando joined in to discuss the latest numbers on the economy, plus Joe Scarborough's latest offering in Politico. Shockingly, he sides with Mika over Krugman! You don't say! We rounded up the day's crazy gun stories, including the ongoing school shooting/hostage situation in Alabama (taking place in the background of today's Senate gun policy hearing) and read Alex Seitz-Wald's rebuttal of David Mamet's terrible screed, before moving on to the thought-provoking piece by Paul Buchheit, "The Extremist Cult of Capitalism."

Direct download: January_30_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

It's Tuesday, and that's a day of the week. So you know what that means! Greg Dworkin joined us to talk about the Republican efforts to become the non-stupid party, and how they're faring. David Brooks thinks they're doing a lousy job, and he's so upset about the reflexive Republican opposition to Democratic ideas, he's getting ready to start a second Republican Party that will advocate for the same ideas Democrats are pursuing, but will reflexively deny them credit. That'll fix it! Brooks thinks the stupid part of the party is Southern and Western, but Greg reminds us they live in Connecticut, too, where they turned out in force to heckle the parents of children killed on 12/14. Afterwards, we caught up with the latest in crazy gun stories, the remaining possibilities for Senate rules reform, and even some old but still surprising news from Forbes about which of the modern presidents were responsible for the biggest and smallest rates of annual growth in government spending. It's a shocker for people who hate Obama and love Reagan. Know anyone like that?

Direct download: January_29_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:47am EDT

The Guns N' Filibusters storyline isn't quite finished, but we used it as an avenue for a little expansion on the subjects today. Greg Dworkin joined us for discussion of his Sunday Kos piece on moving from reference to "Sandy Hook" or "Newtown" toward "12/14" instead, as well as recent Republican attempts at joining the immigration reform debate, and the world of non-stupid parties. Afterwards, more discussion of the week's supply of #GunFAIL, and an invitation to a whole new world of #GunFAIL in the new state law in Florida forbidding localities from restricting gunfire on private property of any size. Also, the DC Circuit court's decision that appears poised to invalidate decades of practice in recess appointments. How does that fit into the current bouts of "constitutional hardball?"

Direct download: January_28_2013_2_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:16pm EDT

We took a detour from the Guns N' Filibusters agenda for a while today, bringing in Prof. Ian Reifowitz, author of Obama's America: A Transformative View of Our National Identity, to review the themes of the President's second inaugural address. How has the President done so far in fulfilling the vision? How can we evaluate his progress and our own? And in what ways might the work be continued after he leaves office? But for those of you craving your daily dose of Guns N' Filibusters, we were also joined by Greg Dworkin and Meteor Blades at the top of the show, and you can get your fill of post-deal wrap-up on filibuster reform at the close.

Direct download: January_25_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:32pm EDT

Guns N' Filibusters: the Encore! That's still where the big news is for us. Greg Dworkin brought us the latest polling on gun policy proposals. Interest and intensity both remain high, post-Newtown. Armando took over the reins for a few minutes, and stayed with us to discuss the filibuster's state of play. With details emerging about a weakened compromise agreement on filibuster reform, we discussed the likely wins and losses, how the reforms might really work, and what's still left to do. Long time listeners know that filibuster reform has historically been a long, long game, and that concessions (both small and large) are only won when the other side sees that you're poised to do much, more more. Why keep fighting? Is it worth it? And is there really any win here at all? Yes. And you should listen to find out exactly what!

Direct download: January_24_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

Guns N' Filibusters. It's a band name, and you can have it. More on why it can be so difficult to bargain over gun rights. Not only do all gun owners think they're responsible... until they're not, but all gun owners think they're law abiding gun owners... until they're not. And it'd be easy if they'd recognize that circumstances can change, and cause us to view their actions in a new light. But too often, they reject the possibility that they were irresponsible, just as they reject the legitimacy of the laws they might break. But the big focus today was on the state of play in filibuster reform as reported in The Hill, which quoted Sen. Carl Levin as saying he was uncomfortable with the constitutional option, and that he was joined in that view by former Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden. That gave us a chance to dust off the Gold/Gupta history of the 1975 filibuster reform, and reveal that Kennedy actually spoke persuasively in favor of its viability. In fact, he voted consistently for the pro-constitutional option position in all the 1975 maneuvering, as well. (FYI: Biden's record was mixed, though he voted pro-constitutional option at least twice.) A fascinating dive into the weeds if you're a history and/or procedure buff!

Direct download: January_23_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:21pm EDT

Our first podcast of the Second Barack Obama administration! Greg Dworkin joined us to take note of the major themes of the President's inaugural address, the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and some mile markers along the arc of history. "Gun Appreciation Day" was marked this past Saturday, and enthusiasts celebrated by shooting themselves and others at three different gun shows around the country. In fact, at least 90 Americans appreciated their guns in ways that killed, injured or just plain scared their fellow Americans to death on Saturday, leaving at least 34 dead and 65 wounded in 34 states and the District of Columbia. We spent our second hour on filibuster reform, recapping reports that Harry Reid may be backing away from the "talking filibuster" or even from the use of the constitutional option. But there may be other reforms just as powerful if not more powerful that are under consideration. We talked with Armando about what they were, how they'd work, which of them might be likely to make it to the floor, and under what circumstances any of them might pass.

Direct download: January_22_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

Greg Dworkin with yet more polling on guns, and evidence of a shift in intensity with which opinions are held on this issue, which may explain how and why Newtown has shifted the ground. Armando joined in to help set up the main event of the day: a follow-up interview with Mike Hummel, aka bluebarnstormer from Daily Kos (and Twitter, as well). Mike is the former Hostess bakery worker who's helped us understand the ground truth of the strike situation and the eventual shuttering of Hostess from the workers' point of view. And I know this will shock some of you, but the traditional media somehow skipped some enormously important details that'll change your mind about what happened there, if all you happened to hear was that a bunch of unreasonable and ornery workers took your Twinkies away. Mike has put out another great explainer, this time in video format, and the more you hear about the situation (and the more dots we connect with him), the clearer things become about just who got away with what in this nonsense.

Direct download: January_18_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

What the hell is everyone talking about the football player's non-existent girlfriend for? Don't know, but it sounds wacky, so that's good enough for us. Greg Dworkin brought us some new polling on gun issues, and we talked about the many, many definitional issues that present problems to all sides in the policy debate. Sticking for the moment with the gun theme: Wayne LaPierre's call at the NRA's 1999 post-Columbine convention for gun-free school zones, which he now actually blames for the Newtown shootings. (Though in '99, he said he could actually prove gun-free schools would make people safer than anything else anyone else was proposing. He really said that!) A follow-up on one of the accidental shooting deaths we covered, this time the 7-year-old boy accidentally shot by his dad's gun while he was buckling himself into his safety seat in dad's truck. The local DA has opted not to charge dad with carrying without a license. Next, we addressed some lingering questions about where Harry Reid is on filibuster reform, thanks to some insightful questioning from listener Doctor Who. Finally, we welcomed David Nir back to the show to talk about the despicable record of Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-05), and why he continues to position himself as a Democratic outlier, despite hailing from a solidly blue district. What's up with this guy?

Direct download: January_17_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

Lots of gun talk today, in anticipation of an announcement from the White House. Greg Dworkin joined us for a discussion of the crazy-ass NRA ad everybody is talking about, the prospects for legislation, and the politics & political coverage of executive action, including the descent into Jay Rosen's "Church of the Savvy," where the gun policy issue becomes one about "perceptions," covered horserace style. Also in today's show: A discussion of the history of debt ceiling votes in Congress, including the now dormant "Gephardt Rule." Firearms Derangement Syndrome, and the asymmetrical ways in which the left and right play "constitutional hardball" on gun issues. Armando returned to the "air" for a discussion of the debt ceiling, the death of The Coin, and Speaker Boehner's loss of control over the House. And a reading of Bush II Treasury official Tony Fratto's Twitter explanation of why simply "prioritizing" payments won't really stave off default.

Direct download: January_16_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:34pm EDT

Just had to let you know about the nutters' plan to establish their own walled city in Northern Idaho, in case you were interested in moving there. Greg Dworkin apparently isn't, as he let us know when he joined us to catch us up on the latest polling on the various gun policy proposals being floated. The data, it seems, supports the theory that the Newtown shootings just might be different from all the rest, and we might actually see something happen in the policy arena as a result. The timing is important, given that the Vice President's task force on gun policy is due to submit its work to the President today. In other news, Sandy relief hits the House floor today, and the Republican-dominated Rules Committee is protecting the bill from most of the amendments proposed by Republicans to slash the spending in the bill. That gave us an oportunity to explain the role of the Committee, how and why it's used as an arm of the leadership, and just what amendments they'll be allowing on this bill. Turns out the President's budget will also be delivered late, and we can be pretty sure that will soon result in a round of recriminations and finger pointing, which is always a good time for everyone! Next, a brief roundup of Conservative Crazies, including Michele Bachmann's continued non-payment of presidential campaign staffers, yet another anti-gay crusader exposed, this time caught producing child pornography... involving her own 14-year-old daughter. And herself, of course. Because she's totally against stuff like that. Then, a look at the latest development in the burgeoning Sandy Hook Truther "movement." A wacky story out of North Las Vegas, where a cell tracking glitch is repeatedly identifying one man's house as the supposed location of lost mobile phones. And finally, discussion of a video that shows just what can happen with some of these gunslinging hero fantasies, when just one little unexpected thing goes wrong. Can you guess what happens?

Direct download: January_15_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:54am EDT

Back for another Monday, and we're back with Greg Dworkin as well. We're still on the debt ceiling, Chuck Hagel, and guns. But we also threw in the "good old days" of compromise and the flu, just for good measure. The ongoing reality story of guns took no break over the weekend, so it was time to catch up with more of the most regularly predictably "unexpected" stories of flukes, mishaps, and unimaginable coincidences that ended in accidental shootings over the past few weeks. That led us to break our all-time record for mentions of the word "penis," but you knew that was going to happen eventually. You just didn't think it'd happen during a gun rant. (Or maybe you did.) Two other gun-related stories allowed us to parse some of the really tricky political science questions wrapped up in the gun debate. First, the lack of solid data about gun usage outcomes in this country, and the political machinations intended to make sure we lacked them. And second, why it's so difficult to have even an "educational" discussion with a gun ultra, and what it says about their views of society. Or "society," as the case may be. Then finally, speaking of delusional fantasies, a look at Glenn Beck's plan to build a kind of amusement park/social experiment to do... something. Something involving you giving him your money, apparently. For freedom!

Direct download: January_14_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

Once again overwhelmed by the gun stories! But how could I not be? First, though, a little discussion about The Coin and the expansion of executive power, before turning to the guns. And at the top of the gun discussion, the NRA's annoyance at having been asked to discuss gun issues with Vice President Biden. The nerve of some people! Then, a discussion of the couple of examples sent to me of armed citizens actually stopping a mass shooting. There really are some! But, they're a little dated, not to mention considerably fewer in number than either mass shootings or, for that matter, accidental shootings. And the latest on the accident front? A concealed carrier who shot his wife when he reached into his pocket while dining at a restaurant. A young man who shot himself in the head while demonstrating how safe his gun was. From there, it was on to the wild-eyed "Tactical" Response guy, famed for his "I'm gonna start killing people!" video. How's that for tactical? And Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "posse" turns out to have ex-felons and child sex offenders in it. Perfect! Ex-Rep. Joe Walsh joins the call for revolution, over whatever happens to be bothering you just now. Two awesomely patriotic dudes foster educational discussion by scaring the crap out of everyone in Portland. Oh, and look for the buried diversion to report the $1 million settlement against the UC Davis Pepper Spray Cops, and another look at the militarization of police in general. Happy Friday, huh?

Direct download: January_11_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:17pm EDT

The gun nuts keep up busy again, today. First, one of the proprietors of one of the most popular online gun marketing outfits in the country is found shot to death in his office. Which is obviously a conspiracy against gun enthusiasts, because if it wasn't, he would have shot his attackers. Or something. Then, the story of how the NRA has vowed to defy God himself, by threatening to sue to block Tuscon, Arizona's effort to beat some swords into ploughshares. And though we didn't have Greg with us today, we reviewed his Abbreviated Pundit Roundup in his absence, touching on guns, Hagel, and the perpetual "both sides" insanity (which, of course, gets "connected" later on in the show). On filibuster reform today: filibusters for profit; a critical look at the idea that filibusters protect "minorities," and; a call for a "listening filibuster" to accompany the "talking" one. Also discussed: welfare for Wal-Mart execs; good grades for sale on states' Rhee-port cards. Crazy, right? But as Greg's roundup told us, it can't be called out lest those calling it out be branded partisans for doing so. Finally, a truly stupid Fox News Channel bit in which Eric Bolling insists a grade school exercise in the distributive property is all part of a hidden liberal agenda because it makes reference to "distributing the wealth." You know, like stock dividend payments do. Ha! Caught you, Wall Street commies!

Direct download: January_10_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:04pm EDT

Another dual-guest day, as we were joined in succession by Greg Dworkin and Meteor Blades, who provided the dots for today's connecting. What got connected? Well, are you ready for this? Gun policy, gun safety, platinum coinage, Justice Scalia's constitutional jurisprudence, drug policy, Tea Party identity, Republican identity, campaign finance, political corruption, GOPAC, and ALEC. And if you've been listening closely over the past few weeks, then you know that you can't discuss all of that stuff without raising questions (once again) about the way we decide pretty much everything under the sun in this country. How's that for a full plate for breakfast?

Direct download: January_9_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:10pm EDT

Another wide-ranging show today. Greg Dworkin started us off with a round-up that included the Hagel nomination, the debt ceiling, platinum coin seigniorage (the Word of the Day!), Gabby Giffords on guns, the declining popularity of the Tea Party, and increasing partisan polarization along regional lines. We also took a look at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's incredibly insensitive comparison of teachers' unions to the NRA, for which we were joined by Laura Clawson, who reminded us that despite occasional overlap with progressives on narrow issues, Bloomberg is still pretty much a billionaire dick at heart. Next, the story of one Republican legislator's quest to screw with Virginia's voter ID law--the only one to pass muster with the Department of Justice in 2012--in order to make it more burdensome, like all the other ones that the DoJ says are discriminatory. Great idea! That, of course, led to a recap of the incredible danger posed by illegally politicizing the DoJ, as was the practice of the George W. Bush administration. Finally, a tip of the hat to Daily Kos community member LetsGetItDone, whose work on platinum coin seigniorage is garnering praise from some Very Serious People, including the former head of the U.S. Mint! Hope we can get him on the show soon, too!

Direct download: January_8_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:24pm EDT

We start the week touching on a wide range of topics. Greg Dworkin joined in for a tour through the state of play on gun issues and the coalition politics involved in bringing public opinion around on all related fronts. Armando called in for a discussion on the debt ceiling fight, the platinum coin issue, and to note the difference between the way Senate Dems reacted to Joe Lieberman's apostasy and the way Senate Republicans are reacting to Chuck Hagel's. Other topics of discussion: the (supposedly) attempted coup against Speaker Boehner; the continuing prevalence of gun accidents (including the New Years' rash of "celebratory gunfire" casualties), and; natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania poison the locals with their fracking, then make matters worse by dumping their sick & uninsured workers in the local hospitals. Then, a recap of the state of play with on filibuster reform.

Direct download: January_7_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

A nice Friday mix for you today. There's Sandy relief, plus the counting of the electoral vote in Congress. Greg Dworkin joined us as usual to discuss Daily Kos Radio and the future of radio technology, the platinum trillion dollar coin, and the curious Republican habit of obfuscation and denial on anything they oppose, until (and sometimes beyond) the point where it becomes ridiculous. (Think: "no proven link between smoking and health problems," then consider today's stances on climate change, guns, taxes, etc., etc., etc.) Then, another aside about guns, and a brief explanation of the trillion dollar coin proposal. And finally: what happened yesterday with the filibuster reform effort, whether you should be worried about it, what's likely to come out of the fight, and a pat on the back for reform supporters for where we've gotten so far!

Direct download: January_4_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:20pm EDT

The topic of the day: the first day of the new Congress. Was the 112th the worst ever? Any prospect of it getting better in the 113th? Greg Dworkin joined in for the discussion of the opening day goings on, including the speculation surrounding the election of the Speaker, which almost nobody seriously thinks will yield any real surprises. Will the next round of debt ceiling discussions be a disaster? Will the current fervor for action on gun laws fade? What are the inside baseball political dynamics that will determine the outcome? Then, a mind-bending run-through of the history and mechanics of the "constitutional option," and how changing Senate rules got to be such a complicated undertaking. Does this make the Senate's likely decision to postpone the question more understandable? Does the decision itself hint at what the most likely outcome is? And just how did they come up with this "magic window" idea in the first place?

Direct download: January_3_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:49am EDT

Happy New Year! Yes, we went over the Fiscal Thingy, and just like we said, it turns out to have been fixable retroactively all along. Not that the traditional media is giving up on the metaphor, since they're reporting we somehow "averted" turning the calendar over without a deal in place, which we all know was the case. Whatever, Cheeto munchers! Greg Dworkin joined in for the "Republicans in disarray" discussion, noting the abandonment of the "Hastert rule" (which never really was a rule, anyway), not to mention the abandonment of the idea that actually doing something about the defecit is an important issue. Then we took a little look through the news as a way of commenting on the familiar counters in the ongoing gun debate, i.e., that people say they buy guns to protect themselves and their families, and that they are, after all, responsible gun owners. All of which have an element of truth, of course. But if taking a "comprehensive look" at gun issues can be said to necessitate looking at violent video games, then surely a "comprehensive look" must also require acknowledging how often people are shot with their own guns, how often they end up shooting family members or friends with those guns, and how often even responsible gun owners seem to forget that a gun with the magazine out isn't actually a gun that isn't loaded. Finally, we tied up some loose ends with a little technical tour of the mechanics of what made people think there really was a "cliff" involved in the Fiscal Thingy.

Direct download: January_2_2013_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:53am EDT

Happy Old Year! It's all about the Fiscal Thingy today, with various people running around pretending things are being "solved." Greg Dworkin joined the show for a chat on the subject, and we had a good laugh/cry at "The Fix" basically blaming "both sides" for winning the election and expecting that to make a difference. Armando chimed in remotely with some comments, and that led us to talk through the mechanics of a last minute deal, which would have to include pre-cleared buy-in from every single Senator, given how long it would take to invoke cloture even by a vote of 99-1. Hmm. Does anyone know where Jim DeMint is, or what leverage there is to prevent him from blowing up a deal just for the hell of it, now that he's on his way out the door? Joining us through the magic of technology: our UK friend, Gideon! He sent us a short recorded segment with a wide range of discussion topics, from the NRA's nuttiness on violent video games, to Mitt Romney's self-depricating humor at the Al Smith dinner, to the lack of progressive policy representation on the Tee-Vee machine. Thanks for chiming in, Gideon! Happy New Year to all!

Direct download: December_31_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT

Still more on guns today, starting with a look at Slate's interactive graphic of gun deaths in America since Newtown. One interesting find: the number of guns, often purchased to "protect the family," that end up accidentally killing family members, or being used in murder-suicides. Greg Dworkin joined in, sharing some polling data on guns and the NRA, some poignant photos of the warehousing of teddy bears and other stuffed animals that have been sent in overwhelming numbers to Newtown, and some suggestions about how better to support that community. We were also joined by Twitter sensation @RepJackKimble, discussing his new book, Profiles in Courageousness, his views on the Fiscal Thingy, the NRA, and more. Plus, a little peek behind the scenes at what makes C-SPAN tick, and how your humble host helped "liberate" Congressional video you were always paying for, but somehow could never get to on your own.

Direct download: December_28_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:25pm EDT

We're back, for a betwixt-the-holidays show, and unfortunately, guns are still very much on our minds. Greg Dworkin joined us to kick off discussion of one of the more bizarre stories of the past few days: Dick Armey's armed coup at FreedomWorks. And just for fun, he pointed us to Norm Ornstein's article mentioning that the Speaker of the House didn't have to be a member. You learn something new every day! Norm and Greg learned that anybody could be Speaker, and I learened that Norm didn't know that previously! The crazy FreedomWorks incident occupied a lot of time today, as did the analysis of assault weapons maker Bushmaster's ad campaign for its AR-15 product. You know, the one that reads, "Consider your man card reissued." That's what's made it the weapon of choice in the country's most infamous massacres! Finally, a reminder that the Fiscal Thingy hasn't been resolved yet, and isn't very likely to be, either, while the debt ceiling appears to have crept up on us once again.

Direct download: December_27_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:11pm EDT

Today, we're witnesses to the unraveling of the conservative coalition, and just maybe the Republican Party itself. Hey, a guy can dream! Greg Dworkin joined us to review the recent polling that reveals a pretty significant brand problem for the Republicans. A message problem, not a messenger problem. He also reminded us of the moment of silence being observed this morning in honor of the victims of Newtown. We also explored the phenomenon of Republican rigidity, noting that elected Republicans were simultaneously refusing to compromise on guns, taxes, the Fiscal Thingy, and pretty much everything under the sun. Which led us to the question of whether what we were dealing with was properly defined as a political party at all. From there, it was back to the topic of "constitutional hardball," and how the Republican practice of it across multiple issues during the George W. Bush administration set things seriously off-kilter for the foreseeable future. A good companion discussion to Thursday's exploration.

Direct download: December_21_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

House Republicans present their "Plan B" position on the Fiscal Thingy, so you'll finally be able to see evidence at home on C-SPAN that something's happening, though the procedure is so convoluted, you'll likely have no idea why you're seeing what you're seeing. Oh, and it won't pass the Senate, either, so nevermind. Greg Dworkin joined us for another update from Newtown, and for an analysis of the latest polling on the issues swirling around the tragedy. Turns out the public is pretty well united behind some of the leading proposals for restrictions on assault-style weapons and accessories. So will we see progress, or not? Then a broad discussion about just why we might not. With all the talk about certain rights favored by conservatives being "God-given" or the like, would anyone give up their guns if the Constitution were somehow magically amended in a way that made such a thing possible? And if not, is what we're engaged in really a "debate" at all? More discussion of "constitutional hardball" ensued, including a number of illustrative examples which, taken together, show just how hard it can be to ever "settle" a game of hardball, without even getting into the extra-constitutional meta-issues surrounding gun rights and where people think they came from. Warning: heads may explode!

Direct download: December_20_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:27pm EDT

We talked a little Fiscal Thingy, and we talked a little Eleven Dimensional Chess. We're still a long way from a deal, but some of the elements are beginning to come into focus, and not everybody is all that happy with the picture. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss the dealmaking and the meta-issues around it. Do Dems cede ground too easily? Do Republicans hold hostages longer knowing this? Is a pattern emerging? Afterwards, we were joined by Evan Macbeth, aka Paradox13, to discuss his experience as a presidential elector in Virginia's Electoral College. We get way down in the weeds of it, from how people get selected for candidacy to the Electoral College in the first place, to just how they do what they do once elected, to who pays for it all to get done. Finally, still more reflection on Newtown, including a look back at the post-Aurora revelation that the NRA and its allies have actively lobbied against and blocked governement efforts to collect accurate data on gun injuries and fatalities, to deny the debate usable science on the issue. Thanks, anti-science! Policy making without basis in reality is working great!

Direct download: December_19_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT

Returned from Richmond, today's discussion starts with observations on the mechanics of the Electoral College vote. If it's ever abolished, my ticket to the state House of Delegates gallery to observe the vote will become a collector's item! Armando called in to talk Fiscal Thingy, and the dynamics of finding a deal. And of course, there was much discussion of the aftermath of Newtown, including the acknowledgment that the currently prevailing view of gun rights (at least among legislators and the Supreme Court) is a relatively new invention, and thus a bit of evidence for a "living Constitution" after all. Though conservatives defend against that charge by framing it as the "Constitution in exile." Greg Dworkin joined us in the second hour, for more from on the ground in Newtown, and a discussion of the politics of pushback. That led us to a broader look at "constitutional hardball," and a reminder that at bottom, constitutional rights are what a majority of the Supreme Court says they are. Maybe Gerald Ford was smarter than we all give him credit for, even if the context was different. (And if the precept is true there, it's worth remembering that it's true for the rules of the Senate as well.) Finally, a solid reminder that there's something fundamentally different (if not necessarily inherently wrong) with the way guns are invoked as safeguarding freedom. Sometimes they can "safeguard" your freedoms right out of existence.

Direct download: December_18_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:55am EDT