Progressive politics, news & talk hosted by David Waldman

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

Without Greg Dworkin available on the air, it was a solo effort on today's Pew polling on Presidential job approval and Congressional handling of the "Fiscal Thingy." We also marked the launch of the Daily Kos "War on Christmas Fundraiser," and gave a little peripherally-related background on some of the things that I think make Daily Kos unique as a community and as a forum. We also had another daily dose of filibuster reform discussion, including a look at Jonathan Bernstein's objections to the plan recently circulated by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and a great listener phone call from Mike in Pittsburgh, who pointed out that the "talking filibuster" might also make it easier to crack the 2/3 threshold on changing the rules under "regular order." Plus, a reading of some of the less-often-repeated quotes from Republican Senators in 2005, offered in praise and support of the constitutional option. Finally, a shift in gears: a capitalistic defense of unionism. Why would real small government advocates want to prevent workers from privately ordering their affairs with their employers through unions, when the workers' next most logical solution ends up being voting in a government that will do it for them?

Direct download: December_14_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

The Fiscal Thingy debate is reported to be raging on, though once again there's no evidence of it on C-SPAN, because the House isn't doing a damn thing. They're keeping the lights on with minutiae, while John Boehner negotiates on behalf of a Republican caucus that might not even be on his side, when all is said and done. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss polling that pretty clearly establishes that, despite (once again) the pronouncements of the pundits, the President really does have a mandate on issues critical to the Fiscal Thingy. At the same time, Republican voters are counseling their elected representatives not to give an inch on a single thing, even as a clear majority of the country demands the exact opposite. Branding problem? Recipe for disaster? Both? And as the fight over the so-called "Right to Work" issue rages in Michigan, the Orwellian naming of the bill brought us back to Newt Gingrich's days as a Republican leader, and his behind-the-scenes work to teach Republicans exactly how to cast issues in the light most favorable to them, right down to prescribing lists of words they should use to describe themselve and their policies, as well as Democrats and their policies, no matter who or what they may be. And as usual, we turn in the end to filibuster reform, this time to discuss an open letter from eminent academics to Senators, clarifying the constitutional grounds and Senate precedents for changing the rules by majority vote.

Direct download: December_13_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:43am EST

The Fiscal Thingy is much on our minds today, and Greg Dworkin weighs in with some polling on the issues in play, and who Americans trust to deal with them. Hint for Republicans: your hand is not a strong one. Armando Llorens joined the discussion to note that some commentators are making the case that Republicans actually do best by conceding to the Democratic position on taxes. And we remind ourselves that if it's a "fiscal cliff" to combine even modest tax increases with sequestration that takes government spending out of the economy, then we do no better by replacing sequestration cuts with social safety net cuts in that equation. After all, as Republicans love to remind us (when the subject favors them), "money is fungible!" Finally, a little bit of filibuster reform discussion. Tired of hearing that majority vote rules change is a "slippery slope?" Well, how about some historical data that suggests it's not really all that slippery after all?

Direct download: December_12_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:50pm EST

We kicked off with a shout-out to the #saveMI protests today, then launched into a well-rounded morning, with multiple approaches to an emerging theme: the traditional media's ubiquitous false equivalence story. First, it was Greg Dworkin's turn to discuss the difficulties in finding solutions to the Fiscal Thingy, given new polling that suggests that outside of raising taxes on the wealthy, Americans seem unable to agree on just where to turn for savings or additional revenue. Even so, an awful lot of Republicans seem mostly unwilling to give ground on that one area where everyone else is in agreement, and that's bad news for Republicans in Congress trying to find their way on this. In fact, there's a split between their leadership, which has to have an eye on the bigger picture, and the rank-and-file, who are more necessarily bound up in what their own increasingly insulated constituencies are saying. Could that split result in a real fight over Boehner's Speakership? Well, not if the plot to oust him doesn't pay closer attention to procedural realities, according to UVA Prof. Jeffrey Jenkins! From there, it was time for a daily dose of filibuster reform discussion, this time focused on the strange, mythical view many appear to be taking of the old "Gang of 14" agreement. Contrary to the legend, the Gang's agreement didn't take the "nuclear option" off the table. It very purposefully left it there, in plain and threatening view. And that's what made their agreement work! Finally, a quick look at media narratives on what passes for "bold" solutions to the Fiscal Thingy and other problems, and how that relates to what Dan Froomkin called the mainstream press's "bungling" of "the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign."

Direct download: December_11_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:38am EST

It's "Thinking Out Loud About the Fiscal Thingy" Monday, as we were joined in succession by Greg Dworkin and Armando Llorens to ponder the possibilities as time winds down on the calendar year and the 112th Congress. Might we see a "Grand Bargain" negotiated in stages? How likely is a separate tax deal before the year is out? What about a quickie deal to kick the can down the road on sequestration? Where do Medicare and Social Security fit in all this? And what about the debt ceiling? Does it even belong in these negotiations at all? How roles have reversed in the use of the calendar as leverage in year-end legislative games. And what might the filibuster have to do with it? Finally, a look back at one of the craziest Congressional races (and situations in general) in the country, in Michigan's 11th District, where short-timer Rep. David Curson (D) is filling in for just a few weeks, and Rep-elect (and reindeer farmer and kinda-sorta 9/11 Truther) Kerry Bentivolio (R) is set to take over in January. Yes, Kagro in the Morning brought you that story, thanks to Daily Kos Political Director David Nir, back in August, and we reprise it today.

Direct download: December_10_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:08pm EST

December 7th. The Pearl Harbor Day of remembrance days. And it being Friday, we took a short break from extensive filibuster reform discussion, though it certainly came up in context more than a few times, and instead focused on a round-up of other stories from the Hill and around the country. Joan McCarter was on hand to chat about some of the craziness she's covered in the past few days, including the spectacle of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustering his own request to debate and vote on the President's debt ceiling proposal. Better yet, Joan let us know about today's scheduled Google Hangout with Howard Dean, set for 1:15 pm ET, right on the front page of Daily Kos! Come talk with Joan and the Governor about protecting Social Security and Medicare, especially in the context of the "Fiscal Thingy." Your questions are most welcome! Greg Dworkin also joined in for an abbreviated segment today, chiming in on the various goings on. Then it was a quick tour of the day's news, starting with the latest idiocy from the Dean of the Republican Clown College, Dick Morris, whose latest howler is that Hurricane Sandy is what cost Mitt Romney the election and what caused his predictions to be so horribly, horribly wrong. Also: the passage of so-called "Right to Work" legislation in Michigan, which actually creates no rights regarding work at all, though I think it'd be fun if people started demanding their shiny new jobs as though it did. That might make best make the point about what this Orwellian nonsense is really about. We wrapped with a short discussion of Jim DeMint's resignation and what it means, and something to think about over the weekend: the need for a revival of mutual insurance companies, credit unions, employee-owned pension funds, and the like.

Direct download: December_7_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:02pm EST

Back on our regular schedule today, so we were able to catch up with Greg Dworkin. On today's agenda: the DC kabuki theater surrounding the "Fiscal Thingy," the realpolitik of internal caucus dynamics, and how they create "lag time" in between the public's expression of its prefences and the ability of our elected officials to finally align themselves with them. Armando joined in for an extended discussion on the debt ceiling issue, specifically on the widsom and feasibility of eliminating the necessity for Congress to raise the statutory limit. Then, a wide-ranging news roundup, including: the Senate's rejection of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, thanks to lobbying by Rick Santorum; Rep. Virginia Foxx chewing out a House staffer for having the temerity to ride the "Members Only" elevator (even though it's Members Only during votes, which was apparently not the case); Sen. Rand Paul doesn't know what Kentucky's biggest industry is, and finally; an evaluation of one of the most overlooked (but powerful) provisions of the filibuster reform proposal.

Direct download: December_6_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:10pm EST

Late start today, but we still got our full two hours in. Thanks to Armando for filling in early, and for sticking around for the first hour-plus of the delayed show! On the agenda today: the continuing attacks on Susan Rice; is it too soon to ponder the 2016 presidential race; new PPP poll on Republican nuttery, and of course; more on filibuster reform. In particular, how well do comparisons of the 2005 nuclear option fight and today's filibuster reform effort really hold up? And why do editorial writers, misty-eyed for the days of the "Gang of 14" agreement, always forget that it enshrined the right and ability of the majority to change the rules by majority vote? Finally, a hint at a discussion to come: the NYT investigation into the value and efficacy of state and local government incentives granted to businesses in the hopes of bolstering job creation and retention.

Direct download: December_5_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:02pm EST

The new Washington Post/Pew poll puts Greg Dworkin back in the polling analysis game, this time revealing that Republicans are losing the "Fiscal Thingy" debate, as 53% of respondents indicate they'd place the fault for missing the end-of-the-year deadline on Congressional Republicans, while just 27% would blame the White House. Then, a bit of interconnected background that took us from the current filibuster reform fight, to the origin of the filibuster loophole, to Aaron Burr versus Alexander Hamilton, and back to today's tax cut fight, via House discharge petition procedure and the motion to recommit. And finally, a reminder about just how conniving those ALEC folks actually are, via ALEC's pre-fabricated package of legislation that allows states to turn its prison population into a profit center. Say, doesn't that sort of upset the whole social compact as it relates to policy decisions to shoulder certain burdens in order to criminalize certain behaviors on its head? Yeah, it sort of does. Oh wells!

Direct download: December_4_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:06pm EST

Merry War on Christmas, everyone! It's December at last, and time to ramp up our continuing series on filibuster reform. Despite numerous technical problems today, we pushed on through, and after a shortened visit with Greg Dworkin, we turned to another extensive look at the filibuster reform fight by reviewing this past weekend's excellent Up with Chris Hayes episode focusing on the issue with a panel of experts that included an actual former Senate Parliamentarian. And still, there was more to add, believe it or not! Armando also joined in the discussion, and we make the case that if there's really something "in the DNA of the Senate," as former parliamentarian Alan Frumin insists, that insists on unfettered debate, then it stands for the proposition that the Senate is empowered to do what it can to guarantee that that debate is real and substantive, and that outsized deference to procedural rules not actually inhibit the debate it supposedly protects.

Direct download: December_3_2012_56.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:56pm EST